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.

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


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. 

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

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.

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


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


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.

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.


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


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. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blackberry Crisp with Creeping Raspberries

I absolutely love August because of the blackberries that grow wild outside of my mom's house. I went crazy this year and tried a few recipes with them. This was the first and I added a different berry that is also growing wild outside near the blackberries. These we discovered last year and luckily they start growing in late June so we got to enjoy them all of July. They are called Creeping Raspberries and from what I noticed are great ground cover, grow very easily and are quite delicious. I would say they taste like a cross between a raspberry and tangerine. Me and my kids could not get enough of them. Because the blackberries were still not quite plentiful in early August. I added some of them to my crisp and oh boy was I very happy with the result.

These were growing down the hill and hanging over the rock wall


For the berry mixture
4-5 cups blackberries and creeping raspberries
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons flour

For the topping
1 3/4 cup of oats
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Wash berries gently and dry on a backing sheet lined with a paper towel. Add those berries gently to a bowl and toss them with sugar and flour. Try not to mix to much so the berries keep their shape.

Add these berries to a baking dish a little larger than 9x9 if possible if not 9x9 will do.

In another bowl add oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and cold butter cut into small squares. With a pastry cutter or your fingers mix all of it together until it creates large peas size lumps. Cover the berries and bake 25 to 35 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Trust me you wont have any leftovers. If you don't have creeping raspberries you could make this same recipe with all blackberries. Try it and let me know what you think.