My Favorite Recipes

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's winter in New York State... so we huddle in our warm little homes and cook delicious food. If you live in Central New York, invariably you're going to make some Italian dishes. I'm not Italian, but I was raised in an Italian family and I live in the Italian district of New York State. Manja, manja!

Here are my two, knock-out, killer Italian recipes. I make them frequently, and the kids gobble them up every time. Yum!

My popular Chicken Riggies recipe is the first one. This recipe has circulated the Internet quite a bit, making it to the Wikipedia food section, and giving Rachael Ray a nice boost in the kitchen. It's a recipe unique to the Utica area-- it was invented by Uticans, and is our "local" dish. We even have a Riggie Fest here in Utica, with local restaurants pitted against each other for the Riggie Trophy! This is my own version of a delicious Utica favorite:

Chicken Riggies

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 hot cherry peppers (from the jar), seeded and chopped (add more if you are a glutton for punishment)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cans (28 oz. or so) diced tomatoes
  • 4 leaves freshly chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup sherry (can use cooking sherry)
  • 4 to 5 chicken breasts, grilled and cut into bite-size pieces*
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup light cream (depending on taste)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 2 1-lb. boxes of penne rigati or rigatoni
In olive oil, gently saute the garlic and onion until tender. Add the cherry peppers, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes. Cook on low for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the sherry and chicken breast pieces and continue to cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if mixture is dry.

Remove from heat. Add the light cream and Parmesan cheese, and stir in until lightly blended. Pour mixture over hot cooked pasta. Top with mozzarella cheese. YUM.

My second recipe is Baked Ziti, but this is not the typical white-bread WASPish Baked Ziti of Leave It to Beaver, lol (or Welcome Back Kotter... or even the Sopranos, at that; it's better ;) ). This is a lasagna-type recipe. It's soooo easy to make and so delicious!

Baked Ziti
  • 1 pound ground sausage, cooked and mostly drained
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cans (28 oz. or so) diced tomatoes
  • 5 leaves freshly chopped basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1-pound box of ziti, boiled until cooked (but not overcooked!)
  • 16 oz. cottage cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can (28 oz.or so) spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 can or so of spaghetti sauce (leftover sauce works well)

After boiling, quickly rinse the cooked ziti. Put it into a large bowl to sit for a minute.

After you have cooked the sausage and drained most of the juices (leave a little for flavor), cook the chopped onions until they become slightly soft. Toss in the tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt to taste. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, and a few shakes of ground black pepper. Mix in the ziti, until the ziti is thoroughly coated.

Now you are going to layer your ingredients in a pan. In your large lasagna pan, coat the bottom with a little bit of the tomato/sausage mix. Lay half the ziti mix in the pan. Sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese and half the Parmesan cheese on top of this. Put half the tomato/sausage mix on top. Repeat these layers. You should wind up with tomato/sausage on top. Pour the spaghetti sauce on top of this, and sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese on top of it all. You can add sliced black olives for a fancy look.

Cover with foil and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Take the foil off and allow to bake for another 20-30 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Be gracious to your family as they humbly kiss your feet and throw rose petals as you walk.

2 remarks
Anna said...

Both of these recipes sound great. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Hopefully this RealRank thing will work for all of us!

12:45 PM  
Mrs Mecomber said...

Thanks for visiting, Anna!

Yes, here's hoping they work the RR bugs out soon.

12:50 PM  

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