Monday, December 20, 2010


I find it really difficult to not say Braciola in a heavy Italian accent while using a hand gesture. Anyway, Braciola is a southern Italian dish that refers to a dish where a slice of meat is topped with different ingredients, rolled up and baked. This is easy to make and pretty economical, especially for entertaining, but it does take a while to cook. This is so the meat can become super tender. This recipe is courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis. It uses flank steak, which is baked and basted in marinara sauce. I made it for my annual get together with my closest and dearest friends. It is great dish for the holidays.

2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup grated Provolone cheese
1/2 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
4 Tbsps. olive oil
1 flank steak
1 tsp sea salt (I used Kosher)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
kitchen twine
1 cup dry white wine
3 and 1/4 cups marinara sauce (See the recipe here.)

In a medium bowl, stir the cheeses, bread crumbs, parsley and garlic to blend. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and set aside. Lay the flank steak flat on the work surface, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture evently over the steak to cover the top evenly.

Starting at one short end, roll up the steak as for a jelly roll and enclose the filling completely. (Some might fall out. It's ok.) Using kitchen twine, tie the steak roll to secure. Sprinkle the braciola with the remaining salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large, heavy, oven proof frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium flame. Add the braciola and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Stir in the marinara sauce. Cover partially with foil and bake, turning the braciola and basting with the sauce every 30 minutes, until the meat is almost tender, about 1 and half hours. Uncover and continue baking until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes longer. (I doubled the recipe so I transferred the meat and sauce from the frying pan to a roasting pan.)

Remove the braciola from the sauce. Using a large, sharp knife, remove the kitchen twine and cut the braciola crosswise and diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve.

Cran-Pistachio Cookies

I found a bunch of easy and festive Christmas cookie recipes on the Betty Crocker Web site. The best part about these is that they start with BC's sugar cookie mix as a base and then you just add some other ingredients. These stood out to me because my mom loves anything with pistachios, so I made some of these for her. I, of course, saved some for myself as well.

1 pouch (1 lb, 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 box (4 serving size) pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup dry-roasted salted pistachios, chopped ( I used my trusty baby food processor and pulsed until chopped a little bit)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix, pudding mix and flour. Stir in melted butter and egss until soft dough forms. Add pistachios and cranberries; mix well.

Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Press with fingers to slightly flatten.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Snickerdoodles are my favorite Christmas cookie, maybe my favorite cookie, period, however, these might be my second favorite.

1 bag Hershey's Kisses Chocolates
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsps milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
granulated sugar for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap the Kisses. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie, cookie will crack around the edges. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BBQ Turkey Chili

This is great chili for a chilly night. It's a little bit healthier with the ground turkey. It has great spice and smoky-ness from the addition of barbecue sauce.

4 Tbsps olive oil
2 packages of ground turkey
4-6 Tbsps chili powder
2 Tbsps grill seasoning
2 Tbsps cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 Tbsps Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbsps hot sauce
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 bottle beer (I like to use Yuengling or Sam Adams)
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can red chili beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup smoky barbecue sauce
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
Optional toppings: shredded cheese, chopped red onion, scallions, sour cream, jalapenos, salsa, fresh cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the turkey and season it with the chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, crushed red pepper, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon into small crumbles.

While the turkey is cooking, chop the onion and bell pepper. Once the turkey is cooked and no longer pink (takes about 10 minutes) add the onion and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes more. Add the beer, deglazing the pan and scraping up the drippings and cook off the alcohol. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, barbecue sauce and corn. Bring the chili to a bubble and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Taste for seasonings. Add more hot sauce if it needs more heat. Ladle into bowls and add your choice of toppings. Serves 6, at least.