Monday, May 16, 2011

Dinners and other stuff in South Carolina...

Now that we are getting settled in our new home in South Carolina (I love saying that I live in South Carolina by the way!) I am starting to cook in my new kitchen, which is working out so much better for me than the kitchen I had in Virginia.

I wasn't going to write a blog post until I had my scrapbook room unpacked and I could post pictures of my new workspace all ready to go... but then tonight I posted on facebook that I was making roasted artichokes with my dinner and a few people asked for the recipe so I thought I would oblige, even though I do not have any before pictures. Although I do have an image or two that I have snagged from Google images.

So today I had to run out to Target to pick up a few odds and ends (toilet paper and paper towels) and on my way back to my new home in South Carolina (told you I love it) I thought I might run into Whole Foods Market... I love that place! It was my first time in one, I know they have been around forever but I have been living in areas that did not have them. Anyway, short story getting way too long here. They had artichokes on sale 2 for $4.00 and lately I am attempting to be a not so extreme couponer and am not one to pass up a good deal so I grabbed 4. I then headed to the meat department in hopes of finding some yummy Italian sausage. In California my brother brought me Italian sausage from this Italian store that he shops at in the Chino area, it's called Claro's and their sausage is the BOMB. Whole Foods did have some mild Italian sausage so I grabbed four of those from the butcher and some good quality Parmesan cheese, lemons and a few other things and dinner was planned.

My dinner menu was going to be: cheating spaghetti, grilled Italian sausage with fresh lemon and Parmesan and of course the roasted artichokes. Growing up we did not eat jarred sauce. It was something that we made fun of other people for doing, my dad was absolutely grossed out by the idea of Ragu or Prego, so as I grew older I never considered buying jarred sauce for fear of my father, grandmother and great grandmother coming down from the heavens to beat me with a wooden spoon like old angry Italian people do. Then my cousin introduced me to Rao's Marinara sauce. It is expensive, about $8.90 a jar. But when I am in a pinch it is worth it. Sometimes I need more than just a jar so I cheat and I brown some green onions in olive oil at the bottom of a large sauce pan, add a little bit of garlic and then a large can of crushed tomatoes (do not use Hunt's, not good at all in spaghetti sauce) then I add my jar of Rea's and all the seasonings are in there. Easy peasy. Cheatin.

There it is, the best jarred sauce on the market, hands down. Try it, you will become a believer.

Ingredients for artichokes-
3 or 4 cloves of fresh garlic minced (this is enough for 4 artichokes)
about a tsp of Parmesan cheese for each artichoke
a fresh lemon for squeezing
olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper

For the roasted artichokes, this is what I do, (I don't think I made this recipe up, I am pretty sure I got it from Rachael Ray or someone, I just don't remember). First- wash, cut and trim your artichoke. I cut the stem off, cut the top part of to make it flat across the top and then I trim all the leaves so that the artichoke opens up easily. Next get out a piece of foil big enough to wrap around and cover the artichoke. Set your artichoke in the center of the foil and sprinkle garlic, cheese, salt and pepper all over it, making sure to get all the seasoning down inside the leaves. Squeeze about a tsp or so of lemon all over each lemon and then drizzle with olive oil. Fold the foil up around the artichoke covering the whole thing. Place all artichokes in a deep baking dish and roast at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Melt butter for dipping and serve.

This is a great vegetable to serve for company because the house smells so good while they are cooking, unlike most vegetables that make the house stinky.
In my dad's family everyone always made 'stuffed artichokes' which can be cooked the same way but instead of just sprinkling some seasoning on the artichoke you actually make a stuffing with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, fresh basil and salt and pepper. Then you take a spoon and kind of spoon the stuffing all over the artichoke, making sure to get inside each leaf. Again, you will want to drizzle olive oil of the top, probably a little more than you did in the plain ones so that the bread crumbs get moist. Cook them the same way and they are delish and you do not need butter or mayonnaise (who in the world ever, ever thought dipping an artichoke in mayo was a good idea. YUCK!) for dipping.


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