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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to school!

It's that time of year again!  Moms are scrambling around...shopping for clothes and school supplies, squeezing in last minute beach trips, stocking up on snacks...it's back to the grind.  Schedules get crazy again.  Which means less time for dinner prep.

So, this usually is when moms lovingly embrace that ol' reliable time saving countertop appliance...the crockpot.

I don't normally get happy over cooking meat before putting it in the crockpot.  It seems like it defeats the whole purpose of its convenience!  I have to say though, it really doesn't take much time to do, and I found while creating this recipe that it really does make the dish better.


You'll thank me later when you realize you have more time to pack your lunches :)

Crockpot Chicken with Wine & Mushrooms
6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (10 oz) package whole button mushrooms, halved
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Brown chicken in a skillet with oil.  Remove and place in crockpot.

In same skillet, add garlic and mushrooms.  Saute until slightly browned, then add wine and cook for about 30 seconds.  Pour over chicken, then add remaining spices.

Cook on low for about 5 hours (this will vary depending on your crockpot and its size...mine is a 6.5 quart).  Serve with rice.

Linked to: What's On Your Plate?
                 It's A Keeper Thursday

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by West Bend.” in your blog post.



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Presto - pesto!

Fresh herbs - ahhhh.  They smell so good.  They look so good.  And they die so fast.  At least mine do.

One of the best ways to use them up before it's too late is to make pesto.  Homemade pesto is delicious.  Nothing beats it.  I try to make enough and freeze it for the colder months, although there usually comes a time when I have to use store bought (Kirkland, Costco's brand, makes a good one).

I like this version - it's different from the typical all basil/pignoli nut recipe.  It definitely adds a whole new level of flavor.

Another thing that I love about pesto is how easy it is to throw over pasta for a quick meal.  Frank loves it for that reason - if he's making his own dinner, all he has to do is boil pasta and throw some pesto on top...mix it in...done.  It's husband-proof, and we know how valuable that can be!

This time around, I made a nice pasta salad with it.  A bunch of us were getting together for lunch at my Nana's nursing home, and each made a contribution for all to share.  Since I was leaving for a week long shore stint the next day, I threw this together with ingredients I had on hand.

Keep this in mind for your Labor Day parties this weekend - it's an easy prep for a big crowd!

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken
1 pound rotini
4 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned and grilled, cut into bite size chunks
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup pesto (see recipe below)
pecorino romano cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  In a large bowl, add all other ingredients except for pesto and cheese.

Drain pasta and cool slightly before adding to bowl (you can run it under cold water for a few seconds).  Toss all ingredients together, then add pesto.  Add a handful of cheese before serving.

Serves approximately 10-12.

Basil Mint Pesto with Walnuts
slightly adapted from Pinch My Salt

1 1/2 cups basil leaves
2 cups mint leaves
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

Put the basil, mint, garlic, walnuts, salt and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil in a slow but steady stream. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, add cheese, then pulse again to combine.

Makes one cup.


Linked to:  Mangia Mondays

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Monday, August 29, 2011

A partridge (and a million pears) in a pear tree (What's Baking?)


My pear tree is multiplying.  RAPIDLY.  It would take a village to be able to burn through all of them.  Frank has filled huge leaf bags from Home Depot with them.  There's just no way to keep up!

Still, I love it.  It's a nice thing to have, and when I first see them budding, it reminds me that summer is in full swing.  It makes me happy.  So when Jade from The Mess Pot  proclaimed "Celebrate Summer" as our What's Baking theme this month, I knew I had to use my beloved pears.


It's been quite the week here in NJ.  First, an earthquake (we're not used to them in these here parts, so a 6.0 pretty much "shook me up")...then a 24 hour hurricane (another rarity in NJ) with tornado warnings mixed in.  Can you say xanax?  Or wine?

Good thing this pairs well with the wine...not sure about the xanax, but probably that, too.

This recipe is delicious, easy and decadent.  And at this rate, I could invite the whole county over for it :)


Thanks for hosting, Jade!

Cinnamon-Mascarpone Baked Pears

2 medium pears
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup apple juice (or white grape juice)
6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Slice pears in half lengthwise, core, and place inside up in baking pan.  Spoon 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon butter into each pear half.  Pour juice into baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes.  

Combine cheese, sugar and cinnamon.  Top each pear half with cheese mixture and serve warm.
Linked to:  Sweet Tooth Friday


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

And the winner is...

True Random Number Generator  35Powered
Congratulations, Allison!  You're the winner of my latest giveaway, but you didn't leave an email address!  I hope you see this post in the next 48 hours...please contact me as soon as you do.

Allison said...

I would love to have someone cleaning up after me :) Does that count? Love your recipes!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

All over the place

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway - click HERE for details!***

Summer is a crazy time for us...spending lots of time down the shore, get togethers with friends, BBQs...the usual warm weather fun.  I sometimes don't know when/where I'm coming and going.  And I've been realizing that committing to recipe swaps can be a big challenge during all of this because of those reasons.  Plus, I usually forget when the deadline dates are!  Whoops.

We had a nice little "shake up" earlier this week with the earthquake, and now we're preparing for Hurricane Irene to sweep through this weekend.  Yeah, craziness is a great way to describe these past few days.  So when I realized I needed to make a recipe submitted by Melissa (Lemons & Love) for our Italian swap, and I needed to do it ASAP, I had to get creative with what I had.

I was down at our shore house, faced with many ingredients that I needed to use up before they went bad.  I immediately remembered a quick and easy dip that resembled Melissa's, but was perfect for what I had in the house (and the garden!).

This dip is GREAT for when you need something thrown together super fast, or when you're too lazy to do much else besides combine 3 ingredients :)  The addition of fresh garden basil is perfect...try not to use the dried stuff if you can help it.


Hot Caprese Dip
from How Sweet It Is

10 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 tomatoes, seeded and juiced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Italian bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in baking dish (make sure you get as much juice out of the tomatoes as you can!) and bake for about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately with sliced Italian bread to keep the dip from getting too "wet".

You can stick this under the broiler for a few minutes after it's done baking if you like.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another way to fire things up

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway - click HERE for details! *** 

Do you love wasabi as much as I do?  You already know I'm a fan of spicy, and this is just another way to get my fix.  It's a good thing they make prepared wasabi mustard - makes it even easier.

Spice up your fish with this marinade.  Truth is, it isn't really THAT spicy, but just enough to give it a kick.  And, the extra mustard on top certainly doesn't hurt :)

It's SO easy, and delicious, and versatile...you can make it on the stovetop, bake it in the oven, or grill it.  LOVE this.


Wasabi Salmon
1 3/4 pounds boneless salmon filet
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons wasabi mustard
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

Combine all ingredients and marinate salmon for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet or pan and place salmon on/in it.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until salmon is opaque.  Top with extra wasabi mustard, if desired.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Time for a giveaway!

It's been a while, hasn't it?

If you're anything like me, you can sometimes be a little harried in the kitchen...trying to juggle 5 things at once, moving at rapid speed, not always paying full attention...it's always nice to have items that can give you even one short cut to make things a little easier.

These Grab & Dry Gloves are one of those items.  Not only do they make dishes and other things easy to grab, but they dry them in a flash, too.


I have a pair for one lucky person in bright orange...you'll never misplace or lose them :)  To enter, simply leave a comment here, telling me what you wish you had in your kitchen to make your life easier.

For additional entries (one per item), you can:

- follow me on Twitter (@IWasBornToCook)
- mention this giveaway either on your Facebook page or in your blog (2 extra entries if you do both!)...don't forget to leave the link in your comment

No one's paying me or sponsoring me to do this, for the record...it's just me sharing a cool kitchen gadget with my loyal readers :)  And sorry, but this giveaway is only open to those in the Continental US.

You have until Saturday the 26th at 8pm EST to enter.  As always, I'll choose a winner using random.org.

Good luck and spread the word!


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Blame it on the rain

We had a few days recently that were much cooler than usual.  Lots of rain, too.  Even though it's August, the weather was just screaming for comfort food.  So, off I went to find a new recipe to try.

Katie from So Tasty, So Yummy has a few recipes I've had my eye on for a while.  One of them is this great Peruvian dish that was very easy to make, and it hit the spot as far as being comforting.  We really enjoyed it.

The one change that I'd make next time is to use stew meat instead of flank steak.  It would hold up just fine with this marinade, plus it's a lot cheaper!  Also, I didn't even bother with the rice...the potatoes were enough for us (I made a few extra).

We'll definitely keep this in mind once the weather gets cooler!


Lomo Saltado
slightly adapted from So Tasty, So Yummy


1/2 pound flank steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice from 1 lime
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 medium red potatoes
salt and pepper to taste


Cut beef into strips. Combine soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, garlic powder, and pepper in a medium bowl, then add beef. Allow the beef to marinate for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the potatoes into small pieces and toss in one tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. 


Sauté tomatoes and onion over medium high heat in one tablespoon of oil, until tomatoes start breaking down and onions are translucent. Add beef mixture, including marinade. Turn heat down to medium low and let mixture cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces and thickens. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Combine the cooked potatoes and beef mixture and serve immediately.

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Hey batter, batter

Another favorite flavor of mine - cake batter. Yum. And fun. It always livens up the party, no matter what form it's in.

When I saw this recipe I knew it was the way to go when I needed a quick dessert that was kid friendly. But if you think the adults shied away, think again.

You can't deny the power of cake batter...no matter how old you are. 


Cake Batter Crispy Treats
slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

3 tablespoons butter
1 (10 oz) bag mini marshmallows
1/4 cup yellow cake mix
6 cups rice krispies cereal
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles, divided

Coat a baking pan (any size you like) with cooking spray. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and add cake mix, little by little, so there are no lumps.

Add the cereal and sit until evenly coated with marshmallow mixture. Stir in half of the sprinkles. Spread mixture into pan evenly and top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Spray knife with cooking spray before cutting into squares. Store in airtight container.

Linked to: Sweet Tooth Friday

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Sweet & salty goodness

Another ice cream post, you ask?

Yes.  Oh, yes.  (and there will be more, don't worry!)

This has been one of the most requested flavors from family members.  So, in preparation for several batches, Frank went to Costco and bought a huge bag of pistachios.

I love the sweet and salty flavor combo...yum.  Don't be afraid to use salted pistachios, I promise, you'll love it too!


Pistachio Ice Cream
adapted from Epicurious

1 cup salted shelled pistachios
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup salted shelled pistachios, chopped


Finely grind 1 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup sugar in food processor. Bring milk and ground pistachio mixture to boil in large saucepan. Remove from heat. Mix in almond extract.

Whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Cook over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Strain into large bowl. Chill for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Stir 1 cup heavy cream and chopped pistachios into custard. Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to container and freeze.

Linked to:  Sweets For A Saturday

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

When the cat's away...

Frank's been working a LOT of hours lately, including late nights.  So, he hasn't been around much for dinner.  Boo :(

But hey, why not look on the bright side of things...it gives me a chance to make foods that he doesn't like to eat.  Like peas.

This is one of those dishes that takes me right back to my childhood.  I have very vivid memories of it cooking on the stove while the smell permeated the house.  One of Mom's best meals, and so easy to whip up on a busy weeknight.  I love it.  And I wish I could make it more often.

Talk about a peasant meal.  This is old school Italian, people.

I miss him, but cooking off the "black list" makes it a little more bearable while he's gone :)

Pasta with Poached Egg & Peas
1 pound pasta (mezze rigatoni, elbows, small shells all work great)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
crushed red pepper
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)
2 cups frozen peas (use more or less if you like)
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
pecorino romano cheese

In a deep skillet, heat oil over medium high flame.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper, then once garlic is brown add sauce.  Lower flame to medium and cook for 5-7 minutes, then add peas.  Cook peas for 20 minutes over low heat, covered.

Remove cover and carefully crack eggs in pan, making sure not to break yolks.  Poach over low heat, covered, for 10-15 minutes (if you want to speed up their cooking time, spoon sauce on top of them occasionally).  At the same time, cook pasta according to package instructions.

Drain pasta and place in individual bowls.  Spoon sauce and peas over pasta and mix.  Add egg on top, followed by more sauce and peas, and then salt, pepper and cheese.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Linked to:  Pasta Recipes Link Up


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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spreading more blogging community love (Secret Recipe Club)

Since it was only 2 days ago, I'm sure you remember my yummy recipe that I posted for my first contribution to the Secret Recipe Club.  It really was a blast to participate in, and it was great seeing what everyone else chose to make.  Plus, it was a great way to get introduced to some new blogs that are terrific!

After Amanda posted the blog hop, it was determined that one blogger's recipe had been forgotten.  The person who had it suddenly backed out, leaving Connor's Cooking an orphan of the reveal  :(   So, several of us decided it would be fun to choose one of her recipes and post it today, to make up for what happened.

I had very little time to make something since I was going out to dinner with friends, so I perused the blog for quick and easy recipes.  The one that caught my eye was perfect...it could be made ahead so I could eat it for lunch today.  Plus, I had all the ingredients in the house.

This recipe is a "dip" and although I photographed it that way, I actually kept the eggs a bit chunky (my preference) and had it on wheat bread for a nice lunchtime sandwich (with sliced red onion, of course!).    It was delicious!  I could see it as being a big hit at a party, though, served as a dip with crackers and celery.  Yum.  


Deviled Dip
slightly adapted from Connor's Cooking

8 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
5 bread and butter pickles, chopped
a few shakes of hot sauce
paprika, salt and pepper to taste

Chop eggs and add all additional ingredients. Stir until combined. Serve with crackers and celery.




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More, por favor!

The next time you're looking for a quick (and I mean QUICK!!), easy and delicious side dish for your Latin inspired meals, remember this one.

Then go buy plantains.  Then turn on your stove.  Then enjoy them 10 minutes later.

Oh, and tune in later today (more specifically, 5PM today) for a bonus post!

Fried Plantain Chips
2 firm, semi-ripe plantains
canola or vegetable oil (enough to just fill the bottom of your skillet)
salt
juice from 1 lime

Cut plantains in half, then slice skin vertically without piercing the plantain to help peel skin off.  Cut plantains on an angle, about 1/4 inch thick.

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Place plantain slices in - just enough to line bottom of pan (you will probably repeat this step a few times).  Flip them once they turn golden and cook for another few minutes.

Remove chips from pan and place on paper towel lined plate.  Immediately squeeze lime juice on top and sprinkle salt.

Serve right away or store in air tight container once they are cool (they can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes).

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

For Frank...and Mikey.

The food blogging community is a tight knit group.  Although I've only met a handful of women in real life, it's very easy to feel like you know someone through their writing, your banter, and the common passion that we all share.  It's an amazing collection of people.

I've been following In Jennie's Kitchen for a while now.  Last week, Jennie's husband, Mikey, suddenly passed away after suffering from a heart attack.  Reading the few tweets and posts that she wrote since it happened really pulled at my heart strings.  Knowing the children are suffering, knowing Jennie is mourning her great love...it's devastating.

One of Jennie's posts last week was an eye opener for myself as well as many others.

I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I'm waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.


I was unable to bake on Friday, but took note of all the peanut butter pies (and variations) that were made throughout the blogosphere.  It was truly amazing and touching.  


Appreciating the message that Jennie sent out, and taking into consideration that Frank doesn't eat peanut butter, I decided to make his favorite dessert on Sunday - a dessert he's been asking me to make for a while. 
Why haven't I made it sooner?  Good question.  I really don't know.


Listen to Jennie's message - I'm glad I did, and I know Frank was too :)  Jennie, you're in our prayers.  Stay strong.  


Quick Tiramisu Trifles
adapted from Baked Bree

1/4 pound mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
8 lady fingers (approximately - you may need more or less, depending on what dishes you use)
3/4 cup espresso
1 1/2 tablespoons marsala wine
cocoa powder

In a bowl, combine mascarpone, cream and sugar.  Beat or whisk until stiff.

Add marsala to espresso and quickly soak ladyfingers.  Line the bottoms of your containers with them, followed by cream mixture.  Add another layer of ladyfingers.  Top with cream and sprinkle cooca powder on top.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.



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Monday, August 15, 2011

The whole enchilada (Secret Recipe Club)

I noticed several fellow food bloggers posting about The Secret Recipe Club and became curious, so I decided to look into it.  I'm so glad I did...what fun!  You get a blog assignment each month from one of the leaders of the group, and you get to pick any recipe you want from it.  Then everyone posts their recipe on the same day at the same time for the big reveal.

When I got my assignment I had to do a double take, because as it turned out, I was given the blog of the creator of the group...Amanda from Amanda's Cookin'.  I was honored, and was even more excited after seeing the wide variety of delicious recipes in her index.  Great stuff!

I actually spent a few weeks deciding what to make, believe it or not...I went back and forth between a few things (this is where Frank will come in and tell you how indecisive I always am infront of a menu).  Then, I came upon a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce, and jumped on it.  I had a craving for Mexican food and since I've never made my own before, I figured this was the perfect opportunity, and combined it with my chicken enchilada recipe.


Do yourself a favor - next time you're at the grocery store, put down the can of prepared stuff and make this.  Too easy not to.  No excuses.

By the way,  you can check out all the other SRC recipes at the bottom of this post.  And why not join in the fun yourself if you're a food blogger?  Visit the site for all of the details.

Amanda, hope you're proud of my first assignment, especially since it's coming from your blog!  Loving the SRC already...can't wait for the next round :)


Easy Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Sauce
sauce recipe from Amanda's Cookin'

For the enchiladas:
meat from 1 rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup light sour cream
juice from 1 lime
7 large whole wheat flour tortillas
shredded cheese (this time around I used monterey jack, sharp cheddar and mozzarella)
2 scallions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Spoon a little sauce (see recipe below) on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

Take a tortilla and place filling toward the bottom of it, then tuck the sides in and roll it up.  Place seam down in the pan.  Continue with the rest of the tortillas and filling.

Pour sauce over and around the enchiladas, then top with cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until brown and cheese has melted.  Top with chopped scallions and serve with sour cream.

For the sauce:
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies (do not drain)
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes. 


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Soup that'll have you chillin' out

I was thrilled when I received Jey's recipe in the latest swap (theme - summer veggies), since I hadn't made a cold soup yet this summer.  How could that be?  What was I waiting for?  Not only is it super easy to do, but so refreshing and delicious...

I took Jey's advice about making it a creamy soup, and was happy I did.  I thought the texture was terrific and really enjoyed the thickness of it, rather than leaving it chunky like she said the original recipe suggested.

Definitely give this a shot soon.  You'll be amazed at the simplicity of it, and how the result packs a big punch.  Of course, I added much more garlic than the recipe called for ;)

Can't wait to have the rest for lunch!

Chilled Cucumber Soup
slightly adapted from The Jey of Cooking

2 cucumbers, seeded and diced
2 scallions, cut into chunks
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh mint
3 tablespoons fresh basil
2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup lowfat milk (1%)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Throw all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Store in refrigerator, or serve immediately with chopped red pepper and pistachios sprinkled on top.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

More from the land of zucchini

I have to be honest - even though it's coming out of our ears, I'll never get sick of it.  No matter how you cook or bake it, it's delicious.  All varieties.  Bring it on.  My doorstep awaits you.

I made this dish for my mother-in-law and scored many points, even though it wasn't necessary since I'm already her favorite daughter-in-law.  Yeah, I'm the only one she has...so what? ;)

It doesn't get easier than this, folks.

Spaghetti with Fried Zucchini
heavily adapted from Mario Batali

1 pound spaghetti
2 large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds (I used the rest of my googootz)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
crushed red pepper to taste

Boil pasta until al dente.  While it's cooking, heat oil in a large skillet.  Add zucchini in a single layer and poach like chips.  Remove, drain and repeat process until all zucchini is cooked.  Place cooked zucchini in a serving bowl.

Add garlic to pan and cook until brown.  Add vinegar and let cook until vinegar evaporates, about 2 minutes. Put garlic in bowl with zucchini.

Drain pasta and add to bowl, stir to combine and add salt and pepper.  Add cheese and crushed red pepper, toss and serve immediately.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boiling over

Now that we're heading into mid-August (wow, already?!?!), I've begun to reflect back on what dishes I've made so far this summer and taking note of what I still need to do.  There are so many options...it's sometimes hard to decide what to make each night.

Frank is a huge clam lover and one day, while we were down the shore, he was seriously craving them.  My mother-in-law had been talking about doing a boil for a while.  So, we combined the two wishes and crossed off one of those dishes I thought of from my to-do list.

Although there are several steps to making a boil, there's no reason to be intimidated.  All of them are easy, and the end result is well worth it.  It's also easy to add, substitute or omit items...just make sure you keep the timing just right so you aren't overcooking any ingredients.

Also, we cooked this in 2 separate pots (two 8 quart ones) because we didn't have a larger one.  Worked just fine.  So don't let that scare you off, either.

Don't forget the ice cold beer.  It's a must.  Oh, and some crusty bread as well.


It's a fun one to get down and dirty with!


New England Shrimp Boil
adapted from Old Bay


3 tablespoons olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 quarts chicken broth or stock 
1 can (28 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red new potatoes
12 ounces pearl onions, peeled, left whole
1 pound mild Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 dozen small littleneck clams, scrubbed and drained
2 1/2 pounds unpeeled extra-jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 count)
2 lemons, cut into wedges


Heat oil in 12-quart stockpot on medium heat. Add garlic; cook gently 2 minutes without browning. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, 3 tablespoons Old Bay and pepper. Bring to boil.

Stir in potatoes. Return to boil. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Add onions and sausage. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Add corn and clams. (If ingredients are not covered by broth, add up to 2 cups water to cover.) Cook, covered, 10 minutes or until clams open and corn is tender, stirring occasionally. 



Add shrimp. Return to boil, stirring gently. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 to 8 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.

Drain cooking liquid. Pour contents of pot into large serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Old Bay. Serve with lemon wedges.


Linked to: What's On Your Plate?

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Playing favorites

Here on my blog, I think what I favor is pretty obvious.  I try to keep a variety of recipes, using different ingredients and flavors, borrowing from different cultures, etc.  But sometimes you just can't fight what you love.

My key lime pie is a long time favorite among family and friends.  My key lime cupcakes are the most popular item on this blog, so I guess they're a huge favorite among all of you :)  So, what would be better than incorporating this deliciousness into a summer favorite?  Not much.

LOVING this.


Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
adapted from My Baking Addiction

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joe's)
pinch of salt
10 graham crackers, crushed

Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.  Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers' instructions.  Transfer to a freezer container, stir in graham crackers crumbs and freeze for at least an hour.

Top with graham crackers (and/or crumbs) before serving.

Linked to:  Sweet Tooth Friday
                 Sweets for a Saturday

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Chicken of the Sea

My mother-in-law gets very excited when we come down to their shore house to visit.  The main reason, of course, is because she gets to hang with Bella.  As most of you newer parents know, we mean nothing once we start popping the kiddies out...it's all about the grandchildren.  Melissa who???

Another big reason: she gets to eat the foods she loves and misses because my father-in-law refuses to eat them.  Like seafood.  FIL won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.  He won't even let her cook it on the grill because it'll "ruin it" and poison his meat.  So, she waits until I'm there so she has someone to enjoy these forbidden foods with.

My sister-in-law's fiance recently went fishing and caught tuna.  He had it cleaned and cut, and left a bunch of it at the inlaws' house, where it's been patiently waiting in the freezer to be used.  So, MIL was happy to bust it out of there so we could indulge.

I threw together a quick marinade that tastes great in the broiler - I've used it on the grill many times before and it's really delicious.  It would work well with other fish too, like swordfish, mahi mahi, scallops...try it on your favorite today.



Old Bay Tuna
3 fresh tuna steaks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  

Set oven on broil and place tuna in a baking pan.  Pour excess marinade over tuna.  Broil for approximately 5 minutes on each side.  

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Who you callin' googootz?

Any Sopranos fans out there?  Remember when Tony referred to AJ as "googootz"?  At the time, I had no clue what it meant and immediately ran to google, which I'm guessing some of you may have just done yourselves.  I hated being stumped by an Italian slang word or term of endearment...I thought I knew them all!

Well, this is what he was talking about.

Below is a part of a cucuzza (aka "googootz"), between a pen (to give you a point of reference for size) and part of a zucchini.  I'd already used half of each of them...they were HUGE.


Googootz is slang for zucchini in Italian, and can be used interchangeably with the more common variety.  They're big suckers that just grow, and grow, and grow....

I took part of each of these and threw them in my food processor to make these delicious muffins.  I thought it was a bit ironic that although the recipe yielded 24 muffins, I ended up with 32 :)  This stuff just won't go away!


For those into "hiding" veggies for their kids, these are worth a shot.  It wasn't my intent when I made them, but afterwards, I figured it would be a nice way to get a little green into Bella...I mean, the kid never turns down chocolate. Unfortunately, she wasn't fooled.  Smartie.


I subbed no-sugar-added applesauce for half of the oil in the original recipe for a more healthy version.  Good stuff!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
adapted from Allrecipes


3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom



    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.


      In a large bowl, beat eggs. Beat in sugar and oil. Add the cocoa, vanilla and zucchini and stir well.
        Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Mix until just moist.


          Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Store loosely covered.

          Linked to:  Mangia Mondays

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          Thursday, August 4, 2011

          Using your bounty

          WARNING - this is another of several zucchini recipes you'll be seeing.  I'm one of "those" people who has been bombarded.  And I'm not complaining :)

          These little treasures are perfect as an appetizer or side dish (especially with some tzatziki, and/or hot sauce).  They're easy to make, a great way to use up your squash surplus, and best of all...delicious.

          Once again, Mario Batali rocks.


          Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters
          from Food & Wine

          2 zucchini, shredded
          3 scallions, chopped
          1/2 cup ricotta cheese
          2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
          3 cloves garlic, grated
          2 large eggs
          3/4 cup AP flour
          extra virgin olive oil, for frying
          lemon wedges
          salt and pepper

          Mix all ingredients together and form into patties.  Put some extra virgin olive oil in a hot skillet and fry away.  Place on paper towel to drain when removing from pan.  Squeeze fresh lemon over patties and serve.

          Makes approximately 20 fritters.


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          Wednesday, August 3, 2011

          Summer in your freezer

          Peaches are another reason why I love summer.  It's one of several fruits I look forward to all year long.  So juicy, sweet, tasty...yum.

          I bought a bunch of them recently and tossed around the idea of making a cobbler...a galette...a crisp...but something was pulling me toward the ice cream maker again.

          A compelling force that's been keeping my freezer stocked with delicious flavors since I got my gadget just weeks ago.

          A power no one can deny.


          Make this before peaches go away for the year!

          Peach Ice Cream
          from Allrecipes


          3 eggs, beaten
          1 3/4 cups white sugar
          5 fresh peaches, pitted and chopped
          2 cups heavy cream
          1 cup half and half cream
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1/4 teaspoon salt


            In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until smooth.  Puree peaches in food processor and stir puree into egg mixture. Stir in cream, half and half, vanilla and salt.  Mix well.


              Pour mixture into freezer canister of ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.


              Linked to:  Sweet Tooth Friday

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              Tuesday, August 2, 2011

              A pleasant surprise

              I know chain restaurants excite a lot of people, but I'm not one of them.  There are a few that we'll occasionally eat at, but the majority of them don't usually see us in their establishments.  I live in an area where there are so many great restaurants to choose from (thankfully!), as well as kid friendly, so there's no need to go where we feel the food is sub par.

              So, why would I even bother trying a recipe from a restaurant I don't like in the first place?  Well, I'm always looking for new ways to prepare salmon, and since I had all the ingredients on hand, I figured I'd try it out.  Homemade is always better anyway, right?

              I'm glad I tried it!  You should, too.


              By the way, I ended up cooking these in a grill pan because it was POURING outside and grilling wasn't happening.  We were very happy with the result, so if you can't grill for any reason, don't be afraid to cook this inside.

              Honey Pepper Glazed Salmon
              slightly adapted from Food. com (Applebee's copycat recipe)


              3/4 cup honey
              1/3 cup soy sauce
              1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
              1/4 cup pineapple juice
              juice of 1 lemon
              tablespoons apple cider vinegar
              teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
              teaspoon ground black pepper
              1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
              1/2 teaspoon paprika
              1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
              4 salmon filets, skin removed
              pineapple chunks and chopped scallions, for topping


              For the sauce - combine all ingredients (aside from salmon) in a medium saucepan and stir and cook over medium-low heat.  Once it starts to boil, simmer for 15 minutes or until syrupy.  Do not overcook.


              Rub each filet with a little oil, followed by salt and pepper.  Place on grill (medium heat) and cook for 4-7 minutes on each side.  The same instructions apply to a broiler or pan.  Top with pineapple and scallions before serving.



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              Monday, August 1, 2011

              Simple sweets

              I've always been more of a cook than a baker.  Recently, I've made it a point to challenge myself in the baking department...stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on recipes I normally wouldn't have tried before.

              Still, once in a while, I revert back to my more simpler ways.  And sometimes, the simplest sweets are the ones that people dive into and wipe out in minutes.

              This is one of those sweets.


              This really should come with a warning label on it.

              Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip
              slightly adapted from Shugary Sweets

              8 oz cream cheese, softened
              1/2 cup butter, softened
              2 tsp vanilla extract
              1 cup confectioners' sugar
              1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
              Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat an additional few minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. 

              Serve with graham crackers, animal crackers, pretzels...even strawberries.  

              Linked to:  Mangia Mondays

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