Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weenies in a blanket

My mother started making these when I was a teenager and they have become a staple appetizer at my house on Christmas day for many years after. I now live in NYC and am not home for the holidays so to help with my homesickness I make these every year for my kids and guests on Christmas eve.

They are really easy and taste so much better than the ones you buy in the frozen section. I have tried many frozen cocktail weenies at Trader Joes and Costco and all of them have this weird after taste I don't enjoy. Once you make these you will also feel the same way.

These are great for any party/get together you will have. Your guests will gobble them up so fast you will have a hard time getting one yourself. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
1 package of cocktail weenies (my favorite is Nathans but Hillshire is also good)
1 package Pillsbury Crescent rolls.

Directions

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unravel Crescent rolls. Cut each triangle into 5 small pieces and roll each weenie with that pieces. Line them up on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

I dip mine in yellow and spicy mustard but for kids you can add ketchup.


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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cleaning Cast Iron Skillet

Cleaning a cast iron skillet can seem quite difficult but it is actually quite easy and if you take good care of it, it will last you many life times.

I received my first cast iron skillet as a wedding gift. I thought it would be great because it was not seasoned and I was so excited to season it myself. I followed the instructions and and failed miserably. For some reason it came out sticky and stayed sticky. No matter what I did I couldn't get the sticky substance off. I got fed up and gave it away and stayed away from those pans for a very long time.

About 8 years later I went to the Martha Stewart Show and they allowed the audience to ask questions. I asked what I did wrong with seasoning my cast iron skillet and she said why would you ever buy one not seasoned. That wasn't exactly the answer I expected but I realized then I need to go and get a seasoned one immediately.

I received one as a gift last year and absolutely love it. It makes the best burgers and steaks. If you don't have one you should get one. They are inexpensive and perfect pan for heavy duty cooking.

Here are my tips on cleaving them. I watched an episode on Martha Stewart of a man showing how to clean them and now I am no longer afraid. I used to clean it with kosher salt because I was afraid soap would ruin it.  Well he used soap on his and he makes these pans for a living so I figured he must know.
Step 1. After you soaked the pan with super hot water take a brush and a little soap and scrub off all the bits stuck on the pan and rinse with hot water. 

Don't be shy it is a very sturdy pan and can handle quite a bit. 


Step 2. Rinse all the soap and bits off with very hot water.


Step 3. Dry it immediately and thoroughly. Water will rust your skillet so it is essential to dry it.


Step 4. Add a little vegetable oil in the pan to season it. It is important to season it after every wash so it stays nice for you for years to come.

Step 5. Use your paper towel and rub the oil into the pan thoroughly. It seems strange and once rub in all the way it is not sticky and ready to use for your next use.

Voila!!! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pecan Bars


I have been making these for years but this year I made them for The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap. I love them because they are very easy to make and simply Divine. I wanted to make something that could handle shipping and still taste great as the day I made them. By participating in this swap I received the names of 3 bloggers that I had never heard of to send a dozen cookies to each of them. And I also received a dozen cookies from 3 bloggers. It was so much fun to get such yummy cookies in the mail. My family enjoyed opening the boxes to see what lovely cookie we would receive. Each of the ladies took great care in making them and shipping them to me.

I hope the ladies I sent them to were as happy with them as me and my family were. My son Coolidge was sorry to see them go. I promised some yummy cookies were coming in the mail. I had a lot of fun swapping cookies with complete strangers.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite food magazines "Everyday Food." Try it and let me know what you think. I feel they freeze well too so you can pull them out and serve them to your guests later.



Ingredients
For the Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces about 2 cups pecans

Directions

Make the Crust
1. Line 9 inch square baking pan with foil. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt to combine. Add butter, pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg, pulse just until a dough forms. 2. Transfer dough to prepared pan, press firmly into bottom and 3/4 inch up sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 3. Prick bottom of dough. Bake until lightly golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.

Make the Filling
1. In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, until smooth; continue boiling, without stirring, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. 2. Remove pan from the heat. Whisk in cream and salt; mix in pecans.

Assemble and Bake
1. spoon hot filling evenly over crust, using spoon to arrange and press in nuts so they fit snugly (Create as flat a surface as possible). 2. Bake until bubbling and amber colored, 18-22 minutes. Cool Completely in pan. 3. Using foil lift cake from pan; peel off foil. With a sharp knife cut into 6 even strips; cut each strip crosswise into 4 even strips to make 24 bars.

Crust ready to bake


Ready to cut into bars

Ready to be shipped

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meat Sauce


When I moved to NYC the only way I knew how to make meat sauce was to brown beef and add Prego.
I worked for a family who made unbelievable sauce and showed me how to cook pasta al dente. After watching him and the food network I realized that making sauce was one of the hardest things to make if you don't know what you are doing. And with the right ingredients it is also the easiest.

When I first tried it I couldn't believe how bland it was and I had to add A LOT of salt. However once you learned how to make it you realize it is so easy and much better than any jar sauce out there. I am not opposed to jar sauce and here in NYC there are some very tasty ones out there. I showed my sister Brandi just how easy it is when she was here to visit and her and the kids gobbled it all up. Try this sauce and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
2 (16 ounce) cans of tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup red wine (if you have it)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp all spice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a large pan add ground beef, break it up with spoon and brown on high heat. Cook for 2 minutes and then add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and oregano. Cook another 2 minutes and add chopped onion. Once the meat is cooked through add minced garlic and all spice and cook 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup red wine (if you have it) and cook 2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce another teaspoon of salt and pepper and oregano. Simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add sugar and cook another 10 minutes. Add parm cheese and simmer while you cook pasta.

Cook pasta according to directions and do not over cook. Serve sauce over pasta and add more grated cheese to the top.

(The red wine is not essential but adds another great flavor if you have it)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich


We used to buy these at the deli up on Broadway at least once a week. Sometimes it would be super delish and sometimes it was just alright. I had some leftover sauce from pasta I made a couple nights ago and decided to make chicken parm sandwiches. They turned out so well that now I can't even imagine gambling on the deli anymore. My husband and Coolidge just loved them. I think next time I might add parmesan cheese to the butter spread.

Try them and let me know what you think.

Ingredients

Basic Tomato Sauce
2 hoagie rolls
2 thin chicken cutlets
3 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper

Directions

Cook chicken just like we did in Chicken Parmesan and set aside.

In a small bowl add 3 tbs butter, minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Mix it together and spread it on the hoagie rolls. Place them under the broiler until lightly toasted.

Add chicken to the bottom side and place shredded mozzarella on the chicken and place back under the broiler until cheese has melted. Then add sauce to the top of the chicken and then top side of bread and cut in half and serve.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chicken Spaghetti



I am a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman's cooking show. I think what draws me there most is that she cooks for a busy family and I can relate. I first saw this recipe on her blog and they way it is described on there I didn't find it appealing. Then I watched her make it on the Foodnetwork and my mouth started to water so I thought I have to give that a try. I went to her blog to get the recipe and realized it wasn't the same. I went to the Food Network and it was different so I printed it instead and made it for my family. 

My kids are not fans of cheesy pasta so I took this recipe and put it in two small 9X9 pans instead of one 9x13 pan. One I put in the freezer and the other me and my husband devoured. Luckily there was some left over for another night because it was big hit. I also loved that I could take the other half out of the freezer on a day I just didn't feel like cooking. 

I wish my kids were like Ree's but they are just not willing to eat everything I make. So when they wont eat cheesy pasta I make them plain pasta with a little butter. I also changed the recipe slightly so if you want it exactly like hers click her name above and it will take you there. 


Ingredients

2 heaping cups cooked chicken
1 pound spaghetti cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cans cream mushroom soup
2 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 of a large onion finely chopped
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook spaghetti for 9 minutes. Do not overcook, if anything slightly under cook it. When the spaghetti is cooked, combine with the chicken, mushroom soup, 1 1/2 cups cheese, the green peppers, red peppers, onions, seasoned salt, cayenne, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup chicken broth, adding an additional cup if needed. You don't want it too dry.

Place the mixture in a casserole pan and top with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover and freeze up to 6 months, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days or bake immediately until bubbly, about 45 minutes. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).
Ready to freeze


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sukki's Chicken Samosas

I discovered these lovely samosas when I was at Costco last summer. I love when they do samples because I am always afraid to buy a huge box of something I may or may not like. The best part of these samosas is the chutney that you dip them in. I used it on my chicken the next day. It was full of garlic and cilantro...what more could you want.

You can find these at Costco even though mine stopped selling them. I still go past the freezer section every time I am there hoping they will get there senses back and start selling them again. My mother just reported to me that they sell them at Trader Joes now. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Give them a try and let me know what you think. I think they would be a great appetizer for Thanksgiving and Sunday football games.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Mom's German Chocolate Cake

I can't believe I started this blog one year ago. It is amazing a year has already gone by. I was posting my dishes on facebook and a friend of mine said you should start a blog. It made sense because I was getting many requests for recipes and this way I didn't have to send them out individually and you could go back as many times as you wanted. Now it has been a year and my first recipe was Fettuccine Alfredo.

The best part of starting this blog is how many new food blogs I have discovered in the process. I found so many amazing recipes from other bloggers and I also discovered pinterest along the way.

Today I am posting my mom's German chocolate cake because it is very special to me. My mom has been making it since I was a kid and she only makes it once a year if we are lucky. It does take a lot of work but after you take one bite you know it was worth every minute. This cake is super moist and full of flavor. I also love this cake because one year she made it and I was the one who taught her how to fold in the egg whites. My mother has been teaching me how to cook my whole life and it is nice to be the one teaching her a thing or two. Don't be intimidated by all the steps in this cake because it goes a lot faster than you think and it is all worth it when your guests are oooooing and awwwwing while they eat it.



Ingredients for the cake
1 (4 ounce) package of Bakers sweet German chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup Butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Directions

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease three 9inch pans and then flour. Then line the pans with wax paper to help remove cakes easily.

Break chocolate into pieces and pour 1/2 cup of boiling water and stir until melted then cool.

Beat butter and sugar and then beat in 4 egg yolks.

Stir in vanilla and melted chocolate.

Mix flour, soda and salt in a large bowl and the beat  in chocolate mixture alternating with butter milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold this into the Batter and Pour into three pans equally.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool at 15 minutes but make sure cake is cooled completely. Don't remove until you are ready to assemble. (You can make these cakes the night before and let them stay in pan until you are ready to assemble the next day.)




Ingredients for Coconut Pecan Frosting

1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 (12 ounce)  or 1 1/2 cups can of evaporated milk
4 slightly beaten egg yolks
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans chopped
2 cups coconut flakes sweetened.

Directions

In a sauce pan add evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in nuts and coconut. Cool until thick enough to spread. should make about 4 1/2 cups frosting.

Spread coconut frosting on each layer of cake.

Ingredients for Chocolate frosting

4 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons Hershey's cocoa
4 tablespoon water
2 cups confectioner sugar

In a small sauce pan melt butter over low heat. Add cocoa and water and stir until mixture thickens. Do not boil. Add confectioner sugar beating with whisk until smooth.

Spread chocolate frosting around the edge of the cake. You don't have to add this but me and my mom love the chocolate frosting. It just adds that extra touch.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Sweet Tea II


I had created a sweet tea recipe on this blog a few months ago but recently found another recipe on pinterest and was intrigued with this interesting ingredient (baking soda). I had to try and it and was amazed at how great it tasted. We have been buying Gold Peak's sweet tea every time it was on sale but it goes fast and it is still quite expensive. This recipe I found from The Budget Savvy Diva tasted just like it and cost me nickles to make. The crazy ingredient was 1/8 tsp of baking soda to cut the bitterness. I have to say it does exactly that. First I made it just as the way she wrote the recipe and then I cut the sugar down because I don't like it super sweet. I haven't bought store bought tea since. Give it a try and let me know what you think.




Ingredients

2 cups of boiling water
6 tea bags
3/4 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
6 cups cold water

Directions

Boil 2 cups of water. Turn off heat and stir in sugar to dissolve. place tea bags in water and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Pull out bags and add baking soda and stir. Add 6 cups cold water and pour into a pitcher. Serve over ice immediately or chill in refrigerator.

My family can't even tell the difference between it and the store bought version. So happy to be saving the money.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blackberry Cobbler

I Turned on the food network about a year ago and saw my very first episode of The Pioneer Woman. She made this Blackberry Cobbler. I am usually not a big fan of cobbler I tend to like a crisp more but this was a recipe I couldn't get out of my mind. I waited until blackberry season to give it a try and made it over the summer TWICE.

It was so easy and so good that I had to make it more than once and I had to share it with all of you. I had never used self rising flour so it was the one thing I had to run to the store to get and was worried I wouldn't be able to find it in a regular grocery store but they had plenty. Most of us do not have fresh blackberries right now but you can make it with frozen also. Try it and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
1/2 stick of butter
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup whole milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
whipped cream and or ice cream for serving

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 3 quart baking dish with butter.

In a medium bowl , whisk 1 cup sugar with the flour milk. Whisk in the melted butter.

Rinse the blackberries and pat them dry. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the blackberries. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour. When 10 minutes of the cooking time remains, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mom's Lasagna

Right out of the oven
My mom has been making this Lasagna for as long as I can remember. She makes her own meat sauce and doesn't skimp on the cheese. It is usually an all day event but easy to feed a large crowd. I only get it once a year and because it is so fantastic nobodies lasagna even compares. If you have ever had my mom's lasagna then you probably have asked for the recipe. She is now known for it and you know you are special if she is making it the day your are over. I think it is so good because she puts so much love and attention into it. However if you don't like cheese this is not the recipe for you. You can not be lactose intolerant for this dish. If you do try it let me know what you think.

Ready to bake

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb ground beef
salt and pepper
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon parsley
3 cans tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 box Barilla lasagna noodles
3 packages of mozzarella sliced
1 cup parmesan cheese

Directions

To make the sauce add ground beef to a large stock pot and brown on medium heat. Break it up into small pieces (the trick to this sauce to make sure the pieces are very small) and add salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon basil, oregano, and parsley. Once meat is pretty much done add chopped onion and garlic minced. Cook 2 minutes and then add three cans tomato sauce, 1 can stewed tomato cut into smaller pieces. (I use scissors and cut them up right in the can).

Add another teaspoon of basil, oregano, and parsley and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add water and simmer for all day or around 4 hours. Don't let it boil the sauce needs to cook low and slow. (You can make the sauce the night before if you want.) Once your sauce is ready you can build your lasagna.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Make cheese mixture in a medium bowl. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, ricotta and egg. Using a whisk mix together well.

Using a 9x13 pan take 3 scoops of sauce to cover the bottom of the pan so noodles don't stick.

1st layer add noodle and make sure bottom is covered. Using a spoon add cheese mixture to cover the noodle. Add sliced mozzarella over the cheese mixture. Add sauce over the mozzarella and then sprinkle parmesan over the top of the sauce.

Repeat this 2 more times. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing.


Check out those layers

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Smothered Crockpot Pork Chops




I find crock pot recipes on pinterest all over the place but am very weary of trying them because more often than not they turn out pretty bad. So when I saw this one I was intrigued by the photo but scared it was going to be awful. One main reason I don't like crockpot recipe is because it will tend to come out mushy. I figured pork chops are so dry that how could it come out that way. I found this recipe from the blog Chef in training. I read the reviews and everyone who tried it loved it so I thought what the hell.

It was ridiculously easy and turned out amazing. The pork came out super tender the gravy was rich and full of flavor with a little tang to it. The best part was that my whole entire family LOVED it. I don't know how it goes in your home but it is a rare occasion that my entire family loves what I cooked. There seems to always be some unhappy person pushing the food around.

I made this twice and the second time I added about 3 tablespoons of water to it because I felt it was a little too salty. I stress little. I felt the second time it was perfect. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
6 pork chops about 1/2 inch thick
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 10 ounce can of cream of chicken soup
3 tablespoons of water

Directions
Place Pork Chops in your crockpot. In small bowl give a quick mix of the ranch dressing, soup, and water. Cook on high for 5 hours.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Casserole


When I was in Seattle I found this lovely wild rice casserole on pinterest and had to try it out. I loved all the ingredients so I figured it had to be quite delish. Well It was super scrumptious and not a single bite left at the end of the night. I got this recipe from a lovely blog Picky Palate. I didn't have enough ingredients to make a full 9x13 dish so I cut the recipe down. However I didn't cut the cheese sauce down because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough and it would be dry so I made the enough for a full dish and just didn't add it all. 

I love casseroles but find that most of them call for can soup. I am not against can soup but sometimes I am not a fan. When I saw this on pinterest I pinned it because it said here is a casserole with no canned soup. It was very easy to make and was approved by all ages. Try it and let me know what you think. 



Ingredients
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 1/2Cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
2 Cups steamed white rice
8 oz prepared wild rice
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Cheese sauce ingredients

4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
2 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
Top with 1 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat oil into a medium dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Saute onion, celery and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in chicken, both rices, salt, pepper and garlic salt.  Reduce heat to low.
2.  To prepare cheese sauce melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper then slowly pour in chicken broth whisking continuously.  Whisk until thick and nearly boiling then stir in cheese until melted.  Pour desired amount of cheese sauce into rice mixture then transfer to a 9×9 inch deep baking dish. Top with additional cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.  




Monday, October 8, 2012

Blackberry Muffins

I can't say enough good things about my muffin cookbook by Williams Sonoma. I think I have made about 4 different muffins in that cookbook and they have all turned out to be delish. I had been waiting for the summer to try the blackberry muffin. I used fresh blackberries but you can use frozen. 

I made these for my family this summer. As I've said over and over having fresh blackberries outside our house for the month of August was fabulous. These muffins had a nice crispy crunch topping and were liked by all ages. Nothing like waking up to fresh muffins and coffee with my cousins, aunt, uncle, mother and kids. Try them and let me know what you think.






Ingredients

For the topping
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

For the muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg beaten
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blackberries or 2 1/2 cups frozen
unsweetened blackberries unthawed

Directions
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 12 standard muffin pan with butter or nonstick spray.

To make the topping stir together the sugar, flour, and zest in a small bowl. Stir in the melted butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the pecans and stir to combine. Set aside.

To make muffins, in a bowl, stir together in the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, zest, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the egg, melted butter, and buttermilk. stir just until evenly moistened. the batter will be slightly lumpy. Sprinkle with the blackberries and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula just until evenly distributed, no more that a few strokes. Take care not to break up the fruit. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it to a bit above the rim of the cup. Top each muffin with the topping, dividing it evenly (the sugar will melt and produce a glaze effect).

Bake until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 25-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve them warm or at room temperature, with butter.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

8 layer dip


I found this recipe in the Everyday food magazine a few years ago. I love layer dips but when ever I buy them at a store I find the flavors blend so much and it becomes very watery. This one looked very good and easy to make so I decided to try it out at a BBQ that we had at my mom's house. It was a huge hit and my mother asks me to make it every year now. It would be great for a game day. I promise you that you it will be the first thing to go and your guests will be asking you to make it again.

Ingredients

1 16 ounce can of refried beans
2 tsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 4.5 ounce can of green chiles
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 avocado diced
1 cup shredded lettuce
2 scallions

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine beans, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with sour cream, cheese, chiles, tomato, avocado, lettuce, and scallions. Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Caramel Apples

My son goes apple picking with his school every year. He usually comes home with a huge bag of lovely sour apples, perfect for baking and caramel apples. I usually make caramel apples and then some sort of pie. A couple of my favorites are Apple Pie Cake and Apple Tarte Tatin. However, my boys said they made Apple Betty at school and they want to make it at home so we may try that. My little Brody loves apples but thinks caramel apples are disgusting. I didn't think I would ever meet a child who didn't love a caramel but some how I gave birth to one. This time we tried rolling them in M & M's. The professionals make it looks so easy and as you can see by the one closest to you, the rolling wasn't successful. So we decided to place them on the second one. Live and learn has always been my motto. 

I have made my own caramel in the past and have to say I haven't had the best results from it. This version is much easier to do with kids and we all think they taste just as good as any caramel apple I have every purchased at the fair. Try them and let me know what you think. 

Ingredients
I  11 oz bag caramel bits
5 medium apples
2 tablespoons water
5 wooden sticks. (I use the chop sticks from takeout that I never used)
1 cup mini M&Ms (optional)
3 - 4 tablespoons sugar (super fine if you have it)

Directions

Clean each apple and dry completely. Place one stick through the core of each apple. Set up a pan with a piece of parchment paper. Add sugar on top so the caramel doesn't stick. 

Place caramel bits in a small/medium bowl. I don't like the bowl to be to big because it spreads out too much and then you have a harder time using up all the caramel. Add 2 tablespoons of water and microwave for 2 minutes on high. 

Stir the mixture together until all the caramel is completely melted and smooth. Take each apple and spoon the caramel over the apple starting at the top and let the remainder drip to the bottom. I dip each apple in the caramel to coat the bottom. Then you place is on the pan with parchment and sugar to sit. You can then add a topping if you want. We added mini M&M's this time and it was a huge hit but next time I think I will also try crushed up oreo's or even mini chocolate chips. 

Once you have finished all 5 apples put them in the refrigerator for one hour. I make them before dinner so they are good and ready for dessert. 

This is a fun easy treat that your kids will remember for a life time. Unless your child is like my Brody. We keep hoping his taste will change and he will enjoy them with us. He used to hate popcorn but not anymore. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad


One of my favorite things about living in NYC is how easy it is to get great buffalo mozzarella. Of course I wish I had the best of both worlds, great mozzarella and tomatoes and basil growing in my garden. So for now I just have to take advantage of the amazing grocery stores that offer all of these.  I am also a huge fan of the Barefoot Contessa so I decided to make her recipe of Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad. I got it out of her Back to Basics book. I brought it to a picnic and it was a huge hit. What is great about this is you can make it early and it transports well. I've also made this as a appetizer for a dinner on top of a lovely crusty bread or cracker. Try it and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not core) removed
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of sugar
kosher salt and pepper
16 ounces fresh salted mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Directions

Pre heat oven to 275 degrees

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize. Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.

Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly less than 1/2 inch thick. If the slices of mozzarella are larger than the tomatoes, cut the mozzarella slices in half. Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella on a platter and scatter the basil on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle the lightly with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.







Monday, September 24, 2012

Summer Pasta


I just loved the herbs growing outside in my mom's yard. I decided to chop up all the fresh ingredients and toss them with warm past for dinner one night. I can't tell you how wonderful it smelled and how delish it tasted. Sometimes the easiest recipes taste the best. Both Ben and my mom just loved it and couldn't stop eating it. 

Ingredients
1 lb spaghetti
4 tomatoes diced with juice
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Directions
Boil water in a large stock pot and cook pasta according to package.

Dice tomatoes and place in a medium bowl. Mince garlic, chop basil and parsley and also mix into the bowl. Add salt and pepper.

Once the pasta is done toss tomato mixture with olive oil, while past is hot. Serve and eat room temperature. 



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pasta Tuna Salad

My mother used to make this pasta salad for me when I was a kid and I still love it. The funny thing is she doesn't really remember it at all. My kids don't like it but me and my husband can't get enough it of it. I usually only make it during the summer and it seems to be a big hit at our picnic's up at the great hill. It is a great salad to bring to a party because it goes well with just about anything. Try it and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
1 pound fusili pasta
1 can of tuna drained
1 8 ounce can of sliced black olives
1 red bell pepper diced
2 stalks celery diced
4 scallions sliced thinly
2 pickles cut up and diced

Dressing

1 1/2 cups of mayo
2 tablespoons pickle juice
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Directions

In a large pot boil water and cook pasta according to instructions. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Drain well and mix in all the other ingredients. Whisk together mayo, mustard, pickle juice, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning, until combined well. Add dressing to the pasta mixture. Cover and sit in refrigerator until ready to serve. I usually make mine early in the day so all the flavors blend together.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Shells


I made this for my mother, aunt, and family over the summer vacation. I found it on pinterest and immediately pinned it because of the mouth watering photo. I pin with my eyes first and then if I can't stop thinking about it I will go back click on the blog and read the directions.  If it seems easy and delish I will give it a try. If it is fantastic I then share it on my blog. I was a bit worried with this one because to me pasta and Mexican food do not sound appetizing. However every time I looked at the photo my mouth watered and I just had to give it a try. My mom is not easiest person to please so I was really worried that I would sit down look at her face and she would say nothing and politely push it around while taking small bites. However, she, my aunt and my husband loved it. They said it tasted like tamales. We each had two helpings and I will definitely make this one again.

This is a great dish to serve for guests with some Spanish rice and salad. It calls for monterey jack cheese. I didn't have any on hand so I left it out. Next time I will for sure buy some and add it because I think it would add another nice kick to it.  Try this and let me know what you think.


Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning or any taco seasoning you prefer
4 oz. cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce (This is a smooth, tomato based sauce found in the Mexican section)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
3 green onions
Sour cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°
Cook the pasta shells according to directions; don't over cook and drain. Rinse with cold water so they don't stick together.
In a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions.  Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool. 
Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.  Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.  Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.
This fabulous recipe came from the blog, This way to his Heart.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sub Sandwich a.k.a The Big Sandwich

Football season has started and this sandwich is perfect for game day. This sub happens to be my favorite. I have been making it for quite a few years now because I find it very difficult to find it to be fresh good quality meat, cheese and bread. Every year my family asks me to make this and it is probably the only sandwich that can sit over night in the fridge and still taste fantastic the next day for lunch. I have changed the meat and cheese many different ways but I have to say this combo is always the best. My sister calls it the big sandwich because I usually use a big, fat, crusty on the outside soft in the side French loaf.

Ingredients

Large french loaf
1/4 lb thinly sliced honey turkey
1/4 lb thinly sliced honey ham
6 slices of salami
6 slices of provolone
2 cups shredded Romain lettuce
6-7 slices of tomato
6 thinly sliced sweet onion
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons mayo
3 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper


Directions

Slice bread in half and remove a bit of the inside on each side. This allows room for all the meat, cheese and veggies. Add mayo to each side of the bread and then mustard on the top. Layer with ham, turkey, salami, and cheese. Then add lettuce, tomato, onion, salt and pepper and vinegar and oil. Top with the other half of the loaf and cut into 5 to six slices. 
I first gut out of the a bit of the bread so the filling sinks into it and doesn't get pushed out when biting into it.


1st layer ham
2nd layer turkey
3rd layer salami
4th layer provolone cheese
5th layer is lettuce tomato, onion salt and pepper mayo and mustard on both sides of the bread.