recipe: pam’s chili

December 1st, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

The hard part for me when cooking is actually writing down the recipe.  Some things like stews, soups, and chili sort of morph as I cook and may change a bit each time… hopefully always improving.  I think I have this recipe down but as I always taste and retaste the amounts of chili powder and ground cumin could change.  Start with what I have written down and I encourage you to add your own twist to this classic comfort food.


• 1-1/2 lb ground skirt steaks
• 1lb sirloin steak cubed (try to cut out fat)
• 1 large can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 large can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
• 2 large carrots, diced
• 1 small red pepper, diced
• 2 medium onions, diced
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 1 can pinto beans
• 1 can cannellini beans
• 1 can black beans
• 2 cans of red kidney beans
• 3 tablespoons of chili powder
• 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
• Salt & Pepper
• 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)



• Heat the oil in a large heavy deep pan; add onions and chili flakes (optional). 10 minutes approx.

• Next add garlic, red pepper, and carrots.

• Now brown the meat and drain any extra fat and return to pan.

• Add tomatoes, beans, chili powder, cumin, and salt & pepper to taste.

• Cook on low for an additional 20-25 minutes.  Serve with a variety of toppings, onions, cheese, cilantro, avocados, jalapenos… sour cream… oyster crackers.

• I serve this chili with corn cakes… always good!  Enjoy!




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recipe: three mom’s meat loaf

November 9th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

Meatloaf is a memory food for me.  It was served once a week almost when I was growing up, because you can make it ahead of time, beef was not expensive and we had most of the ingredients around the house.  This recipe from “Stonewall Kitchen Favorites” makes it special, mixing the veal, pork & beef and complementing with fresh herbs makes a difference.  I sometimes do not use a whole can of crushed tomatoes but mix some Bennetts chili sauce with a cup of tomatoes and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  I also make individual small meatloaves to make this dish even more special.  Enjoy and play with your own flavor combinations.


Serves 6 to 8

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 pound ground beef chuck*
• 12 ounces ground pork*
• 12 ounces ground veal*
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup plain bread crumbs
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• 2 teaspoons salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• One 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
• 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon (about 4 slices)




• Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375˚F.

• Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  When hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

• In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, beef, pork, veal, eggs, bread crumbs, tomato paste, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, and a generous grinding of pepper, mixing well with your hands or a wooden spoon.

• Turn the meat out onto a rimmed baking sheet, a roasting pan with high edges, or a large 11 X 15-inch or a 9 X 13-inch glass dish and form the meat mixture into a loaf approximately 5 X 8 inches and 3 to 4 inches tall.

• Mix the tomatoes with 1 ½ cups water in a small bowl and pour the sauce over the top of the meat loaf, allowing some of it to fall into the pan.  Drape the bacon strips over the meat loaf widthwise.

• Bake for 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices several times.

• Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F, and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so, for a total cooking time of 60 to 70 minutes.  The bacon should be cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat loaf should measure 165˚F.

• Remove from the oven and let the meat loaf rest for 10 minutes, then cut into slices and serve with the bacon and the tomato juices from the bottom of the pan.


*NOTE:  If you can’t find all three meats (often found premixed with the label “meat loaf mix” in supermarkets), try a mixture of whatever ground red meats you can find, totaling 2 ½ pounds.  For the best flavor, make sure the meat has at least 10 percent fat.  Each meat generally lists the amount of fat on the label.




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recipe: monte cristo

October 18th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This may not be the classic Monte Cristo; it is my version of the sandwich to accompany your tomato soup.  It makes a grilled cheese seem a bit more special.  Really this can be changed up to include turkey or any other favorite sandwich meat.



• 1 Loaf of good bakery butter crust bread
• ¾ lb Black Forest ham, shaved thin
• ½ lb Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
• 6-8 oz Gruyere Cheese, shredded
• Dijon mustard
• 2 eggs
• ½ cup of whole milk
• 2-3 tablespoons butter



• Whisk eggs and milk together in a low wide bowl.

• Assemble sandwich, spreading mustard on one side of each piece of bread.

• Start with two slices of Swiss cheese, then several slices of ham, mound it, next shredded Gruyere, and top with bread.

• Place sandwich in egg bath turning to get both sides.

• Place in a pan or griddle with melted butter.  Cook on each side till very crisp.  (I like to cut off crusts before assembling but it’s not necessary.)



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recipe: lemon risotto with asparagus

October 17th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (1 Comments)

I have actually never made risotto before.  I was apprehensive given the fact it is a difficult dish to prepare correctly, meaning the consistency… keeping it creamy but not over cooked is hard.

I used a large skillet that provided a broad base so the rice cooked evenly.  I stirred the rice constantly adding the broth as the liquid reduced and this too was a key to getting the rice cooked perfectly.  I suggest using a thinner asparagus as it works better in this dish.  You can also add some crispy pancetta to make this a meal in itself.  I really enjoyed the lemon flavor with the rice and asparagus.  I love the flavor of leeks but shallots or onions also can be substituted.  Make the dish first, then play with flavor and substitutes veggies your next time cooking.  Enjoy!



• 3 (14 ½ oz) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ cup finely chopped leeks
• 1 ½ cups uncooked Arborio rice
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 3 cups steamed (still crisp) asparagus, cut diagonally into1 inch pieces
• ½ cup (2 oz) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves



• Bring broth to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil).  Keep warm over low heat.

• Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

• Add rice and rind; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in wine, and cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

• Add 3 ½ cups broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes).  Stir in asparagus.  Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 10 minutes).

• Remove from heat; stir in cheese and juice.  Sprinkle with thyme.




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recipe: stir-fry

October 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

When I am trying to clean out the vegetable bin and I need a fast tasty meal that everyone loves, my go to recipe is stir-fry.  I can use almost any meat I have in the fridge, chicken, beef, or pork.  I can also stretch my volume if I am low on meat and heavy on veggies.  You always need garlic and some type of onion, white, green, red, or shallots.  I used San Marzano tomatoes I picked up at the market, fresh red & green peppers from the garden, and poblanos.  I also added some fresh basil from my garden.

For the sauce I marinated my chicken in a small amount of sesame oil and soy sauce.  I always keep hoisin sauce and Trader Joe’s General Tsao’s stir-fry sauce.  This sauce is sweet tangy and has a small amount of heat.  There is no need to order out when you keep this sauce in your house.  I serve this over brown or white rice for an easy, quick, great tasting meal.



• 3-4 whole chicken breasts or 6-8 halves
• ½ large onion (cut in small wedges)
• 2-3 variety of green peppers, sweet & hot depending on your taste palate
• 1 large red pepper
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 2 tomatoes sliced or cubed
• 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
• ¼ cup of General Tsao’s sauce
• Stir Fry oil
• Sesame oil
• 1/3 cup fresh herbs




• Slice your chicken or meat of choice into strips and marinate for a ½ hour.  While you are waiting for your meat to marinate cut up your veggies.

• Use a large stir fry pan and add a couple of tablespoons of stir fry oil.  When it is hot add your meat and cook.

• When the meat is cooked almost through add your veggies and toss with the hoisin sauce and General Tsao’s sauce.

• Stir-fry until veggies are cooked but still crisp, toss in your fresh herbs and serve.





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recipe: baked chicken thighs

August 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

Chicken thighs are great baked or barbecued.  I like them skinless and boneless… marinated with mustard, maple syrup, and fresh herbs, or lathered in barbecue sauce and grilled to perfection!  They are so moist and tasty that you don’t need the skin or bones for the extra flavor.  You can also cut them up and put them on skewers with veggies or summer stone fruit.  I keep these in my freezer for a quick, perfect meal anytime.



• ½ cup of Dijon mustard
• ½ cup of pure maple syrup
• ¼ cup of fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, or rosemary
• Dash of salt & pepper



• Mix the above ingredients and marinate.

• Bake at 375 degrees for an hour or until thighs are completely cooked through. You can put them under broiler for a few minutes to make them extra crispy.

Try using this versatile meat.  Write in and give me your recipe for great tasting chicken thighs!



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This is a recipe from Gourmet magazine.  It is so easy and the taste is amazing with great flavors.  I served the meatballs as a main course but it can also be used as an appetizer.  When you are serving this as a main dish you can accompany it with steamed rice, grilled vegetables, and fresh fruit.



• ¼ cup of whole milk
• ¼ cup of fine dry bread crumbs
• ¾ lb ground pork
• ¾ lb ground veal or beef
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• ½ cup of canned sliced water chestnuts rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
• ½ cup of chopped cilantro, plus ¼ cup of sprigs
• 5 tbsp of soy sauce, divided
• 4 tsp of Asian sesame oil, divided
• 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice
• 2 tbsp of water
• 3 tsp of sugar




• Preheat oven to 500˚F with rack in the middle.

• Pour milk over the breadcrumbs in a large bowl mix.  Add the ground meat, egg, water chestnuts, and chopped cilantro.

• 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp oil, and ½ tsp of salt, mix with your hands till well combined shape into balls and arrange meatballs in a glass baking dish (9”x13”) about ½ inch apart.

• Bake until cooked through approx. 15 minutes.

• Stir limejuice, water, sugar, 4 tbsp of soy sauce, and remaining 2 tsp of sesame oil mix till sugar is dissolved to make the sauce.

• Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish and drizzle 1 tbsp of sauce over them and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs.  They can be served over steamed rice.


My family ate every last one, in fact I could have made another batch… sooooo good!  Enjoy!



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recipe: mexican lasagne

June 13th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (3 Comments)

This is a great dish to prepare ahead of time and serve for a crowd.  You can make with the beef or chicken or just veggies!  My family loves Mexican spices so its always a success at my table.



• 3 tablespoons of butter
• 4 garlic cloves
• 2 cups of fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears of corn)
• ½ cup of cream
• 1 tsp of fresh thyme chopped
• Kosher salt & pepper
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• 1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced thinly
• 3 Poblano peppers charred and peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
• 1 lb lean ground beef
• 1 tablespoon of Mexican chili powder
• 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
• 12 no-boil lasagne noodles
• 2 cups of shredded Oaxaca cheese





• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.

• Add 2 cloves of garlic and saute for approx. 1 minute.

• Mix in corn and saute for 5 minutes.  Stir in cream and thyme.

• Cook over med heat for 5 minutes then turn off and let cool.

• Put liquid in a blender/food processor and puree until smooth.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

• Brown ground beef and add cumin and chili powder.

• Drain any fat and add cilantro, set aside.

• Heat the remaining butter and cook onion until translucent.

• Add the rest of the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Mix in Zucchini and poblano strips and cook for 5 minutes.

• Spread about 1/4 of the corn mixture over bottom of a glass baking dish.  Cover with a layer of lasagne noodles.

• Spread about 1/4 of poblano/ zucchini mixture and cheese over noodles.

• Add more noodles and layer with 1/2 of the beef mixture and then corn mixture.

• Then repeat pepper and zucchini mixture, repeat 2 more times ending with peppers and cheese.

• Bake until pasta is cooked and the edges are brown and bubbly (Approx 1 hr).

• Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.


I serve this with the tomatillo sauce you will find HERE.



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recipe: lahmajoon (armenian pizza)

April 26th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (2 Comments)

Lahmajoon is really an Armenian pizza without cheese or tomato sauce.  Growing up this was one of my favorite meals.  I keep these in my own freezer for a quick snack or meal.  My girlfriend and I had a long day working with clients and we stopped at the house for a quick “nosh”.  I offered up the lahmajoon and the pizza idea sounded great to her.  I quickly heated up one for each of us and we were on our way.  My girlfriend loved the meal and was curious as to what was in it.  I said “lamb” of course!  Well she doesn’t eat lamb so she was surprised and slightly unnerved.  What I didn’t realize was that 40% of Americans have never even tried lamb.  Again this is a staple meat for my family.  She survived her encounter and actually liked the lamb pizza!  But for all of you who don’t eat lamb you can make this with ground beef.

I learned to make these from my grandmother.  She would stack 6 together and freeze them.  She would make about 50-60 so there was always food to serve.  The morning started with getting the dough ready, then mid-morning we would watch her roll out the circle of dough so fast your head would spin.

When she added the whole tomatoes to the meat mixture she squeezed them by hand, no food processor.  The tomatoes became part of the luscious lamb that rested on the crisp flat bread.  All the ingredients came from her garden so the peppers, tomatoes, parsley and onions tasted extra special.  I also have added garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the meat.  Do not be tempted to add cheese… there is no need.  I could eat lahmajoon for an appetizer, lunch or dinner.  Usually I serve it with a big salad.  This recipe does take some time but you can make a large batch, freeze a few… you won’t be disappointed.


• 4 ½ cups of sifted flour
• 1 ½ cups of luke warm water
• 1 package of yeast dissolved
• 1 tsp of kosher salt
• ½ tsp of sugar
• ½ cup of vegetable oil


• 1 ½ lbs of finely ground lamb
• 1 large white onion finely chopped
• ½ cup chopped parsley
• 1 green pepper finely chopped
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 small can tomato paste
• 1 14oz can of whole tomatoes



• Mix dough ingredients with sufficient lukewarm water to give a consistency slightly softer     than pie dough.

• Coat hands with vegetable oil and knead dough thoroughly for 12-15 minutes. (Important)

• Cover and permit dough to rise 2-3 hrs, it will double in size.

• While waiting for dough to rise, mix ingredients for meat in order given.

• After the dough has risen divide into 22-24 small egg size pieces, roll in hands and place     on counter or table and cover with a dish towel. Let sit for 10 minutes.

• Roll each round dough mound approximately 6-8 inches in diameter, about the size of         a pancake.

• Spread with your hands a layer of meat mixture on flattened dough.

• Place dough on a greased cookie sheet (or parchment lined sheet).

• Bake until dough is crisp on bottom and meat mixture is cooked. Serve!

• To store, stack lahmajoons between parchment or wax paper then wrap 4-6 together with      foil.  You can freeze for up to 2 months.

• To reheat place on a cookie sheet to warm.   Enjoy!



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We have an eclectic holiday celebration.  This year we decided on serving lamb for the second night of Passover and my traditional Easter.  Lamb and specifically lamb Shish kabob is my favorite meal.

My dad would cut the lamb himself but I cheated and asked the butcher.  This was my father’s meal… he was the butcher, the prep cook and the chef.  We watched and waited for a taste of luscious lamb sizzling off the skewer.  It was like waiting for a piece of crisp skin when cutting the turkey at Thanksgiving.

The metal skewers we use are from my Grandmother’s kitchen stored in an old bag made from a remnant piece of carpet. The large pan is also from Grandma’s… it serves a crowd. This recipe can easily be doubled and the veggies can stay about the same.

I serve this with a wonderful unleavened Armenian bread you may call lahvosh and Armenian pilaf.  Of course we added salad and fruit.


This really is a complete meal… enjoy!


RECIPE: Armenian Shish Kabob

Serves 6-8

• 5 lbs cubed leg of lamb
• Juice of 3 lemons
• 1 onion diced
• 2 ripe tomatoes diced
• 2 hot banana peppers diced (Use only one if you don’t like the heat!)
• 3 cloves of garlic minced
• Salt and pepper

I ask the butcher to precut my cubed leg of lamb.  I prefer domestic lamb as it is less gamey than New Zealand lamb. Marinate the lamb with the above ingredients.  Then add kosher salt and pepper.  Marinate the day before, this is important to get the best taste.

• 8-10 small ripe tomatoes
• 6 cubanella peppers (sweet peppers)
• 4-6 red peppers
• 4 green peppers
• 4 hot banana peppers
• 8 onions small white or sweet


• Clean the vegetables, cut the peppers in quarters to skewer cleaning out the seeds.

• The next day prepare a “hot” grill.

• Skewer the lamb separately from the veggies… skewer the onions, tomatoes and peppers   each on different skewers.  Have a large covered Dutch oven ready.

• Grill the meat and veggies alternating when done slice off into large pan.  As you do this      you will quarter the onions, and tomatoes.  The mixture will look like stew when                  everything is grilled and in large covered pot put it on the grill at a lower heat to simmer.

• Serve with pilaf and enjoy!


RECIPE: Armenian Pilaf  (Click to Read)


Wine Suggestions for this Meal (Click to Read)


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