I like to use the mini bell peppers for sauces because they are tender and sweet tasting.
1 rib-eye steak (about 12 oz. and 1 inch thick), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
12 oz. mini bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup Marinara Sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cut the steak in half crosswise and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.
In a large heavy frying pan over medium heat, add the oil, onions, garlic, and peppers. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Add the butter to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Put the steaks in the pan and sear until deeply browned on both sides and medium rare about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to individual serving plates.
Pour the marinara sauce into the skillet and add 1/2 cup of the sautéed peppers and onions and stir them into the sauce. Reserve the remaining peppers and onions for another recipe.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer just until the vegetables are hot, 1 minute. Divide the mixture in half and pour over each steak. Garnish each serving with chopped parsley.
Sautéed Swiss Chard With Garlic and Lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2”
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Wash the chard well in several changes of cold water. Drain in a colander. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and half of the Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper.
Cook, tossing often until wilted. Add the lemon juice and remaining chard and cook, tossing, just until all chard is wilted about 1 minute. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Rosemary Flavored Roasted Rutabaga Wedges
1 medium rutabaga, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the ends off the rutabaga and then cut the rutabaga in half. Cut each half in two. Cut the slices into wedges.
Place the rutabaga wedges in a large ziplock bag with the oil and seasonings and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a sheet pan and cook for 45-50 minutes until tender and brown. Turn the wedges over half way through the cooking time.
Easy Overnight Pizza Dough
Makes one 16 inch round pizza. Prepare the dough one day ahead. This process makes the best pizza dough.
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sausage and Peppers Topping
8 oz spicy Italian Sausage, cut into thin slices
1 lb small bell peppers, sliced thin
1 large onion sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
26 oz container strained Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
One day before making the pizza:
Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.
Spray a large ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.
Preheat a large sauté pan on medium-high and place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, then add sausage and cook until browned about 6 minutes, stirring until no pink remains. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, peppers and onions and saute until the vegetables are tender.
Let stand 5 minutes to cool.
Prepare the crust: flour your hands lightly and pat the dough evenly into a lightly oiled 16″ pizza pan. Top the crust with slices of mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, peppers, onions, and sausage.
Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 20–25 minutes or until the crust is golden, the cheese is melted, and the toppings are thoroughly heated. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a type of stew prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, bell peppers, and sometimes wine. It is named in honor of the hunter’s wife—who, all over northern Italy, might traditionally cook the dish on the eve of the hunt. In Italy hunter’s stew was made with rabbit or other wild game, not chicken, sometime during the Renaissance period. This stew dish was simple but delicious and was likely developed to satisfy the appetites of hunters who may have been on the track of a larger animal or herd of animals for several days, and who needed a tasty, filling stew that could easily be cooked outdoors to keep them going. The spices used, such as parsley and oregano, would have also been readily available. Contrary to popular belief, Cacciatore did not originally contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, as tomatoes were brought to Italy from the New World later than it would have been made for the first time. When the Italian immigrants came to America, they brought with them their traditional recipes but needed to adapt them to the ingredients available in America.
In true Italian fashion, there are probably more than a thousand recipes for this dish and here is mine.
4 lbs chicken cut up or use all thighs, skin removed
8 oz Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 large onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cups)
1 large bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (26-oz.) container finely chopped Italian tomatoes
Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or plate. Season with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
Place a large Dutch oven over high heat for several minutes. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until shimmering. Add a layer of chicken and brown on both sides. Remove to a large plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil and brown the remainder of the chicken. Remove and place with the first batch of chicken.
Add the sausage to the pan and brown completely, crumbling the meat as you stir.
Add the tomatoes and the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is very tender.
To prepare ahead.
Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Remove chicken to a large baking dish and pour the sauce from the Dutch Oven over the chicken. cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees F and reheat the chicken covered for one hour.
Philly-Style Steak Sandwiches
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 boneless rib eye steak, about 10 ounces and about 1 inch thick, trimmed of all fat
2 hoagie (Italian sub) rolls, split
2 thin slices white American cheese, each folded in half
2 thin slices provolone cheese, each folded in half
Cut the steak into paper-thin slices.
In a medium bowl combine the onion, peppers, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
Heat a skillet (with a cover) and add the butter. Add the steak slices and cook quickly, about a minute on each side. Remove the steak to a plate and add the vegetables to the skillet.
Cook the vegetables until they are soft and tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While still in the pan, divide the vegetable mixture into two long piles. Divide the steak slices in half and place on top of the vegetables. Place a folded slice of provolone cheese and a folded slice of American cheese on top of each steak mound. Cover the pan and heat on low just until the cheese begins to melt.
Mixed Green Salad With Homemade Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
1 bunch arugula
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons
¼ of a red onion sliced thin
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, and pepper; stir in the chives.
In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers. Drizzle with some of the dressing and serve the remaining dressing on the side.
The word “spiedino” is a diminutive of “spiedo” the Italian food term for skewered meat. Spiedini, or “skewers,” are a popular way of grilling throughout Italy, from north to south. Small pieces of meat, fish, vegetables, and even cheese are skewered on a spiedo, or “stick,” and then cooked over a flame. This recipe is one I have adapted from the Italian restaurant, Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
Spiedino Di Mare (Skewered Seafood)
6 oz sea scallops
6 oz large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, for breading
Lemon Butter Sauce, recipe below
Fresh parsley, chopped
Bamboo or metal skewers
Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice, recipe below
If using bamboo skewers, soak them in warm water for a 1/2 hour.
Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the grated garlic to the breadcrumbs.
Lightly coat the seafood with olive oil, then dip in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Preheat a stovetop grill and oil the grill.
Skewer the shellfish and grill on both sides just until the shrimp turn a light pink.
Place the grilled seafood on the prepared rice and pour the lemon butter sauce over the shellfish. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.
Lemon Butter Sauce
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Black Pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add the lemon juice to the butter and warm briefly.
Add Worcestershire sauce and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.
Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice
1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the broth and Italian seasoning in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil.
Stir the rice into the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the cheese.
Italian Peppers and Onions
4 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 whole garlic cloves skin removed
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cover the bottom with olive oil. Place the whole garlic cloves in the oil and let the garlic infuse the oil and begin to caramelize. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic.
Add the peppers, onions, oregano, red pepper, salt, and pepper and allow the vegetables to cook down and soften turning them over a few times. This should take about 15 minutes.
Place the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped basil.
Italians started coming to Chicago from Italy during the 1850s and by the 1940’s there was a significant Italian population of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the city. There are some stories about U.S. soldiers of Italian descent returning from Europe after World War II and experimenting with different pizza recipes, and eventually creating a deep dish pizza. The only problem with these stories is that deep dish pizza was being sold in Chicago in the early 1940’s, before the end of the war. The one story that is probably true is about a man named Sewell who created the deep dish pizza in 1943 at his bar and grill, Pizzeria Uno. It was so popular that he soon opened another place called Pizzeria Due. Soon other restaurants were serving deep dish pizza and the dish became popular. Soon Chicago became known for creating it and everyone, not just Italians, adopted it as a ‘Chicago’ food. (source FoodReference.com)
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
1 lb of your favorite pizza dough, at room temperature
16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz cooked Italian sausage, sliced thin
12 oz jar Mancini Fried Peppers with sweet onions or equivalent amount of cooked onions and peppers
2 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a deep dish pizza pan. (My pan is 10 ½ inches in diameter)
Turn the pizza dough out into the prepared pan and use the heel of your hand and your fingertips to press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan, then about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
When the crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and keep the oven temperature on 350 degrees F.
Add the toppings in the following order:
On the bottom of the crust place an even layer of cheese slices. Then add the sausage slices in an even layer. Top it with another layer of cheese slices. Then add the cooked peppers and onions. Top with a final layer of cheese slices. Pour the sauce over the top and spread it into an even layer, making sure it is covering all of the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges are golden and the filling is firm. Allow the pizza to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Italian Chicken Bake
Serve with Italian bread to dip into the sauce and a green salad.
5-6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into one-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
5 jarred pickled peppers, seeded and sliced thin (1/2 cup), plus 2 tablespoons brine from the jar
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pa the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the sausage pieces to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until the vegetables are softened about 5 minutes. Add the pickled peppers, garlic, and oregano and cook, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Add broth and pepper brine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.
Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the sausage. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer in the skillet and add any accumulated juice from the plate. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the thighs register 175 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (handle will be very hot). Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls.