Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Dinner Cioppino with Alexander

Sunday dinners a Good Dinners Mrs Mellen Tradition in our family.  Today I made a Cioppino with the freshest fish on the market.  Living in New England we are fortunate to have fresh fish in every grocery store not to mention wonderful fish markets or my favorite in the nice weather buying right from the boats as they come into dock with their fresh catch. Sunday dinner is even more special with the addition of our grandson Alexander.  Only six months old, he can't eat my dinner yet but we exposed him to our family tradition early.

In his honor I've renamed this dish.

Alexander's Cioppino

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
 2 large shallots, chopped
 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 can(14.5 oz) petite cup diced tomatoes (I used Del Monte, no salt added)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
 2  cups fish stock or clam juice
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 pound clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound scallops
1 pound halibut or salmon fillets, use a firm fish, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped


Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices and the remaining ingredients expect seafood, fish and parsley.  Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with salt and red pepper flakes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Italian parsley.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bring on Hot Pink clothes to warm up spring fashion!

Oh I do love to cook, garden and decorate outfitted in the latest fashion.  I just love fashion, always have and always will!  Fashion is a creative expression just like my other hobbies.  I was out shopping and scouting new spring trends discovering that hot pink is all over for spring.  I love pink, especially hot pink which really looks good on woman over thirty.  Save the pale pink for the under thirty crowd. Deep hot pink warms up the skin like no other color.  That's why I am so hot on this wonderfully vibrant color. 

Designers that are also wild about hot pink; Kate Spade, Diane Von Furstenberg, Alice & Olivia and so many more. 

How do you add some of this fabulous hot pink to your late winter/early spring wardrobe?  Well this is what I did.  I found the perfect item to add hot pink without buying all new clothes, the beautifully cut Kate Spade Gemma in  Bougainvillea. A fluid silk short shelve top that can be worn over jeans or dressed up with a tight black skirt.  Beautiful and versatile with adding a splash of one of springs hot colors!

I have chills just thinking about all I can do with this gorgeous top! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Golden Roasted Turkey Breast perfect for our traditional family Sunday dinner!

Luscious family dinners are a Sunday stable at my house.  The tradition dates back to my grandparents who gathered the whole clan for a big feast on Sunday.  I have so many fond memories of Sundays when we would all sit around the large dinning room table for a meal that my grandmother started to prepare before she left for church on Sunday morning.  My Mother continued the tradition having a beautifully prepared dinner on Sunday that we could all enjoy together. I knew that when I had a family I would continue family Sunday dinners and I have.  I just love having the time to prepare a delicious meal for my family to enjoy.  Roasted turkey breast is an easy favorite that my family enjoys.

1 6 lb turkey breast
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon pepper
4 thin slices lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups turkey or chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium store bought

I always soak my poultry in salt water for about an hour.  After you soak turkey, rinse and pat dry.  Place in roasting pan. In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, sage rosemary, and pepper.  Mix to form a paste. Gently separate the turkey breast skin from the meat to make a pouch between the skin and meat.  Divide butter mixture in two and stuff in each pouch.  Next place two lemon slices in each pouch.  Rub olive oil on turkey breast. Pour lemon juice over turkey.  Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven 325 F.
Set the meat breast-side up in the pan. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 160 degrees F. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil for 30 minutes. (The breast temperature will continue to rise to 170 degrees as it rests.)

Pour any pan drippings into a degreasing cup or small bowl.* Reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat discarding the rest and add the juices to the stock. Add the reserved fat to the roasting pan and place on a burner over medium high heat. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the stock and continue to stir. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Strain the gravy, discarding the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve the breast and serve with the gravy.

* I really like from William Sonoma the "no spill" gravy separator.  This helpful tool really makes preparing gravy so easy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sumptuous Sausage Stew alla Puttanesca for a cold snowy winter's day!

I don't know about you but when the temperature drops I need delicious stick to your ribs food. Warm filling spicy food to raise the my body temperature.  I make filling stews that are high on taste but low on fats and calories!  No need to pack on the extra pounds during the cold winter months.  I used chicken sausage and Del Monte petite diced tomatoes with no salt added to cut down on fat and salt.

Served over Italian bread!

2 tablespoon olive oil
5 chicken sausage about 1 pound
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 can(14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, I like Del Monte with no salt
1/2 cup red wine
2 teaspoons Tuscan Sunset blend from Penzys
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cut up Parmesan rind
sea salt
black pepper
Italian bread
grated Parmesan cheese

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat cook sausage until browned about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove sausage and set aside to use later. You can either slice the sausage into 2 inch pieces or leave whole. I leave the sausage whole, the choice is yours.  Cook anchovies, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft and anchovies are dissolved, about 4 minutes. Add onions.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, wine, red pepper flakes, and Tuscan Sunset. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Add reserved cooked sausage, and Parmesan rind: salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.
You can serve this over pasta or I like to just top two slices of fresh Italian bread with this warming stew!

DO AHEAD: Stew can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.