Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chicken Paprikash - Tasty and Easy

Chicken Paprikash is a simple, easy stew of Hungarian origin and is very popular in Germany. It is typically served over soft egg noodles like German spaetzle (spätzle) / or Hungarian Nokedli. Instead, I served it with a side of sautéed bell peppers and onions, for a lighter meal. It took about an hour and a half to prepare.

I found this version, which serves 4, on (


- 1 whole chicken cut into pieces. (I used two large chicken breasts, and cut them into bite-sized pieces.)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons paprika (some recipes call for a specific type of paprika)
- 4 tablespoons butter (I ended up using six - see below)
- 1 can chicken broth (A typical can has about 15 oz.)
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 cup flour (optional - to thicken the gravy)


1. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pot or dutch oven, and stir in the paprika.

2. Sauté the onions in the paprika-butter solution. When the onions are soft, remove them and set them aside.

3. It may be necessary to add an additional tablespoon of butter to the solution (if too much of the butter has been used up in sautéing. I added 2 tablespoons because the bottom of the pot looked too dry. I think one tablespoon would have sufficed.)

4. Add the chicken and brown on all sides in the butter-paprika mix.

5. Add the chicken broth, and add the onions back into the pot. Simmer covered for 1 hour.

6. After the mix is fully cooked, add the sour cream.

7. If thicker gravy is desired, stir in the flour. It will quickly thicken the gravy.

8. If desired, serve over German or Hungarian noodles.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Super Easy Fried Potatoes - with Manchego

I found this super easy and tasty fried potatoes recipe at ( and gave it extra flavor by adding Manchego cheese. The original recipe produces 4 to 6 servings. However, since I was cooking for just the two of us, I reduced the amount of potatoes and butter. Needless to say, you can replace the Manchego with many other types of cheese. Below is my version to serve two.


- 2  medium potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4" slices. It is not necessary to peel them.

- 3 tbsp butter

- about 2 oz of Manchego cheese, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

- salt and pepper


1. Melt the butter in a skillet

2. Add the potatoes and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning the potatoes over every couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper while cooking. The potatoes will be finished when most are lightly browned on both sides.

3. Plate the potatoes and sprinkle the Manchego on top of them.

Arugula, Manchego, and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad

This delicious and easy arugula salad is from Martha Stewart's web site ( It was a nice accompaniment to a shrimp, honey, and cilantro main dish. It serves 4.


- 1 - 2 tbsp honey (I used two)
- 2 tbsp white balsamic or white wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (I used a very high quality, mild, Greek EVOO)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- 2 bunches arugula, about 1 pound total, well rinsed and with stems removed (I used a package of prewashed arugula, with stems already removed, from Publix. So, it took much less than a pound.)
- 1/4 cup of oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
- 4 ounces Manchego cheese


1. In a large bowl, whisk honey and vinegar until combined. Whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add arugula and sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave the Manchego. Add half to the bowl, and toss to combine.

4. Divide the mixture among four serving plates. Top with remaining Manchego, and serve.

Strawberries, Lemon Ricotta, and Vanilla Dessert

I really enjoyed this easy strawberry dessert, but my wife was not wild about it. I found it at the Eating Well web site:( It serves 4.


1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 cups part-skim, creamy ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest ( will probably take 2 lemons)


1. If using vanilla bean, halve lengthwise. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape the seeds from the pod into a medium bowl.  Otherwise, put the vanilla extract in the bowl. Add the honey, lemon juice, and salt to the bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add strawberries and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

2. Just before serving, combine ricotta and lemon zest in another bowl.

3.Taste strawberry mixture. If it's too tart, add a little more honey.

4. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the ricotta into each of four dessert bowls. Top each with about 1/3 cup of the strawberries. Serve immediately.

Apricot & Ricotta Stuffed Celery

If you enjoy celery, ricotta, and apricot, you might enjoy this very easy appetizer combination. I thought it was nice, but not exciting. The full recipe below should serve four to six. I reduced the amount of celery to three ribs because there were only two of us. The recipe is from the Taste of Home web site: (


- 3 dried apricots
- 1/2 cup part skim creamy ricotta cheese (This type of ricotta is normally found in the cottage cheese area of the dairy section in a supermarket.)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 celery ribs 


Chop apricots with food processor. Add ricotta, brown sugar, orange zest, and salt. Blend these ingredients, then stuff the mix into the celery. Chill until ready to serve.

Shrimp Lime Honey Garlic Cilantro Skillet - Delicious and Easy

This shrimp skillet recipe is terrific and very easy to make. It serves 4 and is from, which has a number of other delicious-sounding shrimp recipes. (


1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 lb large shrimp, uncooked, deveined, peeled. (The original recipe called for leaving the tails on, but I removed them.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp honey (as always, I used Sarasota honey.)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (took 1 & 1/2 limes)
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp chopped cilantro


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter. Add shrimp and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, occasionally turning shrimp over until shrimp is cooked.

2. In a small bowl, combine honey, lime juice, soy sauce, and cilantro. Mix to combine.

3. Add the mixture to the skillet with the shrimp.  Bring to high heat, coat the shrimp with the mixture, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the sauce reduces just a touch. Remove from heat, Let it stand for sauce to thicken.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Easy Umbrian Involtini

We recently had the honor of hosting two of our terrific nieces who were visiting town. We had previously enjoyed a wonderful trip to Umbria and Tuscany with one of them. So I decided to prepare a meal with Tuscan and Umbrian dishes and wine. 

The main dish dish I chose was involtini, which means, "small bites of food." (The singular is involtino.) The dish consists of an outer layer of food wrapped around an inner layer. It is very similar to a roulade. There are many types of involtini. The outer layers are normally,veal, steak, pork, chicken, or eggplant. There are also many types of stuffing.

I chose the Umbrian involtini because the niece who visited Italy with us had involtini for lunch at the wonderful Locanda del Cantiniere in Gubbio, Umbria. (The involtini there was a different recipe.)

This one is very easy to make. 

The entire menu for the evening included:
- a large antipasto selection, with several Tuscan pecorino cheeses, several types of salame, roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, and artichoke hearts, with crostini. (Only the crostini were made by me) 
- an assortment of fresh ravioli from Mazzaro's Italian market.
- involtini
- salad
- a Florentine schiacatta cake, baked by me

I chose the Tuscan pecorinos, including one from Pienza, because we and our niece had enjoyed an incredible plate of assorted pecorinos at the cozy La Buca di Enea in Pienza. Pienza is famous for its pecorinos. (Pecorino simply means sheep cheese. Tuscany has many types of pecorinos. Unlike the pecorino Romano, which is used for grating, these cheeses are not meant to be grated.)

The red wines were both from the Vecchia Cantina winery in Montepulciano - a Cantina Redi Rosso di Montepulciano, and a Vecchia Cantina Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I chose these wines because our niece had joined us on a visit to the Vecchia Cantina winery.

This recipe is from Mary Ann Espositio's 2002 book, "Ciao Italia in Umbria," and can be found at:

The recipe serves four.


- 8 thin veal, pork, or chicken slices cut for scaloppine
- 8 thin slices of prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons of finely crushed juniper berries. Crush them with a mortar and pestle. (I found the berries at Mazzaro's.)
- 8 whole sage leaves
- Grinding of black pepper
- Fine sea salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup of Montefalco Rosso or other red wine. (Montefalco is a town in Umbria. Nice red wine is produced there.)

A note about the meat: I used thin slices of sirloin tip steak. Since they were of different thicknesses and not as thin as scaloppine, they took a few minutes longer took cook than the recipe states. It was a challenge to get pieces of the same size because I was serving 10 people.


Rolling involtini is very simple. You can find YouTube videos showing how it is done.

1. Lay the meat pieces out flat. Top each one with a slice of prosciutto, a little of the crushed juniper berries, a sage leaf, a grinding of pepper, and a sprinkling of salt. Roll each piece to form a little bundle. Tie each with kitchen string or secure it by pushing a toothpick through. I used toothpicks. 

2. Put the involtini into a baking dish in a single layer.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F

4. Brush the involtini with olive oil. Bake them for 5 minutes, then pour in the wine and continue baking for an additional 7 minutes, basting the bundles occasionally with the wine. Check with a meat thermometer to ensure that the involtini are cooked to the proper temperature.

5. Serve hot.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bell Peppers, Onions, Dried Fruits, and Balsamic - An Easy Side

This easy side with bell peppers, onions, dried fruits, balsamic vinegar, and capers is my first creation from scratch. It serves two.
The recipe's ingredients can easily be adjusted for your taste.

I used to accompany a grilled salmon recipe which I previously posted and which we love:


1 orange bell pepper sliced into thin strips
1/2 a medium-sized onion, sliced into thin strips
2 tbsp chopped dried apricots
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Place olive oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat.

2. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add peppers  and cook for about 5 minutes. About 2 minutes before the peppers are done, add the fruit, capers, and balsamic.