Thursday, March 29, 2012

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp

              So although I know I am d*mn good wife, I still sometimes ignore my husband’s kitchen requests. This is usually for one of a few reasons: 1- I’m already making something he likes 2- I don’t have the ingredients to make whatever he wants at the moment he asks 3- I don’t feel like having it or 4- We just had something just like it so I don’t want it again!
               But to give him credit, he knows these reasons fairly well and has cut down on his requests….except for one. This one, he just hasn’t stopped talking about. Enter, Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp. Now I don’t know exactly how long he has been asking for this, but I do know that I couldn’t take hearing it anymore and just got to business! Which wasn’t that hard at all as I love shrimp, I love prosciutto and I love appetizers! Not to mention, I love anything that tastes like a 4 star dish yet takes almost no time to make.
                So here is the recipe, it’s very simple, very flexible if you have more or less mouths to feed, and quite tasty. I held off on salt entirely since this type of meat is mega-salty! I’m a salt freak, but even I didn’t miss it here! Also, I served it on a bed of spinach for both presentation and to “beef up” this appetizer. And finally, the balsamic drizzle truly made the dish a winner for me. The sweet vinegar complimented the salty prosciutto perfectly, so if you’re contemplating not using it, bad idea!
                So with that, get to the fish market, meat market, drop your salt, and wrap away! Enjoy…..

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp
Serves: 2
OBJ: TCW be able to create a dish her husband has been asking about for way too long!


7 colossal shrimp, peeled, cleaned, deveined, and tails removed
¼ tsp dried parsley
4 slices of Prosciutto cut in ½
2 Cups Fresh spinach, cleaned
Extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp Balsamic vinegar, quality brand will make a difference here
Fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat indoor grill to high, or outside grill to medium
2. In a small bowl, toss together shrimp, a big pinch black pepper and parsley
3. Place shrimp on one end of ½ piece of prosciutto, wrap prosciutto around shrimp so that the tail is still exposed...
4. Repeat with remaining prosciutto and shrimp...
5. Place wrapped shrimp on grill, if using indoor grill, cook for about 10 minutes on one side, flip and cook for another 5 minutes on other (**this cooking time all depends on size of shrimp, type and quality of grill so be careful not to undercook as it will be raw! Shrimp cooked through is white in color all the way through**)
6. On a medium sized plate, spread spinach on bottom, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with black pepper
7. Place shrimp on top of spinach, drizzle with balsamic, serve!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sausage & Spinach sauteed Ravioli

              To tell you the truth here, I am not sure what to write about for this dish. I think the type of ravioli I used were by themselves, “bloggable,” while the dinner itself was worth some words as well! So to deal with my issue over what to present, I’ll write about both! I promise I’ll keep it shortJ

                First, the ravioli. Not only were they ridiculously creamy and beautiful to look at, they were done in about 2 minutes! Even better though, was the fact that they could have also been microwaved! MICROWAVED! In my entire cooking lifespan, I have yet to come across “ravs” that can be nuked, have you?!? Now, not that I dabbled in that type of cooking this time, I am definitely intrigued for future use. What do you think? I’m going to give a whirl sometime soon, so stay tuned….

                Now for the dish, yum yum yum. The combo of spinach, wine, a little butter and some crumbled sausage was a true homerun! It wasn’t swimming in sauce either; rather, each ravioli had just the right amount of coating and broth to set itself up for a well balanced bite! Not to mention, even with a filled pasta and sausage component, it made for a somewhat light meal. I tribute both the broth and the subtleness of the spinach, both of which offered flavor sans weight.

                So that’s about it for this week. I hope you try this recipe, it was a winner, no doubt! And for the ravioli, I encourage you to try them, even if you boil like me the first time. I’ll get back to you with the microwaved version in the near future, although if I don’t post about it in the next couple months, I’d say stick to the boiling, tried-and-true, method! Enjoy…..

Sausage & Spinach sautéed Ravioli
Serves: 2-3 

OBJ: TCW be able to combine some lingering freezing items into a flavorful dish!


¼ of a large onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sausage links (1 sweet, 1 hot), casings removed
¼ bag, washed and coarsely chopped spinach
½ of a 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 and 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
½ TBS unsalted butter
½ C dry white wine (I used a White Bordeaux, but use what you booze!)
Grated Parmesan cheese
S & P: salt and pepper
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
¼ C reserved ravioli water
1 package (15 ounce) spinach ravioli, cooked to stovetop directions (brand I used: Cucina di Carla)


1.  In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add sausage and crumble while cooking, about 5-8 minutes. Once browned and cooked through, remove sausage to paper towel-lined plate
2. To same sauté pan, add 1 TBS oil and heat over medium flame. Add onions, garlic, and a pinch S & P. Let cook and soften, about 5 minutes
3. Add wine to pan, up flame to high and bring to boil. Scrape up “bits” from bottom then turn flame to low to simmer, let sauce reduce, about 2 minutes
4. Add tomatoes, another pinch S & P, and red pepper flakes to pan, stir and bring to simmer. Cover for 5 minutes
5. Uncover pan, add sausage, spinach, and butter, mix well over low flame
6. Add cooked ravioli, Parmesan cheese (About 1-2 TBS), reserved ravioli water to sauté and toss well to combine
7. Bring to table and serveJ

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tommy's Coal Fired Pizza

Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza
Red Bank, NJ
Final Grade: A

            One piece of advice that I would like to share…..When you’re in a town where either A-there’s too many places to pick from to eat or B-you have no idea where you are and therefore picking a place to eat is practically rocket science, find a local and say: “Excuse me, do you know of any good places to grab a bite to eat around here?” Believe me, this could make or break your day! 
          Case and Point……Matt and I were recently in Little Silver during the dinnertime hours and needed something. If you have no idea where Little Silver is or what it is like, I can only offer you this: It’s little, lol, it has a train, it is in Monmouth County and is right next to Red Bank. So as you can see, we were in a land of which we had little knowledge! Hence, finding a place to eat wasn’t going to be the easiest task. Enter in my advice stated above and viola, a great dinner was found....
           We were recommended Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza in Red Bank. And even though I probably could have picked a place in Red Bank, I was happy to hear someone else’s idea. I had never been there and was psyched to try something new in a town I frequently visit.  
            Upon walking in, we were immediately smiling due to the number of costumers. It was quite crowded which, to us, is a good sign for a good meal to come. We were greeted by a friendly hostess and then welcomed by an attentive waiter once we sat down. Our waiter was full of energy and showed enthusiasm throughout the entire meal. Which brings us to the meal, oh how good it was….
            We started with their specialty oven-roasted wings (small-$12, large-$20). Smothered in roasted onions, then topped with garlic flat bread and an Italian Hot Pepper, they were down-right delicious. Each piece, either drumstick or wing, was tender, juicy and well seasoned. The onions and pepper added a depth to the appetizer and we found ourselves tearing up the bread to pair with each onion and pepper piece.
            Pizza soon followed and man, was it tasty! We went with the Original Pie (Personal-$8, 12 in. small-$12, large-$16) without any toppings. The sauce was sweet yet not overwhelmingly so, while the fresh mozzarella was generously placed and quite creamy. Fresh basil was placed atop and added a nice flare of flavor. I especially enjoyed the charred crust, not only for its taste but for its texture as well. I found myself liking each bite more and more for different reasons and in the end, basically just admired the overall quality of the pie.
            So with that, we enjoyed a great dinner at a great place of which we never knew about. Not to mention, since we went on a Thursday, we benefited from their ½ price wing special! Anyway though, I can’t wait to go back to Tommy’s and try some other items. Their specialty pies sound wonderful and I heard their eggplant focaccia sandwich is delish too. But honestly, I would go back just for the wings and pizza again!

Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza can be found at 2 Bridge Ave., at The Galleria, Red Bank.  Other locations:  Oakhurst, Brick, and coming soon, Paramus. Tommy's Coal Fired Pizza

Total score 21/25
Final Grade: A
A: 21-25    B: 16-20    C: 11-15   D: 6-10    F: 0-5

Restaurant Rubric

Food Taste
Bland, boring, overcooked, underdone
Very little flavor, not much aroma
Flavors apparent, basic ability to please palates
Flavor worth discussing, chef’s use of ingredients impressive
Great flavor, taste lingers and leaves diner wanting more
Restaurant service
Inattentive staff, no regard for wait time
Staff average in helpfulness, timing alright, either more/less needed
Staff knowledgeable and attentive to needs without asking, timing very well executed
Remarkable and noteworthy, service so good you forget it is ever an issue elsewhere
Food Presentation
Cover it up please
Sloppy and the eater can tell little thought went into it
Descent presentation: looks alright, not worth a picture but enough to make you hungry
Admirable, it is apparent the chef plated with a consideration for presentation
Presentational talents are here. Looks beautiful and too good to dig in
Prices match quality
Prices are too high for quality
Prices are still too high but not outrageously
Some items are priced accordingly but not all
Most items are priced accordingly
All items are matched accordingly
Would I go back?
Not a chance ever
Looking forward to it
What time should I arrive?!?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Simple Bolognese

                 Now I know you realize how much in love I am with pasta. But do you know why??? Well, that answer is quite simple- I grew up on it! I can’t remember one week without at least 3 pasta dinners as a kid. My Dad’s specialty was always linguine with oil, garlic, and cannellini beans. Sometimes he would throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes to liven it up, but that was his contribution to pasta nights. My mother, on the other hand, had endless recipes she whipped together and brought to the table. One of her famous ones was what I have always called a, “pot-o-sauce.” Aka, a ridiculously delicious marinara that I have yet to master…..but that’s another post and another day. Her other sauce that I am always, and I mean always, in the mood for is a Bolognese.
                And so that brings us here…..Bolognese Sauce. According to my mother, it should be one of those sauces that sits all day and simmers itself into a thing-of-beauty. Now that is great and all, but rarely do I have whole afternoons available to just sit and tend to a sauce! So what I needed the other night, when I was in the mood for this sauce was something like Mom’s yet quicker. Enter my idol, Giada (DeLaurentiis, of course!). I grabbed one of her many cookbooks I so proudly own and hunted for a Bolognese that might be less time consuming…….and what do you know? She came through and had something for me! And so I tweaked it here and there with some pointers from my Mom and what was created was delicious!  Very hearty and thick while also incredibly sweet from the carrots and celery. I served it over rigatoni and then dolloped our dishes with ricotta. Oh man, it was beyond good! Not to mention, the leftover sauce is already slated to be served over manicotti for us!
               One important note: If you are making this over pasta, be sure to have the pasta ready either right when the sauce is ready or a little after. You can always let your sauce simmer while you wait for the pasta to cook. That way, both your pasta and sauce will be piping hot when ready to serve, which is the way I feel yields the best results!

Simple Bolognese

Adapted from: EveryDay Italian by Giada De Laurentiis.....Food Network has the recipe with slight differences: Simple Bolognese
Servings: makes about 1 quart/serves 4 over 1 lb of pasta

OBJ: TCW be able to combine her mother’s recipe with her idol Giada’s to make a quick version of a Bolognese sauce


¼ C extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 pound meatloaf mix, (beef, pork, veal)
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
¼ C dry red wine
¼ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Ground black pepper
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ C whole milk Ricotta cheese, (optional)


1. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium flame. Once hot, add onions, garlic, and a pinch S & P (salt and pepper), cook for about 8-10 minutes or until onions are softened and translucent
2. Add the celery and carrot, mix and sauté for another 5 minutes
3. Turn the flame to high and add the meatloaf mix.  Stir well and sauté until meat is no longer pink, breaking up large chunks, about 10 minutes
4. Add the tomatoes and, using the wine to “clean out” tomato can, pour wine into sauté as well. To that, add the parsley, basil, ½ tsp salt and pepper, stir to combine
5. Lower flame to medium-low, cook sauce for 15 minutes covered over a simmer, then for final 15 minutes cook uncovered over medium flame, stirring often until sauce thickens (about 30-35 minutes total)
6. Stir in cheese, another pinch S &P , and stir well
7. Bring to table and serve over your favorite pasta, then dollop each serving with ricotta, yum!

Monday, March 5, 2012


       Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to all who are reading this right now. I'm assuming you were hoping to find my Monday post as I have been posting on a Monday/Friday schedule. However, I have decided to slow things down a bit and just post once a week. Thursday will be my new posting day. So I'll keep this short, which is something I know I need to work on, and wish you a great day and week ahead and I'll see you Thursday!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sweet & Salty Ice Cream Sandwiches

                Well I never really thought a chocolate chip cookie could get any better. But you know what? It most definitely can! The recipe below explains how you can take an already good treat to a whole new level.
                And to be honest, this recipe came about only because I had this sad-looking package of cookies in my cabinet for way too long. Yes, I could have just dipped them in milk and called it a day. But no, that isn’t like me…..I had to do something better with them. Well, what makes chocolate treats even better? …..Duh, more chocolate of course! And to that, I figured it couldn’t hurt to include some peanuts or ice cream either! So that’s how these frozen delights came to be! And you know what, that package with still some plain cookies left, looks a whole lot happierJ Enjoy……

Sweet & Salty Cream Sandwiches
Servings: 6
OBJ: TCW be able to use up the Chips Ahoy Cookies in her cabinet by combining them with dipping chocolate, peanuts and ice cream to make frozen treats!

1, 7 ounce container Baker’s Dipping Chocolate
¾ C cocktail peanuts with sea salt (salted)
12 Chips Ahoy Original cookies (or any brand of your preference)
1.5 C vanilla ice cream
Special item: parchment paper

1. Lay out a large sheet of parchment paper
2. Place peanuts in a plastic bag or food processor and crush well, place crushed peanuts in a shallow bowl
3. Melt chocolate according to package directions
4. Working with 1 cookie at a time, dip entire cookie into chocolate, shake/drip off excess, then press 1 side of cookie into crushed peanuts, place peanut-side down onto parchment to dry/set
5. Repeat step 4 with remaining 11 cookies
6. Let dipped and peanut-crusted cookies set for 15-20 minutes...
7. Take out a freezer-ready container
8.  Place about 3 TBS of ice cream on the PEANUT-SIDE of 1 cookie, place another cookie on top- PEANUT-SIDE down again (basically, you want the peanut side of cookies to be touching the ice cream), place in container
9. Repeat step 8 with remaining cookies and ice cream
10. Seal container and place in freezer for at least 1 hour before serving

**FYI- Matt and I both differed on how to enjoy these treats.....I preferred to eat it as a sandwich while he seemed to enjoy it taken apart.....I guess it's up to you, but either way I think you'll be happy!**