Our two sons and their friends have repeatedly asked my husband and I to write a cookbook. We decided to create this blog instead as we thought that it would be fun to share with a wider audience.

Enjoy & hopefully you share our motto that "Cooking is fun" !!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

You can substitute a jarred sauce for this recipe, but it won't taste like mine  :-)


1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
2    large cloves garlic
1    tablespoon each - basil, parsley, oregano & salt (mix all together in a little bowl)
1    28 oz can crushed tomatoes (Tuttorusso preferred)
1      8 oz can tomato sauce
2    tablespoons olive oil

Add the oil to a medium size pot and then add the onions and a pinch of salt.  Turn the heat to medium low and cook the onions until they are transparent about 5 mins.
Add the grated carrot and cook for  2 -3 minutes.  Peel and crush the garlic into the pot and cook until fragrant (do not brown the garlic).  Add the herbs and cook for 1 minute to release their oils.

Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour or so.  Stir every so often so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Chicken Parmesan

1 1/2 lbs chicken boneless chicken breasts
1       egg beaten with one tablespoon of water
1 1/2 cups Italian flavored breadcrumbs (4 C recommended)
6 oz  shredded 4 cheese pizza blend or mozzarella
vegetable or canola oil for frying

Trim all fat from the chicken breasts and place one breast on a cutting board.  Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap and pound out until thin.  Do not make them too thin as they will tend to dry out when cooking.  Cut the chicken into manageable pieces.

Mix the egg and water very well until frothy.

Put your breadcrumbs onto a platter or large plate.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Dip one cutlet into the egg mixture allowing the extra to drip back into the bowl and then coat it in the bread crumbs on both sides.  Make sure to really press the chicken into the crumbs so they are well coated. Place it on to a plate or cooling rack and repeat for all pieces.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with vegetable or canola oil until it begins to glisten.  At this time put a couple of pinches of the bread crumbs into the pan and if they immediately start to sizzle the oil is ready.

Add a few pieces of chicken at a time, do not crowd the pan or the oil will loose some of it's heat.  Cook on one side until lightly browned which should take only 2 mins.

Turn the chicken over and cook for 2 mins.  Remove all chicken to a baking sheet and repeat with any other pieces.

Top the cutlets with a generous amount of sauce.  This is very important as the sauce keeps the chicken oh so moist !

Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and cook for 8 mins.  Remove the pan and top the chicken with  the cheese.  And place it back in to the oven for 2 -3 mins until the cheese has melted.

Remove and sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve with either crusty bread or some pasta.

Enjoy !!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grandpa's Chicken

This recipe is so simple and so flavorful.  The best thing is how versatile it is, if someone doesn't like one of the ingredients than don't add it for their "portion".  

Portions are per person

1 -2 chicken thighs -  clean off extra fat but leave skin on
1 small onion  – sliced
2 or more 2 carrots cut into pieces
1 stalk celery cut into pieces
1 small potato quartered
½ sweet potato quartered
Salt & pepper
Dried Basil
Dried oregano
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the veggies in a bowl and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Add a little oil and toss them around until they are all coated with.  

Add about ¼ cup of water to a roasting pan and add the chicken. Rub a little gravy master over the chicken and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, garlic and onion powder.  Pour the veggies over the chicken and cover with foil.

Put in the oven and cook for 45 minutes then remove the foil and “push” the veggies down into the pan juices and return to oven, add a little water if needed.  Return to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes.  You can add a can of peas during the last 10 minutes or so.

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is a little time consuming, but well worth it.  The sauce is better if done earlier in the day so that the flavors can really blend together, but it is not necessary.  Just give yourself enough time to let it cool down to room temperature after the 30 minute cooking time.

Enchilada Sauce :
1   28 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1    teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 sprigs cilantro
1/2 cup chicken broth

Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin and chicken broth to a pot and mix thoroughly. Submerge the cilantro sprigs leaving the stems hanging over the side.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove the cilantro springs.  Let sauce cool down to room temperature.

Chicken Enchiladas:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4    cups of shredded or chopped chicken (approximately 4 lbs. of chicken. I braised chicken thighs for this)
1/2 small onion finely chopped
3    scallions chopped
1    teaspoon cumin
2    tablespoons sour cream
1    teaspoon salt
3 - 4 tablespoons water or chicken broth

8    6 inch corn tortillas
Enchilada sauce
6 - 8oz shredded cheddar cheese or any blend you like

Mix all of the filling ingredients together.

Place the tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave for about 15 - 30 seconds until they are softened. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with some of the sauce.

Take one of the tortillas and dip it into the sauce and place it on a plate.

Place 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture down the middle of the tortilla and then fold the edges over.

Place the tortillas seam side down into the baking dish.  Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.  Generously cover them with about a cup or so of sauce.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile heat the remainder of the sauce on a low flame to thicken it a bit. Remove the enchiladas from the oven after 30 minutes and sprinkle the top completely with cheese and then bake for another 10 minutes.  Serve with the extra sauce and your favorite enchilada toppings.

Enjoy !!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Artichoke Dip Bread

No crackers required !!  If you have your own favorite artichoke dip recipe then use that as long as it yields the same amount as the below so that the bread is completely stuffed.

1   14 oz can of artichoke hearts drained and chopped
1    8 oz package softened cream cheese 
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1    tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1    tablespoon garlic powder
1    loaf of Italian bread

Mix the dip ingredients in a bowl keeping aside 1/4 cup of the parmesan.  Cut the bread in half lengthwise and hollow out about 1/2 inch from both pieces.

Stuff both sides of the bread with the dip.  Put the bread on a baking sheet and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the baking sheet on the top rack of a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on both sides.  Put it back in the oven until the cheese get nicely browned, do not broil it as it will BURN.  ENJOY !!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MaMaDuke’s Chicken Soup

The chicken thighs give this soup a nice meaty flavor.  Place the thighs in the freezer for 30 minutes before removing the skin and fat.  This step makes it so much easier to do so !

6 chicken thighs – skin and excess fat removed
Water to cover
2 teaspoons salt & 1 teaspoon pepper
1 lb carrots  - peeled and chopped
4 – 5 stalks of celery - chopped
1 large onion – diced
1 48 oz can chicken broth

I use kitchen shears to remove the skin and fat.

Place the chicken thighs in a 7 – 8 quart pot and add salt, pepper & water to cover by 2 inches.    

Bring to a boil.

Turn it down to simmer and skim any foam that rises to the top. Cook for 30 minutes.

 Prepare your vegetables while the chicken is cooking.

Remove the chicken to a plate after 30 minutes, cover with tin foil and let cool.

Add the vegetables & the can of chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Turn it down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cooled chicken from the bones and cut into bite size pieces.  Add to the soup during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.  Serve over prepared rice or noodles. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shrimp & Pasta

There are tons of recipes for this dish out there, but this one is our creation. We buy bags of frozen cleaned shell on shrimp when our local market has them on sale. It is the same shrimp that the market sells to you from their fish counter which is usually more expensive. The shrimp broth brings so much amazing flavor to this dish !!
Serves 2 - 3

Shell on shrimp ( I used 20 large)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Lemon pepper (recommend Lawry’s)
1 chicken bullion cube (break it up into smaller pieces)
Two springs fresh thyme or a ¼ tsp dried
3 large cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
Dash red pepper flakes
Splash of white wine
1/2 lb thin spaghetti

Place the frozen shrimp in a bowl and fill with cold water.

Peel the shrimp when they are completely thawed and put the shells into a small pot.  Add water to just cover the shells. Smash one clove of garlic and add it to the pot along with the chicken bullion cube pieces.

Bring to a boil and turn it down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the broth reduces by half. See the difference in the two pictures below.

Meanwhile put the shrimp in a bowl and drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil (use a mild tasting oil as virgin has too strong of a taste for this dish).  Sprinkle the shrimp generously with the garlic powder, onion powder, and lemon pepper.  Put it in the fridge and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Start heating a large pot of water to cook the pasta.

When the shell broth is ready, strain it into a bowl pressing on gently down on the shells & set it aside.

Remove the shrimp from the fridge about 10 minutes before you are ready to sauté and sprinkle with a bit of salt.  

Place the remaining olive oil in a large skillet and turn on to medium heat. Immediately add the onions and sprinkle them with a little salt.

Cook them for about 5 minutes or until soft but not browned. Then crush 2 cloves of garlic and add to the pan along with a dash of red pepper flakes.  Continue stirring a couple of minutes so the garlic does not brown.   Start to cook the pasta at this time, remember to salt the water very generously. 

Add the shrimp all at once to the pan and cook for a minute or two until the underside is pink and they have curled slightly.

Flip them and then add ½ cup of the broth & a splash of white wine.  Turn heat to low & cook the shrimp for another 2 - 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta after 7 minutes and add it directly to the shrimp pan.  Turn the pan to low and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and cover for about 5 minutes so the pasta absorbs the extra sauce.  If it is too dry then add some more of the remaining shrimp stock. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve !!