• Fusilli alla Caprese

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    My version of Fusilli Caprese is based on Giada’s recipe.  I added more tomatoes, basil, and cheese to my version, and Giada’s recipe recipe doesn’t have the crushed red pepper in it.  I think it needs that little bit of heat, otherwise the dish is lacking something.  I made the dish without the crushed red pepper, and -s and I both added the crushed red pepper to our servings and liked it much better that way.  Our pickiest eater loved this, which was shocking, since he generally will not eat tomatoes, unless it’s ketchup or pasta sauce from a jar.
    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. fusilli pasta
    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pints)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (or to taste)
    • 1 c. packed fresh basil leaves, torn
    • 10-12 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced 

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
    2. In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist (I didn’t need to do this, but it probably depends on how juicy your tomatoes are.

    Fusilli alla Caprese:

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  • Angel Hair with Checca Sauce

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    I saw Giada prepare this recipe years ago on her show “Everyday Italian.” The recipe is also in her Everyday Italian cookbook. I thought it sounded delicious, so I wrote down the recipe. I’ve been meaning to make it for quite some time, but every time basil is bountiful in the garden I always forget about this recipe, but I will forget no longer! It’s super quick and easy to make, and it’s delicious, flavorful, and light…perfect for a summer day. I’ve changed the recipe slightly to better appeal to my family, and everyone loved it!

    Ingredients:

    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 8 green onion, white and light green parts only
    • 24 oz. cherry, grape, or vine ripe tomatoes
    • 2 oz. pecorino romano cheese, grated
    • 6 TBSP olive oil
    • 20 basil leaves
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 lb. angel hair
    • 8 oz. to 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed

    Directions:

    1. In a food processor, pulse garlic through basil, until tomatoes are coarsely chopped; then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
    2. Mix sauce with hot angel hair. If sauce is a little dry, add some pasta cooking water.
    3. Mix in the fresh mozzarella.

    Angel Hair with Checca Sauce:

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  • Chicken Piccata

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    My version of Chicken Piccata is inspired by a Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe in Everyday Italian. I’ve made this dish before, but tonight I made my version, and it was delicious. It is so easy to make, and takes no time at all…great for a quick weeknight meal. The flavors are bold, bright and delicious.
    Ingredients:

    • 4 boneless chicken breasts
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1 c. flour
    • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, divided
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 c. chicken broth
    • 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 c. drained capers, rinsed
    • 2 TBSP chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
    • Serve over pasta, orzo, or potatoes

    Directions:

    1. Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, and pound the meat with a meat mallet until the breasts are about 1/2 inch thick.
    2. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl large enough for dredging the breasts. Dredge each breast.
    3. Heat 2 TBSP of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken from skillet and transfer to a plate.
    4. Add the garlic, broth, lemon juice, and capers to the same pan. Bring the broth mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan for extra flavor. Let the sauce reduce for about 8-10 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken from the skillet to a plate. Whisk int he remaining 2 TBSP butter into the sauce; then add the parsley.
    5. Place your pasta, orzo, or potatoes on the plate; place your chicken on top, and then spoon the sauce over the chicken.

    Chicken Piccata:

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  • Balsamic BBQ Sauce

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    This recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and is located at foodnetwork.com. It’s very good, and the sauce can be used for either chicken or beef. We grilled chicken tonight, but in the next few nights we’ll use the remaining sauce and grill some beef. The sauce is sweet, tangy, and rich which I really like. Even though there’s ketchup in the sauce it’s not a ketchup-y sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make, and we’ll definitely make this one again.

    I liked the spicy cucumber salad from last night so much that I made another batch of the salad to serve with the chicken along with some grilled zucchini.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 3/4 cup ketchup
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper

    Directions:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
    2. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 12-20 minutes.
    3. Reserve some sauce for table side sauce.
    4. Grill meat, basting with the sauce.

    Balsamic BBQ Sauce:

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  • Homemade Pizza

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    Our family loves pizza. We’ve made homemade pizza a bunch of times, but usually the weakest link is the crust. We’ve found a keeper!!! This is a Giada de Laurentiis recipe published in Bon Appetit magazine. The great thing about making pizza at home is that you can completely customize and use your imagination! FYI: I don’t think it’s possible to ever get homemade pizza crust to taste like your favorite pizzeria…the reason being is the home oven cannot reach the temperature that a commercial pizza oven reaches. Nevertheless, this is an excellent recipe, and we’ll definitely make this one again.

    Gadgets you’ll want to have on hand: pizza peel/paddle, pizza stone, pizza cutter

    Pizza Dough:

    • 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115F)
    • 1 envelope active dry yeast
    • 2 cups (or more) all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 3 TBSP olive oil

    Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

    Brush large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add yeast mixture and 3 TBSP oil; process until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. KNEAD dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 1 minute. Transfer to prepared bowl; turn dough in bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. PUNCH down dough. ROLL out dough by starting the center of dough, working outward toward edges but not rolling over them.

    Toppings We Used:

    • Marinara Sauce, probably not more than 1/4 cup
    • Fresh mozzarella sliced or shredded
    • Vine ripened tomatoes, sliced and sprinkled with salt
    • Shredded basil

    Assembly:

    Once the dough is rolled out, flour your pizza peel/paddle and place dough on paddle. Put a few spoonfuls of your favorite store bought marinara sauce on the dough, but be careful not to add too much sauce (probably not more than 1/4 cup). I wouldn’t use homemade sauce for pizza because the water content is probably too high. Leave about 1/2 inch of dough sauce free around the edges.

    Shred lots of fresh mozzarella cheese or thinly slice the cheese. Add cheese to the dough.

    Slice a bunch of vine ripened tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt. This helps draw the liquid out of the tomatoes as well as making them super tasty. Spread the tomatoes all over the cheese.

    Gravity will shift the toppings toward the center during the cooking process, so resist putting too many toppings toward the center of the pizza.

    Brush the exposed crust with olive oil

    Cook:

    Place your pizza stone on the center rack of your oven. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it can go for about 30 minutes. With the pizza on the paddle, place it in the oven and shake the paddle to transfer the pizza to the stone.

    Cook for 15 minutes or until done (it only took 7-8 minutes when we made…all depends on your oven temperature).

    Remove pizza from oven and top with shredded basil.

    Feel free to be creative with the toppings. Next time we make pizza, we’ll make a traditional one for the kiddos and then for us, we’ll make a Mexican inspired pizza. We’ll spread refried beans over the dough, tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, cheese, then cook and serve with guacamole. Sounds really tasty to us! :)

    Pizza Dough

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