Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

I think one of the prettiest salads you can have is the Caprese Salad.  It’s vibrant colors are so inviting, promising something creamy, fresh and delicious.

What you may ask is a Caprese Salad.  It’s an Italian salad of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil with a light vinaigrette dressing.  It’s said that Caprese Salad was originally made to honor the Italian flag which is Red, White, and Green; the same colors of the salad.

Caprese Salad is definitely a family favorite.  It’s not only delicious but it’s so easy to make.  We have it for lunch, as a panino or sandwich.  You can place the ingredients between 2 slices of bread or better yet a ciabatta roll, grill it just until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, and you have a wonderfully simple meal!

The most important thing to remember when making Caprese Salad at home is to use the freshest ingredients you can find.  This mean unless absolutely necessary the prepacked balls of mozzarella in the supermarket’s dairy case just won’t do!

Short of bringing home fresh mozzarella from Italy (which I’ve actually done) I usually find fresh mozzarella at Costco or the deli counter.  It’s the balls of cheese that’s usually floating in the tub it’s packaged in.  You’ll know it’s fresh because it’s softer than those hard balls packed in plastic wrap.

Tomatoes of course are fresh, pick nice ripe ones.  I get mine from my garden along with the fresh basil.  If you don’t have a basil plant (and you should! it’s so easy to keep even a small one in the kitchen window) you can buy fresh basil leaves at the grocery store.

Once you have all the fresh ingredients all  you really need is some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of Italian seasoning if  you have it, and some salt.  If you don’t have Italian seasoning you can use dried oregano, parsley, or basil or you can just use black pepper.

Caprese Salad is great for a light lunch or as a fresh addition to any meal.  It’s tasty and refreshing, the perfect summer salad!

Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

5-6 slices of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (slices should be about 1/2″ thick)

1 Firm Ripe Tomato – sliced in about 1/2″ thick rounds

3-6 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp. Italian Dressing

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/2″ rounds and arrange on a plate.  Alternate tomato and cheese to make it look nice.

You can also add a basil leaf between the cheese and tomato or you can place the leaves in the center.  Place the three ingredients on the plate any way you find pleasing.

Mix together oil and vinegar.

Add 1/2 Tsp. of Italian seasoning to the oil mixture and stir well.

Drizzle over the fresh ingredients just before serving.

Sprinkle remaining Italian Seasoning over all and season with salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

Caprese Salad
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Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare – Seafood Spaghetti

Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare – Seafood Spaghetti

 

In recent years we’ve been constant visitors to Italy.  We’ve always loved the country and have been vacationing there at least once a year, but since my daughter and her family have taken up residence in Vicenza, a small town in Northern Italy, we’ve been going more often.  And when we do go we spend lots of time sampling the local cuisine in and around town, it’s a different experience when you dine where the locals dine and by pass the touristy restaurants that serve substandard fare at very high prices.

One of our favorite local restaurants in town is called Regina’s.  Its a tiny place with seating for less than 20 people.  But the service if friendly and the food delicious!  My favorite dish is Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare or Seafood Spaghetti.  I know when you think spaghetti you think red sauce and meatballs.  That’s good too, but if you’re hungry for Seafood or just want something a bit more sophisticated then this dish is just what you need.

Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare is a pasta dish made with all types of seafood including clams, squid, shrimp, and muscles.  It can have a tomato based sauce like Arrabiata or a white sauce like a pesto or Alfredo.

I personally love a lighter sauce made with white wine, lemon juice, and butter.  That’s the recipe I’ll share today.  I normally make it with shrimp, clams, mussels, and lobster if I can find some.  You can use whatever seafood you prefer.  It’s good with pretty much any type of seafood.

Here’s the recipe!

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Ingredients:

1 Lb. Clams

1 Lb. Mussels

1 Lb. Shrimp – peeled and deveined but leave tail on

2-3 Small Lobster Tails – cut into 1 1/5″ pieces with shell on

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Butter

2-3 Cloves Garlic thinly sliced

1 Tsp. Italian Seasoning

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Cup White Wine

2 Cups Chicken Broth

1/2 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1/4 Cup Sundried Tomatoes

1 Lb. Cooked Spaghetti

Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

In a large pan melt butter in olive oil.

Saute garlic in butter mixture until it starts to cook, be careful not to burn.

Add seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Mix well.

Add wine and chicken stock.

Add clams and mussels.  Cook until shells open.

Add lobster pieces and cook until shell starts to turn red and meat starts to turn white.

Add shrimp.  Cook until shrimp turns pink and lobster is fully cooked.

Lower heat and stir in lemon juice and sundried tomatoes.

Remove from heat and serve over cooked pasta.  Garnish with shredded cheese.


Spaghetti ai Frutti de Mare - Seafood Spaghetti
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Italian Beef Drip Sandwhich

Italian Beef Drip Sandwhich

Are you mostly at home this summer with a bunch of kids who always seem to be  hungry?  Are you looking for something different to make for lunch or dinner?  Something filling, tasty, and easy to make?  Maybe even something you can make ahead and heat up when ready to serve?  I think this Italian Beef Drip Sandwich may be just the thing to keep everyone full and happy!

Italian Beef Drip Sandwiches are pretty much like French Dip Sandwiches.  Mainly they’re beef sandwiches that you dip in beef broth.  Now I love a Roast Beef French Dip Sandwich, specially one with onions and cheese, but sometimes you need a bit of spice and these Italian Beef Drip Sandwiches do just that!  They add a bit of spice or more than a bit if you like it hotter, to your meal.

They’re easy to make and can even be made a head of time and stored in the fridge until you need them.  I usually keep some on hand in the freezer during the summer, you never know when you need to make yummy sandwiches.  You can make the beef in your Crockpot, on your stove, or in your Instant Pot (if making in an instant pot adjust the liquids so you will have dipping broth); the idea is to cook the meat until it’s falling apart and easily shredded.

Once you have the meat filling, and the broth which is from slow cooking the meat, all you need is some nice crusty bread (I prefer hoagie rolls) and provolone cheese.  You slap them together, toast until the cheese melts, and serve with hot broth for dipping.  I love to serve them with my homemade potato chips!  It’s hearty enough to make a filling dinner for the whole family!

Ingredients:

1 Chuck Roast about 3 lbs. or more if you want to freeze some for later

1 Tbl. Salt

1/2 Tbl. Ground Black Pepper

2 Tbl. Italian Seasoning

2 Tbl. Minced Garlic

1/2 Jar of Whole Peperoncini

1/2 Jar of Roasted Red Peppers

1/2 Jar of Pimiento Peppers

2 Tbs. Sliced Jalapeno Peppers – adjust this to taste

1 Box Beef Broth – use more if making in an instant pot

Provolone Cheese Slices

Crusty Bread Rolls

Directions:

Place all ingredients except bread and cheese into your Crockpot, stock pot, or Instant Pot.

If using Crockpot cook on low heat for 8 hours.  If using Instant Pot cook on stew setting.  If cooking on the stove top simmer it in a covered pot until the meat is falling apart, this should take at least 4-5 hours.

Remove cooked beef from pot and shred using two forks.  If using right away then following steps to make sandwich.  If storing for later use place in sealed container with peppers and liquid from the pot and refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze.

To make sandwiches cut bread in half and lightly toast in the oven.

Fill with bread with shredded meat and peppers, top with cheese.

Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese melts and the edges of the bread are toasted a bit more.

Serve with a small bowl of the hot broth.

To make later just reheat the meat, peppers, and broth in the microwave oven before putting sandwich together.

 


Instant Pot Italian Drip Sandwhiches
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Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Looking for something easy and delicious to make for dinner tonight?  How about this one skillet Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce?

It’s very simple to make using ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.  It has meat, veggies, and dairy and when served with a whole wheat pasta your grains are covered too!

I use fresh Basil leaves from my Kitchen Garden and I use chicken thighs because I believe the thighs tend to be juicier, but if you want less fat then use chicken breasts, but pound them into thin pieces so they will cook faster and not get dry.  I can whip this up in less than a half hour and my family loves it.

Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Ingredients:

2 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

1 Cup Tomato Sauce

1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced

1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Cup Fresh Spinach Leaves

5-6 Fresh Sweet Basil Leaves (try to use Sweet Basil, Thai Basil has a stronger flavor)

Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese for Topping

Pasta or your preferred starch

Directions:

Pat chicken dry with paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt & pepper

Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet

When oil is hot add chicken and cook until both sides are seared about 5 minutes per side

Remove chicken to a plate and set aside

In your now empty skillet add tomato sauce, garlic, and cream

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low to simmer sauce

Stir in Spinach and cook until wilted

Stir in Basil leaves

Return chicken to skillet and raise heat to medium

Cook chicken in the sauce until it is fully cooked, make sure there is no more pink in the thickest part of the thigh

Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.  Serve with a side of pasta or your starch of choice.

I goes great with Poor Man’s Pasta – that’s a simple dish of spaghetti or any type of pasta that’s tossed in butter and garlic.  Sprinkled with parmesan it’s very tasty!


Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce
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Italian Beef Hoagie – Yum!

Italian Beef Hoagie – Yum!

 

Beef

Easy crockpot recipe for this tasty Italian Beef Hoagie.

The holidays are here!  That means most of us are busy, busy, busy!  This time of year planning and preparing daily family meals becomes yet another chore tacked on to our list of daily chores.  I try to make my life easier and my family fed by having ready to serve or easy to prepare ingredients on hand.  One of our family favorites is this Italian Beef Hoagie.

I make beef filling in the crockpot, so it cooks even if I’m out shopping.  I use a large roast so that there will be lots of left overs to save for another day.  It keeps for several days in the fridge, in fact the flavor gets better with age, just like beef stew!  Or I can freeze it and heat it up when I’m ready to throw a sandwich together.

I usually pick up a loaf or two of french rolls on my way home for these hoagies, or if I have time I bake my own bread using Bridgeford frozen bread dough.  Served with soup or salad this hoagie makes a delicious and hearty meal.

Ingredients:

3-4 pound chuck roast
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 can Rotel – Italian flavored if you can find it
1 can Beef Broth
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Peperoncini
1/2 cup Roasted Red Peppers
1/4 cup pimiento
Jalapenos to taste – I usually don’t add this to the crockpot because my baby grandchildren have this too.  I can spice things up, but I can’t unspice them, so we add the jalapenos when we assemble the sandwich.
Crusty rolls
Provolone Slices or other cheese slices

Directions:

Place all ingredients except bread and cheese into crockpot.

Cook for 4-6 hours or until beef is falling apart.

Using 2 forks shred the beef.

You can now cool it off and store or make sandwiches.

Sandwich assembly:

BeefIf beef is cold, remove any solidified fat and warm it up a bit.

Split roll in half, but don’t cut thru.

Place one slice of cheese on the bread.

Add desired amount of beef, spoon some sauce over it.

Place another slice of cheese on the beef.

Add more pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, and jalapenos if desired.

Place sandwich on parchment covered sheet and broil on high until cheese melts. and bread starts to toast around the edges.

Remove from oven and serve.

You can serve this with a small bowl of the sauce (heated up) for dipping.  Yummy!

 

Italian Beef Hoagie
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A hearty meal that's so easy to make. The beef is prepared in a crockpot so it soaks in the seasoning. This is one recipe you will want to make ahead of time or make extra for left overs, the longer it sits in it's juices the tastier it gets.
Servings Prep Time
6 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4-6 Hours 4-6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4-6 Hours 4-6 Hours
Italian Beef Hoagie
Print Recipe
A hearty meal that's so easy to make. The beef is prepared in a crockpot so it soaks in the seasoning. This is one recipe you will want to make ahead of time or make extra for left overs, the longer it sits in it's juices the tastier it gets.
Servings Prep Time
6 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4-6 Hours 4-6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4-6 Hours 4-6 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: People
Instructions
Cooking Directions
  1. Place all ingredients except bread and cheese into crockpot.
  2. Cook for 4-6 hours or until beef is falling apart.
  3. Using 2 forks shred the beef.
  4. You can now cool it off and store or make sandwiches. If you are storing it be sure to store the beef in it's liquid. You can reheat the liquid to use for dipping.
Assembly
  1. If beef is cold, remove any solidified fat and warm it up a bit.
  2. Split roll in half, but don't cut thru.
  3. Place one slice of cheese on the bread.
  4. Add desired amount of beef, spoon some sauce over it.
  5. Place another slice of cheese on the beef.
  6. Add more pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, and jalapenos if desired.
  7. Place sandwich on parchment covered sheet and broil on high until cheese melts. and bread starts to toast around the edges.
  8. Remove from oven and serve.
Recipe Notes

You can serve this with a small bowl of the sauce (heated up) for dipping. Yummy!Beef

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