Friday, November 27, 2009

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

Pop two bags of popcorn, and pour them into a brown grocery sack.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the following, melt for two minutes and then stir:

1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. Karo syrup

After stirring, melt for 2 more minutes. Then mix in 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Stir well until it fluffs. Pour mixture over popped popcorn into the brown grocery sack, and shake.

Fold over top of bag, place in microwave and cook for 90 seconds.

Take out and shake again (or stir)

Cook for another 45 seconds in the microwave.

Then cool on wax paper.

Monday, November 2, 2009



Cavatelli con Pancetta e Cavolfiore

Makes 6 servings

Simply delicious........


What you’ll need:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Three ¼-inch slices pancetta (about 8 ounces), cut into 1 x ¼ x ¼-inch sticks (about 1 ½ cups)
1 pound dried cavatelli, cavatappi or shells
2 medium onions, diced ½ inch (about 2 cups)
½ head cauliflower, stalks removed, florets cut into ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
Crushed red pepper
1 ½ cups hot chicken stock
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup fine dry breadcrumbs, or as needed


What to do:

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered some of it s fat and is lightly browned but still soft in the center, about 4 minutes. Don’t overcook the pancetta.

Stir the cavatelli into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 10 minutes.

Stir the onion into the skillet and cook until barely wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is wilted and begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Season lightly with salt and a little crushed red pepper.

Pour the chicken stock into the skillet, bring to a boil and lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced by about one-half, about 5 minutes.

If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, tossing and stirring to coat the pasta. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Stir the breadcrumbs, parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into the pot. Cook, stirring and tossing the pasta until the sauce is lightly thickened. Serve at once.

Chicken with Olives & Pinenuts

Chicken with Olives & Pinenuts
Pollo con Olive e Pignoli

Serves 6

* This recipe is from Lidia’s NEW cookbook, “Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy,” published by Alfred A. Knopf.

Pan- cooked chicken, caramelized and sticky to the fingers, moist and flavorful inside, is a favorite food around the world. If there are chicken- lovers in your family (as in mine), this Le Marche version is sure to be a hit. Its special taste and texture come from the region’s big fat Ascolane olives, which imbue the chicken with flavor, and the crunch of native pine nuts.

Though authentic Ascolane olives are fantastic in this dish, they’re only occasionally available in the United States. But other varieties of green, brine- cured Italian olives (such as Castelvetrano or Cerignola) will be delicious, too; just keep in mind that the saltiness of olives will vary, and season accordingly. “How about black olives?” you ask. And I say, “Black oil- cured olives will be delicious as well; even a green- and- black combination would be nice.”

Choose your preferred chicken pieces, too. A whole bird, cut up, is fine, though all dark meat— drumsticks and thighs—are my favorite. And if you are in a hurry (or watching your fat intake), use breast pieces. With these, you can cut the oil and butter in the recipe in half and, because breast meat cooks faster, brown the pieces initially for only 10 minutes, turn them, add the olives, then cook for an additional 10 minutes.


3½ to 4 pounds assorted cut- up chicken pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

3 plump garlic cloves, peeled

2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

1 cup brine- cured green Italian olives or oil- cured black Italian olives

½ cup white wine

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Recommended equipment: A 12- inch cast- iron or other heavy skillet or sauté pan, with a cover; an olive pitter

Rinse the chicken pieces, and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off excess skin and all visible fat. Cut drumsticks off the thighs; cut breast halves into two pieces each. Season the chicken all over with the salt.

Put the olive oil and butter in the pan, and set over medium- low heat. When the butter is melted and hot, lay in the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a single layer; drop the garlic cloves and bay leaves in the spaces between them.

Cover the pan, and let the chicken cook over gentle heat, browning slowly and releasing its fat and juices. After about 10 minutes, uncover the pan, turn the pieces, and move them around the pan to cook evenly, then replace the cover. Turn again in 10 minutes or so, and continue cooking covered.

While the chicken is browning, pit the olives (if they still have pits in them). If you’re using small olives like Castelvetrano, use a pitter and keep them whole. If you have larger olives (such as Ascolane or Cerignola), smash them with the blade of a chef’s knife to remove the pits, and break them into coarse chunks.

After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, scatter the olives onto the pan bottom, around the chicken, and pour in the wine. Raise the heat so the liquid is bubbling, cover, and cook, gradually concentrating the juices, for about 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, and cook uncovered, evaporating the pan juices, occasionally turning the chicken pieces and olives. If there is a lot of fat in the bottom of the pan, tilt the skillet and spoon off the fat from one side.Scatter the pine nuts around the chicken, and continue cooking uncovered, turning the chicken over gently until the pan juices thicken and coat the meat like a glaze.

Turn off the heat, and serve the chicken right from the skillet, or heap the pieces on a platter or in a shallow serving bowl. Spoon out any sauce and pine nuts left in the pan, and drizzle over the chicken.

Super Power Muffins

These are easy, freeze well and the kids really like them... so they are great when we are running late for school (and they even have some nutritional value!).

1 C brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 C peanut butter
1 smashed banana
1/2 C of applesauce
1 egg
1 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 C chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients well and set aside. Blend everything else and then sift in the dry ingredients. Bake in a muffin tin for 15-18 minutes.

I stole it from a comment on a blog... so I don't know who to credit for the recipe.