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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Not your usual Stuffed Peppers


I love stuffed peppers.   So did the rest of my family until recently.   Somehow, the pepper part just doesn’t agree with my husband anymore.    So, when I make stuffed peppers these days, I usually make half of them as stuffed squash.  They are still delicious, but the squash doesn’t tend to come back as a repeat for my husband.   
 
 

Stuffed Zucchini and Yellow Squash (or Peppers)

1 ½ lbs. hamburger
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup milk, water, or chicken broth (pick one)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
3-4 small zucchini or yellow squash, halved and seeded
1 large can of tomato soup
1 can chicken broth
1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 400°

Place hamburger in mixing bowl with eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, liquid of your choice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.   Mix until evenly combined.

Cut squash in half and remove seeds.    Fill with meatball mixture and place in ovenproof dish.   Once you have filled all the squash halves, you then pour in one can of chicken broth and can of tomato soup.  

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes on 400°.   When timer goes off, reduce heat to 350° and cook an additional 45 minutes.   Remove from oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven and bake an additional ½ hour.   Serve with rice and store all leftovers in the frig.


Notes and Swaps

·         You can swap out the squash with large peppers.

·         You can serve with rice to use up the extra sauce

·         You can fill squash with your favorite meatball, meatloaf or meat and rice mixture.

·         Sometimes when I make the squash I add a sliced onion and pepper with the soup before baking.

·         Have big squash, cut it crosswise in chunks, scoop out the middle and fill with meat.

·         Try adding some sweet corn or black beans to your meat mixture.

 
 


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Old Fashioned TV Dinner Made From Scratch

Who doesn’t remember sitting in front of the TV or at the dinner table with a Frozen TV Dinner?   Salisbury Steak was never my favorite.   I liked the meatloaf with peas, carrots and mashed potatoes.   However, as I have grown, so has my affection for Salisbury steak and Gravy made from scratch.  

You can make it all from scratch as I have done many of times or you can take a few shortcuts as shown in this recipe.    You still get the entire flavor profile and the memories that come with it of sitting and eating a TV dinner kicked up several notches.    Plus it is a lot quicker.   I promise you won’t be disappointed and you will keep this recipe handy for future use.   

Quick Salisbury Steak

1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 egg
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 pkg. fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 Large Jar of Heinz Gravy Savory Beef
1-2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master

Combine ground beef, Lipton Onion Soup Mix, black pepper, egg and Worcestershire sauce; mix well.  This mixture is kind of moist but so worth it in the end.  Divide into equal portions of your liking and shape each into a 1 inch thick oval patty.

Coat a skillet with cooking oil and cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook until browned on one side, about 3-4 minutes.  Turn them over and cook another three minutes.   Add the Gravy Master to the pan and stir.  Stir in the jar of Gravy and mix.  Add the burgers back into the pan.  Cook over low heat until all is mixed together and heated through.   (I did not add salt nor onions due to the fact that those ingredients are prevalent in the Lipton Soup Mix).   

Serve over mashed potato or rice.  
Notes and Swaps
·         You can swap out the Lipton Onion Soup for a small sliced and sautéed onion and some salt.
·         You can make your own gravy from scratch using the drippings from the burgers and a can of beef broth and cornstarch.
 
Bonus Tip
Boil 2-3 potatoes  and mash them with 1/2 cup real mayonnaise. Once mayo is mixed in add 1 tbsp. butter, salt and pepper and mix until combined.   Serve with your favorite meat and gravy.    No runny potatoes, no lumps, no gumminess ever. They will be the best mashed potatoes you have ever had.





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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

To Boil or Not To Boil

Not!  After making Southern Fried Corn today I think I prefer the fried way.  Well at least most of the time.  Who can't resist gnawing at corn on cob once or twice through the summer? However, sweet corn can look great fresh from the field but once you have dropped it in the water and cooked it, can come out tasteless and tough.  

One of the biggest no no's for sweet corn is to put it in those plastic shopping bags.  Those darn things wick the moisture right out of the corn and the husk.  Sweet corn is best bagged in a paper bag.  

One of my friends brought 6 ears of corn last night after we had already eaten dinner.   Yup, it was in one of those plastic shopping bags.  Yes, I left it on the counter in the bag overnight.   Experiment in the making.

Lunch time today, I decided to try my luck at Southern Fried Corn.   When I took the corn out of the bag, the bag was wet but the husks were dry.   When I peeled the corn, it was mostly Butter/Sugar corn and it looked good.   I then proceeded to remove the corn from the cob with my handy dandy Sweet Corn Gadget and fry it up in a pan.  It was a success.  The corn came out very tasty.    It was sweet and cooked to aldente stage.


Pamperd Chef Kernel Cutter

This works wonderfully for cutting those kernels off the cob.  



Southern Sautéed Sweet Corn

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 ears sweet corn, corn removed from the cob
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle of honey (don't ask, just do it)

Option’s
Bacon grease (instead of olive oil and butter)
Sweet Red Pepper, diced small
Sweet Vidalia Onion, diced small
½ cup heavy cream
 
Directions
Peel and prepare corn by removing the kernels from the cob.   Set aside in bowl.   Also prepare any of the other optional vegetables you are adding.   

Using 10 inch or larger skillet heat oil and butter over medium-high heat.   Add the corn and other vegetables.  Sauté for 4-5 minutes stirring several times until the corn and vegetables are heated through.   Season with salt and pepper to taste before removing from heat to a serving dish.  Drizzle with honey.  Mix to evenly coat.  Serve warm. 
 
 
 
 



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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Garlic Goddess

At my house I have many names, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Wife,  PITA to name a few.  My husband tells my friends I am the “Gadget Whore”.   To some extent that is true.  I love my kitchen gadgets and I do have and play favorites.    The Garlic Press is one of them.

I use a lot of fresh garlic at my house (hence the name Garlic Goddess).    That involves a lot of peeling, chopping, slicing, smashing and scraping of garlic,  a tiny object with a large sharp knife.  

My way around this is a garlic press.   I bought my first press in a store bargain bin for very little money many moons ago (about 28 years).  After that I managed to find one or two at garage sales and even one or two others more recently at high end kitchen stores.  None of those measured up.  They are hard to press, hard to clean and a few even broke within a couple of uses.   
This is what my first press looked like.
 
I finally searched the internet a couple years ago and found this nice Zyliss one and ordered one online.   It was very similar to my original garlic press (which I still have).   It is easy to use, cleans well and hasn’t broken in 1,000 of times of use.

  
This is what the second one looks like
 


No more peeling, chopping or smashing.  This thing does it all but the slices (which on occasion sliced garlic is a must).     You just drop a clove into the space provided and press.   It comes out the other end finely chopped, juice and all.  Leaving the peel behind for discarding.   No more garlic sticking to your fingers or the smell of garlic on your hand.    Nice.
 



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Monday, August 5, 2013

Italian Caponata Relish

The farmer’s market and local produce stands are loaded with eggplants.   I love the flavor of eggplant and wanted to try my luck at making a Caponata.  Caponata is a sweet-and-sour Sicilian version of the French ratatouille.  It is an eggplant based relish that serves well on toasted bruschetta.   

I remember my mother-in-law making it one time and her and I being the only ones that actually liked it.   I was pretty sure that I had written down her recipe, but when I looked for it I was unable to find it.  So, thus began my internet search.  

Found a few recipes I liked and a few with a list of ingredients that made me think “I would never dream of putting that in it”.    Seriously, the ingredients are pretty basic, eggplant, onion, tomato, garlic, peppers and celery.  From there, there were all kinds of interesting twists on ingredients and the amounts to add.   I tried to keep it simple and hoped to find just the right concoction of ingredients to keep the sweet but tangy taste buds occupied.   

If you like eggplant and you’re looking for something a little different to serve at a party or just to snack on yourself this is a good recipe to have in your files.  
 
 

Caponata

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 large), diced
Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, from the tender inner stalks, diced fine
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced fine

2 tbsp. raisins, chopped fine
1 -2 ripe tomatoes, preferably Romas, peeled, seeded and finely chopped,

1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes (in puree)
1-2 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 heaped tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained, and chopped
3 tbsp. coarsely chopped pitted green olives, chopped
2 tbsp.  Pine nuts, roasted and chopped
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar (more to taste)
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

½ jalapeno, diced fine (optional)

Directions

Prepare eggplant,   cut into ½ slices place in large bowl of generously salted water and weight down with a plate.   Let eggplant soak for 20-30 minutes.  Water will turn black in color.  Remove eggplant from water and pat dry with paper towels.  Dice into smaller pieces, set aside.

Prepare all of your other vegetables.   Clean, dice and set aside in piles.  Peel and dice fresh tomatoes, set aside. 

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in deep heavy nonstick skillet over medium to high heat.   When pan is ready add the diced eggplant. 
Fry the in 2-3 batches over medium heat, depending on the size of your pan, for approximately 10 minutes or until soft and golden. Season with salt and pepper.   Remove from pan and set aside. 

Heat 1-2 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet, then add the onion and celery. Stir until the onion softens, about five minutes, and add the garlic. Cook together for a minute, until the garlic begins to smell fragrant, and add the peppers, raisins, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until just tender, about eight minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil and the eggplant, and stir together for another five minutes, until the vegetables are tender. The eggplant will fall apart, which is fine.

Add the tomatoes to the pan with a pinch of sugar. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan often, for five to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant. Add the capers, olives, pine nuts, remaining sugar and vinegar.   You can also add the jalapeno here.  Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are thoroughly tender and the mixture is quite thick, sweet and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. If possible, cover and chill overnight. Serve at room temperature.
 
Notes & Swaps
I did not double recipe.   However, I did put some in prepared mason jars while it was hot and gave them a hot water bath for ten minutes.   Will use them to share with friends and neighbors.  I did keep out one jar for taste testing and snacking over the next few days.      
 
 




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