Pasta with Shrimp and Calamari in Red Sauce

 

One of the most surprising dishes I ever ate and loved was calamari in red sauce with pasta in New York. It was so delicious I always yearned for more. Today I am making calamari with shrimp in red pasta sauce with rotini pasta. It is divinely delicious. Don’t knock it if you haven’t ever tried it. You could be surprised like I was. This is a cook what you like recipe. Don’t like calamari, omit it. Don’t like artihoke bottoms, omit them. Prefer Shell pasta to Rotini, use shell pasta. Make it work for you and your tastebuds. The result will be the same, divinely delicious.
My husband was surprised by the combination of flavors and couldn’t stop eating it even though he is not a fan of calamari. He said it was up there with the best of the best, no small compliment.
Now for the lowdown on how to make it. Easy, quick, and simple. Recipe may be doubled or tripled. It is a great Lenten dish.

Pasta with Shrimp and Calamari in Red Sauce

 
SERVES 2 or more

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, less if you prefer
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce (may use sauce with Italian herbs)
  • 8 ounces chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-12 ounces shelled and deveined large shrimp
  • ½-1 cup Calamari, tubes cut in rings
  • 1 10-ounce can whole baby clams with juice, optional

In a large everyday pan, similar to a skillet but with two small handles or use deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion. Saute and stir until onion is transparent, about 3 minutes, add garlic and stir for 1 minute.

Add sauce, broth, and parsley and stir well until sauce begins to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, I used a little cayenne pepper to give it a bite. Cover and turn heat to low. Simmer sauce about 20 minutes for flavors to blend. If you prefer a thicker sauce, simmer with lid off until sauce is reduced by about one third. The seafood will throw off a little juice and if you use clams they will add liquid also.

While sauce simmers cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

Remove lid and add seafood of choice, you can even use boneless fresh fish filets like snapper or tilapia cut in bite size pieces, and artichokes.

Leave cover off pan and turn heat to medium. Cook about 5 minutes until seafood is opaque. Add cooked pasta to pan, stir well and cook another 2 minutes.
Dish is complete. Adjust seasonings as needed.

All you need to complete the meal is a green vegetable or green salad.

Trust me, you are really going to love this. It is truly down home delicious.
Fix it for dinner tonight and ya’ll have a down home delicious day now!
Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Easy Sausage and Cabbage One Dish Meal

 

Sausage and Cabbage

In every home there are days when you just don’t want to cook (I’ve said that before) and yesterday was one of those days for me. I didn’t have anything exciting in the way of an entrée to prepare so I had to rely on my ingenuity and a well stocked pantry to come up with a meal.
Let me share my thought process with you. First of all I always have plenty of sausage in my freezer that bails me out on many an occasion. Check, defrost the sausage. In the frig I had one half of a head of cabbage, and in my fresh vegetable bin I had one large red potato. That was the beginning of what turned out to be an easy and delightfully delicious one dish meal. I sliced one link of the sausage into ¼–inch slices. Next I washed, then cut the potato in half lengthwise and then into ¼-inch slices. Finally I chopped the cabbage. I was ready to begin cooking.
I took my large skillet, sprayed it with oil, added 2 tablespoons olive oil and put it over a medium flame. In went the sausage to fry a couple of minutes, followed by the potatoes to lightly brown, then the cabbage. Stirring frequently I tended my skillet until all ingredients were browned and I added ½-can Rotel tomatoes and juice plus ½-can chicken stock. A little salt and pepper and I was on my way. Put a lid on that honey and let it simmer over a low flame for about 10 minutes, until cabbage and potatoes were cooked and dinner was ready. The blend of flavors were excellent. The meal was very low calorie and tasty as could be. My husband was delighted with the fare and so was I.
I actually was surprised at how good it was. Necessity is the mother of invention I am told and that is how a lot of my recipes are born. If you like cooked cabbage I hope you will try this easy one dish meal.

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Sausage and Cabbage One Dish Meal

SERVES 2 generously

 

  • 1 link sausage (I used Andouille but beef or Italian sausage works)
  • 1 large red potato
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ can Rotel or other diced tomatoes
  • ½ can chicken broth
  • optional:
  • whole kernel corn
  • small ears corn on the cob
  • green peas or lima beans
  • small carrots

 

 

Slice sausage into ¼ inch pieces. Wash and slice potato in half lengthwise then cut into ¼ inch slices. Chop cabbage into chunks.

Spray large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Add olive oil to skillet. When hot, add sausage then potatoes and lightly brown all, gently stirring frequently (you don’t want the potatoes to break apart). Add cabbage and continue to stir and brown. When cabbage begins to brown, add tomatoes and broth, cover, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until potatoes and cabbage are just tender. Season to taste. Serve with hot crusty bread if you have it on hand.

It was delicious just like that but you can improvise further and add additional sausage and/or vegetables as indicated if you want to stretch the dish further. If using more vegetables add the remainder of the tomatoes and broth.

Ya’ll have a down home delicious day with little effort and lots of flavor.

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Perry & Sons Grille, Friendswood, TX – Restaurant Review

 

It seems Bob and I have been eating out quite a bit lately. Thank goodness some of it was excellent. Others were adequate. I can say up front that Perry’s was excellent. Perry’s is a local restaurant and market that is one of a chain in Houston. The Friendswood location is our favorite.

It is an upscale restaurant with excellent service and a nice menu for anyone interested in a leisurely meal. Even when there are a lot of patrons it is rather quiet and the lighting is subdued. I love the atmosphere, the attentive wait staff (sometimes a little slow depending on your server), the fresh baked hot bread and butter, and the yummy sides like Fried Asparagus with crab meat. The best part is their steaks are consistently above excellent. For us that is an anomaly. It is the only restaurant we can rely on for quality steaks cooked to perfection. The steaks are pricey but there is a rib eye steak sandwich that is a great steak and within the price range of most. It is served open faced so it is like ordering a regular steak.

For Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday night) Bob and I popped over to Perry’s, maybe 5 miles from our house, for our indulgent dinner before Lent. We went to get him barbeque because that is one of his favorite foods. I was not particularly hungry so ordered light, chicken fried steak with salad. Bob was loaded for bear and ordered the Five Peppercorn Steak with salad and baked potato, so much for barbeque. The sauce was divine and the steak was tender with beautiful grill marks and pink with no blood. Needless to say half of both our plates came home because we were determined to have our dessert. He ordered Chocolate Mousse cake and I had chocolate dipped strawberries – both scrumptious. We finished those there. After that we were ready to fast the next day.

It is really nice to have such a nice neighborhood restaurant available close to home. I once asked how they managed to have such consistently well cooked steaks and was told the chef had been with them 14 years so he had mastered the art. I am here to tell you I am a believer.

If you are in the area, give Perry’s a try. I think 4.5 Stars is a good indication of what you can expect at Perry’s in Friendswood. When speaking with the Big Cheese, Charles Goode, regarding use of the picture from his website, he suggested I check out the newest member of the Perry family of restaurants in San Antonio. It is gorgeous!

Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now, and don’t forget to fast on Fridays during Lent!

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Easy Apple Tart

 

Yesterday was the day of de ja vu. I finally got around to making my apple tart. It was fast and easy as always and looked mouthwateringly inviting when I removed it from the oven. I put it on a rack to cool, walked through the living room and there on the television, Giada was making apple tart. Guess it was in the air. Hers did not look as yummy as mine but it had not been baked yet so who’s to say?
Anyway, apple tart is one of those decadent treats you make when you want something sweet but don’t want a project. It is so simple it’s even a treat to make. It makes the most incompetent cook look accomplished. I keep pie crusts in the freezer for spur of the moment desserts and all the other ingredients are pantry staples.
The whole process takes only a few minutes because it is pretty much assembling, and not much preparation. Of course you can make this same tart with any manner of filling, from fresh fruit slices to canned pie filling, whatever satisfies your sweet tooth at the moment. If using canned pie filling, omit adding sugar. You can also leave off the oats if you prefer. I like the crunch and fiber on mine.
As promised, the recipe for my apple tart follows…probably quite ordinary but my slant on it nonetheless. Enjoy.

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Easy Apple Tart

Simple to make and especially delightful when eaten warm with a dollop of ice cream.

 
SERVES 6-8

  • 1 premade 9-inch pie crust, room temperature
  • all purpose flour
  • cornstarch
  • 2 Fuji apples, or other baking apples of choice, peeled and cored
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½-¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash of salt
  • ½ cup of oats
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, or nuts of choice
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cool water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Roll out the pie crust on a sheet pan. Put flour on the crust and spread all over except around the edges.
Turn the pie crust over and put corn starch in center, spread around to within 2 inches of the edges. It should not be thick, just a nice covering.
Take your apples and slice in ¼-inch slices and place in a bowl. Mix together your sugar, cinnamon and salt and toss gently with apples.
Make rows of apple slices on crust leaving about 2-inches uncovered around the edge. Overlap the apple slices as you place them on crust and use all apple slices. Pour remaining sugar over the layered apples.
Sprinkle oats, then nuts followed by brown sugar over apple mound. Moisten the 2-inch edge of crust lightly with water. You can use your fingers or a brush.
Gently lift edge of pie crust to fold up over the apples. Because the outside circle is larger than the filled circle the crust will ruffle. Fold over the extra ruffle of dough and pinch lightly with your fingers to seal the dough together so it will lay flat on apples. It will then look pleated. Do this around the whole tart.
Crack your one egg into a small bowl and beat slightly with water. With a small brush, brush egg wash on your folded crust. You can sprinkle a little white sugar over egg wash also if you like to add a little sweetness to crust. The egg white makes the crust shiny and pretty but is an optional step.
Cut your cold butter into tiny cubes and dot all over the filling that shows in the center of your tart.
Make a small tent out of creased aluminum foil, dull side down, to place over tart so nuts will not burn during baking.
Put pan into preheated oven with foil tent over tart and bake for 25-40 minutes depending on your oven. Check on tart frequently from 25 minutes on to make sure it doesn’t brown too much. It’s cooked when crust is golden brown. Take foil off and leave in oven another two minutes to finish browning nuts.
Remove tart from oven and allow to cool on stove or eat hot with ice cream. We are always too anxious to wait for it to cool and enjoy it best warm.

Mardi Gras

 

Diary of a Home Cook

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we fast… Are you ready for Fat Tuesday? I am. Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence and excess that precedes Lent for all Catholics in the world. Lent is comprised of 40 days of penance, fast and abstinence in preparation for Easter so you are allowed, and encouraged, to indulge big time the day before Lent begins. It is fun and festive and is a true party for the senses and the appetities.

Everybody has heard of Mardi Gras (The word Gras in French means “Fat,” while Mardi means “Tuesday.” Ergo, “Fat Tuesday.”) but not everyone has experienced it. When my boys were little we lived in a suburb of New Orleans and left town every year at Mardi Gras because of the millions of people that swarmed to the city. I went once and that was enough of the crowds for me but some people are addicted to it and I can fully understand that. It is a great party with masked people on enormous floats throwing beads, dubloons, and trinkets to the crowds. Many cities in the United States celebrate Mardi Gras. Galveston, Tx near us is riding high with floats and parades right now, but the predominant celebration in the U.S. remains New Orleans, Louisiana. Festivities begin a week before Ash Wednesday with parades daily and are filled with excessive drinking, eating and partying. There are some musts for Mardi Gras, one being going to Pat O’Briens bar for a Hurricane drink in a special hurricane glass and, if you are able to stay on your feet, you can actually walk through the French Quarter with it in your hand. For some people it doesn’t take much to make a holiday, and the people of Louisiana have it in their veins, from Mardi Gras to crawfish boils to St. Joseph Feasts and more. Growing up in Louisiana some 60 miles from New Orleans we joined in the spirit of the Mardi Gras season but only celebrated on the day of Fat Tuesday itself.

King Cake by Taste of HomeBecause fasting begins on Wednesday, Fat Tuesday is traditionally the day and night that food becomes a major item as the time to eat without inhibition. We stuff ourselves with precisely the things we will deny ourselves during Lent; candy, cokes and sweets of all manner, are the most prevalent. And we celebrate…with parades, family gatherings and other traditional get togethers and of course there is King Cake (Picture from Taste of Home) which designates the Queen of the celebration or the next person to bring the cake. For more on the history and recipe of king cake check out http://www.gumbopages.com/food/dessert/king-cake. Come Ash Wednesday we will endure 40 days without partaking of the things that tempt our fallen nature. Fat Tuesday here we come, rolling into Ash Wednesday sated and satisfied and ready to fast.
In our family we always made merry on Fat Tuesday. At home each person would request their favorite indulgence and I would see that it all appeared at the appropriate time and we would eat heartily. This year I don’t have a family to prepare for but will indulge myself with a hot fudge sundae, and maybe even a cupcake from our nearby Kup N Kakes, which I ordinarily deny myself because of my diabetes. It will be even sweeter because of Lent following. Of course, at my age I am no longer required to fast, so whatever I deny myself is just a little extra. Let’s get to the planning and see what we can come up with for a great Fat Tuesday. I was treated so good for Valentines that it is hard to decide what to have on Mardi Gras. Maybe more boiled crawfish! Yum! That is a definite indulgence. And my hot fudge sundae, and maybe a cup of gumbo and a fried soft shell crab. I do dearly love my Louisiana seafood. Of course Lent is about not eating meat on Friday’s, so maybe I should work in some fajitas. The list is now bigger than my capacity to consume. That’s okay, honey bunch is here to help me. I do hope you start a new tradition in your family if you haven’t before and enjoy Mardi Gras to the fullest. Write to me at info@downhomedelicious.com and let me know what’s going on at your house.

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Hanging with the Cousins Making Homemade Ravioli

 

Diary of a Home Cook

My cousin Geraldine Marretta Harris, a Mother and a marvelous home cook in her own right, shared a memory of cooking in our family you will enjoy. One thing I have to say about our Italian American family, the children were always included in the cooking if they were available and interested. That was back before the day of television and video games. Of course, we loved to be in the middle of things, so we developed a love of cooking at an early age. I think children are still interested but not invited as often as could be. It was such fun being at the table helping with pastas or breads or cookies, how can we not share these experiences with our family?
I don’t personally remember being a part of the ravioli making but Gerri’s story is heartwarming.

Gerri shares: “ I remember as a child the family gatherings that took place in our home or at one of my aunt’s homes. We’d all gather on a Saturday to make raviolis. My Aunt Pauline had a really long table in her kitchen (or so it seemed to be long when I was little) and she’d put each of us girls at the table with a piece of dough to spread out with a stick (rolling pin) and showed us what to do. (We had a lot of flour available to keep the dough from sticking to the table.) As we rolled the dough my cousins would see who could get the dough just right for making raviolis. We rolled, cut into long strips and then we’d cut them again into squares. My aunt came up behind us and put just enough of the cheese or meat mixture in the center of the ravioli. Then we’d put two squares together (one empty square on top of a filled square), press the edges with the tines of a fork to make sure the cheese couldn’t escape before placing them in the hot salted water. It was very interesting being brought up in a Sicilian home. Family gatherings were filled with a whole lot of good food, lots of love, music and dancing.”

I have had the good fortune of eating home made ravioli and trust me, the ravioli you get in the store is a far cry from the goodness of home made. If you want to try it one day, it’s a great bonding experience with family and/or friends. Use a simple fresh pasta recipe, roll out dough as Gerri describes and put a filling of my Rigoletto’s Favorite Ricotta Cheese filling, or meatballs, in the center and have an indescribably delicious meal. The tender ravioli take about 3 minutes to cook and drain. Just a little pasta sauce, tomato or alfredo, over the top seals the deal.

Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now, and do it the Italian American way!

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Ciao,

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Baby back Ribs with Roasted Vegetables and Eggplant

 

Diary of a Home Cook

 

Let me tell you I have been on a roll this week. In and out, easy and delicious. It doesn’t get much better. I would have made my apple tart by now but because my sugars are out of whack, (you know my diabetes problem) I am hesitating. However, it won’t be long now, so keep watching for it.
Let me state here and now, I love to cook but I don’t love to cook necessarily every day or when I am feeling lazy, or when a good movie is on, or when I prefer to indulge myself and sit around and read, or so many other times. My husband worked for 50 years in his career and I know he didn’t feel like going to work every day but he persevered and so must I. I just don’t want to paint a picture for you of a little miss dance around and be happy fairy that floats in and out of the kitchen smiling and saying “thank you for letting me work for you.” Let’s be realistic, cooking can be a chore but that can be minimized by preparing foods that satisfy something in your soul or makes someone you love happy. I relate my cooking exploits but don’t think that it is always easy or fun for me any more than it is for you. It is simply something I take seriously and push myself to do when I must, because I know I will like myself better if I follow through on my obligations. And the praise and love I get from a job well done doesn’t hurt anything either.
Today we opted for a late lunch having been out to breakfast after church. I like days like this where I can go slow and easy and yet enjoy a hearty meal that is healthy and delicious. Trust me, this is going to please your palate and make you want to run out and buy some ribs. BTW I do not use any meat that has been injected with salt solutions. Buy natural meat and you will have the best tasting meal you can imagine.
First things first, I preheated both ovens to 450 degrees F. Next I got out two oven pans, an oven broiler pan and a smaller lipped baking sheet about 11”x9”. I lined both with aluminum foil, shiny side down and sprayed them with oil. The larger pan I tucked the foil underneath the edge and on the smaller I let the foil stick up in the air around the sides to block the spatter in the oven. The foil lining makes clean up a breeze.
My ribs were only 7 ribs from a larger rack, just enough for my honey and me for one sitting. I put a metal rack on top of foil, sprayed it, seasoned the ribs on both sides with garlic powder (not salt) and black pepper, sprayed it all over with oil and laid it on the rack in the pan. I took one more piece of foil the width of the rack of ribs and sprayed it with oil on the dull side to use later.
The ribs went into the oven at 450 degrees F. for 30 minutes, then heat was turned down to 400 degrees for the remaining 30 minutes with sprayed cover of foil to help prevent ribs from charring too much and spattering on oven sides.
While the ribs roasted I washed and cut up 3 bell peppers (one each red, yellow, and orange) any combination works but that is what I had. I also scrubbed and cut 2 medium red potatoes in large bite size chunks and measured out 1 cup small carrots. Everything went in a four-quart bowl for a good toss. I drizzled olive oil, (I use light but you can use EVOO if you prefer) over all and tossed again. Then I spread the vegetables in my larger foil lined broiler pan, seasoned them with garlic powder and pepper, (you can also add parsley, rosemary or other favorites seasonings) and they were ready to roast.
In comes the sous chef to do his thing. I left the kitchen, it is small and not a professional kitchen, so at times it gets a little close with both of us cooking. Honey fixed fried eggplant, a favorite of ours and his specialty. He is not and doesn’t want to be a cook but has 2 or 3 things, like salad and fried eggplant that he will fix when requested. That man can put away some eggplant; I guess that is why he is willing to fix it.

 

When the ribs had been roasting 30 minutes and it was time to lower their temperature and add the foil cover, I slipped the vegetables into the lower oven. The vegetables roasted while Bob fried eggplant.
One hour and a few minutes after I began the meal was ready, hot and yummy. Bob likes barbeque sauce on his ribs so he added it at the table even though I would have been happy to add it while they were in the oven. The ribs were quite meaty, lean and tender, crunchy on the outside yet juicy on the inside and how delicious was that! With everything else being so healthy the fried eggplant did not tip the scale to unhealthy.

My hubby was just a smiling and smacking all through his meal. He loved it and that made me love it even more. No leftovers on this meal. Of course, we still have a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs to tide us over if the need arises. Knowing Bob he will get int that bowl before the evening is over.
I have found there is no magic to feeding a family apart from caring about making them happy and healthy to the best of your ability, while satisfying your cravings along the way. I really enjoy cooking, but it is often a chore on days like today when my elderly body would rather have been in my chair reading my book. Life has taught me that I can’t always do what I feel like doing, most days I must do what I must do and find joy in that as best I can. I really get a kick out of watching my husband enjoy his meal. It takes the edge off cooking when I am not really in the mood. Is there anyone you love enough to get out of your easy chair and cook for when you are feeling so self indulged? I certainly hope so, that is a part of what makes life worth living.

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Meatballs

 

Diary of a Home Cook

Today has been one of those days. I planned ahead what I would cook but I didn’t get it moving for lunch which was my goal. Bob plays racquetball doubles on Saturday mornings and I tackled paperwork on my desk while he was gone. Didn’t get a lot done but at least made a minor dent.

We both had hair appointments in the afternoon so it bounced my cooking back to the late afternoon. I generally cook according to my tastebuds and what they are craving at the time. My mistake was in asking Bob which he preferred, because I know his love for meatballs and spaghetti, and that won out over my preference of fusion tacos. More about those later. I just wasn’t in the mood for spaghetti and don’t like meatballs so I made both, meatballs and meat sauce. It was easy and went quickly so all is good. You are really going to like the flavor and ease of this meal and hopefully you will try it or something similar soon.
After we got back from our hairdresser, I finally got around to going into the kitchen to cook and things just fell into place. I had 1 ¼ pounds good Angus ground chuck and prechopped onions in the frig, boy am I getting lazy. I ultimately used one 4-quart saucepan, 1 everyday pan and one small skillet plus a pot for the spaghetti. It took me only 30 minutes to have my meatsauce with meatballs and red gravy simmering.
First I put the 4-quart pot on the burner on high, added one 14.5-ounce can chicken broth, 4 cups water and two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce, and brought it to a boil. When it began to boil I turned the heat to low and put a lid on it so it would simmer while I started on the seasonings.
One third of my ground meat went into a large bowl with a small amount of salt and pepper, some garlic powder, about ¼ cup bread crumbs, a tablespoon of minced onion, a couple of tablespoons water and one whole egg. The fun of meatballs is getting your hands in there to squoosh it all together. I put my everyday pan on the stove, added about ¼ inch oil and turned the burner on high. While it heated I formed my meat mixture into six balls. When the oil was rippling, hot, I turned the burner down to medium, added the meatballs and browned them on all sides. When browned, I removed them to a shallow bowl to add to the sauce later.
Using the oil from the meatballs I put 1 cup chopped onions and the remaining ground meat into the everyday pan that was still over medium heat. They began to brown nicely incorporating the drippings from the meatballs. At this point I seasoned the pan with a little salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and added one 6-ounce can tomato paste and stirred well. I continued to stir no more than 2 more minutes, didn’t want the garlic to burn. When the meat and onions were tender and the paste was well blended they were added to the sauce pot simmering on another burner. As an afterthought I added one 4 ounce can sliced black olives, rinsed. I love black olives and mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce but had neglected to purchase mushrooms so moved forward without them.
I adjusted my amount of liquid in the pot so that it would not thicken too much and partially covered the bubbling mixture allowing it to cook down and blend the flavors. It was already tasting rather yummy. The sauce took 30 minutes to prepare and I was well on my way to a delicious meal. The meatballs were introduced to the sauce and all gently simmered another 30 minutes.
The beauty of being a cook without recipes kind of cook is that you can get in your kitchen and add a dash of this and a pinch of that, and produce an artistic creation that speaks to your personality and tastebuds. It’s the difference between buying a dress off of the rack and designing and sewing it yourself. There is a satisfaction that comes only from knowing that it is all yours. I truly encourage those of you who only cook with recipes to take the leap and spread your wings to encompass the delights of creating a fantastically flavorful meal all on your own. That doesn’t mean you have to re-invent the wheel, use a recipe as a springboard and go from there. It is very freeing and most times a lot of fun. Don’t expect to be a cooking channel chef on your first try…the first time I made ravioli from scratch I had to scrape them off the counter because I didn’t know to put sufficient flour under the dough. That is a fond memory on my learning curve.
Back to the meal of the moment. In my small skillet I combined 1 cup sauce and 1 cup water and brought it to a gentle simmer. When the temperature was right I slowly cracked 5 eggs, one at a time, into the diluted sauce. The skillet was then partially covered with a small lid and allowed to continue to cook over low heat for the remainder of the time the sauce was simmering. These Italian poached eggs are some kind of good eating, a wonderful addition to your meal and worth checking out.
On another burner I put my pasta water on to boil. When it came to a rapid boil I put in ½ of a ounce box of spaghetti, turned the heat down to maintain a nice rolling boil and cooked the spaghetti for 9 minutes. After 5 minutes I salted my spaghetti and let it finish cooking. Once drained I sauced it just enough to keep it from sticking together and we were in business.
Bob had wandered into the kitchen and saw my concert unfolding, grabbed a bowl and within the space of not more than 5 minutes put together a great tomato and lettuce salad with his own home made oil and vinegar salad dressing. I affectionately refer to him as my sous chef and love to share my kitchen with him.
One hour start to finish we were setting the table and had a marvelous meal before us. Everything was easy and quick and loaded with flavor. We ate our fill and still have a bowl left over for another meal plus about 2 cups of meat sauce for an impromptu spaghetti meal another day.
One side comment for those of you watching your weight or happen to be pre-diabetic or diabetic. I use Dreamfields pasta that is specially engineered to cut the carbs. It is delicious. You would not know the difference from other pasta unless you saw the box, and it allows me to enjoy all my favorite dishes without pushing the limits on my carbohydrate intake. I don’t market for the company but I do highly recommend the product. It’s a game maker.
That was what we had for dinner tonight. Simple, satisfying and down home delicious. What was on your menu today?
Don’t forget to get your loved ones a nice Valentine and maybe a special treat.
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day today; we sure did.

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Pappasito’s Restaurant Review

 

Diary of a Home Cook

Sometimes temptation is just more than I can handle. Bob and I had already decided we would not spend a lot of money on a Valentine meal out. Then I got this email about Pappasito’s Valentine special and I was hooked. It wasn’t just because they had filet mignon fajitas, or because they were serving chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. It was because both of those coupled with grilled lobster and shrimp was too much to resist. I have this love of lobster that makes me crave it from time to time. It is so expensive that I can’t justify it most of the time. My hubby tells me not to worry about the expense but it is hard to swallow knowing how much each bite costs. We have the money but there are people starving out there and I am selfishly spending more on one dish than they may have for food for a month. Doesn’t go down well for me as a regular choice.
Good news! The Pappasito’s meal was decently priced and had everything I love on it. There are several Pappasito’s in Houston and a variety of Pappas restaurants. We have found that not all Pappasito’s are created equal. Happily we found that the Pappasito’s on 610 Freeway by Reliant Park has consistently tender fajitas so we make the extra drive to get the better food. Of course, nothing is perfect. I much prefer the salsa at the one close to us. The fajitas win out every time.
We finally decided to take advantage of the great price and the foods we love and went to Pappasito’s today for our Valentine meal. We were delighted with the quality and quantity of food we were served. It included filet mignon fajitas with vegetables served in an impressive presentation on a hanging skewer (not shown in picture) and it was cooked perfectly, so tender they melted in our mouth. Also on our platter were regular beef fajitas, caramelized onions, grilled peppers, and other vegetables, 5-6 brochette shrimp, and a nice sized grilled lobster tail split in two. Our sides were Mexican beans and rice, guacamole and pica de gallo plus unlimited chips and salsa. All for a total of $44.95 for both of us. Happy Valentine’s to us!! Bob said it was by far the best meal he has had there and was hungrily eating all he could. When we finally cried uncle and asked for a to go box the strawberries arrived and were beautiful as well as delicious. There were 4 large berries dipped in milk chocolate on a beautiful presentation plate with a tower of whipped cream in the center of the plate. I love pretty food and this was fantastic. Bob asked the waiter to bring a to go box because we would only eat one berry each and take the other two home while I more realistically said, “Forget the box.” Needless to say, we scarfed down those berries with a smile on our face. The good news is that chocolate dipped strawberries do not mess with our sugar levels since we are both diabetic. Fortunately my hubby and I have some foods and restaurants we both enjoy and this is one of them. Their menu just happened to bring any of our favorites together in one meal which made our satisfaction quotient ring the bell. And we had so much food to go from Pappasito’s that we did not have to cook dinner either. You can bet there wasn’t any lobster in that to go box, just fajitas, a couple of shrimp and some of the sides. Still it was double our pleasure.

Corey, our waiter treated us as though it was his special privilege to tend to all our requests and needs even though he had several tables to serve. He was so good with a smile on his face the whole time that we called the Manager over and gave her a personal Kudo for his great customer service. Our Valentine meal cost 1/3 as much as the least expensive of the other Valentine menus in Houston. And we loved it all. I had perused the Valentine’s selections in town and saw that most began at $65 per person as a minimum with others up to $95 per person and we did not like everything on the sparse menus. I am not cheap but I like to get what I pay for. Okay, so our meal was not romantic. But delicious trumped romantic and we still have Valentine ’s Day to deliver the romance. Other restaurants in Houston claimed to be romantic but left a lot to be desired in my mind. We do have special plans for THE day geared to my husbands choice. I will share about that after the fact.
I have been so excited that I had a genuine good review to share with you that I was anxious to write this up as soon as possible. Now you have it. I do hope your holiday is as perfect as mine is shaping up to be.
Have a down home delicious Happy Valentine’s Day ya’ll!!

To make reservations at Pappasito’s, visit:
http://www.pappasitos.com .

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Peggy Sholly
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza

Comfort Food Works Its Magic

 

Diary of a Home Cook

Today I had a minor medical procedure done and my doc said I could not have anything fried or spicy. Duh!! There went 90% of my favs. It doesn’t matter how minor the procedure was, I wanted to be spoiled and comforted. I moseyed around for some time trying to figure out something quick and tasty since I have not had a meal today and it is already in the evening. My husband repeatedly offered to go pick up anything I wanted but nothing fit.
Finally, in a blinding flash I had my answer. Grits and eggs. Being a southern girl I grew up on grits and love them dearly. I keep a box of instant grits on hand in the pantry for just such times as this. So what did it take, approximately 5 minutes to fry (oops) up 2 eggs – maybe we could use the word sauté to make it legal – and microwave a serving of grits with butter. I slid the eggs on top of the grits, cut the eggs up and stirred and heaven was just a fork away. Now that I am diabetic I no longer have toast and jelly as a regular addition. Today I was semi-honest and stuck with only grits and eggs. It was, as always, delicious and satisfied my itch for comfort food. The best part of it is it is healthy, definitely better than a burger and fries (oh, no fries today).
Another day behind me with minimal cooking. When we have had a nice lunch we very often have grits and eggs, and maybe bacon, in the evening and it is a great ending of the day for us. If you prefer, you can fix instant Cream of Wheat. I ate that as a girl only back then it wasn’t instant. CofW just doesn’t do it for me these days. Have to go with the grits. Anyway, think about it. Give it a try and maybe you will find a new fast food to help you out in a crunch. I guess I could have poached the eggs to be totally legal but that never crossed my mind.

If you would like to post a recipe of your own, please contact us at:
http://www.downhomedelicious.com/contact .
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!

Peggy Sholly

Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza