Dutch Oven · New England · recipe

Cioppino: San Francisco’s Fish Stew

 

Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew
Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew

Even though I haven’t visited The City by the Bay in years, I have never lost affection for all that San Francisco has to offer.  I don’t just want to visit again…I yearn to be there…and, yes, it’s that wonderful a place!

But here I am all the way over on the East Coast and every once in a while I just need something that is quintessentially San Franciscan.  What’s a girl to do?

I solved my dilemma–once again–by getting out my Dutch Oven and setting to work on an absolutely soul satisfying fish stew–that is known as Cioppino.

For the record, you pronounce Cioppino “Chip (soft p) Pee No” and it is a well known San Francisco treat.  The great thing about Cioppino is it influenced by whatever the fresh catch is.  For example, in San Francisco, which is on the Pacific, you’d probably always expect a nice amount of Dungeness in your bowl of Cioppino.  But–over here on the East Coast where crab is not as prevalent–we could use shrimp or even Maine lobster tails! That’s the true beauty of Cioppino!  It’s left up to you–dear cook–to find the best ingredients for your stew, so do keep that in mind when you are purchasing your fish for this dish.

There is one other important point I’d like to make about Cioppino or any other soup or stew, for that matter.  Most good soup makers know that almost all homemade soups, chowders, and stews benefit from a little aging.  With a day or two of resting, you allow all of the flavors to meld together, which gives the completed soup amazing depth.  With that in mind, I have broken the recipe up into two sections.  If you have the time, make the broth a day or two ahead.  When you are ready to make the full stew, reheat the broth and add the solid ingredients.

Don’t have time to wait? That’s okay, too.  Even if prepared all on the same day, this recipe is still a winner!

Let’s get to it, shall we?


Ingredients for the Broth:

  • olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice (located near the tuna fish and other canned fish)
  • 28 ounce can small diced or crushed tomatoes (I prefer the diced)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to your preference


How to prepare the broth:

  1. Begin by heating your Dutch Oven over medium high heat for a minute.  Add the olive oil and warm a minute more.
  2. Add the onion and cook until softened.  Once onion is softened, add the garlic, oregano, basil and pepper flakes and allow to simmer over low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add the wine and bring to a boil, cooking until the wine is reduced by half.
  4. Add the tomatoes.  Stir well and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat.
  5. When thickened, add the clam juice, bay leaves and the water.  Season to taste.
  6. Bring broth to a boil then return to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  Remove the bay leaves.

For best results, make your broth a day or two ahead of preparing the entire dish and allow it to chill.  You can, of course, use the broth immediately if you must.


 

Completed Cioppino ready for the bowl
Completed Cioppino ready for the bowl

Ingredients for Completed Stew:

  • Broth, prepared ahead of time and allowed to age for up to two days
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds of shellfish such as mussels, clams or cherrystones, de-bearded, rinsed and drained (I used fresh PEI mussels and some good looking cherrystones)
  • 1 pound of large shrimp, peeled (except for the tail) and deveined OR 1 pound fresh crab–or some combination of both to equal about a pound
  • 1 pound firm white ocean fish, cut into generous pieces (I used cod)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh sourdough bread


Completing the stew:

  1. Have your broth ready.  If you have let it rest, heat it to a low simmer…gently.
  2. In a large (7 quart) Dutch Oven or pot, heat your olive oil and then add the shallot.  Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until shallot is softened.  Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute or so–until fragrant–but do not let the garlic burn.  Hint: Use your big pot…you will need it at the end, trust me!
  3. To the pan add your mussels, clams or cherrystones and the wine.  Cover and cook until the shells open, which will take 4-5 minutes.
  4. Check your shellfish to make sure they have all opened.  Discard any that do not.
  5. Add the prepared broth to the shellfish and bring to a simmer.
  6. When at a simmer, add the fish chunks and shrimp.  Cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the butter cubes and check your seasonings, adjusting as necessary.
  8. Serve “family style” with fresh or toasted sourdough bread, which is used for dipping


Special note:

Although this dish can be a little expensive to make and requires some patience, it is totally worth it!

In fact…if I were a mermaid, I’d insist on it every night!

Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew
Cioppino: Italian Fish Stew

 

Advertisements
Dutch Oven · recipe

Quick & Easy General Tso’s Chicken: Another Dutch Oven Recipe

Who doesn’t love Chinese food?

Here’s a seriously quick and easy General Tso’s Chicken recipe that is way healthier than the take out kind, because the chicken is sautéed instead of fried before adding the sweet and spicy sauce.

My version is prepared in my trusty Dutch Oven (naturally!), but you can use a regular pan or even an Instant Pot for this one!

General Tso's Chicken in the Dutch Oven
A healthier version of General Tso’s Chicken prepared in my Dutch Oven

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 peeled and minced chunk of fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb
  • 6 tablespoons rice/rice wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce (use low sodium if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 3/4 cup prepared hoisin sauce (I used Oy! Vey! Hoisin Sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • a bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:

  • Oven medium heat and in your Dutch Oven, heat the sesame oil for a minute or so.
  • Add cubed chicken and sauté for about 5 minutes until the chicken turns white; chicken does not have to be cooked through
  • In a separate bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, pepper flakes hoisin sauce and brown sugar
  • Pour the mixture over the chicken and mix together
  • Cover the Dutch Oven and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked completely
  • Stir in the cornstarch and cook for about two minutes or until your sauce is thick and bubbly
  • Stir in green onion
  • Serve with boiled white or brown rice

 

Quick & Easy General Tso's Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Chinese takeout inspired recipe that's quick, easy and healthier, too.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 peeled and minced chunk of fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb
  • 6 tablespoons rice/rice wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce (use low sodium if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 3/4 cup prepared hoisin sauce (I used Oy! Vey! Hoisin Sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • a bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

  • Oven medium heat and in your Dutch Oven, heat the sesame oil for a minute or so.
  • Add cubed chicken and sauté for about 5 minutes until the chicken turns white; chicken does not have to be cooked through
  • In a separate bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, pepper flakes hoisin sauce and brown sugar
  • Pour the mixture over the chicken and mix together
  • Cover the Dutch Oven and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked completely
  • Stir in the cornstarch and cook for about two minutes or until your sauce is thick and bubbly
  • Stir in green onion
  • Serve with boiled white or brown rice

Let me know if you try this recipe and how you made out.

I’m trying really hard to increase my readership, so please feel free to share with anyone that likes to eat!

Cricut · DIY

SportFlex Iron-On™ from Team Cricut®

I am the happy recipient of a new product from Cricut® called SportFlex Iron-On™ and I simply cannot wait to try it out!  But before I go off to play with my new stuff, I wanted to give you the lowdown on what SportFlex Iron-On™ is all about!

 


What is SportFlex Iron-On™?

SportFlex Iron-On™ is a new HTV (heat transfer vinyl) by Cricut® that is especially made for use on today’s activewear made with polyester and nylon.  As the name suggests, SportFlex Iron-On™ is stretchy and flexible and can be used on sports jerseys, leggings, caps and other sportswear.

Example of what you can do with Cricut SportFlex
Example of what you can do with Cricut SportFlex

 


Is SportFlex Iron-On™ replacing Cricut® Iron-On Lite?

Absolutely not! SportFlex Iron-On™ is just a different kind of iron-on material.  It is made to be used on polyester or nylon.  Stuff that has a stretch.  Cricut will still make and sell their very popular Iron-On Lit Cricut®

 


On what kinds of garments can I use SportFlex Iron-On™?

SportFlex Iron-On™ can be used on all your activewear.  From youth soccer jerseys to embellishments on your yoga pants.  Basically stretchy fabric made with polyester or nylon.  Check your labels…some things you think are Cotton do have a built in stretch so SportFlex Iron-On™ would be a great “fit” with those items.  SportFlex Iron-On™ will also work on windbreakers, baseball caps and even for monogramming a knapsack!

 


Which Cricut machines can cut SportFlex Iron-On™?

All of Cricut’s machines will cut SportFlex Iron-On™.  That’s because Cricut designs their products for use on Cricut machines.  Using Cricut Iron-on will ensure you are using the best available for your machine.

Currently my machine of choice is a Cricut Explore Air2 (Sorry folks, but I can’t justify buying a Maker when I already have four Cricut Explore machines that work wonderfully!)

Plus if you happen to still have an original machine or an Expression, they will cut your Cricut Iron-On, too!

Find the perfect Cricut machine for you!
Find the perfect Cricut machine for you!

 

 


How should SportFlex Iron-On™ be applied to my garments?

Cricut recommends the use of their EasyPress™, of course, but they fully understand that many of use our home iron to apply our HTV/iron-on materials.  Cricut makes all their iron-on materials with the home user in mind, which means you get the same support from Cricut whether you apply with a home iron or not!

Cricut EasyPress, Sky
Cricut EasyPress, Sky

 

 


What is the Cricut StrongBond(TM) Guarantee?

The Cricut StrongBond(TM) Guarantee is new with Cricut.  It basically means that Cricut stands behind their machines and products.  Should you have less than perfect results when using your Cricut machines and/or Cricut material, contact the team at Cricut and they will make it right.  (They do…I can fully attest to that!)

 


Are you interested in what I do with all this SportFlex Iron-On™?

Stay tuned here on my blog!  I will be posting my own pictures of using this NEW product from Cricut!  I’m also on Instagram (and frankly could use some more followers there!) and on my official business page on Facebook @MissRitatotheRescue.

What?  You didn’t know I had a FB page and an Instagram account??  You’re missing out on a lot of the fun!  You can find my “deets” at the end of this post!

Follow me on Instagram

 

Note: From time to time, Cricut sends me some products to use and review; this post about SportFlex Iron-On is one of those times.  Unless I include a link on my blog with tracking to the product, I do not receive monetary compensation from Cricut or any other company for reviews.  In the case I do receive product to review, I will tell you that…like I am doing right now.  However, I will not receive monetary compensation for positive reviews.  Furthermore, I am not employed by Cricut nor am I compensated for blanket opinions or  for specific content.

All of the opinions expressed are mine.  I try to be nice to everyone, but that doesn’t mean I won’t call a spade a spade. 

Cricut · DIY

Adding Written Text to an SVG Card

LW Center Box Card Mother Flowers
A center fold box card from Lori Whitlock featuring a mason jar with flowers

 

So–as you all have probably been made keenly aware via social media–it’s Valentine’s Day today.

And for a bunch of different reasons, I didn’t get to do ANY Valentine’s crafting this year…which makes me a little sad.  I had so many plans for Valentine’s Day this year that I think I may make some later this week and dub this Valentine’s Week.

So what does my Valentine’s Day crafting dilemma have to do with Cricut-ing and today’s topic?  Well, unfortunately, two wonderful friends lost loved ones this week and I put aside my VD crafting to make some sympathy cards.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any good cards to make.  So instead I’ve decided to manipulate  My search has come up sort of slim, so I’ve decided to take one of the numerous SVG files I own and repurpose it as a sympathy card.

The card that I like the most (and am presenting today) is from Lori Whitlock’s design shop.  If you aren’t familiar with Lori’s work, I would encourage you to check her out!  Among other things, Lori makes the most unique card designs, which includes everyone’s favorite, the box card, which is a 3D marvel that also folds flat for mailing.  Lori is the designer of the Cricut cartridge   All Occasion Box Cards , which features these special box card designs.

All Occasion Box Cards
Lori Whitlock’s Cricut files: All Occasion Box Cards

Note: This cartridge is available for digital purchase through the link above, which may result in a small commission paid to me because I am a Cricut affiliate.

 

Lori also has her own website where she sells her SVG files as well as other digital products.  Once a month or so, she offers a discount on her already affordable SVG files, which I have–on many occasion–taken advantage of.  Actually I now possess a very large collection of Lori’s designs, because she offers card designs in many different 3D variety, including her original box card design.

By the way…Lori’s monthly sale is currently running, so I encourage you to visit her store to take advantage of the savings:

February Sale at Lori Whitlock's shop
Save 30% off of SVG files at Lori’s site

 

For today’s project, I decided to use this design because it is so cheery:

LW Center Box Card Mother Flowers
A center fold box card from Lori Whitlock featuring a mason jar with flowers

But, obviously, I need to change the text to make it more appropriate for the occasion.

As always, we start by purchasing and downloading the SVG file.  If you are unfamiliar with this process, you can learn about it from these previous blog posts: Up Your Christmas Ornament Game  and All About SVGs For Your Cricut

Also, I am will be using the writing feature, which I have previously explained in this post: Using Pens With Your Cricut

So step one is to insert the SVG file into Design Space like this:

Uploaded Purchased SVG
Upload and insert your SVG to Design Space

 

Lori’s files always come grouped, so ungroup it.  Note that dashes take he place of score lines on uploaded SVGs, however the dash lines need to be attached to the piece they are appearing on so that they cut with the paper.  So for this example, you will need to attach the dash lines for both the card base and the center red piece.  Simply select these pieces and Attach them.

Now we want to Ungroup the text from the white background to replace it with our own text:

Ungroup the text from the background piece
Ungroup the text from the background piece

 

 

Next we are going to replace the provided text with the text “Thinking of You”, so we select Text and–in the box provided–type in the text, as shown here:

Adding a new text box to your file
Adding a new text box to your file

 

Notice that the entered text is not in a writing style and not formatted to fit the frame.  To correct this, go to the Fonts section and Filter your fonts by choosing Writing, which will give you all the fonts with a writing style:

Changing your text to a writing style
Changing your text to a writing style

 

Choose a writing style text you like and see if you like it.  This is a personal preference situation, so choose what you like, of course:

Choose a Writing style text
Choose a Writing style text

 

Once you have decided on the best text for your situation, you still need to manipulate the text.  I like my text centered, so I choose the Center option under Alignment.

I also need to make the text fit in the frame, so I unlock the text box and shrink it down to fit:

Resizing your text to fit the frame
Resizing your text to fit the frame

 

When you are happy with the changes you made, be sure to Attach the text to your frame!  Otherwise your Cricut won’t know that both elements are together:

Attach your resized text box to the frame
Attach your resized text box to the frame

And finally, you can select and remove the old text box…or you can hide it if you think you might use it for a future use.

You are now ready to cut and assemble your card!

I hope this tutorial is helpful to you.  Feel free to share it or any other of my blog posts with others!

I’ll be back shortly with some Valentine’s Day/Week projects to show you! ❤

Cricut

Paper Peonies with Your Cricut, Part Two

This is Part Two of my post on making Paper Peonies with your Cricut.  My first post focused on a beautiful paper peony created by Dreaming Tree, which can be found here: Paper Peonies With Your Cricut

Paper Peony
Gorgeous paper peony from the Cricut cartridge called 3D Floral Decor

Although I much prefer the Dreaming Tree paper peony, I want to show you how to create the Cricut Access version of a stemmed peony.  To be honest, I want to show you how to create the Cricut peony, not because it’s prettier or better but actually because it is harder to create.  Why make it harder for you?  Well, so then you learn how to do things!

The Cricut Access peony requires you to manipulate the file quite a bit to achieve a true, peony-sized flower.  Learning to manipulate and change pre-designed files will help you understand how Design Space works AND will help you create the exact file you want.  And that’s what being a Cricuteer is all about, isn’t it?

Okay…let’s get started!

The Cricut peony is from the cartridge called 3D Floral Home Decor, which is free for Access members or–if you are not an Access member–is purchasable as a set or for the individual files.  The 3D Floral Home Decor image set (cartridge) has so many beautiful flowers for all the seasons and I would definitely recommend getting your hands on it if you like making paper flowers.

My issue with the peony file is that the flower is too small for me, but–because of the way it is grouped–the size cannot be changed easily.   After playing with it a while, I have come up with a solution that involves using your contouring feature.

The first steps are (as always) open Design Space and choose New Project.

Go to Insert Image and, at the top, change your view to Cartridges. Once you are in the cartridge mode, scroll down (or search) for the 3D Floral Decor cartridge and open it up. Now choose the peony image and add it to your project.

Here’s a picture to show you how to do this:

Searching by Cartridge Name
When inserting an image, change your view to Cartridges and look for 3D Floral Home Decor

 

Peony File
While in the 3D Floral Home Decor image set, find and insert the Peony file shown

 

Once you’ve got your image in Design Space, you can see it imports in one piece. Unfortunately when you Ungroup the file, you are only able to isolate the stamens and leaves.  You cannot easily isolate each piece of the flower petals.  This is problematic because I want to make my flower bigger and doing so I would have to cut on a 12″ x 24″ mat using larger paper and, well, some of us don’t have larger mats and/or larger paper.

Peony File in Design Space
The peony file imports all pieces of the flower together

I managed a work around this problem by duplicating the flower portion and isolating each petal layer. There are five petal layers, so I duplicate the flower petal group five times.

Duplicating the flower petal layers
First duplicate the flower petal layers

Next, you are going to isolate each petal layer, one at a time.  You achieve this by selecting each of your petal layers and remove all but one of the petal layers using the Contour feature.  For each petal layer, you are going to remove a different petal layer, so that when you are finished contouring all five layers, you will end up with five separated layers.  I realize this might be a bit confusing, so I am going to give you some pictures to show you what I mean.

Hiding layers by Contouring
Select each flower piece and hit Contour. Turn off all but one portion of the piece.
After contouring one of the duplicates
Once you isolate each petal piece and contour it out, you end up with each petal layer being separate pieces instead of being grouped together
Contouring the second layer
Perform this “Hide Contour” step for each of the petal layers as shown here with the second layer

 

When you are finished contouring all the layers, you will have isolated each of the petal layers, so that you have five separate petal layers.  Doing this will allow you to resize the flower and even change the color of the petals.

Isn’t that cool?

Separate petal layers
Now all your petal layers are separated and ready to be resized or to have their layers re-colored

You may think this is a LOT of work for one flower file, but I adore peonies and I don’t mind the extra work to achieve the perfectly sized peony flower!

To get the flowers the size I want them, I then stack up each layer (don’t forget the stamen pieces and leaves!) and group them. By grouping them in a stack, you can manipulate the size of the flower with all the pieces getting resized in the proper proportion.

Stacking all the flower pieces
Stack all the flower pieces together. Don’t forget the stamen and leaves so they keep the proportions!

 

Enlarging the stacked flower layers
Now you can enlarge the peony to be whatever size you’d like!

 

Plus, you can also change the colors of certain layers!  Here I have changed the innermost petal layers to a lighter pink, which imitates the way most peony blossoms look in real life.  You can do this for all the layers or just a few.  Remember you pick the color of material, so changing them in Design Space just signals to your Cricut machine that it must cut each color separately.  No need to fuss to try to find the “perfect color” for your file.

Changing colors of flower layers
You can also manipulate the color. Here I changed the inner most petal layers to a lighter pink to create a more realistic finished flower.

 

You are now ready to cut and assemble your peony!

I am not going to go through the assembly of this flower as it is much the same method I have already described here: Paper Peonies With Your Cricut

Completed assembled peony on a stem
Completed assembled peony on a stem

 

One last note, I used the We R Memory Keepers “Flower Stem Kit”, which I originally purchased at Michael’s.  My local Michael’s no longer stocks this kit, but you can buy them at  Scrapbook.com here: Scrapbook.com Flower Stem KitFlower Stem Kit

We R Memory Keepers Flower Stem Kit

 

I do hope you will try making one of these paper peony flowers!  Not only are they beautiful, but they will hopefully teach you some new tricks for Design Space.

I am a Cricut Affiliate, so if you don’t already have the 3D Floral Home Decor cartridge or an Access subscription, you can purchase them using my link: My link to Cricut sale page

If you use my link, I could receive a small commission (depending on what you purchase) that helps to support my efforts here.  Also, using my link AND the code CRICUTNEWBIES1 in checkout will give you free shipping and 10% off some purchases (does not include machines or Access subscription).  Thank you for your support!