Monday, February 1, 2010

Just had to share it with you...

I just had to share this recipe with you. I found it on and it was a great way to use any leftover pork I had from the previous night. I just sliced it up and then added it to the recipe as it called for it. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Fettuccine with Creamy Pork & Asparagus Sauce


12 oz. (3/4 lb.) dry fettuccine pasta, broken in half
2 teaspoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground pork
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 lb.) fresh asparagus, tips and tender stalks cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 can (12 oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
3 oz. grated queso fresco or Parmesan cheese or more to taste
Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)


COOK fettuccine according to package directions.

MEANWHILE, MELT butter in large skillet on medium low heat. Add onions; cook until lightly golden about 3 minutes. Add ground pork; cook on medium heat stirring constantly, until no longer pink; drain. Stir in asparagus tips. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to reduce. Reduce heat to low; add evaporated milk. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

COMBINE pork and asparagus sauce with drained fettuccine. Serve immediately sprinkled with a little queso fresco and parsley, if desired. Remaining cheese can be served along with pasta and sauce.

Enjoy :)

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.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tiramisu Tarts

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a sucker for desserts, more so if they are small and in individual serving sizes... Anything to get away from the guilt ;) When I came across this fun recipe on the Tre Stelle website, I tweaked it a little for what I had in the cupboards that day and brought it with me to a family party during the long weekend. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and it was very easy to put together that morning.

Tiramisu Tarts


1 ½ pkg (255 g) frozen sweetened mini tart shells
2 cups (500 ml) Mascarpone cheese
1 ½ tbsp strong brewed coffee or coffee liqueur (Kahlùa or Tia Maria)
3 tbsp (30 mL) brown sugar
100g P.C. dark chocolate, melted
cocoa for garnish, if desired


Preheat oven to 375

Bake unfilled tart shells in an oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

In a medium bowl combine Mascarpone, coffee liqueur and brown sugar; stir until combined and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

Spoon teaspoonfuls of melted chocolate into the bottom of each baked tart shell. Swirl around to ensure a taste of chocolate in every bite.

Place Mascarpone mixture into a Ziploc bag. Close the bag and cut a hole out of one end of the bag. Pipe out mixture into each tart shell. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Sift cocoa over each just before serving.

Makes 18 tarts


An overnight Crockpot Success..

I needed some chicken for my Buffalo Wing Dip and had a chicken in the fridge that was ready to be used and the herbs in my balcony garden were starting to grow so nicely. I came across this crockpot recipe for a chicken and it was perfect for my dip as the chicken was so tender and just fell off its bones. The rest of the chicken and bones, I used to make some chicken stock and store in the freezer for a later recipe.

Chicken with 40 Cloves Garlic


2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 whole chicken
2 stalks celery


Place sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley and half of the garlic in chicken cavity. Place celery in stoneware. Put chicken on top of celery. Add remaining garlic around chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. Cover; cook on Low 8 - 10 hours (High 4 - 6 hours). To serve, place chicken, onions, garlic and celery on serving platter.

Note: You can squeeze roasted garlic out of skins onto toasted French bread slices and spread with knife topped with some crumbled goat cheese and a little rosemary. Yummy!


A Light of Success in the Valley of Darkness...

...Wow the last couple of weeks have been muddled with many recipes that wouldn't dare make it on to this blog - yes, they were that bad!!! But as always through every long bad streak, there is always some little success that ever so slowly brings you out of those cooking doldrums and for me it was this recipe. I found it on one of my discussion boards tweaked it for a party that I was going to, so here goes:

Buffalo Wing Dip


1 ½ packages low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup P.C. Buffalo Wing sauce, mild
1 cup Ranch dressing
2 cups cooked chicken - shredded or diced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and hot pepper sauce until well blended. Mix in the Ranch dressing and chicken. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over it.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve warm with tortilla chips and celery.

Note: use an already cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store for a quick option to the chicken needed in this recipe.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Kickoff starts today...

The Kickoff to the theme of my 34th year on this Earth starts today: This is going to be my healthiest year EVER!!

Okay there I've said it and now actions will have to speak louder than words...

How did I come up up with the theme?
I've been subscribing to a daily inspiration email message from Neale Donald Walsh, the author of Conversations with God. The last one that I received that really drove me to a plan of action was this one:

On this day of your life, Helena, I believe God wants you to know...

...that taking better care of yourself is not merely a matter of good health, it is a measure of spiritual evolution.

Some people take better care of their car than they do of their body. Most people, in fact, pay little attention to their body until something goes wrong. Yet why create that kind of situation?

Look at what you are eating. How much and how often do you exercise? When was your last check-up? Are you treating your physical vehicle as if it is Divine? Good for you if you are. If you aren't...why not?

That is not to say that there won't be some potholes on the roadway and not all fuel going into this theme over the next year will be all no carbs, high protein, low fat, limited calories but I will aim to find a balance so that the goal of healthyness is rewarded with ultimate prize of happiness and fulfillment.

First plan of action: celebrate my birthday today with my girls and hubby. We're heading out to the closest Olive Garden. Their salad and breadsticks to die for... (never mind all of entrees on their menu). How do we plan to burn off this meal... A huge shopping spree at the Walden Galleria across the street :) It's a win, win situation for all... Second item on our to-do list: purchase a double jogging stroller so that the girls will join me on this year's new summer activity of choice: rollerblading along the waterfront...

So here I go and hope you will join me too... Enjoy!

Our Italian Themed Bridal Shower

In preparation for my brother in law's upcoming wedding, this wweekend we threw his beautiful bride-to-be a bridal shower with an Italian theme to honour her heritage. Here is a summary of what we did:

Our Italian Inspired Bridal Shower

Red and white checkered tablecloths with small potted herbs as centerpieces. Great background music includes: Il Divo

Serve up a traditional Italian feast with a variety of pastas, variety of sauces (white, red, marinara), fresh Parmesan Cheese, antipasto salad, garlic bread and tiramisu and gelato desserts, iced tea and a good Chianti.

Top off the bridal shower with a homemade cookie buffet of cannoli, pizzelles, Mostaccioli, Pignoli, tiramisu, biscotti, and amaretti cookies.


Door Prize
When the guests first arrive have them fill out a piece of paper with their wedding date or, if they are single, their birthday. The person with the date closest to the bride's wedding date wins the prize.

Name the Pasta
Created 10 bags with each bag holding a different variety of pasta. Number each bag from 1-10. Whoever guesses the most correct names win.

Trivia about the bride
Guests had to complete 10 trivia questions on the bride-to-be. The person with the most correct answers wins a prize.

Guessing Game
We played this game during our lunch. We filled a large glass jar with uncooked pasta. Have each guest guess how many pieces are in each jar. The person who guesses the closest to the true number of items in each jar gets to takes the goodies home and the fabulous recipe attached to it (or an Italian cookbook).

Read his Mind

Then we tested the bride-to-be on how well she knew her fiancé by asking her the following 12 questions.
1. What is his favorite pizza topping?
2. Where did you go on your first date?
3. What is his favorite drink?
4. If he could star in any tv show, which tv show would he pick?
5. If Steve were spending an evening at home, what would he most likely be doing?
6. What is the first movie you saw together?
7. If Steve were a superhero, who would he be?
8. What animal would Steve compare you to?
9. What is his grandmother’s names?
10. What was Steve’s first job?
11. How many clocks are in Steve’s room?
12. Name one thing Steve own’s that you will throw out the first chance you get?
13. Name one activity your fiancé does with you ONLY because he loves you?

We asked all the guests to write on a piece of paper a number from 1-12 to represent how many questions the bride-to-be would get right. The bride-to-be’s answers would have to match the pre-recorded answers from her fiancé, that we played off a host laptop. Her punishment for wrong answers was based on her own personal vice… red wine. We made red wine jello shots instead of the hard liquor variety for her to spoon out every time she got a question wrong. For all our guests who didn’t guess correctly how many the bride-to-be would get correct, also had to take a jello shot

Roll the Cannelloni
You need a pair of pantyhose, an orange and a cannelloni. Put a cannelloni on the floor and an orange in one leg of the pantyhose. Tie the other leg (of the pantyhose) around your waist. The object is for you to swing your hips and hit the cannelloni (that you placed on the floor) across a designated area in the best time. You could also have 2 teams and have a relay.

Who Wears the Pants
The groom joined us before we began to open gifts and included him in our next game. Give each of the future bride and groom a roll of toilet paper. The first to completely unroll the toilet paper "Will be the One Who Wears The Pants in the Marriage". Everyone was laughing so hard and routing them on. It goes quickly once they figure out how to unravel it the fastest.

Prizes included pasta bowls, wooden spoons, cheese shakers, gourmet olive oils, glass containers filled with pasta, red and white checkered place mats & napkins, Italian cookbooks and the Godfather movies on DVD.

Departing guests went away with delicious chocolate and white chocolate dipped biscotti cookies packaged in pretty bags tied with red and green ribbon with a tag that read “Amore Dolce: A love so sweet” Other sayings could be: “Sweet Beginnings!” or “How sweet it is that you could celebrate with us”

When guests arrived they participated in the door prize game and were also able to sign a Guestbook of photos of the bride-to-be and her fiancé. Alternatively, the guest book could be empty, have the guests sign it and then add pictures of the shower later on.

Kids Games and Activities

Cannelloni Bowling
Have the children colour their cannellonis and leave one white. Roll the white one into the centre of a room and take turns to see who can roll their cannelloni closest to the white one.

Cannelloni and Spoon Races
Cannelloni, a spoon and an area to run are all you need for this game. Variations could include relays and obstacle courses. To make it easy for younger kids, place the cannelloni lengthwise on their spoon or give them a smaller tubular pasta piece on their spoon. For the older kids place the cannelloni standing up on their spoon. If it tilts or falls over the kids have to start all over…

Find your Name Pasta
Write the name of each child on a cannelloni piece of pasta. The person that finds their own name wins a prize. Bigger pieces of pasta for small kids and smaller ones for the bigger kids.

Duck Walk Race
Have the kids line up at the Start Line, squat down and grasp their ankles with each hand from behind. On GO, they waddle to a designated Finish Line. They can't let go of their ankles or the are disqualified. The first child over the Finish Line wins a prize.

Dress Up Activity
The kids were asked to make with all the leftover pasta hats and necklaces for themselves and the bride-to-be. Once completed all the kids and the bride-to-be posed for photos.

Kids Prizes and Favors
Kids Prizes included: princess, Hannah Montana and Pirates of the Carribbean temporary tattoos. All kids left the day with animal-shaped collapsible tote bags filled with giant sidewalk chalk, that I found for $0.49 at a post-Easter sale.

I'll post pics soon but in the meantime enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Filipino Fish... mmm...

The original recipe that I used came out of a Learn how to cook Filipino Homestyle Dishes book that I have at home, although I did find an almost identical recipe at Pinoy Recipe. I’m not familiar with cooking fish but I couldn’t get myself to fry this fish, so I cooked it in the oven in a cup of white wine with some salt and pepper. I really don’t know what type of fish this is as I got it from our local grocery’s store's fish monger and it was very yummy! Reminder to self next time… ask what the fish is called :)

(Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce)

1 red snapper or grouper fish, cleaned and scaled (about 2 lbs)
½ cup plain flour mixed with ½ tsp salt, for dredging
½ cup cooking oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2” chunks
1 medium green pepper, cut into ½-inch strips
1 medium red pepper, cut into ½-inch strips
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into ½-inch rounds
2 boiled potatoes, quartered
Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish

Sweet and Sour Sauce
½ cup sugar
½ tsp of salt
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water


Score the red snapper with slits all over and dredge in flour.

Heat oil in a wok and fry the fish and fry the fish about 10 minutes on one side and 7 to 8 minutes on the other side, until completely cooked and fish flesh is no longer glassy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. (Alternatively, I placed the fish in a glass baking dish, with all of the vegetables, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked it in a cup of white wine & a cup of water, for 30 minutes at 375)

To make the sauce, combine sugar, vinegar, water and tomato ketchup in a saucepan. Add carrot, cook for about 5 minutes, then add peppers and cucumber. Simmer without stirring, for a further 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender yet firm. Stir in cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Arrange fish on a serving platter and arrange vegetables around fish. Pour sweet and sour sauce over fish.

Garnish with fresh coriander.

A Casserole...

I know, I know. This may sound like your typical family meal but I've never made a casserole before, so when I came across this recipe and tweaked it to make it a little more healthier :) it seemed easy enough...

Since hubby and I have gone overbudget this month (we both aren't sure how or why), I decided the only ingredient that would be cost efficient in this recipe would be tuna. On a side note my mom would kill me to be serving fish with dairy... But I have to admit this dish was yummy...
My Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole


3 cups Farfalle noodles, prepared according to package directions
3 tablespoons butter
227g (8 oz) of mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 tbsp garlic, minced
3 cans (3 oz. each) tuna, drained and flaked
1 can (10 oz. each) low-fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can (6 fl. oz.) evaporated Milk
2/3 cup crushed ranch potato chips


Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease small square baking dish.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add musrooms, peas and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in noodles, tuna, soup and evaporated milk; mix well. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with potato chips.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until chips are golden brown.

Next time, I might try one of the following substitutions for a little twist on a good thing:
  • use codfish instead of tuna (I am Portuguese afterall)
  • add 1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese before adding the chips
  • add 3/4 cup shredded mozz and 1/4 cup taco cheese.
  • add 2 stalks of celery and ½ cup of onions instead of peas and mushrooms
  • use whole wheat noodles and wheat crackers instead of chips