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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eating Raw

Not sure why I choose to live in upstate NY.    I dislike winter weather even though I love the beauty of its presence.    I love spring, summer and fall seasons and all of their bounty.   I love to eat and cook with fresh from the garden ingredients.    I much prefer the taste of home grown ingredients to those mass marketed.  

My parents always had a huge garden.  As I child I remember bushels of fresh from the garden vegetables and my mom telling me not to eat so many of whatever it was we just harvested as it would make my belly hurt.   We all ate our share of the days harvest, if it was pea picking time, then we ate fresh peas as we hulled them and processed them for the freezer.   If it was cucumber time, we ate slices of cucumber while we processed them to be canned as pickles.   If it was time to pick tomatoes we ate our share of tomato sandwiches or cucumber and tomato salad while processing the rest to be canned.   Mmmmmm…..nothing better than picked fresh off the vine.

As an adult I still like to eat as fresh as possible.  However, I did not inherit the whole “grow your own” genes.  I tried.   I really did, when I first got married we rototilled a spot and I went to town planting and weeding.   The peas were okay.   They grew above ground.  The carrots, not so much.  We couldn’t pull them out of the ground.   Literally.    The soil where I live is so rocky that the carrots grew in and around the rocks.   The rocks held the carrots in the ground just like an anchor holds a ship in the ocean.    We had to get a shovel to dig them up.  The carrots were zig zag in form. That was the end of my garden.   I later turned the kids sand box into a small container garden where I can grow a few tomato plants and herbs. And I shop at the local food markets and take whatever freebies from the neighbors and friends that I can get.    I am thankful to have such wonderful friends. 

This recipe using fresh off the Cobb corn makes for a yummy lunch time meal or a side for dinner or barb-b-que.


Fresh Corn Salad

Dressing
½ cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup olive oil

Salad
4 ears of corn, corn cut from the cobb
½ cup finely diced red onion (soaked in water 20 minutes and patted dry)
¼ cup cucumber, diced small
½ cup red or orange sweet pepper, diced small
½ cup cherry or pear tomatoes, halved or quartered
3 tbsp. Italian parsley, torn
1 tbsp. basil leaves, torn
1 tbsp. jalapeño, diced small (remove the seeds and veins if you like)
½ tsp. sea salt
1-2 cups small arugula leaves

To make the dressing: In a small glass bowl whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, and black pepper.  Once sugar is dissolved whisk in olive oil.   Set aside while making the salad.

For the salad:  Cut corn kernels from the cob.  Chop all vegetables into same size pieces as the corn kernels.  Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top and toss again just before serving.  Serve immediately. 

 

Notes and swaps

·         Swap out the red onion for shallot
·         Omit the jalapeño if you don’t like it spicy
·         Can’t find arugula, use your favorite green
·         You can add dried spices like onion powder or garlic powder to the dressing






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Monday, May 20, 2013

Keebler Elves Hard at Work

I have an elf at my house that likes to make S’mores out of all kinds of stuff.   This is the most recent attempt.  They turned out quite good, they are pleasing to the eye,  and they are so easy to make.  What is your favorite version of a S’more?

 
 
Fudge Striped S’mores
1-2 pkgs. Of Fudge Striped S’mores
1 bag large marshmallows
1 bag Hershey kisses, unwrapped

Unwrap enough kisses for the amount of cookies you are making (some cookies will be broken in the pkg.)

Cut the marshmallows in half the short way (a whole marshmallow will puff and be way too big for the cookie).

Lay a fudge striped cookie on a microwave safe dish (a flat one is best).  Put as many on the tray as you can.  Top each cookie with half of a marshmallow.   Place in microwave and microwave on high for 10-15 seconds.   I start out at the low end and watch to see when the marshmallow puffs.   All microwaves are different, times may vary.    Once they puff remove from microwave and top with a Hershey’s Kiss.   Allow to cool on tray, marshmallow falls through hole in cookie.   Once cooled, move to a serving tray.   
 
Notes and swaps
  • Swap out the Fudge Striped Cookie for your favorite cookie
  • Swap out the Hershey Kiss for one of their other flavored kisses
  •  

    

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One Banana, Two Banana, Three Banana, Four

We like Bananas and Banana flavored things at our house.  So when I came across this frosting recipe I couldn’t wait to use it on our favorite Banana flavored cupcake.   It was a huge success.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.
 




Banana Cake

1 package butter-recipe yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from 3 very ripe large bananas)
½ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 
Frosting
1 cup milk
1 small pkg. banana flavored sugar free instant pudding
1 small container of cool whip
Dried Banana Chips (1 whole chip per cupcake plus crumbled chips for sprinkling)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°.  Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans. 

Place the cake mix, bananas, water, oil, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens and is smooth, 1½ minutes longer, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake the cupcakes until they are golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the oven; let them cool in the pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool 30 minutes before frosting.

For the frosting, place the cold milk in a bowl.  Add the pudding mix and mix until combined.  Stir in thawed container of cool whip.

Frost each cupcake and then sprinkle with crumbled chips.  Top with 1 whole dried chip per cupcake.



Notes and Swaps

·         Don’t want to take the time to make cupcakes, try the frosting with some fresh sliced bananas and two slices of pound cake or lady fingers.  

·         Try using the frosting as a filling for cream puffs.  

·         Don’t have dried banana chips swap it out for sprinkles of a smashed up butter finger bar on top of frosted cupcakes.

·         Use the frosting to top a slice of your favorite banana bread. 







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Monday, May 13, 2013

Antoher Lazy Cook's Recipe


Who doesn’t love lasagna?   I never particularly cared for it growing up.  My mom always used cottage cheese in her recipe and it grossed me out.   My mother-in-law always used a ricotta filling, which I liked a lot better.  When I got married, I sort of married the two recipes and came up with my own version.  Oh yea, I also made a simple version for someone who doesn’t want to spend all that time layering noodles. 

 


Lazy Lasagna
1 lb. your favorite pasta, cooked and drained

Sauce
½ lb. 85 % hamburger
½ lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup white wine
2 cans your favorite tomato sauce
1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese

Lasagna Filling
2 lb. Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup parmesan cheese
Mix ingredients together, use for cheese layer in lasagna. Also use for filling in manicotti or stuffed shells. 

Start by making the sauce.   In sauce a pan cook off hamburger in loose form.  Drain off extra fat if needed, set aside.   Next, do the same with the sausage, drain off extra fat if needed, set aside.  

In sauce pan add two tablespoons of olive oil.  Sauté onion and garlic just until onion is translucent.  Add the hamburger and sausage back into the pan.  Add the two cans of sauce, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil.  Cook for 30 minutes on low to medium heat.  

Preheat oven to 350°.  

In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook your favorite pasta, just until al dente and drain.   

While the pasta is cooking mix the filling in an appropriate sized bowl and set aside.

Place pasta in a large bowl and mix with just enough sauce to coat the pasta.

Spray the bottom and sides of a large oven proof dish. Layer half of the pasta in the bottom of the ovenproof dish.  Sprinkle with half of the parmesan cheese. Next, add a layer on the lasagna filling spreading as evenly as possible. Then top that layer with the remaining pasta, another sprinkling of the parmesan and finally topping with the mozzarella cheese.  

Cover with wax paper and a layer of aluminum foil.  Bake in over for 30-45 minutes.  Removing both the wax and aluminum foil for the last 10-15 minutes.  
 
 

Notes/swaps

·         I like to use smaller pastas like, penne, elbows or even rigatoni.
·         I always set the table with some extra sauce.





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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Easy Peasy Nice and Easy

What is not to love about Eggplant Parmesan?  The work.   The work is what I don't love.   Dipping in flour, then the egg and then the bread crumbs followed by the deep frying of the masses.   Taste so good but a heck of a lot of work.   Well this recipe gives you the same taste if not even better without all the work and all that grease.  Really!


Easy Eggplant Parm

1-2 Eggplants (small in size)
4-5 Tomatoes (similar size as eggplant), sliced thin
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt for soaking
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil cooking spray

 
Process Eggplant: I choose smaller, firm eggplants.  Cut off the ends and slice into ¼ or ½ inch slices.  Place in large bowl.  Sprinkle with large amount of salt.   Fill bowl with water, eggplant will float.  Cover with plate and weight it down.  This method seems to draw out the bitterness in the eggplant.  Let them soak for a minimum of thirty minutes.  The water will turn black.    Drain the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.    


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover 1-2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and coat the foil with a thin layer of olive oil.   Lay the slices of eggplant onto the cookie sheet in a single layer.   Spray the slices lightly with olive oil cooking spray.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  





 
Using a regular teaspoon, top each slice of eggplant with a scant amount of bread crumbs.  
 
 
Next place one slice of tomato onto each slice of eggplant. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper.   
 
Using the teaspoon again, top each tomato with a liberal amount of parmesan cheese.   Spray with light coat of cooking spray.     


Place sheet tray in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and a golden brown.   Remove from oven and serve.  
 
 
Notes/swaps
  • Be sure to soak and pat dry the eggplant.
  • Use smaller, firm eggplants.
  • Use similar sized tomatoes.
  • Haven't tried it yet, but I suppose you could add some shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

These taste even better the next day. 
 
 



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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Feeling a Little Nostalgic

This is a recipe from my Mom’s collection.  She was a great cook. She always made delicious food and enough of it to feed a small army. Maybe because she had a small army of her own, there were ten of us kids.   She is no longer with us. God Bless her soul. I have many memories of her preparing and cooking many meals.  She would use this really large copper bottom frying pan and make the best fried chicken in it.  Although I watched her do it many times, I have never been able to duplicate it.   She also cooked many meals in cast iron pans. I remember her showing me how to brown the flour in the cast iron pan to make brown gravy (one of my least favorites).   She was great at making penny pinching meals and milk gravy was a basic recipe that she changed out often to get different flavors.

Sometimes she would add crumbled breakfast sausage for Sausage Biscuits and Gravy.   Other times she would add dried beef for Chipped Beef Gravy and Toast.  Or sometimes she would buy Salted Cod in the little wooden box and make Cod Fish Gravy to have over boiled potatoes.  There were times she even added ground hamburger for a Hamburger Gravy.    I remember all of them being delicious.     So when I was feeling a little nostalgic and missing my momma, I decided to try one of her old recipes.   Today’s choice was her version of Chipped Beef Gravy over Pumpernickel Toast served with spring peas and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze.  


Chipped Beef Gravy
 
 
Milk Gravy Recipe
 
Ingredients:

1/4 cup pan drippings (bacon drippings or sausage drippings)*
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk or heavy cream  room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, combine bacon or sausage dripping and flour; stirring constantly until the flour has absorbed all the drippings.  Cook for a few minutes just to cook out the starchy taste.  

Gradually add the milk or cream, stirring constantly until all is added, and cook until the gravy is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

At this point you can serve it as is or you can add pre-cooked breakfast sausage, hamburger, dried beef, or white fish of your choice.

If you are using dried beef or salted cod, be sure to rinse them several times to remove the salt they are packed in. 

Makes enough gravy for 10 to 12 homemade biscuits.

Notes/Swaps

·         You can use the drippings from any meat, but bacon and sausage are the traditional ones used.






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