September 11, 2016

Roasted potatoes

Posted in Vegetables at 7:50 pm by Sheila OConnell

A classic recipe for those of us who love potatoes.

3 lb red potatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)

Wash the potatoes and peel partially (I like to leave some of the peel on, so I peel off just the eyes and any blemishes.)
Cut potatoes into chunks of about 1.5 inches diameter
Put potatoes onto large baking sheet in one layer.  It’s best if the chunks are not touching each other.
Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add garlic if using.
Stir all on the baking sheet and arrange back into layer.

Cook at 400 for about 45 minutes, using spatula to turn over every 15 minutes.  If they are cooking too fast, reduce heat to 375.





Pulled Pork

Posted in Pork and Veal at 7:40 pm by Sheila OConnell

A good and easy recipe for the slow cooker.  This is good as-is or could be served on buns.

Boneless pork shoulder (also called Boston Butt), about 4 lbs
small onion, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp sambal oelek, or other Asian chile sauce
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Trim the fat from the pork and cut it into about four pieces.
In a medium bowl, mix onion, ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, molasses, mustard and sambal oelek.
Put the pork in the slow cooker and cover it with the sauce.
Cook on high until the pork is very tender, about 6 hours.  (I cooked mine on high for about 5 hours, then turned it to low for about 2 more hours. I don’t know why.)
Transfer pork to a work surface and use 2 forks to shred the meat.
Pour the sauce into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook over medium high heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Stir the shredded pork into the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Alternatively you could put the sauce and pork back into the slow cooker and use the warm setting until the rest of the meal is ready.



September 4, 2016

Baked Ziti

Posted in Pasta, Uncategorized at 1:43 pm by Sheila OConnell

This is a real crowd pleaser. Great for parties since the work is done ahead of time. It has to stand for 10 minutes after coming out of the oven, but you can let it sit much longer.  The original recipe called for 2 lbs of sausage, 1/2 cup oil and 3 tbsp basil, but I thought that was a bit much.

1.25 lbs hot Italian sausage
1 lb ziti or penne or rigatoni
1 14oz can tomato sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp. sugar
2 red chili peppers (optional)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add tomato sauce, basil, rosemary, oregano, sugar to medium-large pot
Wash chili peppers and add to pot whole (or trim off stem)
Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hr
After 45 minutes start water to boil for pasta
Remove casing from sausage and break into small pieces
Heat olive oil in pan on medium high, add sausage and cook until it starts to brown
Remove and discard chili peppers then add sausage and all of the oil to the tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook pasta to al dente (don’t over cook – it will cook during baking)
Add pasta to 9 x 13 baking pan
Add sausage and sauce to baking pan and toss together to mix
Add parmesan on top then cover with mozzarella
Cover with foil (or top of pan), but don’t let foil touch cheese, and bake for 30 min at 350
Remove top/foil and bake 10 minutes (watch that cheese doesn’t burn)
Remove from oven and let stand at least 10 minutes
Serve with a nice salad, bread, and a good Italian wine (a super Tuscan works well).

Bon appetite
(posted by dad)


May 21, 2016

Yet Another Spinach Salad!

Posted in Salads, Vegetables at 6:22 pm by Sheila OConnell

I got this recipe from the Whole Foods app.  It is easy to prepare and delicious!  The recipe below serves 2 with dressing left over.

1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp fruit vinegar (I used 1 tbsp fig balsamic and 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, which is what I had on hand)
1/2 tsp brown sugar (optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz baby spinach (I remove the stems and tear into bite-size pieces, but you don’t have to do that)
1/2 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the chopped shallot, brown sugar and vinegar.  Whisk in the olive oil.
Salad:  Put spinach, strawberries, almonds and goat cheese in a salad bowl.  Add about half of the dressing and toss well.  Serve immediately.

Reserve the remaining dressing for another day.

March 26, 2016

Appetizer spreads

Posted in Appetizers at 6:26 pm by Sheila OConnell

Here are two recipes for cream cheese spreads to serve with bread, toast or crackers.  It works well with a dense white bread, like English toasting bread.  Toast the bread lightly, cut off the crusts, and cut into small rectangles, squares or triangles.

Bacon and Almond Spread

3 oz.  cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp milk
1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, finely chopped
2 slices bacon, cooked crispy then finely chopped or crumbled
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
sprinkle of red pepper

Blend the cream cheese and the milk.  Stir in the other ingredients.  Taste and add more seasoning if desired.

Orange and Ginger Spread

3 oz.  cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp milk
1 + 2/3 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tsp ginger preserves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Blend the cream cheese and the milk.  Stir in the other ingredients.  Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if desired.


November 19, 2015

Black bean soup

Posted in Soups, Vegetables at 11:22 am by Sheila OConnell

The title is misleading because there are so many other things in this soup besides black beans. I created this by merging two different recipes. You could leave out just about any of the ingredients – except the black beans!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium size onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or two small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups broth; can use chicken broth or vegetable broth (I like to use 2 cups of each kind)
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp brandy or sherry, or 1/4 cup wine
salt and pepper (I use about 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
half of a fresh lime
sour cream (optional)
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large pot, saute diced onion in olive oil for about 3 minutes, then add minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add diced sweet potato and toss in the oil. Add broth, bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until sweet potatoes are almost soft. Add beans, tomatoes, alcohol, salt, pepper and cumin and simmer until sweet potatoes are completely soft, about another 8 minutes. Puree the soup (CAREFULLY – IT’S HOT) in a couple of batches in a blender. I use a large bowl to put the first batch in while I puree the second batch, then dump all back into the pot. You don’t have to puree it completely, just to however smooth you might like it.  Turn heat on low and add the corn and red pepper flakes. Simmer 1 – 2 minutes or so until and all is heated. Squeeze in the juice from half a lime and stir.

Serve in bowls and let people add their own chopped fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

August 30, 2015

Chicken Piccata

Posted in Chicken at 6:48 pm by Sheila OConnell

Here is an easy and fast recipe that makes a wonderfully flavorful dish. Takes about 15 minutes prep time and 20-25 minutes cooking time. You will not believe the results. With basmati rice and some steamed or sautéed veggies and a nice crisp white wine or light red, it is wonderful. Bon Appetite!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 lemons (1/3 cup lemon juice)
1/3 cup brined (jar) capers, rinsed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 tbsp. flour
salt & pepper
6 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil

lay the chicken breasts flat and cut in half (top and bottom)
wash, dry and pick parsley from stems
Squeeze 1 to 2 lemons to get 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
rinse capers
salt & pepper chicken to taste
dredge chicken in flour

heat 3 tbsp. oil & 2 tbsp. butter in skillet
When sizzling, add 2 chicken pieces and cook 2-3 min per side
remove chicken to plate
add 1-2 tbsp. butter to skillet
when sizzling, add remaining 2 chicken pieces and cook 2-3 min per side
remove chicken to plate
add capers, lemon juice and broth to skillet and bring to boil
season with salt & pepper to taste
add chicken back to skillet and reduce heat, simmer for 5 min
remove chicken to plate(s)
add 2 tbsp. butter to skillet and whisk to blend
spoon capers and sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Serve  with rice & vegetables (yellow squash & red peppers)

Serve any nice wine such as a Sancerre or Chateauneuf-du-Pape

posted by dad

June 15, 2015

Best Fish Recipe Ever

Posted in Fish at 6:54 pm by Sheila OConnell

This is a great and easy recipe for baked fish. I used frozen Mahi Mahi filets (thawed) but fresh fish would work just as well. I image cod, haddock or any firm white fish will work. We had it with Jasmine rice and steamed asparagus. Works best if you drink a nice white wine or wine spritzer while you prepare the dinner. We had a Chateauneuf du Pape with the meal. Exquisite.

2 Mahi Mahi filets (fresh or thawed)
a generous 1/2 stick butter
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic – diced
1 or 2 green onions (scallions, white part, sliced thinish)
1 plum tomato (seeds removed, diced)
1 lemon halved, seeds removed
Louisiana (Tobasco) hot sauce
Fresh Cilantro (remove from stems)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat over to 450 degrees
Coat fish with olive oil, salt & pepper to taste
Place fish in baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until flaky
Last 5 minutes prepare the sauce:
Melt butter in sauce pan
when hot, add garlic and 1 tbsp lemon juice (about a half lemon)
Let cook over medium low for 1 minute or so
Add green onion let go another 1 minute
Add tomato let go another 1-2 minutes
Set to simmer while you plate the rice, fish, and asparagus
Add 2-10 drops hot sauce and stir, spoon over fish.
Garnish fish with Cilantro
Add lemon wedge to plate (good on fish and/or asparagus)

Trust me, fish doesn’t get better than this.

Posted by Dad  6/15/2015

March 22, 2015

Artichoke and Palm Salad with Citrus Mustard Dressing

Posted in Salads at 7:12 pm by Sheila OConnell

I had a salad like this in San Antonio and re-created it at home.

About 3 cups chopped romaine
1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry  and sliced
1 or 2 canned hearts of palm, drained, patted dry and cut into rounds
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1/2 small tomato, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp orange juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/3 cup light olive oil

Put chopped romaine lettuce on a large plate or platter. Arrange other vegetables on top.
To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Then whisk olive oil in slowly.
Drizzle some of the dressing (about half of it is enough) over the salad.

Makes two generous servings.


December 29, 2014

Cranberry Spinach Salad

Posted in Salads, Vegetables at 3:58 pm by Sheila OConnell

We had this at a Hanukkah party, loved it, and made it a few days later for Christmas.  It looks festive and is very tasty!

1 tbsp butter
3/4 cup almonds, slivered
1 lb spinach, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp minced onion
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use Wesson canola oil for this)

In a dry saucepan, toast sesame seeds over medium heat 3 – 5 minutes or until browned.  Remove from pan and put on foil to cool.
Melt butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and put on another sheet of foil to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil.
Toss spinach with dressing, using enough dressing to coat it liberally but not drown it.
Add the cranberries and almonds to the spinach and toss lightly.


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