Happy Holidays!

This season has brought many surprises and little time for cooking. With an upcoming vacation and some much needed rest and relaxation, I am signing off for a couple of weeks. I will be thinking of you all season and what you might be making.

 I would love to see some of those holiday spreads, fantastic new recipes or a favorite family dish by emailing me at

You can also email me if you need some inspiration, help or entertaining tips. I am happy to help! Cheers to a delicious holiday with friends and family.



Chicken with Mushrooms and Roasted Baby Artichokes

Just writing this post makes my mouth water for this dinner. The sauce has so much flavor, the chicken is ridiculously moist for a bone-less, skin-less breast and the earthy mushrooms are divine. This is a great dinner that takes very little time and can make anyone feel like they have culinary chops. The roasted artichokes that I did with this are my new favorite side dish. It is quite time consuming to trim the baby artichokes as you need so many to make a few servings, but it is worth it if you have the time. I served this with some brown rice and the sauce from the chicken was great on it. I read a ton of recipes for chicken with mushrooms and have cut the calories considerably using a few variations on the endless butter and cream I saw in my research. If you are not a mushroom fan, simply leave them out. 

Chicken with Mushrooms
forks & amusement 2010
serves 4

1 oz dried mushrooms (I like morels, but choose what you like or what you can find. If you want to use fresh, just slice them, skip the first step of the recipe and cook with the onions)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, chopped (you could substitute for 1 onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup half and half
lemon juice
chopped parsley or thyme for garnish (optional)

Soak the dried mushrooms for 30 minutes in very hot water. Rinse them and pat dry. 

Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until beginning to become translucent, then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant. 

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Leave the chicken to brown on both sides for 2 minutes or until it has a rich brown color. Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Cover, set heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (I like to use a quick time thermometer). 

Remove chicken from the pan onto a plate or platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Raise heat to high to bring to a boil. Sprinkle the flour all over the sauce, stir and cook for 2 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the half and half and allow to sauce to reduce and thicken, about 3 minutes. Once thickened, spritz with the juice of half a lemon and pour sauce over chicken. Serve immediately adding some garnish of herbs if you have it. 

Roasted Baby Artichokes

baby artichokes (8-10 per person)
2 lemons
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare a large bowl with cool water. Juice the lemons into the water and throw them into the bowl as well. (artichokes oxidize very easily, so this keeps them from turning really brown, really fast)

Working one-by-one, with a sharp paring knife, cut the stem off of the artichoke and dip the cut end into the lemon water. Quickly pull off all of the leaves, peeling down towards the heart until just the tender yellow leaves are exposed. Using your knife, trim any dark green from the bottom. Cut off the very top, cut in half and submerge in the lemon water. 

Once all of the artichokes are done. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain and dry off the artichokes and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well so it gets all over the artichokes. Roast for 30 minutes, turning each over once half way through. They should be tender, but crisp on the outside. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. 



Roasted Cod with Caponata and Roasted Truffled Potatoes

Caponata is one of my favorite recipe finds this year. I discovered it when doing this post about making picnic fare. Caponata has such great flavors, tons of vegetables and a wonderful saucy consistency. It was great on a sandwich, works great as a crostini topper for an appetizer and can be tossed into pasta for a quick dinner. I wanted to see how far I could take this rich, bright sauce and decided to try it with fish. I know many people are wary about making fish at home. There are a few things you should know about making fish that will make it successful. One is you need to find the freshest fish you can find. Go to a local fish market or a market counter you know has quality product. Second smell the fish before you buy it. Really, get your nose up in there. If the fish smells fishy at all, it is not fresh and do not buy it. It should smell like the ocean. Lastly is that fish is super easy to make, very healthful and can be prepared simply by roasting it in the oven with salt, pepper, some fresh herbs than spritz with fresh lemon juice. If your fish is fresh, this will be fantastic. This recipe is just as easy, but brings a whole spectrum of flavor to the table. I made some roasted fingerling potatoes tossed in a bit of truffle butter and a salad to accompany the fish. For those of you who are first-time fish cooks, no need to fear, this recipe is fool proof and delicious. 

PS: This is a great recipe for those in your house that may not be too keen on fish. The flavors are pretty bold, so it can be a great gateway dish to get your loved ones eating some of those outstanding nutrients only fish can provide. 

Roasted Cod with Caponata
forks & amusement 2010
serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large celery stalks, large chop
2 baby eggplant, large chop
2 red bell peppers, large chop
1 onion, large chop
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons capers
salt & pepper
1 large cod filet (about 1.25-1.5 lb), you can use an firm white fish that you love as well, halibut would be great too

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the eggplant to the pan and cook for 2 minutes with the celery. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and add the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, adding the garlic for the last minute. Pour in the tomatoes with their juices and the oregano. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper to taste. Change heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and vegetables have softened. Add the vinegar, sugar and capers. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. 

Place fish on a roasting pan or jelly roll pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the caponata over the fish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until fish is cooked through and firm to the touch. 

Serve in pieces, topped with caponata. 

Roasted Truffled Potatoes 
forks & amusement 2010
serves as much as you want! 

Potatoes, I like fingerling or yukon gold for this, cut in half
salt & pepper 
olive oil
truffle butter (can be found by the butter in some markets and all specialty food stores, it is life changing!)

Toss potatoes in enough olive oil to coat, salt and pepper. Roast potatoes in 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Remove from the oven.  Toss hot potatoes with some truffle butter (you do not need a lot, for 2 people you can use a teaspoon) and serve. If you have parsley or tyme, you could top it off with a little chopped herbs. 



Pasta with Shrimp and Crispy Proscuitto

Cooking for one can be hard. I have heard it from many people that they just don't know how to cook for one person, they cook too much and then in turn eat too much, or it is not worth their time. I agree to all of this a smidge, but reality is that cooking for one can be great. You can cook one portion by calculating the recipe for one or make the whole lot and have a few dinners waiting for you at home. My husband has to work at night sometimes and I find myself just snacking, heating something up or making a salad. Which, let's face it, is super boring. But I decided that from now on I will cook for myself and enjoy every second. And last night I did! My advice for those cooking for one is to mind portions. If a recipe serves 4, just divide all the ingredients by 4. Cooking and baking time will probably be just a hair shorter than what it calls for, so use your best judgement. Also, this is a great time to try out a recipe that you have had stocked away and were wary to make for a crowd. You are your own best taste tester! This pasta was quick, full of flavor and I used a bunch of ingredients already in my home. Keeping frozen shrimp around is a great hands-on ingredient. Defrosts in minutes, cooks in seconds and add great protein to any dish. I hope that your solo cooking goes great. Believe me, it will be the most satisfying part of your day.

Pasta with Shrimp and Crispy Prosciutto
Forks & Amusement 2010
serves 1 (you can double, triple, etc. to make for a crowd as well!)

1 serving of pasta, according to package (I like spaghetti for this, but use what you have in your pantry)
3 thin slices of Prosciutto, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large shallot or 1 small, minced
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
red pepper flakes to taste (a dash for those that don't like as much heat, 2 dashes for spice lovers)
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
7 uncooked good-sized shrimp
juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
4 basil leaves, chopped

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente. Reserving cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, place a saute pan on the stove over medium heat. Once hot, add the prosciutto. Cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until crisp (this happens fast, and can burn easy). Remove pan from heat and place prosciutto on paper towel lined plate.

Return the pan to the stove over medium heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook an additional 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine to the pan to deglaze and scrape up any bits on the bottom. Bring to a boil and let reduce for two minutes. Add the stock and allow sauce to reduce  again for a couple minutes. Add the shrimp and cook on both sides until pink and cooked through. Add Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir to combine. Allow the pasta to soak up some of the sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
If sauce seems a bit thin, add a bit of the pasta cooking water. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Serve immediately topped with the crispy prosciutto, lemon juice, basil and extra grated cheese.


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