Valentine’s Day menu


Enjoy spending time with the one’s you love.

 

This is one of my favorite Valentine’s menus.  I made it for Mark Valentine’s Day 1994 ( sometimes it pays writing notes in my cookbooks!)  I was very pregnant with Maddie, Chris was 4, and Taylor was 2.  The boys and I cut out 100 hearts and wrote all the things we loved about Mark on them.  We taped the hearts to the door so when Mark got home from work he would see them. Then we sat down and enjoyed this wonderful dinner and laughed and told Mark all of our adventures of the day!!

I hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love and laughter.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                      

Vonnie

 

 

Menu:

Deep Fried Ravioli with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Tossed Salad with Grandma’s Italian Dreesing

Garlic Green Beans

Chicken Amore

Raspberry Cobbler

 

Deep Fried Ravioli with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:                                                                                           

1 pkg. raviolis, found in the refrigerator section

1 cup of roasted red peppers, rinsed and chopped

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Directions:

In a food processor combine peppers, vinegar, mustard, oil and salt until finely chopped. Pour into a mixing bowl and sitr in mayonnaise. Serve as a dipping sauce for raviolis.

Fry raviolis in oil until crspy.

Tossed Salad with Grandma’s Italian Dressing

Ingredients:                                                                                                            

Romaine lettuce, Chopped

Tomatoes, sliced

Cucumber, peeled and sliced

Add all salad ingredients in a bowl and toss.

Dressing:

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. seasoned salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together set aside. In a large mixing bowl add vinegar. Whisk oil in slowly and well. Add dry ingredients and whisk well. Before serving over tossed salad whisk dressing.

Garlic Green Beans                                                                             

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic

1 lb. green beans

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook green beans by steaming until crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Crush and mince garlic. In a large skillet heat oil and butter over meduim heat. Add garlic and saute. Add green beans, salt and pepper. Toss in pan until beans are thoroughly coated and evenly heated.

Chicken Amore

Ingredients:                                                                        

1 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

4 chicken breast halves

1/2 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

dash hot sauce

1 1/2 cup white wine

3/4 cup sliced black olives

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1-7 oz. jar pimentos

Directions:

Mix flour, salt and pepper together in a large zip bag. Add chicken and shake well. Make sure chicken is coated well. Heat oil in a large skillet over meduim heat. Add chicken and brown 3-5 min. turn and brown another 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, parsley,seasoning, hot sauce and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add olives, mushrooms, and pimentos. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

Raspberry Cobbler

 Ingredients:                                                                                    

1 pkg. frozen raspberries

2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Thaw berries and spread evenly on the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, combine bisquick, milk, butter, and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Mix well until moist. Set aside. In sauce pan combine water, 3/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Stir until mixture is thick and clear. Pour over berries. Drop Bisquick mixture by spoonful over berries. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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Chili


Jesse James (1847-1882), outlaw and desperado of the old American West, refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas because that is where his favorite chili parlor was located.  

It is said that Will Rogers judge a town by the quality of its chili. He sampled chili in hundreds of towns, especially in Texas and Oklahoma and kept a box score. He concluded that the finest chili (in his judgment was from a small cafe in Coleman, Texas. 

Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson had “chili pangs” for President Lyndon Johnson’s, 36th President of the United States, “Pedernales River Chili” and had cards printed with the LBJ chili recipe. “It has been almost as popular as the government pamphlet on the care and feeding of children.” 

We have a love affair chili. You can’t pick up a recipe book without a couple of chili recipes in it. I acquired my recipe in 1990. It’s a traditional chili recipe with tomatoes, beans, beef, onions and peppers.

Hope you enjoy and Happy Cooking~                                          

Vonnie

 Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 TBSP. shortening

1 1/2 cup onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup green peppers, diced

2 large can tomato sauce

2-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

4 TBSP. chili powder

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

2 TBSP. Worcestershire sauce

2 cans red kidney beans, drained

 Directions:

Brown ground beef in shortening. Add garlic, onions, and green peppers. Cook until onions are transparent. Drain off fat. Add tomato sauce,  diced tomatoes, chili powder, salt, sugar, Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Cream of Mushroom Soup


Ever want to have bowl of  rich cream of mushroom soup, but all you have time to make is the canned variety?  This is a great recipe when you are short are time, but trust me it won’t be short on flavor. You will never go to the store and pick up a can of soup again when you put this recipe in your repertoire!   Serve this with a simple salad and you have a wonderful satisfying meal on a wonderful Fall day!

PS This is great for Meatless Monday!

Enjoy and Happy cooking~

 Vonnie                                                                                                    

Ingredients:                                                                                                 

 1 pound fresh mushrooms

 1/4 cup margarine

 1 small onion, chopped fine 

 3 cloves garlic, chopped

 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 4 cups vegetable broth

 1 cup  cream (I use half and half)

 salt and pepper to taste

 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves

 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

 Directions

Thinly slice the mushroom cap. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and cook the onion, garlic and chopped thyme, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the garlic is golden. Add the mushrooms and salt and white pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms  soften. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

 Remove from the heat and add the stock, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 Whisk the cream into the soup, then reheat gently, stirring. Do not allow the soup to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with the chopped chives and thyme.

Breaded Shrimp with Garlicky Beans


This recipe is for a meal that is perfect on those days when you are short on time but in need of a delicious and healthy dinner.
You can substitute your favorite green for the arugula or use fresh thyme or sage if you don’t have any fresh rosemary.
If you haven’t tried arugula I highly reccomend it. It has a rich, peppery taste that compliments the garlicky beans.
As always enjoy and happy cooking~
Vonnie

Crispy Breaded Shrimp with Garlicky Beans                                             

Ingredients
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
 salt and pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 bunches arugula, trimmed
Preparation
Heat oven to 400° F.

Mix the bread crumbs, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Transfer shrimp and any excess crumbs to a baking sheet. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the bread crumbs are crispy, 10 to 12 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beans, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add the arugula, and toss to combine.

Italian Sausage with Mussels and Pasta


Whenever I vacation to the East Coast, I eat as much seafood as I can.  It just seem like the right dinner to have when I am so close to the ocean.  Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a time in Belmar, NJ with my best friend Kerry and her children John and Claire,  parents Buz and Maureen,  cousin Cathy and Uncle Dan Sullivan(who made me an honorary Irishwoman and was the highlight of my stay)!  Their family heritage is so rich, and I loved hearing Dan tell wonderful stories of the past,  sharing coffee with Cathy every morning,  playing on the beach with the kids and meeting and loving all of Kerry’s friends. We had so many laughs.   One thing I enjoyed with every meal was fresh mussels.  So I dug out this recipe to make here in good old Plymouth and continue my love affair with seafood.

What I love about this recipe, there are no real set ingredients. You can adjust the vegetables to your liking and the flavors of the sausage. If you don’t like mussels, you can use clams.  The possibilities are endless.  I use homemade Italian hot sausage from my local market.  They have wonderful favors and they are made fresh everyday. They also have a wonderful seafood department.  When you are buying mussels have the seafood specialists rinse them.  Sometimes they open up and rinsing them closes them and that’s what you want.  Any that stay open, toss them.  When you bring them home, refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  They should have a salty ocean air smell.

Now to share my Irish heritage:  “May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night”.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                     

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

1# Italian sausage, grilled and sliced or cases removed and crumbled
1 bag of mussels
1 28 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, any color and diced
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
olive oil

Pasta
1# angel hair pasta, cooked el dente
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Coat a large deep skillet with olive oil and heat to medium. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, Stir. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Add mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Keep lid on the whole 5 minutes without peeking! Stir and cover. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Mussels should be opened . Any that don’t open, discard. Stir in Italian sausage and parmesan cheese. Serve on top of pasta.

Pasta:
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Watch closely and stir. When garlic get to a golden color, add to cooked pasta. Toss and add pepper, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Gazpacho


This past weekend  has 31st annual Art in the Park in Plymouth, Michigan.  Plymouth Art in the Park has grown to become the second largest art fair in Michigan.  Held every year in July, this three-day event assembles over 400 artists from all over the country who display their work to nearly 200,000 attendees.  This art, music and food extravaganza was voted one of the “Gems of The Great Lakes” by AAA magazine, as well as #14 in the USA and #3 in MI among the top 200 art fairs in the country by America’s Premier Show & Festival Magazine.
While I was enjoying all the artwork, I had lunch at my favorite place Simple Sandwich.  I had a wonderful bowl of Gazpacho and really wanted to share my recipe with you.  The nice thing about my recipe is how quickly it comes together. For gazpacho, you must peel, seed, dice, salt and drain really good, vine-ripened tomatoes. So what if you don’t have time to fuss with fresh tomatoes?  I’ve found the canned variety makes a fine substitute.  Another advantage: Fresh tomatoes start to deteriorate as soon as the soup is refrigerated, but canned tomatoes are unaffected by the chill.

This is the perfect meal on a hot summer day or night.  Pair it with some sourdough bread and fresh fruit.  I also like to make this when it is time to clean out my vegetable crisper.  Don’t be held to the ingredients listed. Mix and match to your personal taste or what you have on hand.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,

Vonnie                                                                                                     

Ingredients
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (I use Del Monte or Kroger brand Petite Diced)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch diced cubes
1 small bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch diced cubes (any color)
1 small  red onion, cut into 1/4-inch diced cubes
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or cilantro (or more)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lime juice

Sour cream, (optional)

Directions
Process 1/2 cup of tomatoes, along with the water and oil, in a blender or food processor until puree.  Transfer to a medium bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Top with sour cream if desired.  (Can be made several hours before serving.)
Makes 6 servings

Deb’s Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach


This is a recipe that was given to me by my dear friend Debbie and fan of Challenge. She is a food-aholic just like me! We are always emailing one another with recipes we have tried, created or read! I’m not sure which this recipe falls into, but if I had to guess she created it! I love how simple everything comes together, even her salad recipe at the end. When I opened the email I knew it was perfect for Meatless Monday. You can always add some leftover grilled chicken or a little ham for your meat lovers.

 

Here’s Debbie’s email:

Hi cooking buddy. I had to share this delicious recipe with you so you can in turn pass to all your Challengeu2cook fans!

Hope you love as much as we all did. I made 2 batches. One meat-free and one with grilled chicken. I LOVED both! Hope you do too!

Love ya,                                              

Deb                                                                                                                   

 

 

PS…Tell me if you like the salad. I fell in love with it and the dressing is so good We need to start bottling our dressings!

 
 
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • leftover grilled chicken, sliced  or cubed ham

 

Preparation
  • 1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
  • 2. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  PS   Prepare a quick salad to accompany the gnocchi: Combine 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add 6 cups gourmet salad greens, sliced tomatoes and cucumber chunks  to bowl; toss gently to coat.

Italian Sausage with Mussels and Pasta


What I love about this recipe is there are no real set ingredients. Can can adjust the vegetables to your liking and the flavors of the sausage. If you don’t like mussels, you can use clams. there are endless possibilities. I use homemade Italian hot sausage from my local grocery store. They have wonderful favors and always fresh. Any flavor would work in this recipe. I also get my mussels from there. When you are buying mussels have the seafood specialists rinse them. Sometimes they open up and rinsing them closes them and that’s what you want. Any that stay open, toss. When you bring them home, refrigerate until you are ready to cook. They should have a salty ocean air smell.
 
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                                   
 
 
 
 
Ingredients:1 # Italian Sausage grilled and sliced1 bag of mussels
1 28 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, any color and diced
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
olive oil

Pasta
1# angel hair pasta, cooked el dente
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper, to taste

 
Directions:Coat a large deep skillet with olive oil and heat to medium. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, Stir. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Add mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Keep lid on the whole 5 minutes without peeking! Stir and cover. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Mussels should be opened . Any that don’t open, discard. Stir in Italian sausage and parmesan cheese. Serve on top of pasta.Pasta:
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Watch closely and stir. When garlic get to a golden color, add to cooked pasta. Toss and add pepper, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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Classic Swiss Fondue


This is a great Meatless Monday meal that will leave you satisfied. Don’t limit yourself to the listed dippers. Be adventuresome!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                                                                                                             

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

8 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)

8 ounces Swiss Cheese shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup Kirsch (cherry brandy)

A few gratings of fresh nutmeg

Black  ground pepper, to taste

Directions

What to dip: crusty mixed grain bread, French, Italian or Rye bread, cut into bite-sized cubes, new potatoes, boiled, asparagus spears, broccoli florets or cauliflower florets, blanched and prepared for dipping. Mushrooms, fresh or sautéed. Whole radishes, trimmed. Small dill pickles.

Rub the inside of a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan with the garlic; discard the garlic. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a bare simmer over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, toss the Gruyère and Swiss cheeses with the cornstarch. A handful at a time, stir the cheese mixture into the wine, stirring the first batch until it is almost completely melted before adding another. The fondue can bubble gently, but do not boil. Stir in the Kirsch and season with the nutmeg and pepper.

Transfer to a cheese fondue pot and keep warm over a fondue burner. Serve immediately with selected dippers.

Italian Vegetable Pie for Meatless Monday


This week I chose a  meatless dinner which I love to make. This is a go-to recipe that comes out perfect and satisfying every time. I also love how versatile it is. You can substitute the vegetables to whatever your liking.   If you want, you can substitute ground beef, ground Italian sausage ,or a combo of the two for the tofu.  Also,seasoned ground turkey works nicely. When I make it with meat, I use 1 pound ground beef and hot Italian sausage. Brown and drain before adding to the vegetables.  I also like to add  a couple of handfuls of washed and chopped fresh spinach.  Stir in after simmering and before assembling. Round out your dinner with a nice tossed salad and fresh bread.
Hope you enjoy.  Let me know your dinner stories. I love hearing them all.
As always….Happy Cooking,                                                                                          

                                                                                          

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (12.3-ounce) package firm tofu, drained and crumbled
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (25.5-ounce) jar fat-free marinara sauce
6 cooked lasagna noodles, cut in half crosswise
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded  mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preparation
Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, chopped onion, mushrooms, tofu, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Arrange the noodles spoke like in the bottom of an 8-inch round baking dish or 9 inch deep dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Spread 3 cups tomato mixture over noodles. Fold ends of noodles over tomato mixture, and top with the remaining tomato mixture and cheeses. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.