Friday, December 19, 2014

A "Cleaner" Twist on Chicken Parm

I'm not quite sure if anybody has ever used these combinations before. I even tried Googling the recipe for chicken thighs baked with fresh red bell peppers, garlic with mozzarella and I got nuttin'. (Much more to that concoction.) But I did promise you I would put up the recipe since I had a flood of emails with eager foodies demanding the "stuff". So here's the "stuff".

First, you have to get organic chicken thighs with the bone. None of this boneless, tasteless crap. Get the bone -- trust me. My advice (which goes against many) is to NOT poke holes in these beautiful thighs. By poking holes in them, you are releasing all the beautiful juice that goes along with the art of cooking thighs. Can you tell I love thighs?

Moving on.

Get a scotch glass -- a tumbler, whatever you call it. (No scotch.) Pour half of it with olive oil, dice and chop your garlic and parsley finely. Salt, pepper, garlic powder and pour the rest of the glass with an ale. Yes, beer. No fancy white wine -- we're doing it Deb style.

Mix.

I'm sure you knew that.

Before you pour this lovely potion onto your thighs...the chicken thighs, make sure you give your meat a dry rub first with the same seasonings mentioned above.

Then pour the potion equally onto your girls. Then sprinkle some parmesan on them. If you are not allergic to gluten or not on Paleo, you can add some breadcrumbs to the top of them as well.

Slice the bell pepper into thin slivers and mix it into the bunch.

Preheat your oven to 360 degrees. Place the bird parts into the sauna and let that sit for 2 entire hours. It should be 180 degrees on the thermometer if you want to check it. However! In the middle of those two hours -- make sure you flip the thighs over so that the bottoms can cook evenly. Let them stay that way for 30 minutes. Then flip them back and continue the rest of the time. At the end of the two hour mark, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of each thigh.

Then hit the broil to 500 degrees for about 2 minutes -- watch that the cheese doesn't burn.

You can pick whatever sidings you'd prefer. I picked fresh broccoli with a half a sweet potato. Perfect.

Get your favorite wine, your favorite person and enjoy a meal that'll leave a smile on your face. Bon appetit!

And if you are not sure about the measurements of the ingredients or you need more info, please just ask me in the comment section and I will get back to you ASAP. I know I can be all over the place with the recipe and instructions -- not your typical recipe giver, so ask ask ask and you shall receive!

For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter & Facebook for updated recipes and articles!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chicken Scarpariello

When I was younger, Mom used to make this amazing baked chicken. She used chicken parts, breast, legs and thighs, all on the bone. She'd bake it with just a bit of olive oil, garlic, parsley and seasonings. It was always delicious, simple and quick. When I started making her recipe, I decided to play with it a little, being inspired by both my mother and my favorite restaurant who used to serve chicken scarpariello. It's baked chicken parts that have slices of sausage and mushrooms on it. The flavor was an intense, rich delicacy. I couldn't figure it out. So on my own, I decided to play with this mix of two recipes and see how it would come out.

But first thing's first: appetizers!

I always order an appetizer at my favorite restaurant, usually a caprese salad, which is just tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and some roasted red peppers on a bed of lettuce. You can throw in a few olives or make it with some very thin slices of onion. The only thing I use for dressing is a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder. I always throw in fresh parsley leaves and basil for extra flavor and a nice garnish. There's really no wrong way to make this. It's a great way to fill up a bit while you're waiting for the chicken to finish up in the oven.


The secret to my chicken lies within washing them thoroughly. Many people are now just taking them out of the package and throwing them into a pan. Don't. Trust me. Clean your chicken pieces on a light faucet flow to avoid splashing. Remember, after you clean the chicken and place them one by one into the pan, WASH EVERYTHING. We're talking the drain, the sink, the faucets, the countertops and refrigerator handles, just in case. There is a huge difference in flavor when you wash your chicken. I've noticed it as well as others. Some probably don't notice. This is up to you.

First, poke holes in your chicken parts. I only use chicken thighs. They're our favorite.

I give it a dry rub of seasonings first: salt, pepper, garlic powder.

I make a concoction in a tumbler glass: 
  • Olive oil
  • Two cloves of fresh garlic chopped finely
  • A generous amount of parsley
  • A shot of white wine
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder (heavy handed on the pepper)
  • One teaspoon of good ol' yellow mustard

Don't burn them! 
I then take a spoon and give each piece a nice glaze of this beautiful potion. After each piece has enough, I then throw the rest into the pan to let the meat cook into its juices. Preheat the oven to 365 (that's my magic number for perfectly cooked chicken). As you're baking your chicken, take a big pan out and fry up 6 sweet Italian sausages. (Has to be sweet Italian or the flavor will be totally different.) Slow cook them - do not burn these! Make sure that they have a touch of pink inside when you're done because they're going to be thrown into the oven anyway. Slice each sausage into small medallions. Place back into the pan just to cook the pieces a bit more. Chop up your mushrooms, or if they are already pre-chopped, marry the sausage and mushrooms with your chicken and distribute them evenly.
Delicious! 
It should only take an hour and 45 minutes for perfection. When one hour passes by, flip the chicken over so the bottom can cook too. Then switch it up in 30 minutes and put the oven up at 375. At the last 15 minutes, crank that sucker up to a high broil at 500 degrees for a crispy outer layer. 

I usually serve this with broccoli, sweet potatoes and I pair this up beautiful with a nice chardonnay. I found an inexpensive chardonnay called Domino that I really enjoy! It's not about the price, it's about your palate. 

Bon appetit! 

All chicken is free range, antibiotic/hormone free and organic vegetables (to the best of my ability in the winter!)

For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter & Facebook for updated recipes and articles!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Someone Pushed Me Off the Wagon!

GAHHH!!!!
So as you probably already know, I'm 'trying' to follow the Paleo as best as I can. Dropped 30 lbs and gained 10 lbs back. Okay, still on the up & up --- no biggie. Just get back on track, right? It was a good thing I messed up, because it made me realize how horrible grains and sugar made me feel. My heartburn came back and my constant hunger grew stronger and stronger. For instance, on Paleo when I eat cage free eggs and pastured bacon (pure) with a few berries, I'm not hungry all day. If I eat something with grains, such as toast, bagels or cereal, I am STARVING like a beast at around 11am, which makes me gorge on foods that are not Paleo. It's just how it works. Not only did I gain water weight (because pasta and breads make you retain much more water due to the sodium and preservatives, per my doctor), but I put on a few pounds just by constantly craving the bad carbs. I was depressed and hormonal. I blamed it on PMS, blamed it on the blues, blamed it on my dog for the love of God. I had to pop more Prilosec and just found myself miserable. It's my 3rd day back, and wow. That's all I can say. I had to go through the 'low carb flu' once again --- and it was worth it because it actually shed 3 lbs off me. (TMI perhaps?) I even went on a semi-cleanse where I just drank broths, teas, coconut water and tons of water. I feel healthy again. My week long binge also showed in my face and hair. My tongue turned pale -- as opposed to when I'm on Paleo, a bright healthy red. I'm glad I go through those phases because it reminds me that real food makes for good health. All this bullshit food that we're so used to screws up everything -- at least for me. I'm still going to allow myself cheat days, but with the knowledge of the consequences.

Another challenge, especially during the winter months is finding fresh organic produce and duck eggs.  I was lucky enough to have been introduced to duck eggs, so I'm not complaining about my cage free nuggets. During the holidays, it's especially rough since my entire family loves to cook. I love this photo of my two beautiful sisters displaying…umm…the pasta dish I made for a holiday function. I'm saving all my 'cheat days' for the holidays. My next big step since my back has been feeling much better from this past summer is getting back into exercising. I'm not hopping into cross fit like a lot of Paleo folks --- I am simply going at my own pace and maybe…when I 'get there' and when I'm strong enough, I may try something more intense. I still have over a month and a half to reach my goal weight (before I turn 40), and if I don't make it, I'm not going to be hard on myself. It took me this long to gain the weight, so I'm hoping for the best with this diet I've stuck with for the past 7 months. I haven't cooked anything different that hasn't been posted on this site, but I am planning to make a delicious duck dinner soon. I will post it next week hopefully. For now, I'll probably just jot down my challenges on Paleo as the winter hits us and shuffles away our fresh organic produce. I really should think about getting a greenhouse. Stay tune though --- don't miss out on my duck entree! Enjoy the beautiful snow and bon appetit!

For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter & Facebook for updated recipes and articles!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mangiare Mangiare!

The view from my deck.
Being stuck inside due to wintery weather can make you crave some good ol' comfort food, especially if it has to sit and simmer, letting the entire house smell like love. Being on Paleo sometimes is challenging. Being Italian in itself is challenging when it comes to low carb foods, however I always give myself a cheat day once in a while. It helps me maintain the Paleo lifestyle without feeling jilted in some way. I'm not allergic to gluten or develop negative reactions when and if I do dabble in pasta or breads, but I want to be healthier and lighter in my seasoned years. But back to good ol' Italian comfort food: homemade marinara. And I'm not talking the generalized version of "homemade" where cans are involved --- I'm talking about chopping and dicing up your tomatoes and seasonings yourself. No packaged products, (except for the pasta maybe). You can also use this delicious sauce on spaghetti squash along with any type of meat, like sausage and meatballs or even pork ribs. This sauce is best on tripe, meatloaf or chicken cacciatore. It basically goes well with anything. Mom used to throw tripe into her gravy (as most Italian Brooklynites call it) and it was just amazing.
  • I chop garlic in decent size chunks, an entire bulb of it.
  • I chop fresh parsley, basil and a half of a white onion.
  • Then I dice up vine tomatoes (you can use plum tomatoes which are delicious).
  • I start a base of a thin layer of olive oil in a regular size pot. 
  • I season the bottom with salt, pepper, hot pepper & garlic powder.
  • I throw in only the garlic, parsley and onion to sauté.
  • After it simmers a bit (don't burn the garlic because it'll be bitter) then I throw in the diced tomatoes.
  • Stir that around until it cooks a bit.
  • Add a small amount of red table wine into the mix.
  • Half a cup of parmesan cheese.
  • 1 or 2 cups of chicken broth (depending on how many tomatoes you chopped up, I chop about 15).
  • Stir & let simmer with the lid on, letting it crack open so it can breathe and not overflow.


This sauce goes great with a light chianti or a pinot noir. I always say, go by your taste and don't let anyone judge your 'sauce'. So start cooking for your loved ones and bon appetit my friends!

For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter & Facebook for updated recipes and articles!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Homemade Paleo Meatballs

As a kid growing up, I loved Sunday mornings. Mom would get up at 8am to make her gravy and then fry up her meatballs, sausages and any other pork-related goodies to throw into her concoction. Before even having breakfast, Mom would walk over with a meatball stuck on a fork, fresh out of the frying pan. They were so good and delicious that we always went back for seconds. That's when she would say, "That's enough! No more!" She still makes her famous meatballs and I have taken on her exact ingredients (although I have this feeling she left something major out so I wouldn't totally copy it), but it's good enough - not like Mom's, but 'good enough'. This time, since I'm on Paleo, I decided that meatballs are still going to be in my routine on Sundays. I decided to make gluten-free Paleo meatballs last night and wow, they were incredible! I love a meatball where you can actually see the ingredients. Most people just plop it together with mostly egg and breading. No breading in these parts of the woods.


First, clean your hands! Then take ground beef (grass fed if possible) and place it into a large bowl. I use a special red one to mix all my raw meat. I'm just strange that way. Flatten it out a bit. Chop up five cloves of garlic finely, a half an onion, fresh parsley and some basil. Throw it in the bowl. Add a half a cup of parmesan cheese. Add salt, pepper & garlic powder. Don't be afraid to knead your meat. Squish the hell outuv' it till it becomes 'gluey'.

Start making da' balls!
Place them in a pan after you have buttered the bottom. 
I use bacon fat, since olive oil's properties changes into a dangerous carcinogen when cooked on high levels of heat. You can also fry them in coconut oil, but I prefer baking them with a little bacon fat.
Bake them for 30 minutes at 375 and they should be perfect. 



Whenever I make ground beef, I always tend to add some liver into the mix. (I know, some of you cringe when I put my liver recipes up. You can see the liver recipe on this post when you click here.) It's not only high in iron, but it's a helluva' antidepressant, especially for PMSing women. Men and lesbian spouses, you will totally thank me. You can make whatever greens you prefer. I chose to go with a nice garden fresh marinade salad along with greens that complimented this dish so well. This dish goes great with a deep, dry cabernet and even a buttery chardonnay. Bon appetite!
(My marinade salad has fresh garlic, mushroom buttons, mozzarella & cherry tomatoes.) 
For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter Facebook for updated recipes and articles!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just When I Got Sick of Eggs…

I have to say, this totally shocked me. I'm not big on "change", although Paleo has changed my life a great deal, but seeking different animals for different eats? No. I'll stick to everything that we're "supposed" to eat --- that was my mindset. Anyway, my buddy came over the other day with a huge basket of eggs. She looked like a crazy farmer as she hopped out of her truck to greet me with….eggs. This past spring, she acquired a few ducks. She was so happy about them - as pets no less. She said to me, "I throw away hundreds of eggs." And to my limited knowledge, I shrugged it off because I didn't think you could really eat duck eggs, or were "supposed" to. Madelene looked at her with her eyes wide open and said, "Duck eggs! Are those duck eggs???" She quickly relieved her of the enormous basket it was brought in with and thanked her profusely. I just sat there, thanked her and wondered, "Are you really gonna eat all those duck eggs?" Well, the next morning, Mad urged me to try them. I went online and discovered all the health benefits this one little egg has. So of course, I plopped two in the pan. Not only is the yolk humungous, but it's twice the size of a regular chicken egg. I made Madelene two eggs scrambled into an omelet, and I swear to God -- it looked like one of those 5 egg omelets that iHop makes. These eggs were so good, so velvety and had such an amazing flavor that I will never go back to chicken eggs again. But that's not even my "big excitement" about these beauties. After I ate them, the high amounts of vitamins had me from grumpy to "OMG let's go out and do everything and cook dinner for all our friends tonight!" I was in high gear all. day. long. It was a total mood booster, so this morning when I woke up a bit cranky finding out it snowed while we were without power, she said, "Go eat those duck eggs before I divorce you!" They are the best antidepressants anyone can ever take.

Look at these benefits!

Essential Vitamins: Duck eggs boost your vitamin intake and provide considerable amounts of vitamins A and B-12. The vitamin A from your diet promotes new cell development to keep your tissues healthy and also maintains good eyesight. A duck egg contains 472 international units of vitamin A -- one-fifth of the recommended daily intake for women and 16 percent for men. The vitamin B-12 in duck eggs keeps your nerves healthy and promotes red blood cell function. Each duck egg boasts 3.8 micrograms of vitamin B-12, more than your entire daily recommended B-12 intake. It also contains small amounts of several B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamins D and E.

Beneficial Minerals: Duck eggs also offer nutritional value because of their selenium and iron content. Selenium supports healthy immune function and helps you make thyroid hormones. Iron helps your red blood cells carry oxygen and plays a role in energy production. Each duck egg contains 2.7 milligrams of iron -- 34 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 15 percent for women -- as well as 25.5 micrograms of selenium, or 46 percent of your intake requirement. Duck eggs also contain small amounts of zinc, phosphorus and calcium.

Of course one of the many said to be drawbacks is that it is high in cholesterol, but on Paleo, that doesn't apply because we cut all sugar and wheat (the best we can) out of our diets, which is the contributor of plaque sticking to our arteries. So if you are on a normal everyday American diet, consider the cholesterol content.

I mean, this is an all around health gift you can give yourself. You can find them at your local farms or if you know a friend who has a bunch of ducks like I do, don't hesitate to grab a few!

For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter Facebook for updated recipes and articles!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Don't Be a Chicken - Have Your Carbs

The one thing I miss while being on Paleo are potatoes and french fries --- not sweet potatoes --- the good ol' Idaho potato. I began to like sweet potatoes a bit, and yes, I know they are more nutritious overall, so I do my best to make it interesting. This time, I made homemade sweet potato fries. Now here's the thing, any time I go out to a restaurant and order sweet potato fries, they're either burnt to a crisp and bitter or just plain nasty. Then I tried it. These restaurants better take note. My fries are the bomb! Yesterday when I came home, I was freezing! It was so incredibly cold and windy out. I was supposed to go shopping with my sister and mother and then out to dinner, but because I was just too tired. I wanted to stay home by the fire and roast a chicken and make homemade sweet potato fries. I LOVE to cook when it's cold outside and I also love to cook when I am very stressed out. Kill two birds, right? Well, in this case, we'll just use one 8 lb bird. I have a special concoction that not only makes your entire house smell like, "FEED ME SEYMORE," but it also makes the chicken super tender and juicy, even if you overcook it. I tend to overcook, but it's never, ever, dry… ever.

First things first: Give your bird a bath. Wash her gingerly in a pan in a sink and then discard the pan. Wash everything after you have finished so that there is no salmonella lurking about. Take out the gizzards!!! I personally boil the liver for my little chihuahua. Liver is so good for dogs, especially boiled with no seasonings.

OK, where was I? 
  • Rub that bird down with generous amounts of salt, pepper, garlic powder, (chili powder optional) and let her sit so she is lukewarm. 
  • Get a tumbler out of your liquor cabinet. Don't get excited - it's for your special ingredients. 
  • Poor a quarter of olive oil and a quarter of broth into the glass. 
  • Chop 5 cloves of garlic.
  • Chop a bunch of parsley
  • Add it into the glass
  • Squeeze half a lemon into the mix
  • Add more seasonings, salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • Mix it up
  • Pour it onto your bird and then rub that bitch down again, getting every crevice, nook and cranny
  • Then, chop up two onions into chunks. Put it around the bird. 
  • Pour a half a bottle of beer in the pan
  • Cut pieces of real butter, one chunk on the top of the bird and the other chunks into the pan
She's ready to go. on 350 degrees for approximately 3 hours, you will have the most delicious bird in the world. Make sure you baste her good so she'll be juicy and it won't overcook the top so much. After you take her out, let her sit for about 30 minutes before serving.

So now for your carbs.

I have a slicer I bought that cuts up potatoes into fries perfectly. Slice them all up (I did about 4 potatoes) in case of guests or leftovers or even for breakfast with my eggs. Throw them into the pan with the oil and fry em' up! Don't burn them because they'll become bitter. This dish is usually paired up with any wine (or martini) - whether chardonnay or a nice deep cabernet or a dry Grey Goose martini with three olives. Season to your liking and bon appetit!

For Deb's main blog, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Twitter Facebook for updated recipes and articles!