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It's Not Just Popcorn!

Quinoa Shrimp Scampi

This recipe started out because I looked in my pantry and saw that I have just way too much quinoa in there. I have plain, red, tri-color and then I just bought a couple more packages at Home Goods! So I decided I needed to start using it more. The quinoa I used in this recipe was an Italian flavored one. I bought this container of Pereg quinoa in Home Goods for $3.99 and I used about half of the container in this recipe, about 1 cup. This brand comes in all kinds of flavors which is pretty cool so you can make whatever you’re in the mood for! I also bought a spinach version and a mushroom version. Just follow the directions on the package and you’re good to go! I also substituted the water with chicken broth, which gives it so much more flavor. A vegetable broth would work great too! But if that’s not something you would want to do then just use water. 

This is a quick meal you can throw together in under 30 minutes for sure. Great for after work when you want something nutritious and delicious! This was a nice filling and satisfying meal for two of us but if you want it can serve 4 as a side dish.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pereg “All’ Italiana” quinoa (Use 1 cup and cook according to package)
  • 12-16 ounces uncooked extra large-jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (no tails on unless you like that sort of thing- I do not)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 large tomato chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Parmesan cheese for topping

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook quinoa according to directions on package. When it is done, keep it on low to stay warm.
  2. Add the oil and butter to a medium skillet and saute the garlic till soft, just a few minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook on medium heat. A couple of minutes on each side until shrimp turns pink is good. Do NOT overcook.
  4. Add in the lemon juice and herbs and mix well.
  5. Add the chopped tomato to the quinoa mixture.
  6. Divide up the quinoa into flat bowls and top evenly with the shrimp mixture. Make sure the delicious juices are evenly distributed as well.
  7. Serve with some parmesan cheese on top if you like!

 

 

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Mediterranean Dip With Toasted Pita Chips

This dip is a little bit Greek and Italian, hence the Mediterranean reference. It’s a much healthier dip than the ones laden with mayonnaise and sour cream. Not that those dips aren’t good, it’s just that we can’t eat them all the time. This dip uses canellini beans which have fiber, a good thing. It can be served with toasted pita chips or crostini, or any sturdy chip. I will also include a recipe to make your own Toasted Pita Chips. It’s so easy! And if you use the low carb pita chips you can save more calories and add more fiber! But if you don’t have to worry about calories or fiber go all the way with the full fat stuff! (I wish I could!)

DIP

INGREDIENTS:

1 can (15oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 ounces feta cheese (I use light Feta)

1 container (6-7 oz.) plain Greek-style yogurt (any brand is fine)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill

1 large clove garlic, minced

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a food processor put the beans, feta cheese, yogurt, garlic and lemon juice. Puree until smooth.

2. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped dill. Season with the salt and pepper as you like.

Serve right away or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 2 cups


TOASTED PITA CHIPS

INGREDIENTS

8 Pita Rounds

olive oil

dried oregano

garlic powder

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Split the pita rounds horizontally, then cut each piece in half. Or just cut into wedge shapes and separate the pita. Depends on how big you want the chips

2. Brush with olive oil and season with the oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

3. Bake on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet, until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

**UPDATE: 7/12/10** I just made this dip and chips. Delicious! So tasty and the chips came out great! Though I may have put too much salt on them, but then again, I love salt.

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Mediterranean Omelette

Last Sunday I started out making a Greek omelette then I added a few Italian ingredients and changed the name to Mediterranean Omelette. I used real eggs in this but you can, as always, use an egg substitute. Usually on the weekends I make egg salad for John but he likes it warm (yuck) and I like it cold. So this past weekend I decided to make a large omelette we could share. It was so good I wanted more. And I am not a breakfast person! Though the gyro omelettes we had in St. Augustine at Athena’s Greek Restaurant were incredible! Nothing like it anywhere! Ok I digress…This omelette was nice and easy and since we both liked all the ingredients I could make it in one pan and just split it.

INGREDIENTS:

4 large eggs

½ cup fat-free half and half

½ cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1/3 cup red onion, chopped small

1/3 cup tomato, chopped small

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

1 teaspoon fresh basil chopped/torn

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ cup Light Feta Cheese (crumbled)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter/butter substitute

DIRECTIONS:

1. Beat the eggs and half and half till light and fluffy. Set aside.

2. Heat a medium skillet  and add butter and olive oil. Melt on medium heat till a little bubbly.

3. Add the onion and sauté till soft. (A few minutes) Add garlic and sauté a few more minutes.

4. Add the spinach and stir well into the onion and garlic, till warm. (a few minutes)

5. Add the egg mixture. Add the tomato and stir well.

6. Cook the eggs, letting the liquid run to the edges, constantly pulling edges away till almost all liquid is dry. Add the basil and oregano and feta cheese.

7. Gently fold over half the omelette and press gently to seal. If you wish to flip it go ahead, but this is a large omelette and it may be hard to do.

8. Cut in half and serve!

Serves 2

DON’T FORGET MY WEBSITE!!! www.cucinadiandrea.com

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Italian Sausage & Peppers

This is a dish that I actually don’t really eat. I love the sausage part but if you remember I don’t like peppers. I know, what kind of Italian am I if I don’t like peppers. I’m trying to like them but it’s not working. Anyway, this is a very popular dish at our family gatherings. My brother-in-law Carl makes an incredible version of this. Nice and spicy, just how my Dad likes as well as my husband. Carl and my husband say it can never be too hot! They both have asbestos mouths so we can’t let them judge how hot things are! The hotness in this recipe will be decided on the type of sausage used. Hot sausage or sweet sausage, that is the question. I prefer sweet but those of you who love to sweat when you eat go for the hot!

Italian Sausage & Peppers

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds Italian sausage (sweet or hot, or both!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 large onions, slivered

3 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into strips

3 sweet green peppers, seeded and cut into strips

½ teaspoon oregano

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pierce each sausage in several places with a fork and place in a heavy frying pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, over medium-low heat. Turn sausage occasionally and cook until well browned on all sides.

2. While the sausages are cooking, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic and onion. Mix in the peppers and oregano. Don’t cover the pan or the peppers and onions will get steamed.

3. Cook until the onions are lightly brown and the peppers are tender. Cut the cooked sausage into bite size pieces and add to the onion and pepper mixture. Mix well. Place on a warm platter to serve.

Serves 4-6

This dish is great with a nice loaf  of crusty Italian bread and a glass of Chianti!

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Eggplant Balls

Eggplant isn’t just for Eggplant Parmigiana or Ratatouille. This is a great vegetarian “meatball”. They can be fried, baked or just put into the sauce and cooked that way. They can be used in an antipasto also! Eggplant is very versatile and this is a new twist on preparing it! Even kids will love these! Serve it with spaghetti or pasta that you like. It goes great in a fresh marinara sauce to don’t be afraid, try it, you’ll like it!

Eggplant Balls

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon water

1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup grated cheese of choice

olive oil

marinara sauce, if desired

grated mozzarella cheese, if desired

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and gently sauté garlic until golden brown. Add the diced eggplant, the tablespoon of water and cover. Reduce heat and gently steam until eggplant is very soft.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggplant, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, and cheese. Mix well and let stand 20 minutes. Form into balls and fry on all sides in olive oil.

OPTION:

Place eggplant balls on a greased pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 325°. They can then be covered in marinara sauce and sprinkled with grated mozzarella cheese.

OR you can drop them in spaghetti sauce and serve in place of meatballs!

Serves 4-6

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Cucuzzille

I know some of you are saying, huh? I am not sure if I even have it spelled right or not. The name is pronounced “cook it seal”. Or as I used to call it “Crooked Seals”. My dad makes this recipe alot though it is not one of my favorites. The rest of the family likes it though. The base of the recipe is Italian Squash, or cucuzza or cucuzzi. It’s sort of a stew type dish. My dad doesn’t add any seasonings to it either. But I think if you added parsley or basil or garlic it wouldn’t hurt. It is a pretty easy recipe to make but it does take time. It is a dish that cooks slow so don’t rush it. And it is better to let it sit for a little before serving. You can make it the day before and then just reheat when you are ready to eat it. It’s a great vegetarian dish as well.

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 medium green or yellow Italian squash, trimmed and sliced round. (about ¼” thick)

3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1″ chunks

2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced round (about ¼” thick)

1 large yellow onion, sliced

1-2 red bell peppers, sliced in 1″ wide slices and cut in half

2- 8oz. cans tomato sauce

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cucuzzi Squash

DIRECTIONS:

1. Fill a large saucepan with 1-2 inches of water. Place all ingredients into pot and steam on medium heat until vegetables are tender. This should be about 45 minutes to an hour-long. Add a little more water if needed to keep it from drying out.

2. When vegetables are just about ready stir in the tomato sauce gently. Try not to break up the vegetables but it’s ok if they do. Let sit about 15-30 minutes or serve next day. The more it sits the better the flavors will be.

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Nana’s Chicken-in-the-Oven

Well here is my second day of the blog! Today’s recipe is a main dish, chicken.

One of the best memories I have growing up is visiting my grandparents (Nana & Popi) in Long Island City. We were always wondering if Nana would make her famous Chicken-in-the-Oven! We called it that because that’s how she made it; in the oven. As kids it was the best tasting chicken we ever had and even today when we try to make it on our own, it’s never like Nana’s. Guess it’s because she made it with extra love just for us. Don’t worry, this isn’t a very tricky, old world recipe, with secret ingredients either. It is just a roasted chicken, but it is Nana’s roasted chicken. It’s super easy to make and of course delicious!


INGREDIENTS:

1 2-3lb roasting chicken or chicken parts

Garlic Powder

Dried Basil

Dried Parsley

Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Rinse and pat dry chicken or parts

Spread a light coating of the olive oil all over chicken.

Sprinkle garlic powder, basil and parsley all over chicken. Use as much as you like.

Place chicken in roasting pan and put in oven.

Whole chicken will take about an hour and parts about 45 minutes. When juices run clear it is done. Check with a meat thermometer also if you want to be sure. Skin should be golden brown and crispy.


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