Creative cooking blog that shows how to prepare food for family and friends. ecipes and ideas that inspire you to enjoy cooking.

What's For Dinner? Brisket and Roasted Potato 'n' Carrot Coins

posted by Kim

Having a spare hour on any day means it's a good day! It sure doesn't happen often, but when it does I love to pull out one of my favorite cookbooks and pick out the next family dinner. Carlinne and I have a few favorite cookbooks and browsing through them gives us both ideas for dinners that we have featured on CW2C. Both cookbooks by Jenny Rosenstratch from Dinner: A Love Story are favorites of ours.  Not only are her books easy to follow, but she also has many tasty recipes you will be sure to make again. Another cookbook on the top of our list is The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelaman. Not only are Deb's recipes to-die-for, her photos will make you think the food is right in front of you! My love for photography makes this cookbook especially appealing.

Deb's recipe for this "holiday brisket" (as she calls it) is quite simple. Mix together 1 cup of beef stock, 3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, 4 teaspoons of paprika, 2-3 teaspoons of worcestershire, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon  of onion powder. Pour the sauce directly on top of your 4-5 pound piece of beef brisket that is seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper  Bake in a Dutch oven for 3 hours at 350 degrees. 

When the meat is almost done, peel a bunch of carrots and a handful of small potatoes toss together with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper and 1 tablespoon of dried dill. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. After 20 minutes flip the vegetables and roast for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the brisket from the Dutch oven and transfer to a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into slices and return to the boiling sauce and keep warm until ready to serve. I served the brisket over noodles and topped it with the sauce. The roasted vegetables were perfect as a side to this delicious brisket.

If you are inspired by this meal, there are many more recipes that will please your family for any occasion in Deb's cookbook. It is worth the purchase; your family will be sure to thank you!  

Do you have a favorite cookbook? We would love to hear from you!

Fire Roasted Tomato and Barley Soup

posted by Kim & Carlinne

Fire Roasted Tomato and Barley Soup is hearty, thanks to the barley. It's perfect for fall and could even be considered a comfort food. If you need something to warm both the body and soul, try this soup.

It only took about 30 minutes to prepare this soup because  the barley was cooked earlier that morning. Barley takes about 40 minutes to prepare and is a great grain to have on hand. Sauté 3 chopped celery stalks and 1 large chopped sweet onion in a swirl of olive oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a big glug of white wine and cook down for 3 minutes. Add several fresh basil leaves, chopped and the cooked barley. Add as much as you like to make this soup to as thick as you like. Add 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes and 2 cups of chicken stock. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes. Top with shredded white cheddar and a slice of toasted baguette. Enjoy!

Chicken Isabella

Posted by Kim

With fall quickly arriving and winter not far behind we begin to think about comfort food. CW2C tends to stay on the lighter side with our meals, so we don't have a lot of comfort food recipes. However, once in a while, we like a meal that's cheesy and even slightly rich. Chicken Isabella has rich flavors, and when I make it today for my family, I recall many fond memories while the aromas fill the kitchen.

My Mom served this dish often when I was growing up. The recipe originated from her good friend who, coincidentally, has the last name Isabella. I guess that must have been a prediction of my future friendship with Carlinne. The hands-on time for this dish is in the preparation. Once you put it in the oven, you are free to do other things, like drink a glass of wine while your kitchen smells delicious.

Slice 6 chicken breasts into long pieces similar to chicken tenders, season with kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover with 4-6 beaten eggs, and let rest in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Soaking the chicken in eggs is an important step; you won't believe how tender this chicken is. 

Once the chicken is tenderized, remove from the eggs. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Set up your dredging with the melted butter in one bowl and panko bread crumbs in another. Dip each chicken piece in the butter and then the bread crumbs. Once the pieces are breaded, they are ready to brown.

Swirl 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heated skillet. Once your oil is hot, place the tenders in the skillet without crowding. Cook on each side for 4-6 minutes until golden brown.  

Pour 2 cups of chicken stock into an oven-proof  9 X 13 pan. Add the chicken in an even layer. Add 4 cups of sautéed mushrooms on top of the chicken, and cover with provolone cheese. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 45 minutes. Serve with your favorite seasonal vegetable and enjoy!


What's For Dinner? Tomato Pie

posted by Kim

This is one of my Mom's favorite dishes so I must give her all the credit for this yummy  tomato pie.  The tomatoes are finally looking and tasting good.  I feel this summer it has taken them a little longer to reach thier full ripeness and flavor. So here it is.....if you love tomatoes as much as we do this dish is a must try for an upcoming dinner around your table.

Start by using the best tomatoes you can get your hands on. Slice, lay flat on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt.  This helps to draw out the water in the tomato to keep your pie crust from getting soggy.  Let sit for 30 mins then pat dry.

Arrange your pie crust, store bought or homemade, in a 9 inch pie plate and begin layering.  Sprinkle a thin layer of shredded cheddar cheese and shredded white cheddar cheese, then top with your sliced tomatoes. Next layer with a simple creamy mixture of 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and parmesan cheese. Continue this process of layering until your ingredients are gone.

Gently lay another pie crust on top and crimp to make these beautiful edges.  Again this technique must be given credit to my Mom. She taught my girls how to make the perfect crimp.  See Meggie in action below!  Make a few slits on the top of pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. 

Once out of the oven let the pie sit for up to 3 hours to make sure the pie is completely set. Doing this will ease the first piece of the pie right out of the dish and the layers will sit perfectly.  Enjoy this pie alone or with a nice tossed green salad.

Hello-Fall-Goodbye-Summer Soup

posted by Kim & Carlinne

A few weeks ago we asked our readers what they'd like to see more of on CW2C. We heard many requests for more soup recipes. We are happy to respond, not only because we love our readers, but also we love soup! The soup featured today really bridges the seasonal vegetables of both summer and fall.

Peel and chop a medium size sweet potato. Toss with a glug of olive oil, several shakes of red pepper flakes and a huge pinch of kosher salt and a few shakes of smoked paprika. Spread evenly on a tray, and bake for about 40 minutes in an oven that has been heated to 425 degrees. While the potatoes are roasting, chop a baby patty pan squash (leave the skin on; it's beautiful and soft) Season with kosher salt and olive oil. Spread the chopped squash evenly on a second tray and cook for about 10 minutes.

While the veggies roast in the oven, get your broth and other soup components started.Chop  a medium size onion. Sauté with a big glug of olive oil and a big pinch of kosher salt in a soup pot that's been heated over medium high heat. If the onions begin to color, add a splash of chicken stock and allow to soften. Add 3 or 4 cloves of smashed garlic and cook until soft and beginning to turn golden. Add about 6 cups of chicken broth, or a combination of chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to purée the garlic, onion and broth which results in a very silky flavorful base for the soup. 

Remove the kernels from 3 ears of corn with a sharp knife. Put half into your broth and reserve the other half in a bowl. Add 2 big handfuls of arugula to the corn in the bowl. Add a big pinch of kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon. Add the cooked sweet potato and squash to your broth.

To serve the soup put a scoop of the lemony arugula and corn into a soup bowl. Ladle the soup over top and garnish with roasted, salted pumpkin seeds. This soup is the perfect marriage of summer and fall. The corn and citrusy greens represent summer with the sweet potato, squash and pumpkin seeds reminding us that we love fall, too. The flavors work so well together and the vegetable combination makes this soup hearty without being heavy.

We served a cheese quesadilla along side the soup; both paired beautifully with a dry, crisp white wine.

Stout Brownies

posted by Carlinne

You know how sometimes you need chocolate? Not want; but N-E-E-D. Brownies always offer a great chocolate fix. But these stout brownies? Amazing! Thank you, Joy the Baker. This recipe is exciting for a couple of reasons. First of all, hello? It's chocolate. Secondly, remember this? The Creme Brûlée Stout we used in our adult milkshake worked perfectly in this recipe. I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly and plan to make them again very soon. It probably goes without saying, but any stout or dark beer would work here. The Southern Tier brewery does such a nice job with their Creme Brûlée Stout. Click here for our Stout Brownies recipe. Let us know how you like them! Kim served our stout brownies with raspberries and basil. Not only does it make for a beautiful photograph, but also the flavors were fantastic together.


If a more traditional brownie is what you are looking for, these are delicious and still satisfy the chocolate craving. We featured this recipe back in February.

Summer Zucchini Bake

posted by Kim

 If you grow zucchini in your garden, you can see it is getting bigger and bigger due to early September temperatures climbing to the high 80s. Typically grocery stores sell small to medium sized zucchini, but the one seen below is obviously homegrown. Look at its size! My sister Kathi brought me this lovely zucchini after visiting Lake Erie Islands.

I didn't have much time so I wanted something quick. I thought a cheesy topping with a little crunch sounded simple enough, and surely the whole family would enjoy baked cheesy zucchini.

Clean the zucchini and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Cut into quarters, then slice each quarter. Toss with a big glug of olive oil, a tablespoon of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Grate 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of taleggio cheese, and a 1/2 cup gruyere cheese. Mix half of the cheese, gently, with the zucchini, and toss with 3 chopped green onions, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Spread mixture in a baking dish and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese and 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs on top. Bake for another 5 minutes. The creamy cheese is balanced by the fresh tasting zucchini. The crunch of the panko bread crumbs adds a wonderful texture. My family enjoyed this dish; I hope your family enjoys it, too. 

Veal Parm Meatballs

posted by Kim & Carlinne

When we announced our Dinner: The Playbook giveaway winner we featured a picture of Jenny's Chicken Parm Meatballs, which were delicious. We were inspired by the simplicity of the recipe and decided to make veal meatballs, keeping with her theme of hitting the flavors of a particular dish, while actually making something else. With all that comes with the hectic week of getting back into the routine of school, we wanted simplicity yet craved scrumptious. We used ground veal instead of ground chicken and the results were amazing. Veal is so tender and makes a super soft and flavorful meatball.

Jenny's recipe suggests a pizza sauce, so we decided to make a quick, flavorful sauce using tomato paste. Just opening the can of tomato paste brought back a food memory for Carlinne. Her mom used cans of tomato paste for Sunday sauce, and Carlinne was transported back to her kitchen with its yellow linoleum floor, it was the seventies after all. The thick sauce was great for this dish and would be perfect for pizza, too. 

Using a thick sauce flavored with garlic, dried Italian herb seasoning, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes gave the provided a zesty balance to the rich, almost buttery veal meatballs. Simply add a big glug of olive oil to a hot pan. Add 1 or 2 minced garlic cloves, a big pinch of dried Italian herb seasoning, a big pinch of kosher salt, and several shakes of red pepper flakes until the garlic sizzles and is golden. Add a small can, about 6 ounces, of tomato paste and stir to get the flavorful oil infused. Remove a huge spoonful of the sauce from the pan and add to a small bowl along with a glug of olive oil. You will use this to brush on the meatballs.

To make the meatballs, combine 1 egg, about 1 cup of dried bread crumbs or matzo meal, a couple of big pinches of kosher salt, several grinds of black pepper, 1 grated garlic clove,  a big pinch of fennel seed and several shakes of red pepper flakes if you like heat. Stir until combined; add 1 package of ground veal, about 1 pound. Mix well, but gently. Form into meatballs and brush with the reserved sauce and olive oil mixture. Ours were about the size of a golf ball, and we baked them at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes. Serve warm with grated parmesan cheese and a baguette for an amazing veal parmesan sandwich. You can also serve the veal parm meatballs like we did last week when we featured the chicken parm meatballs. Over kale or any other green you like.  

Dinner: The Playbook Giveaway Winner

Posted by Kim & Carlinne

Chicken Parm Meatballs featured in Dinner: The Playbook. CW2C served them over a bed of sautéed kale.  

Thanks to all those who commented. Unfortunately there can only be one winner. And the winner is . . . Laurie! You will receive your copy in the mail soon. Based on readers' comments we will be featuring soup, after-school-snack, crock pot and ethnic recipes in upcoming posts.  If you are interested in making these delicious chicken parm meatballs in your dinner rotation, check out the recipe on A Cup of Jo.  You will be happy you did.