Friday, July 31, 2009

Sweet-n-Sour Pork Chops

I had fresh broccoli and boneless pork chops were $1.99 lb. so I decided to make one of our favorite alternatives to Chinese take-out -Sweet-n-Sour Pork Chops. They are so tasty, way healthier, and way cheaper than take-out. We picked up some ready made eggrolls and I served it with steamed rice and broccoli sauteed with ginger, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Delicious!

Sweet-n-Sour Pork Chops
Recipe courtesy Robin Miller

1 tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and ground black pepper
4 (4-ounce) boneless pork loin chops
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork chops all over with salt and black pepper and add to hot pan. Cook chops 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Add apricot preserves, soy sauce and ginger and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer 5 minutes, until pork is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in scallions.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans

Fast, delicious, healthy, and company-worthy. Perfect recipe to use the now abundant and delicious Jersey tomatoes and fresh basil. I serve with grilled Italian bread rubbed with a fresh clove of garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. So good!

Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans
Recipe courteous Michael Chiarello

3 cups canned Cannellini white beans
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 large shrimp, peeled (tail left on) and deveined
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small serrano chile, thinly sliced or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomato, canned or fresh
1 cup whole basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Drain the beans over a bowl and reserve the liquid. Put the white beans in a large skillet with just enough of their liquid to moisten them. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and bring the beans to a low simmer. Keep them warm while you prepare the shrimp.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook for about 1 minute, tossing frequently. Remove the shrimp with tongs to a bowl. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic browns. Add the serrano chile or chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and basil and stir briefly, then add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute, and then stir in the shrimp. Toss well and cook briefly to reheat the shrimp. Remove the shrimp mixture to a plate and sprinkle with parsley.
Spoon the white beans on a platter or individual plates. Drizzle them with the best olive oil you have, and then top with the shrimp. Serve warm.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mike's Subs - Keyport

Wow- delicious waterfront dining for less than $20 (for four!) Well, it is possible at Mike's in Keyport. Today my family and I had a great lunch here. There is a nice waterfront park nearby to picnic - love that!

This family owned sub shop has been around since 1961 and makes a delicous NJ style sub sandwich - one of the best around. Keyport is a 1.4 square mile town on the Raritan Bay in Monmouth County. This tiny town has lots of great eating and I do mean great! Other great Keyport eats to definitely check out:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ode to the Jersey Tomato

I wait all year for NJ tomatoes! There is nothing in the world like them! Growing up in NJ - Quakertown, NJ - not PA! (Franklin Township) to be exact, the first tomato day of the season was like a holiday. Yes, I am a Jersey girl who even eats tomato sandwiches (tomatoes, white bread, mayonnaise and a splash of salt and vinegar- delish)! I now live near the Jersey Shore and the first tomatoes are from South Jersey. I am so excited for my first local tomato. I love to pick them up roadside in Wall, NJ - the honor system - some of the most awesome fruit left on a table with a can to leave the money- homegrown goodness and trust in humanity - I love NJ! Beefsteak - especially split open (they are the sweetest) and Ramapo tomatoes - yum! I use them a thousand ways but sometimes simplicity is best. Enjoy the fleeting goodness...

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella

NJ Tomatoes sliced in half
fresh garlic minced
quality extra virgin olive oil
fresh mozzarella cheese (sliced)
fresh torn basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Not so much a recipe, but a compilation. Fresh, quality ingredients make this spectacular.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice NJ tomatoes in half and place in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Next, add minced fresh garlic to taste. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place in oven and roast until perfect (juices start to burst). Add a slice of fresh mozzarella to the bottom half, add the top, and top with fresh torn basil. Enjoy - and despite all of NJ's downfalls - no one can take away this - we are top tomato!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Linguine with Tomatoes, Baby Zucchini & Herbs

My favorite time of the year! NJ tomatoes are finally in season! Nothing in the world like them! The first tomatoes of the season, so beautiful, tears in my eyes... I wanted to make something light and fresh. So, trusty comes through with a great recipe. Of course, I changed things up a bit to suit my tastes and what I had on hand. I added some sauteed shrimp (sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes). I don't like raw garlic and I did not have a red chili on hand. Just what I was in the mood for. I love summer and I love NJ!

Adapted from Food and Wine

1 pound tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 small red chile, seeded and minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces linguine
3 baby zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the basil, parsley, garlic, salt, chile and olive oil.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the linguine until al dente; drain well. Add the linguine to the bowl along with the sliced zucchini and toss. Add the 1/4 cup of grated cheese, toss again and serve in bowls, passing more cheese at the table.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fresh Homemade Ricotta

Homemade ricotta cheese is so simple and so worth the small effort. Never use store bought when this can be made within minutes (active time). I used the ricotta to make my favorite pizza - White Pizza with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe. So good....

Recipe Source: Gourmet 2006

Yield: Makes about 2 cups
2 quarts whole milk (8 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Special equipment: large sieve, fine-mesh cheesecloth
Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth (I used cheesecloth from Wegmans) and place it over a large bowl.
Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't worry Andy - no pluots in NJ!

Disturbing, creepy and hilarious! This is too funny! What is his problem with fruit?! I don't get it! :) Wow - 60 Minutes just isn't what it used to be... A sticker on fruit? God forbid!

Watch CBS Videos Online

Scallops with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil

Simple, light, quick and really delicious. Tastes like summer - what more could you want?


1 lb. bay scallops
1 lb. fettucine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 medium zucchini diced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
handful chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Prepare the pasta according to the directions. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. Saute the minced garlic in the olive oil being careful not to burn the garlic. Once the garlic is softened and is starting to sizzle add the zucchini, salt and red pepper. Saute the zucchini for approximately 8 minutes stirring frequently. Next, add the tomatoes and the wine. Simmer until the zucchini is tender and the sauce liquid is reduced to a nice consistency. Add the scalllops into the pan and cook until opaque and just cooked through. Toss the sauce with the fettucine. Add the basil and parmesan. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese

Pork roll (aka Taylor Ham) is the quintessential NJ breakfast splurge- paired with a farm-fresh fried egg, american cheese and a kaiser roll - sinfully good!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chicken Sandwich with Provolone & Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe was on sale this week for an amazing 98 cents per pound so I grabbed a few bunches. I love it so much! I think with broccoli rabe it is either a love or hate thing. I cannot sell my brother on it...- he thinks it's vile - I just don't get it.

I love this simple and delicious sandwich. Breaded chicken cutlets, provolone cheese and garlicky, sauteed broccoli rabe on delicious, crunchy, NJ Italian bread. Oh my! This travels well for a picnic and is really good. I am packing this for the beach.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shrimp with Basil-Garlic Butter

NJ meets Brooklyn! Fresh basil from my backyard, lots of fresh NJ grown garlic and this ultra-delicious recipe from Henry's End in Brooklyn, NY - a heavenly meeting! This recipe is super easy to put together and is impressive enough to serve guests. I have made it both as an appetizer or as an entree by adding pasta. I decrease the butter to 3 tablespoons (original recipe calls for 6 tbs), which makes it a little healthier, yet still really good. Buon Appetito!

Shrimp with Basil-Garlic Butter

12 jumbo shrimp (3/4 pound), shelled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté shrimp until just done. Transfer shrimp to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add garlic to skillet and cook, stirring, over moderate heat 15 seconds, then stir in wine, juice, and tomatoes. Boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by two thirds. Swirl in butter and basil over low heat and season with salt and pepper. Toss shrimp into the pan and coat with the sauce.

Adapted from Gourmet May 2000
Henrys End Restaurant Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw

Back to healthy!

I have been craving theses tacos - so incredibly fast and easy - and absolutely OMG amazing! I promise you will not miss the meat! The black beans scented with cumin are so good and combine beautifully with the crisp, fresh slaw made with fresh cilantro, lime juice, green onions, olive oil and hot sauce. I picked up a fresh, NJ cabbage from the farm market and shredded it myself. You could use a bagged coleslaw mix as well. A little kick from the hot sauce and the tang of the feta - divine. A really nice depth of flavors from something so simple, healthy and budget friendly. These are addictive!

Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw
1 can (15-ounce) black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 white or yellow corn tortillas
1 tablespoon lime juice
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Ground black pepper, to taste

Hot sauce, to taste (I use Frank's Red Hot)
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. In a small bowl, combine the beans, cumin and salt. Use a fork to partially mash. Divide the mixture between the tortillas, spreading it evenly over 1 side of each. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the coleslaw mix, scallions and cilantro, then toss well. Season with pepper and hot sauce. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 3 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the tortillas in a single layer, bean side up, in batches if necessary, and cook for 1 minute.
4. Fold the tacos in half, then cook for about another minute per side, or until golden brown.
5. Fill each taco with a quarter of the coleslaw mixture and the feta cheese. If desired, drizzle with additional hot sauce.

Recipe Source: Bon Appetit Magazine (February 2009)
by the Bon Appetit Test Kitchens

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homemade Beer Battered Onion Rings

Tonight's dinner - pure comfort food. Grilled sirloin steak , smashed red potatoes, green beans and mushrooms with shallots, and onion rings. Well, healthy kind of went by the wayside tonight but I had red potatoes, green beans, crimini mushrooms, vidalia onions and I picked up a sirloin steak. The weather in NJ has been cool and actually fall-like, especially for July. This kind of meal just seemed fitting and was really good.

The onion rings are so super easy and will rival the best you can get out. It is the kind of recipe that I kind of hate, yet love. Seems semi-homemade-esque. Sorry Sandra Lee but I just never really got your whole food philosophy. Well I digress...

Boxed pancake batter (I used Aunt Jemima)

  • Prepare according to instructions except substitute beer for the milk (how can you go wrong?)
  • Slice vidalia onions thickly
  • Toss in dry pancake mix
  • Next, coat sliced onions in beer batter
  • Fry until golden in vegetable oil


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Stayed late at work and have lots going on, so tonight's dinner was fast, spicy (and late)! I had chicken on hand plus a huge bag of fresh picked green beans ($2 at Samaha's!) - and yes still more zucchini... So I made buffalo chicken sandwiches with a side of garlic and red pepper sauteed vegetables. Really fast, delicious and fairly healthy (sans the pan fried chicken and butter). Great for satisfying fast food cravings - way cheaper, healthier and soooo good!

For the chicken:

1 lb. trimmed boneless, skinless chicken breast (sliced thinly)
flour for dredging
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten with a tsp. water
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Season flour with salt, pepper and the cayenne. Dredge the chicken in the flour. Dip in the egg wash and then coat with the panko. Pan fry in hot peanut oil until golden brown and cooked through.

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. butter
1 cup hot sauce ( I used Frank's Red Hot)

Melt the butter, combining with the hot sauce. Coat the cooked chicken with the hot sauce. Serve on a toasted roll with lettuce (I used mesculin), sliced tomatoes, blue cheese dressing and pickles.
Sauteed Garlic and Red Pepper Vegetables

1/2 lb. green beans trimmed
2 zucchini sliced and halved
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and fresh ground pepper

I steamed the prepared vegetables in the microwave for 6 minutes. I then heated the olive oil in a saute pan, added the garlic and sauteed until softened. Next I added the steamed vegetables red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sauteed until crisp tender. Then we ate! Really good!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chicken Souvlaki

I got a very late start on dinner tonight. What ingredients do I have on hand? Chicken, pork chops, zucchini, lemons, red onion, tomatoes, potatos, cucumbers, green beans and OH fresh mint. Yes, I also have pita bread. Greek it is! Must avoid zucchini - just for today - we have been overloaded... Got it - Chicken Souvlaki on pita with tzatziki. Unfortunately, I didn't have any kalamata olives on hand. I substituted plain old black olives - still good. Oh, if I only had stopped at the Greek store in Kenilworth! Love that place! Think 30 kinds of olives and galaktoboureko....Well, soon. I also made some Alexia waffle fries (courtesy of Costco) - a little fresh lemon juice and feta - voila, easy, Greek style fries. I will definitely make this again once NJ tomatoes are here. Greek Night- fast, healthy, delicious - OPA!

Chicken Souvlaki

Adapted from: Real Simple

4 pieces flat bread or pitas
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small cucumber, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Heat oven to 200° F. Wrap the bread in foil and place in oven.In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, Feta, and olives.In a large bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vinegar, and the lemon juice. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated. Pour 2 1/2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the tomato mixture, toss, and set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining vinaigrette, toss, and set aside.Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken but not the liquid to the skillet and heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and the remaining vinegar. Spread the bread with some of the yogurt sauce and top with the chicken. Add the tomato salad and fold.

I did not make the cucumber sauce above. Instead, I made my favorite tzatziki recipe (below). So good. I also grilled the chicken (on skewers).

For tzatziki:
½ English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated (¾ cup) (drain well)
½ cup plain yogurt, preferably whole milk yogurt (Greek yogurt)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Source: Everyday Food - Martha Stewart

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wemrock Orchards Apple Cider Donuts

I'm not too much of a sweets person but these donuts are insanely good! Freshly made in Freehold, NJ. I pick them up every so often (when I cannot control myself) from Samaha's farm market in Aberdeen - more convenient than Freehold for me. Must resist next time!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Indian Chicken Burgers & Spiced Chickpeas

Well, I picked up some beautiful NJ grown cilantro, So that is my inspiration for tonight's dinner. This one is for my friend RG. I am not too adept at Indian cooking but love the flavors. I am not sure how authentic these recipes are but definitely Indian inspired, delicious and pretty healthy. I am happy with the results of my efforts tonight. We were so hungry and it was so good. I realized later that I never took a picture of the final plate with the naan, sauce, cucumbers and cilantro!

Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers

( Savory Spicy Sweet, originally from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast)
I served the chicken burgers with Naan and Indian Spiced Chick Peas - Yum!

Indian Spiced Chickpeas - delicious recipe on So good!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Italian Zucchini Casserole

So What Did I Make with the $2 Bag of Zucchini???

Zucchini, zucchini, I heart zucchini. Well, I bought a whole bag of beautiful, fresh zucchini from Samaha's - my favorite farmstand. I decided to make a recipe straight from my childhood - Zucchini Casserole we called it. This recipe came from a neighbor who was born in, and spent her childhood, in Italy. Boy could she cook! Her house always smelled so good and a big pot of something delicious was always on the stove. Once I tasted this, I was hooked! So different from my Irish/German heritage. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of my heritage and each do have their own great culinary contributions (i.e. Irish butter and Phlaumenkuchen). I guess I have always been an Italian wannabe, although lately I have been sort of Greek obsessed - well I love the Mediterranean! So anyway here is Josie's recipe as remembered and perhaps Americanized or NJized...

6-8 zucchini sliced crosswise 1/2" thick
1 large onion diced
4tbs. butter
4 tbs. olive oil
2 28 oz. cans whole peeled San Marzano or plum tomatoes
1 cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese
Salt to taste
8 slices white bread - cubed
garlic butter

Steam the sliced zucchini until tender and drain well (I blot with paper towels). Meanwhile dice the onion and saute it in the butter and olive oil until the onion is tender and transluscent. Add the canned tomatoes, cheese and salt to taste to the onions. Simmer about 30 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the tomato mixture to the zucchinis in a large casserole dish (9X12). Top the dish with cubed white bread and drizzle with garlic butter. Place in the oven at 375 degrees until the casserole is heated through and the bread is lightly toasted and brown.

Simple and delicious way to use those wonderful NJ zucchinis. I love summertime!