Greetings...

Greetings...
Welcome to my little space in the world-wide web. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit down and enjoy your trek. I am not sure what brought you here, but I am glad you came. I hope you find something you like and come back often to visit. Be sure to sign up on the right to recieve all updates via your email.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

involtini di melanzane (aka: Eggplant Rollatini)


Eggplant rollatini is fresh eggplant rolled with a cheesy filling and topped with savory sauce making it a family-pleaser. Hearty, robust comfort food at its best and simple to make using a few basic ingredients.   Yes, I said simple.  Two simple recipes: filling and sauce and an eggplant.   Really it is that simple.  If your family likes eggplant, they will love this dish.  If you don't want to take the time to roll individual rolls, then by all means layer the planks as if you were making lasagna: layer of eggplant, layer of filling, repeat, top with sauce, parmesan and mozzarella.  

 

involtini di melanzane (aka: Eggplant Rollatini)
Filling:
1 or 2 small eggplant, cut into planks
1-16 oz. container of ricotta cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. parsley
1 egg

Sauce:
1-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite sauce
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. sweet basil
½ tsp. sugar

1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
 
Slice the eggplant the long way as thin as you can.   Place in a bowl of cold salty water.  Put a small plate on top and then set something heavy to hold the plate down and keep the eggplant submerged in the salty water.  Let set for ½ hour.  

Meanwhile mix the filling ingredients: ricotta cheese, parmesan, garlic powder, parsley, and egg,  in a small bowl just until all ingredients are combined.  

In another bowl mix the sauce and the spices.  You don’t even have to cook it.  It will cook in the oven. 

Cover the bottom of an ovenproof dish with just enough sauce so you can’t see the dish.   Once the eggplant has darkened the water take it out and pat it dry with paper towels.   Place one to two tablespoons of filling on one end of the eggplant plank and roll away from you. Place each roll into the sauce covered dish.   Once you have a complete layer.  Drizzle with another layer of sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan and shredded mozzarella cheese. 

Place in a preheated 350° oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes.  

 
I look forward to hearing some of your comments.   Enjoy!






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Monday, September 17, 2012

Golumpki, Golabki, Golumpkies, Golumpkis or Gwumpki

No matter how you say it, make it, or cook it, it is still a delectable dish for the cooler weather we have had lately, not to mention a great way to use up the fresh from the garden or from the farmer's market head of cabbage.

Both my mom and my mother-in-law made their own version of this recipe. I have been able to write down the ingredients that they both used and they are pretty tasty recipes, but seem to be lacking a little something, something. I myself have even come up with a lazy version where you chop up the cabbage and mix it into the meat/rice mixture and sauce and bake it in a casserole dish, but I wanted to research recipes and make them the good old fashioned way. 

A few days ago I had picked up this wonderful head of cabbage at the farmers market and right away I knew that wanted to make stuffed cabbage rolls. I took to the computer to research recipes to find a combination of items that I thought would make a good tasting filling and sauce to match. This is what I came up with:




Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Ingredients

Filling:

1 1/2 lb. ground meat
1/2 lb. ground pork
½ cup green pepper, diced small
½ cup yellow onion, diced small
1 cup cooked rice (white or brown)
2 egg
1 tbs. chopped parsley
1 tsp. sweet Paprika
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Also needed:

1 medium-large head of green cabbage
1 lb. package sauerkraut

Sauce:
1 large can tomato soup
1 reg. can chicken broth
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Place sauerkraut in bottom of oven proof dish.

Remove outer edges from cabbage head and rinse.

Prepare a large pot of boiling water to submerge cabbage head.

Prepare meat filling by combing ground beef, ground pork, cooked rice, egg, parsley, onion, pepper, Paprika, allspice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Immerse head of cabbage into boiling water for 3 – 4 minutes until leaves are partially soft.

Remove head from water and let cool.

Once cooled, remove leaf from cabbage head. (keep water hot, you may have to repeat steps 5 & 6.

With a paring knife, trim down stem on the leaf. You can toss them or place them in the dish with the sauerkraut.

Fill bottom part of leaf with about 1/2 cup of meat filling.

Tucking in the left and right sides, roll up the meat filling into the cabbage leaf. Place in dish on top of sauerkraut.

Continue rolling leaves until meat filling is gone.

Chop remaining cabbage head into small piece and place into the pan with the sauerkraut.

Mix tomato soup, can of chicken broth, garlic, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over the cabbage rolls.

Cover pan with parchment paper first and then tightly with a layer of aluminum foil.
Bake at 350° for 2 hours.

Notes: 
This is a labor intensive recipe and it takes up a couple of hours to make the rolls and a couple more to bake them. However, it is well worth the time and effort.

In researching recipes, I found that some people use pork, while others use beef and still others use a mixture of both. I had beef on hand so I used that.

Keep the water boiling, you may need to redip the cabbage as you unwrap the outer leaves to roll

Ketchup, really? Yes, just do as the recipe says. The filling came out a nice texture and was very tasty and moist.

Tomato soup verses sauce? Yes again, believe me by the time this dish is done you will not even realize it is tomato soup.   

Would I have done anything differently?

I would have been better prepared to freeze some of the leftovers in advance. Or make it on a day when you are having quests for dinner. 

By all means let me know what you think when you try this recipe. I look forward to your comments.









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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lobster Mac & Cheese

My first time at this recipe and it turned out great.   I am a big fan of lobster and I like mac and cheese as long as it isn't made with sharp cheese.   So, when I seen this on a recent episode of Diners Drive-ins and Dives I thought wow that sounds yummy.  Of course they don't post recipes for everything so I jotted down the ingredients with no measurements and tried my luck at figuring out what might work.   Wah! La!  

Now I know some people will laugh that I use American cheese.  However,  I have to tell you, don't knock it until you try it.   It makes a great, creamy cheese sauce when added to a good b├ęchamel sauce.    

It was a big hit with those that were fortunate to get a dish of it.

Lobster Mac & Cheese
 


3 cups shells/elbows or your favorite pasta shape
4 tbsp. Butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups whole milk
6-8 slices American cheese (I use Kraft)
2 oz. Munster Cheese diced small or grated
2 oz. Very Mild Cheddar Cheese (do not used aged, it will over power the lobster).
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 tsp. honey
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 lb. cooked lobster meat, chopped into chunks
1-2 tbsp. butter
¼ cup unflavored bread crumbs
 
Bring pan of water to boil.  Add salt and uncooked pasta.  Cook for eight minutes.   Drain.  In the meanwhile make B├ęchamel Sauce.   In small sauce pan melt four tablespoons of butter. 
Add pinch of salt and pepper to flour.  Stir flour into butter and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out flour taste.   Stir in whole milk, bring up to temperature and then add the cheeses.  Stirring constantly until thickened and cheese has melted.    Place one cup frozen corn in microwave safe bowl.  Cook per microwave directions.   Stir in a small teaspoon of honey.     Stir drained pasta into cheese sauce.  Add corn  and then finally the lobster meat.   Butter a small casserole dish.  Dump in lobster mac and cheese. In small fry pan melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter, add the bread crumbs.  Toast until golden brown.  Sprinkle over lobster mac and cheese.  Place in oven heated to 350
° for 15-20 minutes.  

Notes:  
 
I found lobster already cooked and pkg. in the fish dept. at Price Chopper.   Just be sure to check the dates.   It was not frozen and the best part is….it was on sale.  

Do not use aged sharp cheddar cheese, the flavor will over power the lobster.   Use cheeses that melt easy and have a mild flavor.   








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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cookies For Our Enlisted Men and Women

Monster cookies are a great cookie to send through the mail as a gift or to sit and eat in the comfort of your home.  

They contain a number of yummy ingredients of which you can mix and match or change to your liking.   We have a peanut butter lover in the family.  So I was sure to include peanut butter baking bits.  But feel free to use, whatever you like: choc, peanut butter or butterscotch chips.  Want to really change it up try cinnamon chips. 

I like to use Pringles cans for mailing mine.  They fit just right and the large can, can hold anywhere from a dozen to a dozen and 1/2 of cookies.   Just remember to make them small enough to stack them up in the can.   I used my medium cookie scoop so that they would all be around the same size.

Don't be afraid to recycle other containers for shipping cookies too:  oatmeal boxes, potato stix cans, even plastic soda bottles can be used.

 
Monster Cookies


1 stick butter, softened
1 12-ounce jar  Jif creamy peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup M&Ms Semi Sweet Baking Bits
3/4 cup Hershey's Mini Peanut Butter Baking Bits
¾ cup unsalted Planters Dry Roasted unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup all purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Slowly mix in the baking soda, oatmeal, and flour. Stir in the M&M's, peanuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. 

Notes:  I always do a couple of test cookies and time them.  I start out at 8 minutes check them.  If they are not done I then add 3-5 more minutes.    Once I figure out the time.  I then bake them by full sheets. 
 
I used the medium cookie scoop.  It took 12 minutes.   Smaller cookies will take less time; larger cookies of course will take more time.
 
 
Enjoy!


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Monday, August 13, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes


Red vs. Green

I am a big fan of the tomato.  I eat at least one a day.  Love them when they are a ripe deep, dark, red and I love them when they are green.   I enjoy them whether they are vine ripened, heirloom, or in many colors, shapes and sizes.   When I finally made a trip to the farmers market green tomatoes were on the list to find and purchase.  Growing up my family always planted a lot of tomatoes and fried green tomatoes and pickled green tomatoes made the menu at least a couple of times through the summer into the fall months.   I enjoyed them as a kid and as an adult I try to make them at least once throughout the summer.  

The trick to making fried green tomatoes is making sure you cut enough of the ends off. Otherwise it is difficult for the flour and bread crumbs to stay attached to the tomato.





Fried Green Tomatoes with Lemon/Cayenne Mayo

Ingredients
Oil for frying
4 green tomatoes cut into 1/4-inch rings
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk
3-4 tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch Smoked Paprika

Instructions
1. In a deep-fryer, preheat oil to 350 degrees F.
2. Lay tomatoes on paper towel. Season tomatoes, on both sides, with salt and pepper.
3. Place flour and garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, beat eggs with the buttermilk and hot sauce. In another dish place the bread crumbs.
4. Dredge tomatoes through the flour, then the eggs, and then through the bread crumbs.
5. Add only a few pieces to the fryer at a time, so they can cook evenly, about 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Drain on paper towels and serve with:

Lemon Cayenne Mayo
½ cup mayonnaise
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. smoked paprika

Mix ingredients together and let set for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.




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Sunday, August 12, 2012

No Cooking Required

No Cooking Required (with a twist of ADD)

I love this time of year, heat and all.   As crazy as it sounds, I often bake when it is hot outside.  It’s already hot; who is going to notice the oven is on (insert chuckle here).   However, there are day’s I am too lazy to cook and that is when I turn to quick “No Cooking Required” recipes. 
 
Yesterday was a day of errands. One of those included visiting the local public market.   They call it a “Public Market”    due to the variety of vendors they have.  Not all of them are farmers.   I love fresh fruits and veggies and the variety that are displayed at the market.   I also like the fact that there is always something there you can’t get in a supermarket.    And the fact that just purchasing your produce in the open air makes them taste better.  Fresh air makes everything taste better (you should try a weenie roast in the dead of winter, nothing tastes better than that Hot Dog cooked over an open flame in the dead of winter).

What did I purchase you ask?   Well, I was hoping to find green tomatoes at the market.  Yup they had them.  But then I spied an Eight Ball Zucchini, surprisingly not many people at the market knew what they were.  They are a grapefruit sized round Zucchini.  Great for stuffing, but that is a recipe for another time.   I also purchased a ¼ bushel of pickling cucumbers, 2 small purple eggplants, Italian Pole Beans, Jalapeno Peppers, Peaches, Nectarines, and Heirloom Tomatoes.    I think that was everything at the market.  

Off to have breakfast with a couple of my girlfriends.  You have to get to the market early and why not arrive when it just opens.   My girlfriends are lucky I didn’t eat anything at the market. Need to go potty and have a second cup of tea.  Breakfast was a trip as usual.  We have polite conversations mixed with a little bit of ball busting, one upping and throwing each other under the bus.  How we love each other.  We part and go our separate ways.

Now, to get back on track and finish my errands.    The next few stops are irrelevant, stopping here and there to get essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper, shop for shoes for the wedding and fill up the car with gas.   

My last stop: I have Heirloom tomatoes from the market, it is off to a place called Roma’s.   Roma’s is a little Italian deli, where they sell imported pasta, cheeses, and meats.   They also carry homemade Italian bread and pizza pie to die for.  I consider it to be the best in the area.   They have a large mixed olive case with a variety of black and green flavored olives.  Did I mention the Imported Italian Cheeses:  Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Mozzarella, Basket Cheese, Braided Cheese, Smoked, Wedges and Grated and my favorite of all time Soft Fresh Mozzarella Balls.  Fight the urge to purchase tomato pie.    Don’t inhale at the register, you will then smell all the deliciousness and weaken. Pay the man and hold your breath till you get out the door (just teasing, I love the deli smell). Okay leaving Roma’s with a loaf of fresh Crusty Italian Bread, a small container that holds a variety of the many olives from the olive case, a bag of freshly grated parmesan cheese and my mozzarella balls.  

I arrive home about 1:30ish.   Unload the car and carry everything in the house.   Drop everything and take the dog outside to do her necessaries.  Let the dog romp and play for a few minutes as she has been inside all morning.    Back inside, cappuccino from the Keurig while unpacking all of my wonderful goodies.    Such a sense of accomplishment overcomes ones-self, as I stare at the variety of health and wellness displayed on my counter.   Lunch! Its lunch time! With all the errands I had run in the morning lunch needed to be quick and painless and of course consist of several items I had purchased well running all those errands.   Let’s make a fresh Cucumber Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella drizzled with imported extra virgin olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar (both previously purchased at Roma’s), topped with a slice of fresh home baked crusty Italian bread.    Ahhhhhh! Or should I say MMMMMM!



I shall be posting more recipes from my finds at the Public Market.   








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Friday, August 10, 2012

Salsa the night away

It's hard to find someone who doesn't like salsa. It is such a versatile recipe and can be used from appetizer to dessert depending on which ingredients you put into it. It is a great conversation starter and party take along.  

We rarely purchase salsa a store anymore. In fact the kids love to chop and make their own versions of salsa. One likes it less hot while the other child likes to see how hot we can stand it. 

I am sharing my recipe for Pineapple salsa, but to tell you the truth I use the same recipe for tomato salsa and corn salsa by swapping out the main ingredient.
 

 


Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients:
1 can pineapple chunks or one whole fresh pineapple (diced)
1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 Red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper , diced
2 tablespoons coriander leaves , chopped
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
Salt, to taste
drizzle of olive oil

Chop all ingredients to desired size. Place in serving bowl. Stir to combine. Let set for 15 minutes before serving.

Swaps: You can swap out the pineapple for, fresh diced tomatoes, peaches, mangos, or strawberries. You can also swap out the red onion for a shallot.

Additions: You can also add a can of drained and rinsed black beans or fresh corn cut off the cob or defrosted sweet corn.

Flavor enhancers: Try roasting the ingredients before chopping and mixing

Serve with chips or as a topping over baked fish, shrimp, scallops or chicken.

For dessert salsa, try using strawberries and cinnamon and sugar chips.





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