Garlic Bread

Dressing up a regular loaf of fresh bread makes it that much more irresistible.  I adapted this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and it’s unbelievably tasty and full of vibrant, fresh flavors.  Just don’t make it for a new beau, cause that garlic sure packs a punch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large loaf ciabatta bread
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tbsp pesto (you could also use plain fresh basil, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced.  Add the parsley, oregano, basil and salt and pepper and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped.
  • Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan and add the garlic mixture – saute until the garlic is fragrant – you don’t want to overcook it, you’re just getting rid of the raw garlic flavor.
  • Slice the bread in half horizontally and spread 1 tbsp of butter on each half of bread
  • Spread the garlic mixture evenly on each half of bread (depending on the size of your loaf, you might not need all of the mixture – reserve the extra for another day)
  • Put the halves back together, wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 5 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, open the foil up and open the bread so the inside can get a little toasty – bake for an additional 5 minutes

Eggplant Parm Calzone

This calzone combines two of my favorite things: eggplant parm and garlic bread.  These are hard to put down…  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. bakery dough
  • Breaded eggplant slices (approximately 24)
  • Approximately 1 cup robust red sauce
  • Approximately 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Approximately 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Garlic butter
    • 1-2 tbsp butter, melted
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 15 in. x 10 in. rectangle (about 1/4″ thick)
  • Place dollops of sauce down the center of the dough, use the back of a spoon to spread it thin
  • Next, place a layer of overlapping breaded eggplant slices down the center of the rolled out dough (about 2-3 slices in each row – depending on size)
  • Top the breaded eggplant with more sauce, make sure the sauce evenly coats the eggplant
  • Sprinkle the cheeses on top of the sauce and repeat until you have three layers of eggplant
  • Pull one side of dough over the cheese and then overlap that by pulling the other side of dough over – fold up the ends and pinch to seal closed
  • Flip the calzone over and place seam side down on a greased baking sheet (I use Pam with Olive Oil) – brush the calzone with the melted garlic butter
  • Bake in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  • Let the calzone cool for about 10 minutes (if you can!) and then slice into 1 inch pieces

Fresh Tomato and Pesto Pasta

This pasta dish is simple, yet really delicious.  It’s a great as a side option for Baked Shrimp Scampi or as a quick dinner on its own.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. thin linguini or angel hair
  • 3/4 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 – 1 cup powdered parmesan cheese, and more for topping

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large saute pan, saute the garlic with 1 tbsp olive oil until it’s fragrant
  • Add the pesto sauce to the garlic combine well
  • Pour in the white wine, chicken broth and olive oil and bring to a simmer
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes and stir well over medium-low heat
  • Cook the pasta as directed and then add it into the pesto sauce mixture
  • Keep the heat on medium-low and and cook the pasta in the sauce so it absorbs the flavor
    • If the pasta seems a bit dry, add in more chicken broth or olive oil
  • Once the pasta is well coated in the pesto sauce, turn off the heat and pour in the powdered parmesan (as much or as little as you desire)
  • Top it all off with a little more parmesan and serve immediately!

Pesto Hummus

Whenever I have some leftover pesto sauce hanging around, I throw it into the food processor with some chickpeas and tahini and – voila!  Pesto hummus.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chickpeas (save the water from the can)
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (if you don’t have this on hand, it’s ok without it, too)
  • Approximately 1/4 – 1/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the strained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, pesto sauce and roasted garlic
  • Pour in a little bit of the water from the can of chickpeas and process the ingredients
  • Check the consistency of the hummus and add more of the water if the mixture is not loose and smooth
  • Process until you have reached your desired consistency (should be soft and smooth, not watery but not thick)
    • For some reason I love this hummus paired with Garden Salsa Sun Chips – I know it might sound like a strange combo, but it’s just so good.

Baked Shrimp Scampi

I watched Ina Garten make this dish on her show a few weeks ago and was dying to try it out.  Let’s just say, it did not disappoint.  This dish kind of blows baked stuffed shrimp out of the water – it’s full of so much flavor and is really easy to put together.  I made some small adjustments and it tasted like perfection.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. large shrimp (U8-12), deveined with the tails still on
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp dry white wine
TOPPING
    • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
    • 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
    • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 extra large yolk
    • 1 cup panko

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Butterfly the shrimp but leave the tails on
  • Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and combine with the olive oil, white wine, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper – let the shrimp sit and marinate at room temperature while you prepare the topping
  • In a small bowl, mash the softened butter together with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, egg yolk, panko and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Arrange the shrimp in one layer, cut side down around the edge of a 14 inch oval gratin dish, you want the tails curling up facing in towards the middle of the dish – pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp
  • Spread the topping evenly over the shrimp
  • Bake at 425°F for 12-15 minutes or until its hot and bubbly and the shrimp is totally pink – you can broil it for a minute or so to brown the top if it’s not crunchy enough

Baked Stuffed Shrimp

Rumor has it (i.e. my mother thinks) that this is the Twin Oaks recipe for baked stuffed shrimp.  Whosever recipe this is has done something right, because it’s delicious.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. large shrimp (U8-12), deveined with the tails still on
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp white wine
  • Optional: 1/8 cup (2 tbsp) parmesan cheese, powdered
  • Optional: 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a saute pan – add in the chopped onion and cook until translucent, then add in the garlic and white wine and cook until the garlic is fragrant, but not burned
  • Add in the breadcrumbs and crushed Ritz crackers and combine well
  • If you want to add in the parmesan cheese and/or fresh parsley, do so now and stir well
  • Using a spoon, stuff the split side of the shrimp with as much stuffing as it will hold
  • Line the shrimp up with the tail upright and the un-split side down in a baking dish with high sides and bake at 375°F for approximately 20 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked and the stuffing is browned on top

Caesar Salad

This classic Caesar salad dressing recipe comes from my mother-in-law’s cooking files.  I’ve been to a restaurant where they make the Caesar dressing table-side… but I couldn’t exactly take notes.  I was looking for a recipe to try out and this one seems to match!

INGREDIENTS

  1. 3 large eggs, room temp
  2. 3 tbsp dijon mustard
  3. 5 medium garlic cloves, pressed
  4. 1 tsp Worchester sauce
  5. 3/4 tsp anchovy paste
  6. 1 cup olive oil
  7. 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/8 tsp Tabasco sauce
  9. 3 cups freshly grated Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
  10. 3 large heads Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
  11. 9 pieces of thickly sliced country bread, crust cut off
*Recipe yields approximately 2 cups of dressing

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Whisk the first 5 ingredients in small bowl
  • Gradually whisk in olive oil, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce (if the dressing is getting too thick, add in a little bit of warm water and then continue to whisk in the olive oil)
    • Alternatively, you could put the first 5 ingredients into a food processor or blender and then slowly add in the olive oil, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce (again, if dressing gets too thick, add in a little bit of warm water and then continue to add in the olive oil)
  • Brush the bread with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and cut into cubes (you could also sprinkle the bread with garlic powder if you desire)
    • Bake at 300°F until crisp and golden brown, approximately 10 minutes
  • Finally, toss together the lettuce, enough dressing to coat the lettuce and the grated cheese – then top it off with the fresh croutons

Spanakopita II

This is my recipe for the classic Greek appetizer, spanakopita.  I like to use fresh spinach and butter instead of olive oil — I think it makes it lighter and flakier.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups packed spinach leaves
  • 1 lb. fillo dough (16-20 sheets), defrosted
  • 1/2 lb. feta cheese
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg (if I’m doubling this recipe, I use 3 eggs), beaten
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 stick of butter (at least)

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Rinse your spinach leaves and remove and large stems
  • Roughly chop the spinach before putting 2 cups of it in the food processor – process for about 10 seconds or until the leaves are finely chopped
  • Add in half the chopped garlic, scallions, feta and salt and pepper
  • Process the ingredients for about 5 seconds and then pulse the mixture 3 times for 1 second to make sure everything is well combined
  • Repeat this process for the other half of the ingredients
  • Combine the two batches of spinach (you can and should taste it before you add in the egg and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste) then stir in the beaten egg
    • Set the mixture aside
  • Take your defrosted fillo dough out and unfold it onto a working surface (keep the stack of dough covered with a damp – but not wet! – towel to prevent it from becoming dry and brittle)
  • Depending on the dimensions of your sheet, you may need to cut them in half so your sheet has a width of about 7.5 in.
  • Take a sheet with the 7.5 in. width and brush it with butter
  • Then, fold the sheet over into thirds so you’re left with a long strip that’s only 2.5 in. wide
  • Place about 1 tbsp of spinach mixture at the end of your fillo strip and roll it up into triangles, like a paper football – or American flag
  • If your dough seems dry and needs help sticking, brush it with additional butter
  • Place the triangle pieces onto a greased baking pan
  • Bake at 350°F for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
    • Makes approximately 32 – 40 pieces
Variation…
    • Layer 10 sheets of fillo dough, brushing butter in between each sheet
    • Spoon about 1 cup of the spinach mixture along one edge of the fillo dough in the shape of a sausage
    • Roll up the fillo dough and brush the top with butter
    • Score the roll into 1 in. rounds
    • Repeat until all of the fillo and spinach is used
    • Place the roll on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400°F for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown

White Bean Dip

This spread is a nice alternative to hummus.  When you season it with typical “Italian” flavors, it makes it a great appetizer to an Italian meal.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 – 15 oz. can canellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus a bit for drizzling)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed flat leafed parsley, or 3/4 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch of dried rosemary (optional: tastes great without it, too)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed (you can also used roasted garlic puree)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor
  • Pulse about 5 or 6 times – you want it to be smooth, but not totally smooth – it’s nice to have a little chunk in this dip (if you prefer a totally smooth dip, just process until smooth)

Serving Options…

    • Serve with pita chips (I like to serve this with Stacy’s Parmesan Garlic and Herb pita chips) and fresh veggies, or
    • Serve on top of slices of toasted french baguette brushed with olive oil

Robust Red Sauce

This red sauce is rich in flavor and has a little bit of a kick.  It goes well with any Italian dish and I use it with a lot more than just spaghetti and meatballs…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 28 oz. can Pastene ‘Kitchen Ready’ tomatoes (if you want a smooth sauce, use 2 cans of this instead of the diced)
  • 1/3 cup red wine (one you would drink)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and then add the garlic – saute until fragrant
  • Add in the cans of tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil and turn the heat up to medium-high, bringing the sauce to a boil
  • Add the red wine  
  • Season the sauce with the oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour (or until it begins to thicken), stirring frequently – I usually also break up the large tomato chunks with the back of the spoon