Wednesday Blog

Flavor Profiles for Everyday Meals

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

A flavor profile is a set of basic and common spices, seasonings, and aromatics that emulate a specific cuisine. Spices give aroma, color, flavor, and sometimes even texture to food. Each spice, chile, or herb has specific, unique chemical compounds that create the specific qualities you look for in your cooking.

Flavor profiles are memorize-able. Meaning, you won’t need a recipe to whip up a Mexican-inspired meal because you will already know the basic ingredients that will make it taste kind of like Mexican food.

I’m breaking down the flavor profiles of some of our favorite cuisines and telling you which spices and ingredients work well together and give your dishes the flavors you’re craving.

Asian Inspired -- there are many different types of Asian foods, but some familiar basic Americanized Asian dishes include: stir-frys, rice bowls, noodle bowls, broccoli bowls (all the bowls).

What you’d need to create an Asian-inspired meal:

Spices -- a combination of any of the following work, but to me, ginger is the most important for that Asian flair.

 Garlic Coriander
Ginger Star Anise

 

Ingredients -- like those listed below, are all suitable for Asian cuisine. Choose a protein and noodles or rice, and you’re set!

Soy Sauce  Sriracha (or any type of chile sauce) Meat: beef, chicken, fish, seafood
Rice Vinegar White or Brown Rice Noodles
Sesame Oil Tofu

 

Italian Inspired -- herbs (as opposed to spices) play a large role in Italian cooking. In fact, many popular Italian dishes are seasoned with no more than herbs and olive oil. While the most potent flavor comes from fresh herbs, dried will always work in a pinch.

Basic Italian meal prep dishes include pasta, pizza, and roasted meals (think chicken bakes).

What you’d need to create an Italian-inspired meal:

Spices -- Choose 2 or 3 of these to get Italian flavor.

 Garlic Oregano Rosemary
Basil Parsley Thyme

 

Ingredients -- prepared pasta sauces should be on this list too. Marinara or Alfredo is found in most grocery stores.

Parmesan and mozzarella Pesto  Lemon
Cheese Olives Mushrooms
Canned or fresh tomatoes Olive Oil Pasta

 

Mexican Inspired -- Mexican dishes often incorporate seasoned protein, corn product, beans, and cheese. The chili pepper remains the most important spice in Mexican cooking.

Basic Mexican dishes include burritos, fajitas, tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas.

What you’d need to create a Mexican-inspired meal:

Spices -- These are staples we should all have in the spice rack. Put these together and you get that Mexican deliciousness!

 Cumin Onion Powder
Chili Powder Garlic Powder

 

Ingredients -- The possibilities seem endless with these Mexican ingredients.

 Cilantro Peppers Rice
Limes Onion Tortillas
Avocado Cheese
Tomatoes Black Beans

 

Mediterranean Inspired -- Basic Mediterranean dishes include couscous and rice bowls, chickpea or lentil salads, and roasted chicken or fish with veggies.

What you’d need to create a Mediterranean-inspired meal:

Spices -- these are especially good when fresh in any number of Mediterranean dishes.

Basil Rosemary Dill
Parsley Oregano Mint

 

Ingredients -- The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the most healthy, and fresh ingredients like these listed below are the basics.

 Lemon Fish, chicken Chickpeas
Couscous Peppers Lentils
Rice Cucumbers Pita
Tomatoes Lettuce and greens

 

Knowing which spices go well together to create certain flavor profiles is an easy way to keep things simple; while keeping the family coming back for more. Another easy way to add delicious flavor to your meals is by using Bellisari’s Gourmet Sauces and Spreads in your recipes! Try some of the recipes on our website or come up with your own dishes. We’d love to hear about any creative ways you use our products.

Read more

Flavor Profiles for Everyday Meals

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

A flavor profile is a set of basic and common spices, seasonings, and aromatics that emulate a specific cuisine. Spices give aroma, color, flavor, and sometimes even texture to food. Each spice, chile, or herb has specific, unique chemical compounds that create the specific qualities you look for in your cooking.

Flavor profiles are memorize-able. Meaning, you won’t need a recipe to whip up a Mexican-inspired meal because you will already know the basic ingredients that will make it taste kind of like Mexican food.

I’m breaking down the flavor profiles of some of our favorite cuisines and telling you which spices and ingredients work well together and give your dishes the flavors you’re craving.

Asian Inspired -- there are many different types of Asian foods, but some familiar basic Americanized Asian dishes include: stir-frys, rice bowls, noodle bowls, broccoli bowls (all the bowls).

What you’d need to create an Asian-inspired meal:

Spices -- a combination of any of the following work, but to me, ginger is the most important for that Asian flair.

 Garlic Coriander
Ginger Star Anise

 

Ingredients -- like those listed below, are all suitable for Asian cuisine. Choose a protein and noodles or rice, and you’re set!

Soy Sauce  Sriracha (or any type of chile sauce) Meat: beef, chicken, fish, seafood
Rice Vinegar White or Brown Rice Noodles
Sesame Oil Tofu

 

Italian Inspired -- herbs (as opposed to spices) play a large role in Italian cooking. In fact, many popular Italian dishes are seasoned with no more than herbs and olive oil. While the most potent flavor comes from fresh herbs, dried will always work in a pinch.

Basic Italian meal prep dishes include pasta, pizza, and roasted meals (think chicken bakes).

What you’d need to create an Italian-inspired meal:

Spices -- Choose 2 or 3 of these to get Italian flavor.

 Garlic Oregano Rosemary
Basil Parsley Thyme

 

Ingredients -- prepared pasta sauces should be on this list too. Marinara or Alfredo is found in most grocery stores.

Parmesan and mozzarella Pesto  Lemon
Cheese Olives Mushrooms
Canned or fresh tomatoes Olive Oil Pasta

 

Mexican Inspired -- Mexican dishes often incorporate seasoned protein, corn product, beans, and cheese. The chili pepper remains the most important spice in Mexican cooking.

Basic Mexican dishes include burritos, fajitas, tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas.

What you’d need to create a Mexican-inspired meal:

Spices -- These are staples we should all have in the spice rack. Put these together and you get that Mexican deliciousness!

 Cumin Onion Powder
Chili Powder Garlic Powder

 

Ingredients -- The possibilities seem endless with these Mexican ingredients.

 Cilantro Peppers Rice
Limes Onion Tortillas
Avocado Cheese
Tomatoes Black Beans

 

Mediterranean Inspired -- Basic Mediterranean dishes include couscous and rice bowls, chickpea or lentil salads, and roasted chicken or fish with veggies.

What you’d need to create a Mediterranean-inspired meal:

Spices -- these are especially good when fresh in any number of Mediterranean dishes.

Basil Rosemary Dill
Parsley Oregano Mint

 

Ingredients -- The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the most healthy, and fresh ingredients like these listed below are the basics.

 Lemon Fish, chicken Chickpeas
Couscous Peppers Lentils
Rice Cucumbers Pita
Tomatoes Lettuce and greens

 

Knowing which spices go well together to create certain flavor profiles is an easy way to keep things simple; while keeping the family coming back for more. Another easy way to add delicious flavor to your meals is by using Bellisari’s Gourmet Sauces and Spreads in your recipes! Try some of the recipes on our website or come up with your own dishes. We’d love to hear about any creative ways you use our products.

Read more


Cooking by the Season

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Even though we all like to eat strawberries year round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. In other words, when they are in season. Fruits and vegetables are at their cheapest when they're being harvested, thanks to farmers' ample supply. Unfortunately, many home cooks associate fresh produce only with summer, but colder months bring lower prices for seasonal produce too.

Seasonal eating may seem like a recent trend, but it was the norm for generations, long before big grocery stores and farming advances. In today’s grocery stores, it’s normal to see the same produce available 365 days of the year. However, it does not mean that the produce quality is the same throughout the seasons. Here are four benefits of eating seasonal produce:

Richer flavor – Produce that is picked when it’s fully ripened tastes amazing. If your produce is coming from across the US or another country, it is picked before it’s ripe. As it travels to your local grocery store, it ripens in a cardboard box, often after being sprayed by chemicals to prevent it from ripening too quickly.

Better nutrition – When produce is picked before it’s ripe, the nutrients do not fully develop in the flesh of the fruit. Plants need the sun to grow, and picking them before they are ripe cuts off the nutrient availability. Genetic modification is also sometimes used, which can alter how the crop was naturally supposed to be consumed. Also, if you eat seasonally, you are guaranteed to consume a variety of produce; which will assist you in eating a balanced diet.

Cost efficient – Supply and demand simply explains how buying produce seasonally saves money. Produce in season is more abundant, so it is less per pound in the store. If you are buying produce that is out of season, there is travel time and added expenses to grow it in a greenhouse.

Environmentally friendly – As we truck in produce from other areas, it requires gas to get the produce to the store. This fuel charge is something often added to the price of the food upon delivery, not to mention what this does to the carbon footprint.

It’s time to find your fruit and veggie favorites. Now is the time for root vegetables including: turnips, winter squash, celery root, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and rutabagas. Luckily, eating seasonally does not have to be a 100 percent commitment. Choosing even one seasonal item will improve your nutrient intake, save you money, and help to save the planet!

Read more

Cooking by the Season

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Even though we all like to eat strawberries year round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. In other words, when they are in season. Fruits and vegetables are at their cheapest when they're being harvested, thanks to farmers' ample supply. Unfortunately, many home cooks associate fresh produce only with summer, but colder months bring lower prices for seasonal produce too.

Seasonal eating may seem like a recent trend, but it was the norm for generations, long before big grocery stores and farming advances. In today’s grocery stores, it’s normal to see the same produce available 365 days of the year. However, it does not mean that the produce quality is the same throughout the seasons. Here are four benefits of eating seasonal produce:

Richer flavor – Produce that is picked when it’s fully ripened tastes amazing. If your produce is coming from across the US or another country, it is picked before it’s ripe. As it travels to your local grocery store, it ripens in a cardboard box, often after being sprayed by chemicals to prevent it from ripening too quickly.

Better nutrition – When produce is picked before it’s ripe, the nutrients do not fully develop in the flesh of the fruit. Plants need the sun to grow, and picking them before they are ripe cuts off the nutrient availability. Genetic modification is also sometimes used, which can alter how the crop was naturally supposed to be consumed. Also, if you eat seasonally, you are guaranteed to consume a variety of produce; which will assist you in eating a balanced diet.

Cost efficient – Supply and demand simply explains how buying produce seasonally saves money. Produce in season is more abundant, so it is less per pound in the store. If you are buying produce that is out of season, there is travel time and added expenses to grow it in a greenhouse.

Environmentally friendly – As we truck in produce from other areas, it requires gas to get the produce to the store. This fuel charge is something often added to the price of the food upon delivery, not to mention what this does to the carbon footprint.

It’s time to find your fruit and veggie favorites. Now is the time for root vegetables including: turnips, winter squash, celery root, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and rutabagas. Luckily, eating seasonally does not have to be a 100 percent commitment. Choosing even one seasonal item will improve your nutrient intake, save you money, and help to save the planet!

Read more


Valentine’s Cooking Class is in Session

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

If you know me or follow this blog at all, you know about my great passion for cooking and food. Something you might not know about me though is, that I’m also extremely passionate about sharing my cooking knowledge with others; so they can cook nutritious and delicious foods for their loved ones. As a cooking instructor, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing and seeing the evidence that you’ve made an impact on someone’s life or multiple lives. Last week I taught a class that is the perfect set of recipes for you to make for your loved one for Valentine’s Day. The best part is that a lot of it can be made ahead! The ravioli (once cooked) is perfectly layered with the cooked pear and fennel and garnished with the arugula and balsamic glaze which is perfect as the first course. Follow that with the

Filet in a Rosemary and Fennel Red Wine Sauce and the Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli and you have the perfect Valentine’s Dinner.  Below are the cooking class recipes!

Roasted Pears

Yield: 4 side dish servings

Ingredients:

4 semi-ripe Bosc pears

1/3 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup of dry white wine like Riesling

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch sea salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Quarter and core the pears, then dust the cut sides of pears with powdered sugar. Melt butter in an oven-safe Dutch oven over moderately high heat. When the butter is melted, add pears, cut side down, to the butter and cook. Move the pears around so the cut sides become caramelized and browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Flip pears so that they are skin side up. Pour in the wine and drop in the star anise, cinnamon stick, and a small pinch of salt. Place the pan, uncovered into oven and roast until the pears are tender and the wine has reduced into a thin syrup, 15 to 20 minutes.

Balsamic Honey Glaze

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon honey (optional)

Pinch of coarse salt

Directions:

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan; reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened and syrupy; about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey (if desired) and salt. Let cool completely before serving (glaze will thicken slightly as it cools).

Cook's Notes:

Glaze can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

Goat Cheese Ravioli

Ingredients:

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sliced basil leaves

2 tablespoons finely chopped baby spinach leaves

8 ounces soft goat cheese

1 package wonton wrappers

1 bag of arugula

Directions:

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and spinach and cook just until wilted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the goat cheese, season with salt and pepper and let cool. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip or a plastic bowl.

Lay 4 or 5 wonton wrappers on a work surface; keep the rest covered with a damp towel. Lightly brush the edges of the wrappers with water. Spoon or pipe a scant teaspoon of the goat cheese mixture onto the center of each wrapper. Fold the wrappers to form triangles. Press out any air bubbles, then press the edges to seal. Transfer the ravioli to a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling to make about 48 ravioli; layer them between sheets of plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the ravioli until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain the ravioli, gently shaking off the excess water. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ravioli, pears and fennel. Heat through and remove. Lay the ravioli on the plate, then the pear, roasted fennel, arugula and drizzle balsamic glaze for a garnish.

Cook’s Notes:

Tangy goat cheese brings out the vibrancy of a French rosé.

Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, eyeball it

5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended:Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick Grill Mates)

1 large head broccoli, cut into thin, long spears

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, chili powder and grill seasoning in the bottom of a large bowl and add the broccoli spears. Toss to coat broccoli evenly then transfer to a large nonstick baking sheet. Roast the broccoli until ends are crisp and brown and stalks are tender, 17 to 20 minutes.

Filet in a Rosemary and Fennel Red Wine Sauce

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

uncooked fennel bulb(s)1 pound(s)

4 filet mignons

2-3 tablespoons of butter

rosemary 1¼ tsp, fresh, chopped

all-purpose flour 1 tsp

olive oil 1 Tbsp, extra-virgin, divided

uncooked red onion(s) 1 small, chopped

red wine 2 fl oz, or white wine (1/4 cup)

minced garlic 2 tsp

canned beef broth 14½ oz

table salt ½ tsp, or to taste

black pepper ⅛ tsp, freshly ground, or to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Trim stalk from fennel. Quarter bulb lengthwise and then slice crosswise into small pieces; reserve fronds for garnish (you will have about 3 cups fennel). Put filet on a plate and sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper. Place the butter in the cast iron skillet and sear the filet on med-high heat for two minutes. Immediately transfer to the preheated oven. I usually cook it for 5-6 minutes for medium rare.

In a separate skillet, over medium-high heat, heat remaining 2 tsp oil. Add fennel and onion; sauté until lightly browned and almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add wine and garlic; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring bottom of pan to scrape up browned bits, until most of wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, stir together broth with 1 tsp flour; stir into skillet. Add salt and pepper; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 minute. Pour over slice filet and garnish with fronds.

Read more

Valentine’s Cooking Class is in Session

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

If you know me or follow this blog at all, you know about my great passion for cooking and food. Something you might not know about me though is, that I’m also extremely passionate about sharing my cooking knowledge with others; so they can cook nutritious and delicious foods for their loved ones. As a cooking instructor, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing and seeing the evidence that you’ve made an impact on someone’s life or multiple lives. Last week I taught a class that is the perfect set of recipes for you to make for your loved one for Valentine’s Day. The best part is that a lot of it can be made ahead! The ravioli (once cooked) is perfectly layered with the cooked pear and fennel and garnished with the arugula and balsamic glaze which is perfect as the first course. Follow that with the

Filet in a Rosemary and Fennel Red Wine Sauce and the Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli and you have the perfect Valentine’s Dinner.  Below are the cooking class recipes!

Roasted Pears

Yield: 4 side dish servings

Ingredients:

4 semi-ripe Bosc pears

1/3 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup of dry white wine like Riesling

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch sea salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Quarter and core the pears, then dust the cut sides of pears with powdered sugar. Melt butter in an oven-safe Dutch oven over moderately high heat. When the butter is melted, add pears, cut side down, to the butter and cook. Move the pears around so the cut sides become caramelized and browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Flip pears so that they are skin side up. Pour in the wine and drop in the star anise, cinnamon stick, and a small pinch of salt. Place the pan, uncovered into oven and roast until the pears are tender and the wine has reduced into a thin syrup, 15 to 20 minutes.

Balsamic Honey Glaze

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon honey (optional)

Pinch of coarse salt

Directions:

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan; reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened and syrupy; about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey (if desired) and salt. Let cool completely before serving (glaze will thicken slightly as it cools).

Cook's Notes:

Glaze can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

Goat Cheese Ravioli

Ingredients:

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sliced basil leaves

2 tablespoons finely chopped baby spinach leaves

8 ounces soft goat cheese

1 package wonton wrappers

1 bag of arugula

Directions:

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and spinach and cook just until wilted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the goat cheese, season with salt and pepper and let cool. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip or a plastic bowl.

Lay 4 or 5 wonton wrappers on a work surface; keep the rest covered with a damp towel. Lightly brush the edges of the wrappers with water. Spoon or pipe a scant teaspoon of the goat cheese mixture onto the center of each wrapper. Fold the wrappers to form triangles. Press out any air bubbles, then press the edges to seal. Transfer the ravioli to a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling to make about 48 ravioli; layer them between sheets of plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the ravioli until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain the ravioli, gently shaking off the excess water. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ravioli, pears and fennel. Heat through and remove. Lay the ravioli on the plate, then the pear, roasted fennel, arugula and drizzle balsamic glaze for a garnish.

Cook’s Notes:

Tangy goat cheese brings out the vibrancy of a French rosé.

Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, eyeball it

5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended:Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick Grill Mates)

1 large head broccoli, cut into thin, long spears

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, chili powder and grill seasoning in the bottom of a large bowl and add the broccoli spears. Toss to coat broccoli evenly then transfer to a large nonstick baking sheet. Roast the broccoli until ends are crisp and brown and stalks are tender, 17 to 20 minutes.

Filet in a Rosemary and Fennel Red Wine Sauce

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

uncooked fennel bulb(s)1 pound(s)

4 filet mignons

2-3 tablespoons of butter

rosemary 1¼ tsp, fresh, chopped

all-purpose flour 1 tsp

olive oil 1 Tbsp, extra-virgin, divided

uncooked red onion(s) 1 small, chopped

red wine 2 fl oz, or white wine (1/4 cup)

minced garlic 2 tsp

canned beef broth 14½ oz

table salt ½ tsp, or to taste

black pepper ⅛ tsp, freshly ground, or to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Trim stalk from fennel. Quarter bulb lengthwise and then slice crosswise into small pieces; reserve fronds for garnish (you will have about 3 cups fennel). Put filet on a plate and sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper. Place the butter in the cast iron skillet and sear the filet on med-high heat for two minutes. Immediately transfer to the preheated oven. I usually cook it for 5-6 minutes for medium rare.

In a separate skillet, over medium-high heat, heat remaining 2 tsp oil. Add fennel and onion; sauté until lightly browned and almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add wine and garlic; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring bottom of pan to scrape up browned bits, until most of wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, stir together broth with 1 tsp flour; stir into skillet. Add salt and pepper; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 minute. Pour over slice filet and garnish with fronds.

Read more


Preserving Family History with Food

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

For many people, food and family are closely connected. In fact, family recipes are a fantastic way of keeping our ancestry alive, as well as maintaining that part of ourselves -- the part for whom all it takes is one whiff, one taste, to bring you to reliving an important family feeling. 

Food appeals to all five of our senses, and because of this it can bring back vivid memories of our childhood, of our relationships with family members who have passed away, and of who we were during that time period. Food can remind us of experiences we’ve forgotten and allow us to relive feelings of comfort, satisfaction, or excitement. Preserving family recipes allows us to access these emotions whenever we want, whether it's a holiday or a simple occasion we want to make special.

Documenting family recipes keeps part of the legacy of our relatives and loved ones alive. Each cook in a family contributes her own flavor and style. For example, on the website, I have the recipe for Big “Sal’s” Meatloaf (https://bit.ly/37CmRth) or from my recipe collection I have the recipe for Artie Joe’s Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Parmesan Cream Sauce with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach* (recipe below) . Big “Sal” is my mom and Artie Joe is my dad. Just the aroma of this meatloaf or a batch of Dad’s sauce cooking in my kitchen transports me back to family dinner, all of us around the table sharing the stories of our day.

As we record the thoughts, ideas, and processes of our traditional family meals, we create an heirloom that can be handed down to our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. We leave a connection through which our loved ones can learn about who we are, even after we are gone. 

Remembering, collecting, and passing down the recipes your loved ones have passed to you is a wonderful way to honor and immortalize your family. Not only will family recipes allow you to create meals that are a meaningful experience, but they will also inspire you to create your own versions of dishes, to add your own flavor and methods. The picture is a platter that my sister had made for me with my grandmother’s meatball recipe. ❤

Because our lives are so busy, modern families sometimes find it difficult to preserve this connection. Who has time to make a meal from scratch when you must work, pick up the kids, clean the house, do the grocery shopping, etc? We may not be able to do the exact same things in the kitchen that our grandmothers did twenty or thirty years ago, but there are new, innovative ways for us to honor family traditions and preserve the culinary knowledge that has been handed down for generations. Just take what your family has given to you and infuse it with your own meaning and style. 

Artie Joe’s Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Parmesan Cream Sauce with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into strips*

1 box of Penne Pasta or your choice of dried pasta

2 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup finely chopped shallot

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1 1/4 cups milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 (16 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained

1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus more shredded or shaved for serving

1 cup of fresh baby spinach

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on package to al dente. Meanwhile, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté 2 minutes or until lightly golden then add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly 1 minute. While whisking slowly pour in milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until it begins to thicken then reduce heat slightly, stir in cream, bell peppers and parmesan and cook just until parmesan has melted.  Add the baby spinach and stir until fully cooked. Add drained pasta to sauce, toss to evenly coat and heat and toss over low heat for a minute to allow some of the sauce to soak into pasta. Plate and top with grilled chicken and parmesan. Serve immediately.

*To grill chicken - preheat a grill to 425 degrees. Pound thicker parts of chicken to even thickness (or if they are very thick just slice in half through the thickness to get two portions). Brush chicken lightly with olive oil then season both sides with salt and pepper. Brush grill grates lightly with oil and grill rotating once halfway through cooking until center of chicken registers 165, about 7 - 8 minutes total. Then transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 5 - 10 minutes before slicing.

Read more

Preserving Family History with Food

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

For many people, food and family are closely connected. In fact, family recipes are a fantastic way of keeping our ancestry alive, as well as maintaining that part of ourselves -- the part for whom all it takes is one whiff, one taste, to bring you to reliving an important family feeling. 

Food appeals to all five of our senses, and because of this it can bring back vivid memories of our childhood, of our relationships with family members who have passed away, and of who we were during that time period. Food can remind us of experiences we’ve forgotten and allow us to relive feelings of comfort, satisfaction, or excitement. Preserving family recipes allows us to access these emotions whenever we want, whether it's a holiday or a simple occasion we want to make special.

Documenting family recipes keeps part of the legacy of our relatives and loved ones alive. Each cook in a family contributes her own flavor and style. For example, on the website, I have the recipe for Big “Sal’s” Meatloaf (https://bit.ly/37CmRth) or from my recipe collection I have the recipe for Artie Joe’s Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Parmesan Cream Sauce with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach* (recipe below) . Big “Sal” is my mom and Artie Joe is my dad. Just the aroma of this meatloaf or a batch of Dad’s sauce cooking in my kitchen transports me back to family dinner, all of us around the table sharing the stories of our day.

As we record the thoughts, ideas, and processes of our traditional family meals, we create an heirloom that can be handed down to our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. We leave a connection through which our loved ones can learn about who we are, even after we are gone. 

Remembering, collecting, and passing down the recipes your loved ones have passed to you is a wonderful way to honor and immortalize your family. Not only will family recipes allow you to create meals that are a meaningful experience, but they will also inspire you to create your own versions of dishes, to add your own flavor and methods. The picture is a platter that my sister had made for me with my grandmother’s meatball recipe. ❤

Because our lives are so busy, modern families sometimes find it difficult to preserve this connection. Who has time to make a meal from scratch when you must work, pick up the kids, clean the house, do the grocery shopping, etc? We may not be able to do the exact same things in the kitchen that our grandmothers did twenty or thirty years ago, but there are new, innovative ways for us to honor family traditions and preserve the culinary knowledge that has been handed down for generations. Just take what your family has given to you and infuse it with your own meaning and style. 

Artie Joe’s Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Parmesan Cream Sauce with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into strips*

1 box of Penne Pasta or your choice of dried pasta

2 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup finely chopped shallot

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1 1/4 cups milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 (16 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained

1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus more shredded or shaved for serving

1 cup of fresh baby spinach

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on package to al dente. Meanwhile, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté 2 minutes or until lightly golden then add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly 1 minute. While whisking slowly pour in milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until it begins to thicken then reduce heat slightly, stir in cream, bell peppers and parmesan and cook just until parmesan has melted.  Add the baby spinach and stir until fully cooked. Add drained pasta to sauce, toss to evenly coat and heat and toss over low heat for a minute to allow some of the sauce to soak into pasta. Plate and top with grilled chicken and parmesan. Serve immediately.

*To grill chicken - preheat a grill to 425 degrees. Pound thicker parts of chicken to even thickness (or if they are very thick just slice in half through the thickness to get two portions). Brush chicken lightly with olive oil then season both sides with salt and pepper. Brush grill grates lightly with oil and grill rotating once halfway through cooking until center of chicken registers 165, about 7 - 8 minutes total. Then transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 5 - 10 minutes before slicing.

Read more


Important Reasons to Keep Your Oven Clean

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

When it comes to taking care of an oven, it is sometimes all too easy to overlook the one action that could be the most important–keeping it clean. Keeping an oven clean is vital for health and sanitary reasons. Not only is there a risk of contaminating food with old, baked on grime, but an oven with a lot of food debris and char can cause smoke; which will give the dishes cooked inside an unpleasant flavor.

A clean oven is important for basic safety reasons. Grease spills left to sit can ignite, if not taken care of promptly; causing dangerous grease fires and oven damage. Some spills can smolder in an oven making fumes and smoke that can cause eye and lung irritation for those cooking, or in the vicinity of the kitchen. Keeping an oven clean can not only keep a kitchen, and the food prepared in the kitchen sanitary, but can help keep cooks safer in the kitchen as well.

How clean an oven is can affect everything from how even the internal temperature of an oven remains during cooking, to how long it takes to preheat. An oven coated in char and grime from previous meals will have to work harder to achieve and maintain the correct temperature while cooking dishes.

It’s a good idea to clean your oven at least once every few months. In between cleanings, wipe down big spills each time they occur (once the oven is completely cooled). How to clean an oven really depends on personal preferences. Most ovens come with a self-cleaning feature that cooks food and residue off at a very high temp leaving a char that can be vacuumed, or swept out after the long, intense cleaning period. This method is popular because it allows an oven to do most of the dirty work on its own and doesn’t use harsh smelling, or dangerous chemicals in the process.

Cleaning with standard chemical cleaners sold in stores will achieve a clean oven with a little time and elbow grease. Unfortunately, the harsh chemicals and noxious fumes can create irritation and breathing concerns for many. If you’re going the chemical route, make sure you know what type of oven you have. If you have a self cleaning oven, make sure the product you buy can be used in a it. Not all oven cleaners are safe for self cleaning ovens.

For a clean oven -- the safe, and natural way -- without nasty fumes, or the damage caused by the heat of the self-cleaning feature, try using a baking soda and water paste. Spread in a thin layer inside your entire oven and leave overnight. It will work wonders on spills and caked on food. Just scrape the grime away the next day with a rubber spatula and final wipe with a damp sponge. Liberally spraying an oven heated to around 130 degrees with vinegar and then sprinkling salt, or baking soda on spills is another natural cleaning alternative. Just wipe the mess and grime away once the oven is completely cooled.

No matter how you choose to keep your oven clean and working at its peak performance, preparing foods with Bellisari’s Gourmet Spreads and Sauces will help you serve deliciously easy but amazing tasting dishes. Check out all our recipes on the site at bellisaris.com!

Read more

Important Reasons to Keep Your Oven Clean

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

When it comes to taking care of an oven, it is sometimes all too easy to overlook the one action that could be the most important–keeping it clean. Keeping an oven clean is vital for health and sanitary reasons. Not only is there a risk of contaminating food with old, baked on grime, but an oven with a lot of food debris and char can cause smoke; which will give the dishes cooked inside an unpleasant flavor.

A clean oven is important for basic safety reasons. Grease spills left to sit can ignite, if not taken care of promptly; causing dangerous grease fires and oven damage. Some spills can smolder in an oven making fumes and smoke that can cause eye and lung irritation for those cooking, or in the vicinity of the kitchen. Keeping an oven clean can not only keep a kitchen, and the food prepared in the kitchen sanitary, but can help keep cooks safer in the kitchen as well.

How clean an oven is can affect everything from how even the internal temperature of an oven remains during cooking, to how long it takes to preheat. An oven coated in char and grime from previous meals will have to work harder to achieve and maintain the correct temperature while cooking dishes.

It’s a good idea to clean your oven at least once every few months. In between cleanings, wipe down big spills each time they occur (once the oven is completely cooled). How to clean an oven really depends on personal preferences. Most ovens come with a self-cleaning feature that cooks food and residue off at a very high temp leaving a char that can be vacuumed, or swept out after the long, intense cleaning period. This method is popular because it allows an oven to do most of the dirty work on its own and doesn’t use harsh smelling, or dangerous chemicals in the process.

Cleaning with standard chemical cleaners sold in stores will achieve a clean oven with a little time and elbow grease. Unfortunately, the harsh chemicals and noxious fumes can create irritation and breathing concerns for many. If you’re going the chemical route, make sure you know what type of oven you have. If you have a self cleaning oven, make sure the product you buy can be used in a it. Not all oven cleaners are safe for self cleaning ovens.

For a clean oven -- the safe, and natural way -- without nasty fumes, or the damage caused by the heat of the self-cleaning feature, try using a baking soda and water paste. Spread in a thin layer inside your entire oven and leave overnight. It will work wonders on spills and caked on food. Just scrape the grime away the next day with a rubber spatula and final wipe with a damp sponge. Liberally spraying an oven heated to around 130 degrees with vinegar and then sprinkling salt, or baking soda on spills is another natural cleaning alternative. Just wipe the mess and grime away once the oven is completely cooled.

No matter how you choose to keep your oven clean and working at its peak performance, preparing foods with Bellisari’s Gourmet Spreads and Sauces will help you serve deliciously easy but amazing tasting dishes. Check out all our recipes on the site at bellisaris.com!

Read more