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Margherita Pizza
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Sometimes deciding on what to make with the overwhelming number of tomatoes that we have is the easiest thing in the world.  And by overwhelming, I mean: so many tomatoes that they are practically yanking the tomato cages out of the ground as the plants lean with the weight of the tomatoes.  So we plucked a few San Marzanos, diced and hand-crushed them and then made a pizza.  A simple homemade pizza of crushed tomatoes as the “sauce”, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil.  Dinner seriously does not get any better than this one!  Who’s with me when I say that I’m going to desperately miss summer vegetables when they are gone?

Spicy Turkey Meatball Parm Subs
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spicy turkey meatball parm subs

OK, so I confused myself when typing out the title of this post.  Here in CT, we call these types of sandwiches grinders…but how many of you have actually heard that before?  I grew up calling them subs or heroes – the “grinder” completely baffled me when I went to college in New Haven so many years ago.  I know some of you guys call them hoagies too and there are probably a few other names that I’ve never before as well.

spicy turkey meatball parm subs

But the name is neither here nor there.  What really matters here is what’s on the inside: spicy turkey meatballs smothered in tomato-basil marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.  After a 5 hour drive back from northern Vermont today, this was the best dinner I could have asked for and when Kyle reminded what we were having tonight early on in my trip, it was almost all I could think about the rest of the way.  We always keep a bag of homemade meatballs in the freezer for quick dinners like this one and within 20 minutes of emptying the car of my bags and goodies, this outstanding dinner was on the table (coffee) and I had my feet up.  What an awesome way to end a great weekend!

Spicy Turkey Meatball Parm Subs

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 8 spicy turkey meatballs (about 1 ½" in diameter)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 4 6-inch sub, grinder, hero, or hoagie rolls
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ -inch thick

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a medium sauce pan, heat the meatballs and sauce over medium-low heat until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the sauce and slice each in half.
  2. Slice rolls horizontally almost all the way through the roll, taking care not the split the back edge. Divide the sliced meatballs between all of the rolls. Top with sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Place the subs, with the cheese facing up, on a baking sheet - you can line it with parchment or aluminum foil for easy clean-up if you'd like.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and starting to lightly brown on the tops and edges. Allow the subs to cool for a few minutes before serving - they will be hot!

Source

Smells Like Home original

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Pasta Bolognese
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Grill update:  The grill has arrived.  The grill is still standing, boxed and in pieces, in the driveway.

Sanity update:  Crazy.

Seriously, I can’t wait for this grill to be put together!  Today is the day though, when Kyle has a full morning off to fuss with putting it together.  He’s already requested christening it with his beloved and adored hot dogs for lunch before I bust out the chicken for dinner.   Perhaps I’ll have to throw together a fun hot dog topping to cap off the event!

And because we’re still grill-less, I’m still cooking indoors.  This pasta bolognese easily could have been made in the dead of winter but in spite of my grill envy, the weather hasn’t been all that great here the past couple of weeks (it is still April in New England, after all) so I can certainly justify a cozy meal like this one.  A word of advice: Don’t save this recipe for a quick weeknight meal.  No, the sauce doesn’t need to cook down for hours, as does a traditional bolognese, but you’ll need about an hour to pull it together…and multiple bowls, pans, pots, and a food processor is highly recommended to cut down on the prep work.  The big question is though, was it worth it?  Oh yes, yes.  It was definitely worth it!  Rich, meaty, deeply flavored sauce spooned over a bed of comforting pasta.  A piece of soft and crusty ciabatta bread at the ready to scoop up any remaining dribbles of sauce at the bottom of the bowl.  The dried porcinis are worth looking for (I found them in my grocery store near the jarred garlic) as they add earthiness and an extra level of meatiness to the sauce.  This was an amazing dinner and it’s one, that regardless of the time it took to make, I promised Kyle I’d make again.

Spinach Lasagna
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Spinach Lasagna

There’s something intrinsic about lasagna that makes it such a wonderful winter meal.  It’s more than likely that oodles of cheesiness has something to do with how a great lasagna can warm the soul on cold winter nights, very much like how soup has the same effect, but I think that the right recipe can do so much more.  The right recipe creates memories.  It evokes memories of crowded Sunday dinners at the grandparents’, of a hearty meal after a day of sledding or ice skating, of a full buffet table at a christening or anniversary party.  This spinach lasagna recipe is that type of recipe.

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Made with a creamy béchamel sauce, three types of cheese, fresh spinach, and no-boil noodles that you’ll soften with hot water before using, this lasagna is a big hit around here.  It’s a fun recipe to make with a helper since there are a few steps, but the effort is well-worth the end result.  Layer after layer goes in the baking dish and after 20 minutes of baking and a few minutes under the broiler to brown-up the cheesy top layer, you’ve got truly the best spinach lasagna ever.  We’ve made this recipe a handful of times in the past year and always get the same reaction from whomever we serve it to: more please!  This is definitely a recipe we keep in our book of favorites and don’t hesitate to serve time and time again.

Eggplant Caponata
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Eggplant Caponata

The eggplant harvest continues here.  We picked a couple more before the hurricane/tropical storm hit last weekend and the plants with smaller eggplant survived the storm, thankfully.  Today, I’m highlighting this eggplant caponata and I truly believe it’s a dish that every cook should have in his/her repertoire.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, caponata is a traditional Sicilian stew (entrée, side, or appetizer/antipasti) usually made with eggplant, celery, capers, and a tomato-based sauce but [according to Wikipedia] other add-ins such as red peppers, pine nuts, raisins, olives, carrots, octopus, and lobster are also widely accepted.

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In this recipe, the eggplant is sautéed down to a soft and almost spreadable texture which makes the caponata a gorgeous addition to some crusty bread (which we had for dinner twice this past week).  I also considered serving this over pasta and also on it’s own with a small salad on the side, and I think it would make an excellent complement to a meaty fish like halibut or swordfish.  For lunch this week, I put the caponata on a toasted hard roll with some provolone (also twice this week – the recipe makes a lot of caponata!) and it made for a terrific sandwich.  All in all, Kyle and I both fell in love with this recipe and I’m contemplating if I should make it again for an upcoming party next weekend.  The caponata is warm and earthy with a deep flavor of fresh tomato sauce and it’s these simple flavors that make it so easy to fall in love with.  It’s a recipe that I’ll be able to make all year round (wouldn’t this be great by a fire in the middle of winter?), since eggplants are always available in the grocery stores these days, but will most definitely look forward to each August when my garden is overloaded with eggplants.

Eggplant Caponata

Ingredients

    For the simple tomato sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (28oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (reserve all of the juice) and chopped
  • Large pinch (about 1/2 tsp) Kosher salt
  • For the caponata:
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups simple tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the sauce: In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and when it starts to sizzle, immediately stir in the tomatoes, all of the reserved juice, and the salt.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. To make the caponata: Place eggplant in two large colanders and sprinkle about 2 tbsp salt over all of the eggplant. Toss to evenly distribute the salt. Allow the eggplant to drain for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Once the eggplant has drained, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add enough eggplant to cover the bottom of the pot in one layer and sauté until golden on all sides. Continue cooking the eggplant in batches until all of it has browned, adding more olive oil with each batch or as needed. Once all of the eggplant has cooked, remove it from the pot and keep warm on the side.
  5. In the same pot, warm 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté celery for 5 minutes. Add in the onions and cook the onions and celery until they are translucent and soft, about 7-10 minutes, adding a little more oil if needed. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the tomato sauce; cook for 7 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and celery and add the capers, anchovy paste, vinegar, and sugar. Cook for 10-15 more minutes until the mixture is a thick stew-like consistency. Check for flavor, adding more salt, vinegar, or sugar as needed. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Source

source: adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan
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We are in eggplant overload!  In the past 2 weeks, our little garden has yielded 7 gorgeous eggplant and by this weekend, we should have another 3 or 4 ready to harvest.  It’s insane and I hope you’re ready for some fantastic eggplant recipes in the next couple of weeks!  I think the Epsom salt we used this year has been working its magic.

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In all honesty, I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with you since last summer after having made it numerous times in the past year, but I could never get my photography world to align with the eggplant parm gods (basically, all of my earlier photos of this recipe have sucked).  In short, this is the perfect eggplant parmesan recipe where crispy edges of the baked eggplant peak through light layers of a simple homemade tomato sauce and irresistible melted mozzarella cheese.  The breaded eggplant is baked in similar fashion to these baked oven fries and while we all know that making eggplant parm tends to be a little labor-intensive on the front end, how could you go wrong with the oven doing all the hard work instead of your standing over a pan of hot oil in an already too-hot kitchen in the middle of summer?

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The last time we made this recipe, we ended up baking way too many eggplant rounds so we froze the extra cooled rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet then tossed them in a freezer bag for the next time a craving arises.  Alternatively, I feel like the baked rounds by themselves could lend themselves to a myriad of other eggplant dishes like sandwiches or panini with fresh veggies and garlic aioli, eggplant stacks with roasted red peppers and goat cheese, eggplant slices topped with a poached egg for breakfast or a light lunch…you get the idea.

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

This is not a quick eggplant parmesan recipe but it is worth the wait and work in every way possible. You can absolutely use your own sauce, either homemade or jarred, but if you're up for it, try this 15-minute recipe - it's truly excellent.

Ingredients

    For the Eggplant:
  • 2 medium eggplant (about 2 lbs) cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 oz)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • For the Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 cans (14 ½ oz each) diced tomatoes (or pureed or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • For Baking:
  • 8 oz whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 oz)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the eggplant: In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
  2. While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 425° F.
  3. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
  5. Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
  6. To make the sauce: While eggplant bakes, process the diced tomatoes in a food processor or blender until almost smooth (if using pureed or crushed tomatoes, skip this step).
  7. Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.
  8. To assemble and bake: Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.
  9. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.

Source

source: adapted from The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, as seen on Ezra Pound Cake

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Spinoccoli Pizza
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Spinoccoli Pizza

It’s no surprise to me that, when faced with a new pizza recipe, we wouldn’t be all over it.  It’s also no surprise that my friend Annie has dreamed up another fabulous pizza recipe being that I know one of her favorite foods, like my own, is pizza.  Annie’s Spinoccoli pizza lends a silly name to a drop dead amazing pizza, combining fresh baby spinach and itty pieces of broccoli with a luscious white sauce.  All baked together, the pizza reminds me of a vegetable lasagna and that’s probably why I love it so much.  I’ve actually got an unforgettable spinach lasagna recipe to share with you soon but in the meantime, you must try this pizza.  The greatest thing about this spinach broccoli pizza, aside from how it tastes of course, is that you can use up all those leftover bits of vegetables in your fridge.  I know I’m not the only one who chronically has half a bag of baby spinach in my fridge with nothing to do with it except to throw it in a salad – so bust it out for this pizza!  The white sauce takes all of 10 minutes to make while you’re waiting for the oven to preheat and in 30 minutes (if you go with premade dough rather than homemade), Friday pizza night is done.  It’s the perfect way to end the week, don’t ya think?

 

today's broccoli harvest from our garden!

So just a little aside about the funky photo I took above…have you heard of Instagr.am?  It’s a cool little [FREE!] app for iPhone used to snap photos, add some flair to them with different filters, and it gives you the ability to instantly upload them to Twitter, flickr, and even Facebook.  It’s a ton of fun and after I picked this broccoli from our garden one morning earlier this week, I took a quick shot.  You can also link your mobile Instagr.am app to Web.stagram where you can easily connect with friends and view and comment on all of their photos (and yours too) in a running feed.  It’s not so much of “another social media thing to handle” as it is a digital photo book – check it out if you have a minute.  And if you’re wondering about the broccoli…I’m insanely excited that this fresh bundle is going on my Spinoccoli pizza tonight!

3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
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When I look for a new recipe, the number of ingredients involved in the recipe isn’t usually something I consider…unless it’s an endless list of ingredients that I don’t have access to.  But a recipe that includes only canned tomatoes, onion, and butter?  Is it a sign from above?  A whisper from the inside of my pantry calling to me?  Quite possibly.  And frankly, I’m not going to mess with a whisper from the inside of my pantry.  After 4 days of lugging my shoes around in my carry-on bag thanks to the extra weight needed for the way-more-important swag, cooking a big meal wasn’t at the top of my to-do list when I returned home from BlogHer Food ’11 this week…but a 3 ingredient sauce endorsed by Deb is one that I was willing to take on.

Crack open a can of tomatoes, slice an onion in half, and dice up some butter, then let it all simmer away together for around 40 minutes and watch this unlikely combination (tomatoes and butter – really?) morph into an extraordinary sauce.  The butter smooths out the acidity of the tomatoes and you’re left with a tomato sauce made from canned tomatoes that actually tastes like it was made with vine-fresh summer tomatoes.  After recently finishing up the last of the 13 quarts of fresh tomato sauce I canned and froze last summer, this sauce was such an unexpectedly pleasant surprise to come from pantry ingredients.  The next time this sauce makes it to my menu, I may be tempted to add a couple cloves of garlic, some basil, and a little Parmesan cheese but I doubt that I will.  This tomato sauce stands strong enough on its own and I certainly don’t want to fuss with a good thing.

Fettuccine Alfredo
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Fettuccine Alfredo

Get ready for another diet-buster! We made this recipe just about a year ago for the first time and while I didn’t photograph it for blogging, I filed it away in the back of my mind as one of the best fettuccine alfredo recipes I’ve ever had.  We haven’t made it again in the last year because the three main ingredients in the sauce are heavy cream, half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese – not quite a zip-up-my-skinny-jeans-friendly meal, but definitely one that deserves to pulled up from the archives on a rare occasion.  And I’m so glad we pulled this out back last week because it really is so deserving to be blogged and shared.  The sauce is just as thick and creamy as you would hope and it coats the pasta like the two were MFEO. Get the Sleepless in Seattle reference?  Yeah, this dish is definitely worthy of a good chick flick night – maybe the next one with your girlfriends?

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
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Let me start this post off with my excitement of what this Thursday will bring.  It’s my Q&A day with Ina Garten!! I still need your help with a few questions to ask her – I’ll be sure to credit you in my write-up should I choose one of your questions.  I know from your comments that a lot of you are big fans so tell me what you’d ask her if you had the chance to chat with her. I need to hear back from you in the comments of this post by 5pm Eastern Wednesday August 18th…so fire away!

And now for this week’s new Ina recipe from How Easy Is That?…

Weeknight meals don’t get any easier than this spaghetti with garlic and olive oil dish!  The dish itself is one that I’ve been eating for most of my life which I talked about a few years ago, but the recipe is a new one for me.  And when I came across this classic in How Easy Is That?, I knew it was one that would soon make an appearance for dinner.  Ina doesn’t call for the roasted shrimp in the recipe but the spaghetti really needs some protein and since we’ve been roasting a lot of shrimp around here (more recipes soon), I decided to throw some in.  My parents traditionally served aglio e olio, as we simply called it (and pronounced it as ahhlyuh-oy-yuh), with Italian sausages or pork chops but you could serve just about any type of protein such as chicken or clams.

We both really enjoyed this meal though I probably would have loved it more if it had been hot when I ate it.  The life of a food blogger.  For such simple ingredients, the flavors really stood out and I was happy to see how this recipe didn’t include any butter, as my parents’ traditional recipe does.  You can bet we’ll be eating this again and I hope you’ll give it a try too!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti
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Welcome to the very first recipe I’m posting from Ina Garten’s upcoming new cookbook, How Easy Is That? !  Be sure you check back in the next 2 weeks for two more very new and very fabulous Ina recipes in anticipation of my interview with her on August 19th (new date).

Or better yet…Follow Me @smellslikehome … or take a trip over to Smells Like Home’s Facebook page for all of the newest updates and fun chitchat.

So the verdict on these Spicy Turkey Meatballs?  We’re still raving about them now over a week since we made them.  Hands down, we loved them and Kyle (the one who worked as a cook at an Italian restaurant) said with full conviction that these were the best meatballs he’s ever had.  And to reveal something else, we made them will all ground turkey and without any ground pork.  To make up for the loss of the traditional ground pork flavor, I added about 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed.  This always seems to do the trick when trying to make the gobble taste like an oink.  The original recipe is below and if you’re wondering, yes, I have permission to post it.

We couldn’t have been happier with our first choice from How Easy Is That? and I’m thrilled to dig into the next one! My sincere thanks goes out to Ina and her cookbook publicist, Carrie Bachman for extending the opportunity to me to test run this book.  I hope to do these recipes justice!