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Mini Giambotta Biscuits

January 8, 2015 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

This dish was inspired by a recipe that I recently saw for a store-bought can of biscuit dough, placed in muffin pans and filled with chicken, veggies and creamy soup to make mini chicken pot pies. The personal-sized version of popular dishes are a trendy item these days, especially for dinner parties and group get togethers. This recipe caught my attention because not only am I a fan of the personal-sized portions, but I also enjoy a warm and hearty dish this time of year. Being that we’re just coming off of the holidays, I thought a vegetable pot pie would be tasty and healthy choice. I decided to make giambotta for the filling, which is an Italian vegetable stew. Bread is always a must-have for dipping when you have giambotta, so to use it as a biscuit filling was a no-brainer.

I also chose to make my own flaky biscuits for this dish. I found a very simple and quick recipe online that calls for just a few basic ingredients and about 10 minutes or so of prep time…no electric mixer necessary! Of course, canned biscuits will work, but if you have a few extra minutes, give the home made biscuits a try. It will make the dish seem that much more impressive.

 

Mini Giambotta Biscuits

For the Giambotta
2 tbspn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 zucchini, cut into 1″ pieces
1 8oz can tomato sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 tspn Italian seasoning

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the zucchini, stir together and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the can of tomato sauce, season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning  to taste.

Stir together, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens up. Set aside.

For the Biscuits
courtesy of Taste of Home
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tspn baking powder
3 tspn sugar
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup 2% milk

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk egg and milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead 20 times. Roll to 1/2-in. thickness; cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. Lightly spray a muffin tray (12 muffins). Gently place each biscuit piece into the individual muffin cups (no paper liners needed!), and gently press the dough to fill out the bottom and sides of the cups. Fill up each cup with the giambotta, making sure none spills over the side.

Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

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Root Vegetable Ratatouille

November 14, 2014 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

I always enjoy cooking with vegetables, and ratatouille is one of my favorite dishes. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I came up with a dish that replaces most of the traditional ratatouille veggies (eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash and seasonings) with some of my favorite root vegetables (rutabaga, turnips, acorn squash, along with traditional yellow squash and bell pepper), autumn spices and a Golden Delicious apple for a bit of sweetness. I guess you can even call this dish “rootatouille!” All kidding aside, this is a great recipe to prepare along with your Thanksgiving dinner.

You will need to put in a little bit of effort ahead of time to peel and chop the vegetables. A few minutes in the microwave will help soften the acorn squash for easy cutting, and you’ll want to peel and slice the apple last minute to avoid it from browning. Once the prep work is done, all you’re looking at is 10-15 minutes of sautéing the veggies, and then the dish is ready to serve!

 

Root Vegetable Ratatouille

1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 yellow squash, diced (you can use green zucchini squash if you prefer)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 acorn squash (prep directions below)
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and diced (prep the apple just before you are ready to add to remaining ingredients to avoid browning)
2 tbspn olive oil
2 tbspn brown sugar
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tbspn maple syrup (regular pancake syrup will also work)
salt and pepper to taste

Start by cooking the acorn squash whole in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Carefully remove (it will be hot), let sit until cooled. Once cooled, cut in half, remove pulp and seeds. Remove skin, cut the squash into small chunks, set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the rutabaga, stir until evenly coated, cook for about 5 minutes, until it starts to soften and the pale color starts to turn into a golden brown. Next, add the turnip, pepper and yellow (or zucchini) squash. Stir together and cook for another 5 minutes, until all veggies start to soften. At this point, you’ll want to peel and dice the apple.

Next, add the apple and acorn squash to the mix, stir together. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and syrup, mix together. Lower the heat, let simmer, stirring occasionally until all veggies are softened to your liking. If the mixture looks like it’s starting to dry up, you can add a bit of water or broth to loosen it up. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

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Summer Seafood Giambotta

May 24, 2013 Entrees, Menu, Soup No Comments

When I started planning to make this dish earlier this week, my original intentions were to simply sauté some vegetables and serve them over sliced polenta. Apparently my creative juices were in high gear that day. I found myself inspired and started reaching for additional complimentary ingredients. Before I knew it, I had a beautiful pan of giambotta (the classic stewed vegetable dish) simmering away on our new stovetop.Within a half an hour, my wife and I were enjoying a fresh, hearty and flavorful meal!

A traditional giambotta would normally include ingredients such as potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. For this version, I used zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, onion, diced tomatoes and spinach. These are all quick-cooking ingredients, which made for the ideal weekday meal. I like to keep a bag of frozen raw shrimp and frozen scallops on hand for impromptu dishes, and this was the perfect opportunity to put them to use. Letting the shrimp and scallops simmer in the sauce during the last few minutes of cooking guaranteed the perfect, tender texture and taste. We did serve this over sliced polenta, which worked perfectly. But next time I make this, I’m going all out and will be serving it up with a nice crusty loaf of Italian bread to scoop up every last drop of sauce!

SUMMER SEAFOOD GIAMBOTTA

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbspn olive oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced into circles, then circles sliced in half
1 medium yellow squash, sliced into circles, then circles sliced in half
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 dozen raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup raw small sea scallops

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add chopped onions, stir, sauté for 30-45 seconds or until translucent.

Add diced zucchini and squash, stir and sauté until zucchini and squash start to soften up. Add diced tomatoes and their juices, lower heat to simmer. Add spinach, stir. Add shrimp and scallops. Stir together, cover with lid and let simmer until shrimp and scallops are done, about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper (you can add some crushed red pepper for additional heat). Serve it over sliced polenta or along with crusty Italian bread.

Makes approximately 2-4 servings

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Italian-style Quesadillas

Whether you are enjoying a traditional Mexican meal at home or at a family-friendly restaurant, you are sure to find quesadillas on the table at some point. The popular and tasty dish, made up of a flour or  corn tortilla stuffed with cheeses, vegetables, meats and beans is perfect dish to either share as an appetizer with friends, or (as in my case) enjoyed on its own as a main course. This week, to help celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I am going to put an Italian spin on this Mexican favorite.

First, let’s start off with the filling. Instead of the traditional quesadilla filling, I will be using some of my favorite go-to Italian vegetables. You will need:

1 green zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 medium eggplant, chopped
1 small jar artichoke hearts
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper (to taste)

Mix all of the above in a bowl. Add some olive oil and stir together until well-mixed. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to allow all of the flavors to come together. Pour in a baking dish, bake at 350˚ for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside.

If you want to add some meat to the filling, traditional chicken or shrimp would work well. Or for a little more Italian spice, try adding some cooked ground sausage!

Next, we’re going to add some cheese. While quesadillas usually use cheddar, colby or monterey jack cheese, we’re going with shredded mozzarella and some parmesan.

Assembling the Italian quesadillas is the same as the traditional version. You start by heating up a pan over medium heat, lightly coated with butter or oil. Place a tortilla shell into the pan, let heat for about 15 seconds. Add some of the filling to one half of the tortilla, topped with the cheeses and some fresh herbs (fresh chopped basil is my choice here!). Fold the shell in half to make a half moon shape. Carefully flip the quesadilla so that it even cooks on both sides. Remove from pan, cut into three equal triangles. You may need to add more butter or oil to the pan before each additional quesadilla. Serve with a side of marinara sauce or bruschetta for dipping (in place of traditional salsa).

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