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Clams casino is a regional favorite in this neck of the woods. What is not to love about any dish made with bacon, peppers and wine? But why should clams be the only ones invited to the casino? Chicken is a delicious casino variation and tastes oh-so-fine over capellini. So, all you clam haters, this one’s for you!

CHICKEN CASINO CAPPELLINI ALLA SPERANZA

3 cloves garlic
1 shallot
6 pieces of bacon
3/4 pound chicken breast, cut in chunks
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (a generous handful)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (I like Meridian Chardonnay)
extra-virgin olive oil
½ fresh lemon, squeezed
1 red bell pepper cut into matchstick pieces and roasted
1 tablespoon capers

Before you get started, roast the peppers in the oven. Try about 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. Take a peek around the 10-minute mark to make sure everything’s on track and then set your timer for 5-10 more minutes.

Now, cook the bacon. Set aside on paper towels, cool, then chop finely. Don’t get rid of all the bacon drippings! Reserve enough to barely coat bottom of skillet.

This would be a fine time to set a large pot of salted water to boil for your capellini.

Meanwhile, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add chicken and cook till no longer pink. Add chicken broth, white wine and lemon. Add capers and roasted peppers just to get them warmed up and incorporated.

Serve in deep soup bowls over capellini. Sprinkle bacon on top and garnish with fresh parsley

And for those of you who are clam fans, check out the original clams casino capellini alla Speranza!

blood orange ritas

Ready for a twist on the classic margarita? Half a lime is still invited to the party, it’s just not the primary fruit. Cinco de Drinko’s just around the corner. Color outside the lines with me, it’s fun–and delicious! :)

BLOOD ORANGE MARGARITAS

for two

6 oz. (3/4 cup) blood orange juice
1/2 lime, squeezed
4 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Grand Marnier
2 sugar-rimmed glasses of your choice

Stir, serve over ice and savor every sip!

strata slice

One of my favorite things to do with strata is to add Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns to the mix. Because, while bread is good, half bread and half badadas is truly a beautiful thing.

I finally got around to writing it all down to share with you. Remember, you can easily include other meats or veggies, so consider this a jump-off point for your own strata-fication!  :)

KATTY’S ITALIAN-AMERICAN STRATA

8 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cups of your favorite bread, cubed (I used sourdough)
2 1/2 cups Ore Ida Crispy Crowns, baked according to package instructions
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning
1 small bunch broccoli
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 – 1 pound breakfast sausage, cooked and cut into small pieces
1/2 a large sweet onion, chopped

Beat eggs, milk and cream in L A R G E bowl. Add shredded cheddar, Sunny Paris, salt and pepper. Stir bread cubes into egg mixture. This part of the recipe should hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to complete the recipe, steam the broccoli for approximately 2 minutes, then set aside.

This is also a good time to turn on the oven to the right temperature to cook the Crispy Crowns. Getting them crispy ahead of time makes them nice-nice in the strata. Get those going and then we can put it all together. But drop the temp back down to 350 degrees F when you’re ready to bake your strata, OK?

In a large pan, cook your breakfast sausages. I had links–if you have bulk sausage, just break it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels, saving just a bit of the fat so you can add the onion back to the pan and cook it in the drippings. As the onions are cooking, add the red peppers. Cook till the onions are almost golden, then set it all aside to cool.

Cut the sausages into small pieces. Stir onions, peppers, broccoli and sausage into eggs.

Once the Crispy Crowns have cooked, place half of them in rows, four by four (so 16, total on the bottom of the pan), so each cut square should get one. You’ll use the rest for the top of the strata.

Pour ingredients into a buttered 9″ square baking dish. Then, evenly place the remaining Crispy Crowns over the top. I had enough to fill a 9″ square as well as a little mini-heart dish.

strata whole

strata heart

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 50 minutes or till top is lightly golden and eggs are set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

almond shortbread no-roll pie crust

My mom helped celebrate Pi(e) Day with me yesterday. I crossed my almond shortbread recipe with a very similar recipe for a no-roll shortbread crust and baked by proxy. It even involved math, appropriately enough. Thanks for being patient with my math and doing this for me, Ma!

What a delicious crust! And so easy. My mom is, without question, the best pie baker in the family, so my humble instructions were in good hands.

ALMOND SHORTBREAD PIE CRUST: A NO-ROLL RECIPE

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt (yes, 3/8, but I don’t have a 3/8 measure, do you?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend ingredients till a soft dough forms. Pat into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick crust well with fork. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, till crust is golden.

Here’s the final pie–the filling is Cook’s Country’s lemon chess.

lemon chess pie cook's country

The crust is excellent! The pie filling’s texture is a standout–crisp, crackly top with a rich, silky custard beneath it. I especially love how the pie looks like the sun. And it’s very tasty, too. I would prefer a more tart, lemony flavor and will work on that as time goes by. But it hasn’t stopped me from eating my way through this plate of sunshine. Thanks again, Ma! Love you!

 

 

peanut butter pie

Two great tastes that taste great together–chocolate and peanut butter– come together beautifully and easily. Start with a store-bought Oreo shell, then whip up (literally) a quick ‘n tasty filling.

PEANUT BUTTER PIE

1 Oreo pie shell
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy is my fave)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream till stiff peaks form. Move to a small, separate bowl in the fridge till it’s time to add to the pie.

Again, using a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter and Neufchatel cheese till smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat till smooth, scrape down sides to be sure everything is incorporated. Next, fold in about 1/3 of the whipped cream you set aside. Then fold in the rest.

Pour into the Oreo shell and smooth the top of the surface. I saved one dollop of whipped cream for the center, just to be fancy. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. Delicious!

hash 3

Ever notice it’s hard to find good corned beef hash out? Me, too. Sometimes, when you crave one of your favorite things, it’s best to start in your own kitchen. So, today, I made my own. It’s less of a recipe, more of a concept, so let’s go through the steps together.

CORNED BEEF HASH/EGG IN A HASH HOLE

Everything you chop should be about the same size–the badadas, pepper, onions and corned beef.
2 good-sized red potatoes, skins on, cut into cubes
1 red pepper (I used half red, half orange), chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
about 3/4 pound corned beef (ask for a thick slice at the deli), cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Cook the potatoes in salted water till tender. You can do this a day before to save time on hash day.

Next, chop, chop, chop. The corned beef, too.

hash 0

Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add peppers and onion.

hash 1

Cook about 5-7 minutes till onions are golden and beginning to lightly brown.

Add potatoes and stir. They should begin to brown in 5-7 minutes. At that point, stir in two tablespoons of heavy cream to form a nice crispy crust.

I’m just cooking for me today, so I transferred my portion of hash to a smaller pan, made an indentation, cracked an egg in and covered, cooking on low for about 5 minutes.

You could make several hash holes in the larger pan if you have company.

hash done

And there you have it. Egg in a hash hole. Don’t like eggs? Hash stands just fine on its own and is a meal unto itself. Enjoy!

Katty's almond bundt cake

Happy new year, amici! After ending the year with a crash and a bang (beware the walking mixer), I’m back to baking safely. In fact, I enjoyed the chocolate almond bundt cake I baked last week so much I wanted to try to come up with a straight up almond version.

Here’s last week’s model–look how pretty. My only modifications were to use two teaspoons of almond extract instead of just one, and to use powdered buttermilk. In fact, two of my tasters thought the cake had Amaretto in it! I made my own frosting, too.

chocolate almond bundt cake

A new week and a snowy day felt like the right time to make an almond version. I really liked the texture of last week’s cake. But how to make it just as delicious and ultra almond-y? I kept the extra almond extract and swapped out the cocoa powder for almond flour. I also cut back the sugar ever so slightly and made cake release with almond flour. Are you ready? Put on your dancin’ shoes and let’s bake!

KATTY’S ALMOND BUNDT CAKE

First, you’ll want to paint your pan. Melt one tablespoon of butter, then stir in one tablespoon of almond flour. Yes, it’s not as smooth as regular flour, but that’s OK. It’s going to give an extra nice bit of texture to the outside of the cake. Paint your bundt pan with a pastry brush. Then, because the almond flour will clump a bit, simply smooth it out with your finger.

cake release for almond bundt

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Now, let’s make the batter.
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almond flour (I keep a bag of Bob’s Red Mill in the fridge)
4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk*
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water*

*If you prefer to use real buttermilk, use a cup of it in place of the water and omit the powdered buttermilk.
In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well and scrape down the bowl after each addition. Add sour cream and extracts; mix well.
Combine flour, almond flour, powdered buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Alternate adding dry ingredients and water to the creamed mixture; beat well after each addition.
Pour into a greased 10-inch bundt pan. Bake at 350° F for 50-55 minutes (definitely just 50 minutes in my oven) or till a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before you glaze. See the lighter spots where the almond flour in the cake release has made an appearance?
Katty's almond bundt cake unglazed
Now we glaze.
ALMOND GLAZE
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons milk
Drizzle over the cooled cake. For the sake of fanciness, you might want to drizzle the glaze while the cake is still on the wire rack, then move the cake to its final destination. But if you don’t mind extra pools of glaze, you, too, can do as I do. :) Slice. Enjoy! Sort of looks like a rocket to blast off into the land of good taste and happy feet, yes?
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