John Besh's Domenica

During a recent trip back to my hometown, New Orleans, I had the chance to check out a fantastic new restaurant from New Orleans' celebrity chef, John Besh. Building his legacy in New Orleans, John Besh is responsible for the award-winning Restaurant August, Luke, La Provence, Besh Steak, The American Sector and Domenica. Besh has been recognized with a multitude of honors including the most recent honor of the 2009 Food Arts' Silver Spoon award for revitalizing the culinary legacy of New Orleans. Besh has been nominated for a James Beard award for his new cook book, "My New Orleans", but this isn't Besh's first recognition from James Beard being that he won the James Beard Foundation honor as "Best Chef of the Southeast" in 2006. You can see him from time to time on The Food Network and often on the Today Show.

With all of this hype beh
ind this chef's name, my expectations for my experience at Domenica were very high. Not only did my husband and I have our first John Besh restaurant experience, but we were also experiencing for the first time the newly renovated historic Roosevelt Hotel, a part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Opened in 1893 with a different name, The Roosevelt had 40 historic years in the early 1900's in New Orleans known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the South. Located on the edge of the French Quarter, The Roosevelt was home to the legendary Blue Room and The Sazerac Bar, places where popular musicians played. This was the place to see and be seen whether you were the average Joe wanting to enjoy a cocktail and hear some jazz or if you were a famed politician like Huey P. Long. Everyone wanted to be a part of the romance and the scene of The Roosevelt Hotel. The Roosevelt changed to the Fairmont Hotel, which still maintained the elegance and romance of the original hotel but the Fairmont closed in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. At that point, the century-old hotel was bought and fully renovated to capture all of the glory that was once The Roosevelt. Now, reopened and back to the old name, The Roosevelt Hotel is utterly magnificent and certainly the picture of luxury in the heart of New Orleans.

I visited the hotel when
it was the Fairmont with my family for New Year's Eve at the Sazerac. I always remember how the Fairmont went above and beyond during the holidays with grand halls filled with Christmas lights and decor. When I visited with my husband last Christmas (2009), I was blown away by the elegance of not only the renovation but also the continuance of the tradition of decorating to the nines for the holidays. The tasteful but extravagant decor made you feel like you were in a winter wonderland. We poked our heads into the legendary Sazerac Bar to see what changes had been made before we found Domenica within the hotel, our place to dine for the evening.

Walking into the gorgeous Domenica with so many natural touches of wood and natural elements, we wished we had made a reservation. However, we were able to get a table in the bar area, which was fine since we had front row seats to view the garde manger chef's skill and artfulness in his preparation of Charcuterie. We watched him assemble multiple boards covered with fresh-cut meats like Prosciutto, Coppa, Bresaola, Soppresatta, and house made Salami. My husband and I sat down in the bar area dazzled by the menu that immediately sent us back to the dinners we enjoyed in Italy with items like the Antipasti plate of "Bresaola-cured beef with arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano", one of the appetizers we sampled, and the entree of "Panned Louisiana Grass-Fed Veal-with lemon and arugula". During a special meal with my husband in Milan, we partook in an appetizer of Bresaola just like this one and a Veal Milanese, which was a pan-fried thin veal topped with lemon, arugula and tomatoes.

The "Antipasti" section of the menu allows for you to either have a small or large plate. "Meatballs with soft polenta", "Octopus Carpaccio with fennel and citrus" or "Fried Eggplant Bocconcini with goat cheese and aged balsamic", the other appetizer we enjoyed, are just some of the mouth-watering dishes available on the Antipasti menu. You can mix and match whatever imported and house cured meats and soft, hard or blue cheeses that you like from the "Salumi and Formaggi" menu. For the full affect, order the "Affettati Misti-Chef's selection of assorted salumi, imported cheeses, marinated olives and roasted vegetables".

My hu
sband's choice the "Margherita" from the "Pizze" menu was a tough choice among other pizzas like the "Calabrese-spicy salami, mozzarella , capers and olive", the "Prosciutto-tomato, bufala mozzarella and arugula" or "Wild Mushroom with fontina, bacon and yard egg". The crust was undeniably delicious, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy inside with a robust tomato sauce and creamy fresh mozzarella cheese.

The "Primi" menu, also available in small and large plates boasts a selection of pastas that will get your palate excited just from reading the descriptions on the menu. A variety of pastas are offered such as "Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi-almonds, prosciutto, and brown butter", "Risotto-white truffle and pancetta", "Totelloni Di Zucca-butternut squash, sage and parmigiano", or "Stracci-torn pasta, oxtail ragu and fried chicken livers". Classic pasta dishes like "Lasagne Bolognese" and "Spaghetti-olive oil, garlic and parmigiano" star on this menu as well. I opted for the "Tagliatelle-rabbit ragu, porcini mushrooms", which upon ordering our waiter commented that we had made fine choices, always a nice touch to make you feel like you, the diner, has the ability to pick out the best item on the menu.

After we ordered and picked out a lovely bottle of Chianti to sip, we had some time to take in
the atmosphere at Domenica. Domenica pulls off a rustic, Italian dining room while retaining a chic, modern feel. Touches like bare-wood tables, paper menus as placemats, and glasses filled with 2-foot long breadsticks bring a casual vibe but pendant lighting, colorful abstract art, and clean lines capture a modern elegance, which is just the right fit for the dining scene within the newly-renovated Roosevelt Hotel. While getting started on that bottle of Chianti, we were first graced with the "Bresaola-cured beef with arugula and parmigiani reggiano", an authentic Italian Antipasti dish that never ceases to satisfy. Before we had time to examine the beauty of the Bresaola, the "Fried Eggplant Bocconcini" appeared before us. These two appetizers were the perfect compliment to our Chianti. Soon after we completed the Antipasti, our main courses of "Pizze Margherita" and "Tagliatelle-rabbit ragu, porcini mushrooms" came from the kitchen. My husband was perfectly happy with his pizza while I was overwhelmed with the sinful deliciousness of my tagliatelle. The pasta was like butter, cooked to perfection coated lightly with the sauce of the rabbit ragu. The bites of rabbit were tender and flavorful, which paired flawlessly with the porcini mushrooms. Needless to say, there was not an ounce left on our plates.

If only we had the appetite to sample even more from this beautiful menu like the "Pesce" options of "Whole Grilled Redfish-lemon, herbs and bread crumbs" or the "Fritto Misto of shrimp, calamari, crab and vegetables". The "Carne" menu looked enticing with "Involtini Di Pollo-prosciutto and parmigiano stuffed chicken" and "Roasted Pork Shoulder-borlotti beans, basil and honey". Speaking of honey, next
time we are at Domenica's, we must try something sweet from the "Dolci menu", perhaps the "Ricotta Cheese Cake-local citrus and pistachio", "Frittole Di Fragole-strawberry and ricotta fritters with moscato zabaione" or the "Panna Cotta-blood oranges, rosemary olive oil biscotti". With so many interesting dishes, it is hard for me to not want to tell you about all of them, but you will just have to check out this fine establishment from John Besh for yourself. A reservation is helpful; or you can wing it like I did and end up at a lovely table for two in the bar area with a view of the entire restaurant. With full stomachs and the feeling of being transported to Italy, my husband and I were fueled to wonder around the romantic French Quarter until the wee hours.

Domenica-a Chef John Besh Restaurant
123 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA 70130


Eat More Fish!

Today is Day #7 of 30 of my endeavor to eat healthier and exercise more. My major priority
is to eat pure, natural foods like protein packed lean fish or chicken, whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy like plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.

So far, I have been diligently counting my calories, and have done quite well except for a few weak moments following the consumption of red wine. I find that when you are aware of the exact number of calories you are consuming those weak moments are less harmful. When the cravings and weaknes
s comes, the best thing to do is to allow yourself to have that bite of pizza or a piece of cheese, but just a bite. Then pull out the carrot sticks, fat free popcorn or chickpeas and snack on those instead. Being prepared and planning out each meal are important factors in being successful with this challenge. Trying to incorporate more fish in my diet, I plan to eat at least one dinner with fish per week if not more. For my first week on the challenge, I let the fish counter at Whole Foods dictate what fish I chose. Whatever looked the best to me is what I chose and that was cod. I prepared a lovely, wholesome dinner of sauteed cod with lemon, wild rice topped with avocado slices, and steamed broccoli.

Cod is a mild, white, flaky fish with a very low fat content filled with nutrients like vitamins A, D, and E as well as a good source for omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to this lean protein, I added the nutrient-dense grain of wild rice. Wild rice, an excellent choice for a gluten-free diet, is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Filled with vitamins and minerals, this whole grain has a satisfying texture and flavor that will enhance any healthy diet. Try this simple dinner with lovely, lean cod, a whole grain like wild rice and a vegetable.

Lizzy M.'s Lemon-Sauteed Cod

1 cod filet (4-6 oz. per p
Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

Dash of lemon zest
Juice of half of a lemon per cod fil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Season the fresh, raw cod with salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon zest. Drizzle
half of the 1 tbsp of olive oil over the fish.

2. In a saute pan over
medium to high heat, add the remaining olive oil. Once heated, add the cod filet and cook on each side for about 4 minutes. Depending upon the size of the fish, you may need to adjust the cooking time to less or more. You will know the fish is done when it splits and gets turns a sold white color.

Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon along with a whole grain like wild rice and a vegetable for a complete, healthy and satisfying meal.


Czerw's Kielbasy

Being married to a man of Polish descent, I have learned quite a bit about Polish cooking, especially the Polish traditions on Easter Sunday. When my husband's Polish side of the family gets together for Easter, certain foods are expected and highly anticipated at this dinner. A traditional Polish Easter dinner typically includes ham, Kielbasa (Polish sausage) with the accompaniments of horseradish, beet horseradish, and spicy mustard, deviled eggs, Challah bread, and Kalacs (pastry nut roll with walnut or poppy seed). Along with this meal, a starch and vegetables are served as well.

For years, my husband and I have
heard rave reviews of the Polish sausage that comes from an authentic smokehouse and meat shop in the Polish neighborhood of Port Richmond in Philadelphia. Opened in the same location since 1938, Czerw's Kielbasy (pronounced "chevs") has been serving its neighborhood and the people of Philadelphia with fresh smoked kielbasa from the same recipe from the man that started it all, Jan Czerw. Jan immigrated to Philadelphia from Mislsi, Poland, bringing his experience of being a butcher to Philadelphia. Mr. Czerw would make kielbasa in his own home for his family but soon the neighbors learned of this and wanted a piece of this delicious sausage as well. As the demands grew, Jan turned a horse stable into a shop and smokehouse for his growing business. Tucked on the small Tilton Street in Port Richmond, you will find this 70 year-old family-owned business that continues to deliver outstanding kielbasa and many other Polish foods to its community.

With such a large Polish popul
ation in the city of Philadelphia, it is no surprise that lines trail down the street outside of Czerw's Kielbasy leading up to holidays such as Christmas and of course Easter. People come out of the woodwork to get the best kielbasa and ingredients for their Easter dinner. Knowing about the possibility of long lines right before Easter, my husband and I decided to make our trip to Czerw's today, a full week before Easter. We found this tiny street in the Port Richmond neighborhood with no problems. Walking down the street to the entrance, we could already smell the delicious smoked sausage. The line was about 5 people long but there were so many items in the meat cases and paraphernalia on the walls to check out that our wait went quickly. We saw a large vat of Polish pickles and picked up one of those for later. The butchers and owners, the grandsons of Jan Czerw himself, helped us with our order. They entered into the shop from the smokehouse with giant coils of sausage draped over a large rod. As soon as we saw that, we knew we would need 5 pounds of that for Easter dinner. With the addition of one pound of turkey kielbasa for a healthier option and a jar of prepared beet horseradish, we were ready to go. After sampling a large slice of hot smoked kielbasa from a tray by the register for customers, Easter dinner will surely be a huge success with this flavorful, delicious kielbasa from "The Kielbasy Boys"at Czerw's Kielbasy.

If you have yet to try this
Port Richmond gem, then I highly suggest getting out there to stock up on your kielbasa needs for Easter or for any time at all. Kielbasa is certainly the star of Czerw's product menu with Smoked and Fresh Kielbasa, Extra Garlic Kielbasa, Spicy Cajun Kielbasa and Turkey Kielbasa but many other delicious meats are homemade here. Kabonasa (Polish Slim Jim), Hot Kabanosa, Krakowska (Polish lunchroll), Kiszka (Polish liver ring), Bigos (Polish stew) and Golabki (stuffed cabbage) are just some of the Polish foods offered at Czerw's. Other homemade meats include Italian Sausage, Breakfast Sausage, Smoked Bacon Slab, Old Fashion Hot Dogs, Knockwurst, Bratwurst and more. A full homemade pierogi menu is available as well ranging from the classic Potato and Cheese and Sauerkraut to the creative Philly Cheese Steak, Bacon and Cheddar, Pepperoni and Cheese, and Buffalo Chicken. Czerw's BBQ Department serves up pulled pork, pulled chicken, baby back ribs, and hamburger patties. A variety of pickled products are sold such as Gourmet Kapusta (Sauerkraut), "Dilly" Dill Pickles and Extra Garlic Pickles, Spicy Olives and Spicy Marinated Mushrooms. With this extensive menu of Polish treats and much more, there is surely something for everyone at Czerw's even if you aren't Polish!

Czerw's Kielbasy

3370 Tilton Street

Port Richmond, PA 19134


Eggplant Ideas

Oh Eggplant...how I love thee. Deep purple, almost black shiny skin with a white-colored pulp interior filled with soft, edible seeds are characteristics of this fruit from the berry family. Also called an aubergine, the eggplant gives way to a multitude of wonderful recipes. This fruit or vegetable, whatever you want to call it, is easy to cook with and works with almost any flavor. Very mild and slightly bitter, the eggplant soaks up any flavors you cook it in like a sponge. This makes it work with so many cuisines and cooking styles. You can fry it, steam it, saute it, or put it in a soup. Grill it, bake it, stuff it, and puree it are all things that you can do. Here are some ways I have prepared eggplant recently.

Lizzy M.'s Classic Eggplant and
Italian Sausage Red Gravy with Pasta

Extra virgin oliv
e oil
Dash of cr
ushed red pepper
1 medium yellow onion
, diced
Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp oregano

2 bay leaves

1 t
bsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 cup dry red wine
1 tsp sugar
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 lb Italian sausage (Use mild or hot o
r a combination of both. Also, you can use turkey or chicken Italian sausage for a healthier option.)
1 large eggplant, cut into large chunks (skin on)

Angel Hair pasta


1. In a large pot, add in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of crushed red pepper over medium to high heat.

2. Add in the onions, salt and peppe
r, Italian seasoning, oregano and bay leaves and mix well. Saute for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Stir well and saute for about 2 minutes. Then, add the red wine and sugar. Stir and let simmer for about 3 minutes before adding the crushed tomatoes. Stir well, lower the heat and cover.

4. While the flavors of the sauce marry, add 1 cup of water and the whole link of Italian sausage to a saute pan with a lid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook covered for about 7-10 minutes. With tongs transfer the whole sausage to the red gravy. Allow to cook for 20 minutes on low heat covered.

5. With tongs transfer the sausage to a cutting board. Let the sausage rest for 10 minutes. Slice the sausage into 2 inch
pieces or whatever size you prefer and return to the red gravy.

6. Add the large eggplant chunks to the sausage and red gravy. Cook on low heat covered for an hour and a half or unt
il the eggplant is tender.

7. Prepare the Angel Hair pasta according to the package's directions.

This dinner is meant to be
a Sunday style dinner that simmers on the stove all day. Prepare the red gravy in the early afternoon and allow to simmer on low until evening and you have yourself a hearty, comforting Italian dinner. Check out the next recipe to see what to do with any leftover red gravy.

Lizzy M.'s Stuffed Eggplant

1 large eggplant, cu
t in half lengthwise
Extra virgin olive
1 small yellow onion
, diced
Sea salt
Freshly ground
black pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning

2 gar
lic cloves, grated or minced
1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup red gravy or tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian blend


1. Preheat the oven to 350 d

2. After slicing the eggplant in half lengthwise, remove the pulp from the eggplant with a melon baller or spoon. Leave about a half inch of pulp remaining in the eggplant shell or "boat". Place pulp aside in a bowl.

3. Place the eggplant boats on a
baking sheet and brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

4. While the eggplant boats cook, in a large saute pan, heat a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium to high heat.

5. Add the onions, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Saute for 5 minutes. Next add in the garlic and eggplant pulp. Saute for another 5-7 minutes. If the eggplant gets too dry, then add a bit more olive oil. Finally, add in the spinach, Panko and Parmesan and stir well. Turn off the heat.

6. Remove the eggplant boats from the oven and fill the boats with the eggplant pulp mixture. Top with a generous amount of red gravy and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Enjoy using this method to prepare eggplant but feel free to change what ingredients you add in the stuffing. Go Greek
-style with feta cheese, artichokes and olives. Try Cajun-style with andouille sausage, celery, green pepper and onions. You are only limited by your imagination for this one. The eggplant boat is your blank slate and you can create your own masterpiece!

Lizzy M.'s Eggplant with Lemon and Olives

Extra virgin olive
Dash of crushed red pepper

1 medium eggplant
, cut into large chunks
Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup green olives
, chopped roughly
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped roughly
1/2 of a large lemon
Dash of garlic powder
1 cup red gravy or tomato sauce
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar


1. In a saute pan with a lid, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash or red pepper. Add the eggplant chunks and a dash of salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add a 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook the eggplant over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the olives. Cut the half of lemon into 4 pieces and squeeze the juice into the pan. Then drop the squeezed lemons into the pan as well. Add the garlic, red gravy and vinegar. Stir well. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Serve this tangy dish all by itself with crusty bread or with pasta. Shrimp would be the perfect protein to add to this dish. Take a few large shrimp with the tails on and add them into the saute pan at the last minute. Cook for a just a few minutes for a tangy and spicy shrimp and eggplant dish.

I hope you will enjoy these eggplant recipes to add to your repertoire. Let these ideas inspire you to get creative with your eggplant!


Saint Joseph's Day: Part II Baccala and Cabbage Casserole

Overshadowed by a more well-known feast day of this week in March(St. Paddy's Day), Saint Joseph's Day falls this Friday, March 19th. In my household, corned beef and cabbage will be enjoyed on Wednesday and a Sicilian feast on Friday. The patron saint of Sicily, Saint Joseph, is honored on this day with the best way any good Sicilian knows how-with a feast. This Lenten feast features items like Pasta Milanese and Baccala, which is salt cod. Salt cod is the traditional fish served at this dinner because it was once an inexpensive fish that was available even on Fridays when most other fresh fish was sold out. The salt cod is preserved in salt of course. Before eating the Baccala, the fish must be soaked for hours and hours to rehydrate. It can be served simply with lemon juice and mayonnaise or with tomatoes and wine. Since times have changed and fresh fish is available on Fridays or whenever Saint Joseph's Day falls, I prefer fresh cod for this dish.

Recipes for this dish vary, but I know you will love this simple, lightly breaded, sweet spin on Baccala. While this Saint Joseph's staple will complete your Saint Joseph's Day feast, this dish also makes for a great, healthy dinner for any night of the year. If you are trying to incorporate more fish in your diet, but you aren't really into fish, then you must try cod. Light, white flaky cod is mild in flavor and very low in fat. Saute cod in just a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, and you have yourself a healthy dinner entree that the whole family will love. To get your kids into this, cut the cod filet into strips. Lightly bread with bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs or flour and cook in a non-stick pan in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. These delicious "fish sticks" are certain to be appealing to even the pickiest of eaters.

Lizzy M.'s Sweet Saint Joseph's Day Cod

1 Filet of cod (serves two or one large serving)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain or Italian bread crumbs
1 lemon
3 tbsp honey


1. Drizzle the uncooked cod with extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2. Dredge the cod fish into the bread crumbs until lightly coated.

3. In a large pan, heat a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium to high heat. Place the breaded cod into the pan gently. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes before turning the fish over. You need the fish to cook through, so if the heat is so high that the bread crumbs are burning, then turn it down.

4. Turn the fish and cook on the other side another 3-4 minutes. You will know when the cod starts to split at the top and you see a solid white color.

5. In a small bowl, mix 3 tbsp of honey with 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This should be sweet with a slight tang. If the lemon is too overpowering, then add a bit more honey.

6. Serve the cod with a drizzle of the honey and lemon mixture and garnish with a wedge of lemon.

With this being a Lenten feast, many vegetable dishes are served. Some include cabbage casserole, stuffed artichokes, eggplant, carduni (cardoon-a thistle-like plant from the artichoke family) and fava beans. The eggplant and carduni are often served lightly breaded in bread crumbs and fried. My favorite, the stuffed artichoke is stuffed with Italian cheeses, bread crumbs and seasoning and then pressure cooked to until tender. This filling appetizer is perfect for sharing family-style. The fava beans are served simply with a drizzle of olive oil. I am unsure of the significance of the cabbage casserole, however with Saint Patrick's Day being two days before this feast, it makes sense to have lots of cabbage leftover. Since cabbage casserole is a simple and quick dish to throw together, I decided to give this one a try.

Lizzy M.'s Italian Cabbage Casserole

1 Large head of green c
abbage, cut into large squares for layering
Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp allspice

1 cup Italian bread crumbs, divided into 3 parts
1 cup Parmesan (grated), divid
ed into 3 parts
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp butter, divided into 3 parts


1. In a large pot, bring a large amount of water to a boil. Add the cabbage to the pot and push down with tongs, so the water hits all of the cabbage leaves. Allow to cook for just a minute. Drain the cabbage and set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, garlic and allspice.

3. In a large casserole dish, add one layer of cabbage to the bottom. Sprinkle 1/3 of the 1 cup of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add another layer of cabbage and then sprinkle another layer of bread crumbs and cheese. Finally, add the last layer of cabbage.

4. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole. Top the casserole with last 1/3 cup of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Divide the butter into 3 parts and scatter on top of the casserole.

5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and then bake for another 15-20 minutes or until firm.

I hope you will enjoy these wonderful dishes and traditions of Saint Joseph's Feast Day. Try these recipes to celebrate this feast day. The cod and cabbage casserole together would make for a lovely meal at any time of year. Enjoy the traditions of other cultures by getting in the kitchen and eating as they do. Happy Saint Joseph's Day!


Saint Patrick's Day Leftovers

Ok-so we all like to be Irish for the day cooking giant slabs of corned beef, heads of cabbage and bags of potatoes. Unless you have an army to feed, you will likely have leftovers. My husband and I only put a small dent in our corned beef, so we have some serious work to do to clear out that fridge. While I am certainly capable of eating the same exact dinner, the ingredients of these leftovers lend themselves to some creative leftovers.

Last night to celebrate St. Paddy's Day, my husband and I indulged in Corned Beef Sandwiches on Rye. This was a simple and perfect use for all of the corned beef but what about all of the vegetables. I don't know about you but I may have overdone it with amount of carrots and potatoes I added to my crock pot corned beef and cabbage. Therefore, I have a large bowl of carrots and potatoes sitting in the fridge waiting for their sad road to the trashcan. Instead of just letting these fine, nutritious ingredients go to waste, why not make soup? Soup is easy to freeze, and carrots and potatoes are perfectly tasty ingredients for any soup. The vegetables are already seasoned and flavored from the corned beef, so a little food processor action and you have some soup for a rainy day. For those last bits of corned beef and cabbage leftovers, I say let's do brunch! Try a good old corned beef hash using the beef, potatoes and cabbage. Let's get right to it with Corned Beef on Rye.

Lizzy M.'s Corned Beef, Guinness Onions and Swiss on Rye

Extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia, yellow or white onion, cut in half once and then thinly sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Course ground mustard (Dijon will work fine too.)
1/2 bottle of Guinness
Leftover corned beef (use what you feel is needed for each sandwich)
Non-stick cooking spray
Rye bread
Swiss cheese, sliced thin (about 2 slices per sandwich)


1. In a large saute pan, add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium to high heat. Once heated through, add the sliced onions. Season the onions with a dash of salt and pepper and saute for about 3 minutes.

2. Next, add the mustard and Guinness to the pan and incorporate well with the onions. Saute for another 3-5 minutes.

3. Add the lefto
ver corned beef directly to the onions. Break up the corned beef, so it is more shredded and string than the large pieces of beef. Allow the beef to cook in the onions on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Cover the pan until you are ready to build your sandwiches.

4. On a flat top pan sprayed with some non-stick cooking spray, heat over medium to low heat. Add your slices of Rye bread for each sandwich. Once the bread is warm and toasty on each side, then add the Swiss cheese on one side.

5. With tongs, add as much of the corned beef and onion mixture on top of the cheese and Rye as you like. Close the sandwich with the other slice of Rye and allow for the cheese to melt over low heat for about 5 minutes. If you feel like you will bring the bottom of the sandwich waiting for the cheese to melt, then you can always pop it in the microwave for a few seconds before eating.

Enjoy these creative leftovers with a pickle and some Cole slaw or a simple salad.

Lizzy M.'s St. Paddy's Carrot and Potato Soup

Leftover over carrots and potatoes
1-2 cups milk
3-4 tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt


1. Take the leftover carrots and potatoes (if there are onions in there too, then keep them) and pour into a large food processor. Process until smooth.

2. In a large pot, heat over medium to low heat. Once simmering, add the milk and sour cream/yogurt and stir until well incorporated. Depending upon how much leftovers you have, will determine how much milk and sour cream/yogurt you will need. Use as much as you like until you reach the desired consistency.

Serve this soup alongside a salad and some crusty bread on a rainy spring evening or even for lunch. Also, you can freeze this soup to use for a later date. You can also just process the vegetables until smooth and freeze right away. When you are ready to eat the soup, just warm and add the milk and sour cream/yogurt.

Lizzy M.'s Corned Beef and Cabbage Hash with Eggs

Extra virgin olive oil
Leftover corned beef, roughly chopped
Leftover potatoes, roughly chopped (1 potato per person)
Non-stick cooking spray
Leftover cabbage, roughly chopped
Eggs (1 per person)


1. In a large non-stick pan or skillet, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium to high heat. Add the leftover corned beef and break up while sauteing with a wooden spoon.

2. Add the potatoes to the pan and stir.

3. Next take a clean, large pan or pot and spray well with non-stick cooking spray. Turn the pan with the beef and potatoes on medium to low heat. Put the sprayed empty pot or pan on top of the corned beef and potatoes. Add a large can of tomatoes weigh down the pan or pot. This will push down the beef and potatoes making that crispy hash-like texture. Cook like this for about 5- 7 minutes or until the potatoes get golden brown and crispy on the bottom.

4. Once one side is cooked well, stir the ingredients and then add the heavy pot or pan again for another 5-7 minutes.

5. Add the chopped cabbage to the pan. Stir in well and heat through.

6. Move the hash in the pan to make room for the eggs. Add some non-stick spray if you are worried the eggs will stick. Add the eggs and a tiny dash of salt and pepper on the eggs. Turn the heat to low and cover the pan with either a lid or a bit of aluminum foil. Let the eggs cook until they have reached the firmness you desire. I like my eggs sunny side up but cooked through to medium, so my eggs would probably take about 5 minutes. Adjust the time to your needs, and just use your eyes to see when the egg is done.

Serve a big portion of hash with the egg on top for a delicious weekend breakfast or brunch. This breakfast will keep you going all day long. Thank you St. Paddy's Day for giving me abundant leftovers, so I can continue to celebrate this holiday all week and weekend long. Try any of these leftover recipes to clear out your fridge. You should always try to use leftovers instead of wasting them. It is good for your budget and the environment to utilize the food that you make and buy. Remember you can always bring leftovers to a neighbor, especially your elderly neighbors. They would certainly be appreciative to not have to worry about cooking. So, think before you throw away.


Saint Patrick's Day Corned Beef and Cabbage

You know what time it is! Irish or not, it is time to get your Irish on with some corned beef and cabbage. It is March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day, a day to pay homage to the Patron Saint of Ireland, the Irish and all things Irish. Of course, this means we must indulge in those Irish staples we all hear about like corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, Irish cheddar cheese, and Guinness. With shamrocks, green shirts, Irish luck and a Guinness in hand, to make this day the ultimate day in honoring Ireland get your corned beef on early, so it is good and ready after your celebrations.

Lizzy M.'s Corned Beef and Cabbage

2.5-3 lb uncooked corned beef
brisket (usually includes spices and pickling seasonings)
1 can or bottle of beer

2-3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
5-7 small red potatoes, cut
into large chunks or kept whole
3 small yellow
onions, cut into large chunks
3 garlic cloves

1 tsp g
arlic powder
2 bay leaves

Freshly ground bla
ck pepper
Sea salt

4-6 cups water
1 large head of green cabbage, cut into large pieces


1. In a large crock pot, add th
e corned beef, seasoned side up. Add the beer over the corned beef. Next, pile the vegetables on top with the garlic powder, a pinch of salt and pepper and water. The water should almost cover the corned beef.

2. Turn the crock pot on low and cook for 7-8 hours or until fork te

3. When it is almost dinner time. Remove the corned beef on a large cutting board or plate. Trim off any fat on the underside o
f the beef. Pull a part gently with a fork.

4. In a large pot, ladle in about 6-7 ladles full of the liquid left in the crock pot. Bring to a simmer on low heat and add in the green cabbage. With tongs mix the cabbage, so it is well coated in the liquid. Cover and simmer for about 7 minutes until tender but don't overcook.

5. Serve each plate with a generous serving of corned beef, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage.

No matter what your background is, y
ou are sure to love this Irish staple. Enjoy this hearty meal while wearing your green (so you don't get pinched) to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Get your Irish on!


The Feast Day of Saint Joseph, Part I: Pasta Milanese

Celebrated on March 19th, in Western Christianity, Saint Joseph's Day is the Feast Day for Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary. In Catholicism, Saint Joseph's Day is a holy day of obligation. Traditions for this Feast Day vary depending upon location, for example, Saint Joseph's Day is also Father's Day in primarily Catholic countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. Traditions of Saint Joseph's Day are strongly upheld in Italy, especially in Sicily where Saint Joseph is recognized as their Patron Saint. It is said that the Sicilians prayed to Saint Joseph for rain during a drought in the Middle Ages. The people promised their Patron Saint a huge feast if he were to help them. Sure enough the rains came, and the Sicilians kept their promise by offering Saint Joseph a feast. Many Italian-American communities honor this day with celebration but the Sicilian community in New Orleans, Louisiana is most known for their strong observation of this Feast Day.

Being part Sicilian and from New
Orleans, I have participated in many traditional Saint Joseph's Dinners throughout the years. As a major port for Sicilian immigrants in the 19th century, New Orleans' Italian-American community pays homage to Saint Joseph similar to the way they do in the old country with a large meat-free meal and the presentation of altars to Saint Joseph with homemade fig cookies, cakes and breads. But in New Orleans, no holiday, Feast Day or otherwise goes without a parade, so yes, there is also the Italian-American Parade, which I had the honor of seeing while in New Orleans last weekend.

In churches throughout the city, in schools, and in Italian restaurants, you will find extensive altars to Saint Joseph. The baked goods are made and offered to the altar by the surrounding communities. Visitors observe these altars which are often quite beautiful and extravagant. The food does not go to waste; it is usually donated to those in need once the Feast Day celebrations have ended. Growing up, my Sicilian family in New Orleans, paid respect to this holiday by gathering and eating traditional Italian
foods served on this day. The Saint Joseph's Day menu is meat-free because this day does fall during the Lenten season. Some fish dishes that you may find are Pasta Milanese, an anchovy-based red sauce served with pasta, and salted codfish, which varies in preparation. Numerous vegetable dishes are served such as eggplant, carduni (cardoon), a Mediterranean thistle-like plant in the same family as the Globe artichoke, cabbage casserole, and Fava beans. The Fava beans are an important factor in this meal because this crop supposedly saved the Sicilians from starvation.

With so many dishes to discu
ss, I will focus on one, Pasta Milanese. You will find that bread crumbs have a strong presence in this meal; and there is a reason behind this. Because Saint Joseph was a carpenter, the bread crumbs represent the saw dust from Joseph's carpentry. Pasta Milanese is a rich, salty and sweet dish, often one of the most filling dishes of the whole meal. The anchovies and capers give the saltiness, while raisins, wine and a pinch of sugar give the dish its sweetness. If you don't think you will like the anchovies, then I beg you just to try it. I never thought I would like it but when I tried sardines at a tapas restaurant recently, I realized that my palate may be ready for anchovies. The flavor is mostly salty, which is why no additional salt is needed in this dish. Being Italian or Sicilian is not required to enjoy this dish or this meal. Because I have such variety in my genes being American first and foremost but also Sicilian, French, German, English and Irish, I find that I enjoy embracing the cuisines from all different cultures. I encourage you to do the same. Preparing and experiencing foods from a different ethnicity not only broadens the horizon of your palate, but also allows for you and your family to learn about other cultures.

Lizzy M.'s Pasta Milanese

Extra virgin olive oil

Dash of crushed red pepper

5-6 anchovy filets (canned in olive oil)

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp Oregano

Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp capers

Handful of raisins
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar

1-16oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 lb Bucatini, a thick spaghetti wit
h a hole in the center (Spaghetti will work fine as well.)

Bread Crumb Topping

1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp sugar


1. In a large saute pan, heat a liberal drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and add a dash of crushed red pepper. Once heated over medium heat, add the anchovy filets. Saute the anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. The anchovies will gradually dissolve into the olive oil, about 3-5 minutes.

2. Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Next, add in the capers, raisins and garlic. Saute for another 3-5 minutes, stir often to keep the garlic from burning. Then add the tomato paste and allow to cook for another 3 minutes.

3. Next, add the wine, Balsamic vinegar and sugar to the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan well with the wooden spoon to bring up any tasty bits stuck to the pan. Finally, add in the crushed tomatoes. Stir well. Cover and let the sauce simmer on low heat while the pasta cooks.

4. Boil Bucatini or Spaghetti according to the

5. For the bread crumb topping, in a small dry pan, add in the bread crumbs and sugar over low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture becomes golden brown, about 7 minutes. Don't walk away from this, as it could burn quickly if the heat is too high. Once done, place in a small serving dish on the dinner table to have available to sprinkle on top of the Pasta Milanese.

Enjoy this Lenten pasta dish with
fresh bread and a salad. Or stay tuned for more Saint Joseph's Day dishes if you would like to experience preparing this entire Feast Day meal.

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