Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This is so yummy... you've got to try it!

Okay maybe this isn't the most traditional summer meal but then again we haven't been experiencing the hottest summer either... In the freezer I had some beef shanks that were part of the Holy Spirit offering we had received from our local church a couple of weeks ago. It's quite the tradition for Azorean portuguese families. I found this great recipe for Osso Buco from Giada, made a few changes to it by using the beef shanks instead of the veal shanks indicated in the recipe and I was extremely impressed with how it turned out... I think you'll like it too!

Helena’s Take on Osso Buco


1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 whole beef shanks (about 1-2 pound per shank)
1 lb of stewing beef, cubed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 onion soup mix
4 carrots, sliced
3-4 stalk celery, sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup water
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 raw garlic clove, thinly grated


For the beef shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a large Dutch oven pot, heat butter until melted. Add bee shanks and stewing beef to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.

In the same pot, add the onion soup mix, carrots and celery. The salt in the soup mix will help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks and stewing beef to the pan and add the white wine, water, hot pepper paste and garlic, reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Lay beef shanks and stewing beef at the bottom of the crockpot, pouring out all liquids, spices and juices from your pot. Set crockpot to high (4 hours) to ensure meat is tender and falls off the fork.

Once done, carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Remove bay leaf, rosemary twig and oregano twig before serving. Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.

Garnish with traditional gremolada of: chopped parsley, lemon zest and grated raw garlic and serve with a saffron rissotto.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Starving... What's to Eat?

Okay so I'm still going through that stretch where I refuse to buy any more groceries until we've used what we have in our cupboards and our fridge... The only problem with that is I tend to pig out on the quick and easy to find snacks in the cupboards because by the time I'm scouting about, I'm way past the hungry point...actually more like starving!!

But I was determined to set a good example for my little one. So after having spent the morning cutting out all the recipes in magazines I had collected over the last couple of months, I came across this cookingwithphilly recipe. Although for the last little while I have really deterred from making pasta (for no particular reason to be honest), I had all of the ingredients on hand and with an approximate time of 20 minutes until it was ready, I just had to do it...

Wow, was I glad I did it. This is a great alternative to an alfredo pasta recipe, although it is still quite creamy without being overwhelming. I had leftover chicken breast on hand and threw it in for the last couple of minutes to create our main dish although this would be a great side dish if you don't have any chicken. Once done, I split the pasta among bowls and containers so that lunch was done for the next day and to ensure we didn't eat the whole thing ;)

Even the 2-year old enjoyed this recipe too...

Easy Creamy PHILLY Spaghettini

Prep 5 minute(s)
Ready in 20 minute(s)
Serves: 4 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) each


300 g (1/3 of 900-g pkg.) spaghettini pasta, uncooked
1-1/4 cups 25%-less-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp flour
1/3 cup PHILADELPHIA Light Cream Cheese Spread ( I only had the brick and it worked out great too!)
3 Tbsp KRAFT 100% Light Parmesan Grated Cheese, divided
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 leftover chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Cook pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, beat broth and flour in medium saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add cream cheese spread, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, nutmeg and leftover chicken; cook 2 min. or until mixture comes to boil and thickens, stirring constantly.

Drain pasta; toss with sauce in large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and parsley.