Saturday, February 25, 2012

Recipe: Cod En Cartoccio

There are moments in life when you take a closer look at those around you and decide to do whatever it is to stay in the game of life.

With three children under the age of eight and inching ever so closer towards my 50th birthday (48 and counting), today that moment arrived!

Recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, a genetic predisposition towards heart disease and a professional lifestyle that does not favor the ole ticker, I am placing greater emphasis on decreasing my sodium intake. Lord knows I already get plenty of exercise chasing the kiddos around!

We have been informed by the medical world for years that excess salt raises blood pressure and is a major contributor to heart disease. No secret here! But do you know the numbers?

It has been determined that 500mg/day of sodium (not to exceed 2300 mg.) is sufficient for our bodies to properly function. If you are 40 yrs. or older however, with high blood pressure, than the magical number is reduced to 1500 mg. Oh, lucky me!

In the crazy fast paced world we live in, grabbing a burger on the run or eating a lunch meat sandwich at work, accounts for 75% of our sodium intake. Processed foods increases our sodium intake by as much as 10x the daily suggested recommendation. Ramen noodle soup for example weighs in at a whopping 1800mg. No wonder the kids gain weight when they leave home!

 Cook This NOT That, by David Zinczenco and  Matt Goulding, offers up hundreds of recipes that not only effect your waistline but your pocketbook as well. Today's featured recipe of Halibut in A Bag (en cartoccio) is one such recipe. Saving calories, fat and money has never been easier! Check out their Eat This, Not That! series at

The only down side to the meal was the paltry 300 calories. The flavors were amazing and very Mediterranean but I was left hungering for more.

To fill the void, I polished off the opened bottle of Zin and microwaved a bag of movie theatre popcorn with extra butter.

Oh well...It's a start!

Ingredients: 4 - 5oz. fillets of cod*, 1 - 8oz. jar artichoke hearts (drained), 2 C. cherry tomatoes, 4 T. kalamata olives (halved), 1 Medium fennel bulb (quartered)*, 2 lemons (thinly sliced), 1T. EVOO, 1/2 C. dry white wine*, ground black pepper to taste.

*I substituted cod "just for the halibut". I also subbed the dry white wine with a 2010 Mondavi White Zin. The fennel bulbs were subbed with onions as suggested. Complimenting the dish, I served a side of roasted asparagus spears.


(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

(2) Take 4 large sheets of parchment paper, place a fillet of cod in the center of each and top with the artichokes, tomatoes, olives, onions, and lemon slices. Drizzle with EVOO and wine. Season with pepper. Fold paper tighly to create a secure pouch.

(3) Place the pouches on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and serve immediately with a side of roasted asparagus.

**Visit my magazine blog for another GREAT fish dish at...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Restaurant Profile: BIGGS BBQ and Burrito

 BIGGS BBQ and Burrito - A Smokin Salsation!
As a 12 yr. old boy Mike Horn enjoyed watching cooking shows on television. Inspired by what he had seen, he would then create something in his kitchen for whomever was nearby. He was passionate about food. And, equally passionate about cooking. This is the heart of a 'Foodie"!

Following his heart and with only $100 and a sample of his salsa, Horn's passion became a reality. BIGGS BBQ and Burrito opened November 17, 2011. While there has been very little advertising other than word of mouth, Horn is satisfied with the traffic flow thus far. "It's amazing! People are just telling their friends and our facebook page has helped. But I haven't really spent any money on advertising yet." says Horn.
Although a big guy himself, he says that the name of his new business had nothing to with any nickname. In fact, he adds, "The idea to open the restaurant occurred almost dream-like with the logo, concept and cuisine ideas firmly planted in his mind".

Tommy Chonga
While there are several BBQ and burrito establishments throughout Lancaster county, BIGGS' approach is unique."I just took the two favorite things that I like to eat and wrapped them together in creating my menu." says Horn.

Featured sandwiches like the Tommy Chonga and BIGGS Greasy Fat Stack are guaranteed gut pleasers. A burrito loaded with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, rice, one of BIGGS' smoked meats, cheese and toppings, the Greasy Fat Stack with all its fillings pales in comparison to The Tommy Chonga. Think Chimi on steroids!

BIGGS also offers chili, 4 different salads and 4 different meat platters ( ribs,chicken, brisket, pork). No BBQ joint, however, would be complete without wings. There are the standard flavors of mild, medium and BBQ of course, but it's the slobber knockers that garner attention. A sauce hotter than Hades, it comes with a waiver of responsibility to be signed by the customer. A slobber knocker indeed!

On the day that I had visited, I tried the smoked brisket and pulled pork. BIGGS slow smokes their brisket for 14 hours resulting in a subtle smoky flavor that lingers to the back of your throat. Enjoyable! The pulled pork was equally enjoyable. Combine the pork with BIGGS BBQ sauce and coleslaw, place it on a Philly kaiser roll and you have one Sloppy Pig!

Another unique menu item is the stuffed muffin. Take your basic corn muffin and top it with one of BIGGS' 6 meat choices now you get the idea. Everything at BIGGS is...well... BIG!

A casual atmosphere that seats 23, BIGGS is open Tuesday - Thursday 11:00AM-9:00PM, Friday and Saturday 11:00AM - 11:00PM and Sunday 11:30AM - 7:00 PM.
* Having a party or large gathering?  Be sure to inquire about BIGGS' bulk pricing

BIGGS BBQ and Burrito
2005 Miller Road
(Village Commons)
East Petersburg, PA 17520


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recipe: Sausage Ravioli

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. How will show your special loved one that they are appreciated?
With today's featured recipe there is no need to wait for a special occasion to show them how much they are loved. Everyday could be Valentine's Day!

Ladies, it is said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Nothing says I love you more than homemade pastry pillows filled with sweet Italian sausage, topped with marinara. Homemade of course. One bite and you'll agree that ravioli will never be thought of the same way again.

As long as you have taken the time to prepare a loving masterpiece why not bake a loaf of bread too.

In doing so you will send a a message to your man that will be crystal clear - The love in preparing this dish is worth more than roses and chocolate!

Don't be dismayed if he brings home roses and chocolate though.You now have a beautiful centerpiece and desert too. Lovingly thank him and send him out again -This time for a bottle of wine.

*Recipe consists of four components -

(1) Dough (2) Filling (3) Sauce (4) Assembly

Preparing dough can be overwhelming if you have never made it before. For directions to a perfect ravioli dough visit Prepare dough according to directions and set aside.

Filling: 8 Sweet Italian sausage links, 8 oz. Shredded Mozzarella, 1/2 C. Shredded Parmesan, 3 Cloves garlic - minced, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon basil, 2 T. fresh Italian parsley - lightly chopped, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 - 1/2 C. cracker crumbs, 1 egg.

(1) Remove sausage from casings. Holding over bowl, cut one end and squeeze in a downward motion. Meat should slide from casings with ease.

(2) In a gallon size freezer bag place 6-8 saltine crackers. Zip bag tightly removing any air. Break crackers into crumbs.

(3) Place cheeses, garlic, herbs and spices into bowl with sausage. Mix well. Add cracker crumbs and egg and blend thoroughly. If mixture is too dry, add a little milk. If too wet, add more crumbs.

Sauce: Sauce is a "secret family recipe" and not publicly shared. For an easy marinara sauce visit and select from the many options available or substitute your favorite commercial brand and eliminate this step.

Once pasta is prepared for filling, dust your counter top and dough with flour. Layout a large sheet of pasta onto floured surface. Brush the top surface with egg wash (whisked water and egg).

Place a tablespoon of filling mixture about two inches apart on the lower half of pasta. Fold top over, meeting bottom, covering the filling. With your fingers, gently press around filling mounds to press out air bubbles in dough. Use a crimper tool to cut into squares. Be sure edges are tightly sealed before boiling.

Cook ravioli (approx. 6 at a time) in boiling water. Ravioli will float to the top (about 10 minutes) when done. With a slotted spoon remove ravioli, plate and top with sauce.

Now that's Amore!