Tag Archives: peas

Back of the Fridge Chicken Soup

Ever have one of those days when you just want to clean everything out of your fridge but you can’t throw it away because it’s still ok to eat? I did that last week. I had a bunch of little containers with leftover veggies, leftover rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and a freezer full of turkey stock I made from the my Thanksgiving in July dinner. You can use whatever you have left in your fridge or freezer and it will be delicious! I had some frozen mushrooms also that I threw in. It was very tasty! We actually had it two nights in a row.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups chicken or turkey broth or stock

1 8oz. package Tofu Shirataki Noodles, prepared according to package

4 cups mixed veggies of your choice (I used a mix of frozen chopped spinach, broccoli rabe w/chicken sausage, mushrooms, peas, green beans, onion and garlic), chopped into bite sized pieces

1-2 cups chopped leftover chicken, whatever you have is good

1 15-16oz. can cannellini beans drained and rinsed.

½ cup chopped parsley

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. Saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil. When soft pour in broth and rest of the ingredients except for the beans, parsley and noodles.

2. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until everything is heated through.

3. Add the beans and noodles and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so until the beans are heated through. Add the parsley and serve.

4. Serve with parmesan cheese if you like!

Makes 4-6 servings.

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Italian Sauces (Part 1)

When most people think of Italian sauces they usually think of the tomato sauce, marinara sauce, alfredo sauce and probably white clam sauce. But there are so many more sauces out there  that are all wonderful in their own way. Growing up in my house my mother used to serve us a quick spaghetti meal we called Aiole. It was a basic olive oil and garlic sauce. Simple and fast and it was delicious. I am going to go through most of the basic sauces out there and hopefully put in some pictures so you know what they look like. I will have the second half of them next week so keep an eye open for them!

ALFREDO: Alfredo sauce is rich with heavy cream, butter, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It is best known when used with fettuccine. Love the sauce, hate the fat and calories! A luxury I must have every so often. You don’t have to limit it to fettuccine either, use it on any kind of pasta you want. Usually the heavier pastas do best. Throw some chicken or shrimp in there as well and it gets even better!

Fettuccine Alfredo

AGLIO E OLIO: This is a traditional Italian sauce (it’s what we called Aiole) that can be made on a budget. This is probably why we had it so often. It is said to have originated in the isolated region of Abruzzo but it is popular everywhere in Italy. It is usually served with spaghetti (that’s how we had it) and the sauce is made by lightly sautéing minced or pressed garlic in olive oil, sometimes adding dried red pepper flakes. You can also add finely chopped fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

Aglio e Olio

ARRABBIATA: Arrabbiata is Italian for “angry”. This is a zesty tomato based sauce that gets its heat from chili peppers. It is basically a Roman sauce of garlic, tomatoes, and red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. Basil is used sometimes though most chefs in Italy don’t use it. This dish is usually served with pasta and chopped fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

Spaghetti Arrabbiata

BOLOGNESE: Bolognese sauce is a robust meat sauce also known as ragù (no not the jar sauce!). It is a hearty sauce with ground beef or pork, pancetta, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and celery. The sauce is sometimes enhanced by adding a little bit of wine, cream and seasoning. This sauce originated in Bologna, Italy where the natives traditionally serve it with freshly made tagliatelle and their traditionally green lasagna. Spaghetti alla Bolognese is a form that is popular outside of Italy which consists of a meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti with a good sprinkling of grated Parmigiano cheese. What is really funny about this version is that it never really existed in Bologna, where the sauce is always served with tagliatelle or lasagna (egg pastas). Spaghetti is a durum wheat pasta from Naples.

Spaghetti Bolognese

CARBONARA: Carbonara is another popular sauce that is usually made with eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese and bits of bacon. Many times this sauce also has green peas in it as well. Usually served with spaghetti it is also used on fettuccine, rigatoni or bucatini. Recipes vary but all agree that cheese, eggs, cured fatty pork (pancetta) and black pepper are basic. Origins of this dish are obscure and it has many legends about it. It was created in the middle of the 20th century so it’s not that old as far as sauces go.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

CLAM SAUCE: The most popular clam sauce is the white version. Usually served with linguine this popular sauce has minced clams, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and parsley. There is also a thin tomato sauce with minced clams. You don’t usually see this recipe on menus much. Some versions use whole clams and hot pepper flakes.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

GENOVESE/PESTO: I don’t think I’ve ever really heard of a Genovese sauce before. Most of us know this sauce as Pesto. The name means it originates from Genoa (imagine that!), which is a coastal city in NW Italy. Genovese/Pesto sauce is an uncooked sauce traditionally made of fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil. It didn’t really become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.

Fettuccine with Pesto Sauce

GREMOLATA: Ok here is another sauce I never heard of anywhere. It is more of a chopped herb condiment. It’s typically made of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. Traditionally it’s used as an accompaniment to the Italian classic Osso Buco (braised veal shank). The citrus element in this actually makes it a great addition to seafood dishes as well!

Gremolata Sauce

MARINARA: This is the classic Italian tomato sauce. It’s seasoned with onions, garlic and oregano, and basil. It’s a favorite on pasta, pizza and meats. This is another sauce that has many variations. Some of them even call for adding capers, olives and spices. Italians refer to marinara only in association with other recipes. Spaghetti alla marinara literally translates to mariner’s spaghetti. However, tomato sauce is called salsa al pomodoro which includes marinara sauce as well as other tomato-based sauce. Marinara sauce was invented by cooks aboard Neapolitan ships in the mid-1500s after the Spaniards introduced the tomato (a New World vegetable) to Europe! This is a very easy sauce to make and it resists spoiling due to the high acid content of the tomatoes. This is why it was ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before we had refrigeration! This sauce is great on so many pastas as well as chicken, pork, veal, fish, you name it!

Ravioli Marinara

MORE SAUCES NEXT SUNDAY!!

Creamy Cucumber Pasta Salad

Any excuse to make a pasta salad is good for me. This is a different take on the usual pasta salads because you don’t usually have cucumbers in a pasta salad. This also has peas and cubed ham. Sounds delicious just thinking about it! I always use the lighter versions of mayonnaise and sour cream but you don’t have to. It’s up to you. I will also use the whole wheat pasta in this recipe but if you really don’t like it just use regular pasta. Either way it’s a tasty side dish for a hot summer day! Or cold winter day! Pasta salads are always a good quick meal or side dish for any occasion.

Photo is for illustrative purposes only

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup light mayonnaise

½ cup light sour cream

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, chopped in chunks

½ teaspoon dried dill weed, crushed

2 green onions (scallions), chopped

¼ cup chopped black olives

1 teaspoon white pepper

8 ounces fusilli pasta (spirals)

1 cup peas (canned is fine)

1 lb. smoked or plain ham, cubed


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a food processor or blender, purée the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, honey, salt, cucumber, dill weed, green onions and pepper.

2. Cook pasta according to package, drain.

3. Toss warm pasta with the dressing ingredients. Stir in the peas and ham and olives. Chill until ready to serve.

You can even add some shredded cheddar or other cheese if you want.

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK MY WEBSITE: http://www.cucinadiandrea.com!!!

Buying Fresh Fruits & Vegetables at Their Peak (Part 2)

As promised here is the list of when it is the best time to buy fresh vegetables, when they are in season.  What are the best vegetable to buy now? Or in 3 months from now?  Right now in Florida where I live the corn is just starting to come out where in the north it won’t be at its best until August or September. I remember when we spent the summers in Maine as kids and we couldn’t wait for August because we’d go to the farm stands and get all of that delicious sweet yellow and white corn, fresh from the farms. It was so crunchy and sweet and you could eat 2 or 3 ears at a sitting without any problem.  Some vegetables are great all year-long which is a good thing! I hope this information helps out when you’re shopping. Another thing when you are buying items at their peak they are usually the best price as well. So keep that in mind as well! Happy shopping and eat your veggies!

  • Artichokes: March-May: Look for heavy, compact, plump globes. Large tightly closed, fleshy leaf scales. Good green color. Heavy for size.
  • Asparagus: March-June: Look for tightly closed buds. Straight, tender, rich green stalks. Open tips and angular or ridged spears are signs of over maturity.
  • Green/Wax Beans: April-October: Look for crisp, long, straight, blemish-free pods.
  • Lima Beans: April-August: Look for bright color for the variety. Crisp, dark-green, well-filled pods.
  • Beets: June-October: Look for firm, round, smooth, deep red-colored roots. Fresh-looking tops. Avoid those with long roots and rough, scaly areas on surface, because they are tough, fibrous and strong flavored.
  • Belgian Endive: October-May: Look for firm without bruises. Color should be white with greenish cast.
  • Broccoli: October-May: Look for firm, closed, dark-green florets. Firm, tender stalks. Yellowing green-colored heads of broccoli are over mature.
  • Brussel Sprouts: October-November: Look for miniature, compact, bright-green heads.
  • Cabbage: All Year: Look for well-trimmed, solid heads. Heavy for size.
  • Carrots: All Year: Look for firm, bright-colored, smooth, clean, well-shaped. Avoid rough, cracked or green-tinged roots.
  • Cauliflower: September-November: Look for bright-green leaves enclosing firm, closely packed creamy-white curd or florets. Avoid bruised or open florets.
  • Celery: All Year: Look for fresh, crisp branches. Light green to green color. Should not have wilted, rough look or puffy feel to the stalk.
  • Corn: May-September: Look for fresh-leaved, green husks. Plump, milky kernels. Avoid cobs with small or large, dented or shrunken kernels.
  • Cucumbers: May-August: Look for bright, shiny green; firm; well-shaped.
  • Eggplant: August-September: Look for firm, heavy, smooth, even dark purple. Free of bruises or cuts.
  • Lettuce: All Year: Look for fresh green leaves with no wilted or bruised areas. Heading varieties of lettuce should be medium weight for size.
  • Mushrooms: November-April: Look for dry, firm caps and stems. Small brown spots or open caps are still good in flavor.
  • Okra: May-September: Should have tender, bright-green, bruise-free pods, less than 4½ inches long. Pale, faded, hard pods are tough and fibrous.
  • Onions: All Year: Look for well-shaped; hard; small necks. Dry paper skins. Free of green spots or green-depressed leathery areas. Crisp green tops. Two to three-inch bleached-white roots.
  • Parsnips: October-April: Should be small to medium size; smooth-skinned; firm. Decay and bruise free.
  • Peas: April-July: Look for well-filled, bright green. Swollen, light-colored or gray-flecked pods contain tough, starchy peas.
  • Peppers: All Year: Look for good shape; firm exterior; thick flesh and bright, glossy skin.
  • Potatoes (White): All Year: Should be fairly smooth; well-shaped; firm. Free of most blemishes. Avoid bruised, sprouting, shriveled or green-tinged.
  • Potatoes (Sweet): September-December: Look for thick, chunky, medium-sized with no bruises or decay. Should taper at the end.
  • Radishes: May-July: Look for medium-sized (¾-1 inch diameter); good red color; plump; round; firm; crisp. Bright-green tops.
  • Spinach: March-May: Look for large, bright, blemish-free leaves with good green color. Yellowing indicates the start of decay. Avoid leaves with coarse stems.
  • Squash (Summer): June-August: Look for bright color; smooth; glassy skin. Heavy for the size; firm; well-shaped.
  • Squash (Winter): September-November: Should be heavy for the size. Hard, good-colored, unblemished rind.
  • Tomatoes: May-August: Should be well-formed; blemish-free; plump. Over all rich red color and slight softness.
  • Turnips/Rutabagas: September-March: Should be small to medium size; smooth; firm; heavy. Few leaf scars at top and few fibrous roots at base. Purple-tinged white ones are turnips. Yellow-skinned, larger roots are rutabagas.

Mom & Grandma’s Arroz Con Pollo

Mom and me at 4 months (May 1962)

My mother and grandmother used to make this recipe quite a bit for us when we were growing up. Nothing I tried in restaurants ever compared to their cooking! It has been years since I’ve had this or even attempted to make it myself. It’s a Puerto Rican recipe and always brings me back to those days growing up. We had all kinds of different ethnic dishes in our house. Our mom wanted us to be well-rounded when it came to food. Maybe that’s why I’m obsessed with food!

Grandma with me (23 months) and Billy (11 months) Christmas 1963


INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon salt

2 peppercorns

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, diced

1 teaspoon capers

1 cup uncooked rice

1-2 packets Sazon

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 ½- 3 lb. chicken pieces

¼ cup butter

6 pitted green olives, chopped

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

½ cup tomato sauce

1 can green peas

2 tablespoons achiote for color (Sofrito)

slivered pimentos (from a jar)


DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine oregano, peppercorns, garlic, salt, oil and vinegar. Crush together. Rub mixture over chicken.

2. Brown chicken pieces in butter in large skillet.

3. Add onion, green pepper, olives, capers, achiote, sazon, tomato  and tomato sauce to chicken in skillet. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Drain peas, reserving liquid.  Add enough water to liquid to make 2 ½ cups.

5. Add the water to skillet and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in rice. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

6. Add peas. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with pimento strips.

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