Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Japanese Wings

I realized that I haven't posted a new wing recipe in a while. So I decided to make a variety that I love and find totally addicting.. but Hubbs finds them a lil too sweet. (Even tho' he slathers them with a hotsauce that promises a firey bowel movement right on the label - eww. I just don't get the appeal of some of those hot sauces lol) These wings are scrumptious. The recipe includes ingredients that most have on hand in their pantries, they are super easy to fix and the flavor you get when they are done is outstanding. These are on the sweet side.. almost like a candied wing, but savory at the same time. The sauce reminds me of Orange Chicken that a lot of Asian restaurants offer. Yet there is no orange in the recipe. I also taste honey, where again, there is no honey in the recipe. Your wings turn out crispy and sticky at the same time, which for me, is heavenly. This sauce can be applied to all chicken pieces, not just the wings. I've used it on breasts and on tenderloins with great success. My only suggestion would be, if you try this sauce on larger pieces of chicken, double the sauce so that you can drizzle it over some rice to go with your chicken. Yum!!

Japanese Wings
Japanese Wings

3 lbs. chicken wings - See Note Below
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. all-purpose flour for coating
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 c. butter - I've never been able to bring myself to fry in that much butter, so I usually use canola or peanut oil and it works fine

3 TBS. soy sauce
3 TBS. water
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. white vinegar - Apple cider vinegar works well too
1 tsp. minced garlic or 1/2 tsp. powdered garlic - or to taste
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a roasting pan that has at least 2 inch sides with foil - you really don't want to skip this step as clean up is a true bitch if you don't line your pan and then IMMEDIATELY wash it when cooking is done. Seriously.

You can keep your wings whole as I do, or cut them in half, then dip in egg and coat with flour, salt and pepper. I've skipped the egg part and just dredged the chicken in a mixture of flour, salt & pepper - you don't miss the egg at all.

Heat butter or oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry wings until brown. Place in a shallow, foil lined, roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, garlic and salt. Pour over wings.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, basting wings with sauce often - I usually baste every 5 to 10 minutes. I also bake them closer to 45 minutes to get that super carmelized sticky result.

*Note: I normally cook about 8 whole wings, I have no idea what the poundage is. But for 8 whole wings, the sauce is just enough. I don't think those 8 equal out to 3 pounds, so if you were going to make more than that, double your sauce.

The sauce will stay thin. If you prefer a thicker sauce then mix 1 TBS. cornstarch to the soy sauce and water before adding the sugar and other ingredients.

Also.. when you open the oven to baste, the vinegar will take your breath away.. but don't be alarmed, these wings are not vinegary in the least.

Japanese Wings cu

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Crab Salad

Just a quickie post this morning.. as I need to get to the dungeon early for a bid due by 8 a.m. Ugh.. right after a holiday weekend too.. sheesh.

Yesterday was beautiful and perfect for cooking out. My mom and cousins came over for a simple barbeque of hamburgs and hot dogs. The whole issue was a relaxing day for everyone with the focus on the kids and not on the cooking, which was kinda nice. One of the very first get togethers at my humble abode where I didn't spend 3 days cooking.

Although it's me.. and yanno me.. I hadda find something to make to munch on before we fired up the grill. I went with Laura Rebecca's Crab Salad served on toasted English muffins. This was delicious and just screamed summer. The lemon zest and juice really perked up the flavor of the crab and veggies and the crispedy english muffin base was something I'd never thought of serving crab salad on before - it was wonderful. :D

Crab Salad
Laura Rebecca's Crab Salad

4 oz. crabmeat, picked over
1 TBS. finely chopped scallions
1 TBS. finely chopped bell pepper (red, orange or yellow)
1 TBS. finely chopped celery
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 to 2 TBS. mayo
Salt & Pepper
1 English Muffin, split, toasted and lightly buttered
1 Bibb lettuce leaf, torn in half

In a medium bowl, combine crab, scallions, pepper, celery, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add mayo, mixing to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top each English Muffin half with half a Bibb lettuce leaf. Place spoonfuls of crab salad on top of each muffin half, garnishing with a bit of lemon zest or pepper slice. Serve with wedge of lemon.

*Note: I topped the salad with a lil Gruyere cheese and broiled it just long enough to melt the cheese. Then I cut each muffin in quarters and served as little appetizers.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 29, 2006

Our first flowers!

I just couldn't be in a better mood. Okay, well I could if Hubbs was home.. but that would just be the cream of the cake as we've had THREE beautiful warm days in a row here in NE Ohio and I'm finally starting to believe summer is almost here :D

Although not food related, I couldn't resist bragging about my first flower of the year.. well the first flowers of the year that I like. We've got 2 azalea bushes out front that have been in bloom for a couple weeks, but they were left by the previous owners and don't really thrill me too much. But these clematis and peonies were planted by Hubbs last year and didn't do a damn thing - we thought they were dead for sure.. Hooray! They are not dead! I guess they needed a year to rest before they showed their glorious selves :D

Unfortunately, my beautiful Dahlias did not go back into my beds this year - at least not yet, I hope. Hubbs took them out of the ground and stored them up in our attic last fall and unfortunately, he put them way in the back where I can't get to them.. so if they are still okay and it's not too late by next weekend, they'll go back in the ground and hopefully produce their beautiful flowers. I love Dahlias with such a passion.. especially the big deep dish bloom variety!

Okay, here are my pictures, taken with the crap cam.. as per usual. Ugh.

Clematis 2006

Peony bud 2006

Peony bud II

Yep the peonies are just budding, I can't wait to see the open bloom! Yay lil peonies!

Happy Memorial Day everyone.. and happy summer is on the way! :D


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Someone is in big trouble. I think.

Laura Rebecca I have not decided if I am in love with you or if I should curse you.. yes, I said Curse You!!

Friday was my 6 month check-up on the road to being completely cancer free.. the visit was nothing to report.. tests won't be back for a week (probably a lil longer because of the holiday) but I'm not worried, I feel confident I'll pass with flying colors :D I was a lil upset, though, to find that I have gained 7 pounds since December. Holy Shit! That's 3 pounds less the 10 I lost in THREE WEEKS directly after the hysterectomy. To think.. I figured while hubbs was away, I wouldn't do badly as I wouldn't be cooking as much because I could easily live on cereal for dinner every night.. Mmm hmm.. things did not go as planned. I've become a cooking FREAK.. and as you've all witnessed.. I haven't been cooking lots of steamed veggies and rice cakes. Can you cook a rice cake?? So being of sound mind and sound (not to mention quite thick) body.. I take total responsibility for my actions. And by actions, I mean thoroughly enjoying high caloric and high fat foods the past 3 months. Thank God he'll be home by next weekend WOOO HOOOO!!!!!

No wait.. I am blaming Laura Rebecca for today's walk down Chocolate Boulevard. If it were not for Laura Rebecca posting the mouth-watering pictures and recipe for Outrageous Triple Chocolate Cookies, I never would have known about them. They would not have been talking to me from Beyond for well over 5.5 days. They would not have awaken me from a sound sleep at 5 a.m. this morning - beckoning me to combine all of that delectable chocolate into the most heavenly, chewy, ooey gooey, orgasmic giving cookie on the face of this planet we here call Earth. My quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie? It's no longer. I have reached the mecca, my friends. Although not a traditional chocolate chip cookie as it's a chocolate based "dough" - this is still it for me. I will NEVER make a traditional chocolate chip cookie again. I spat on traditional chocolate chip cookies! You are dead to me traditional chocolate chip cookie! Oh and Tyler Florence?? If you are reading this.. and I know that you are.. your Big Fat Chocolate Chip cookie can bite my Outrageous Triple Chocolate cookie right in the ass. Loser. Loooossserrrrrrr!

When I took them out of the oven they were shiny and cracked, just as promised by Laura Rebecca (will you marry me, Laura Rebecca?). I let them sit on their warm sheets for 10 minutes before slowly sliding my super thin metal spatula oh so gently under their tender bellies, transfering them to a more comfortable cookie rack. Even then I did not touch them! I waited yet another 10 minutes before allowing myself to sample. And sample I did. After the first bite, my eyes rolled back in my head and I think I lost consciousness. When I came to my senses I went in for another taste, savoring the rush of chocolate that hit my senses like a Mac truck hitting a concrete paver. It was at this point that I grabbed hold of the counter as my knees went weak. I might have thanked the Lord Jesus. And Mr. Lindt. And Mr. Ghirardelli. And Martha. And Laura Rebecca. Repeatedly.

I stopped at just one. I must savor these cookies. I must not be a glutton. These have to last AT LEAST until tomorrow morning. Only because I am out of eggs.

Outrageous Triple Chocolate Cookies(2)
Outrageous Triple Chocolate Cookies

Recipe as discovered on Laura Rebecca's Kitchen:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 TBS. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. dark chocolate chunks or chips (recommended Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate chips)
6 oz. white chocolate, chopped (recommended Green & Black's White Chocolate bars)

My changes - I added 1 tsp. of instant espresso powder because I just do that with most anything I make that has chocolate in it and I could not find Green & Black's White Chocolate bars, so I used Ghirardelli's white chocolate. Also, I am a dork and only bought 1 (3.5 oz.) white chocolate bar, so I subbed 3 oz. of Lindt semi-sweet chocolate for the missing white chocolate - because God forbid there is less chocolate than called for in ANY recipe I make.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Heat chopped semi-sweet chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks. (Note: Don't worry if the batter seems thin. It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.)

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not bake the cookies to a crisp; they are meant to be soft and chewy.

Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.

Makes 2 dozen.

Outrageous Triple Chocolate Cookies cu

So what's 7 pounds?

Labels: , , ,

WDB #36

Smiling for the camera
It's warm! It's only 8:30 in the morning! Could summer FINALLY be here? Chloe thinks so.. from the minute we wake up she demands to go outside and stay there.. she's either investigating the corners of the yard, playing with her numerous balls or soaking up the sun on our deck. I got lucky and snapped this in between her warm-weather activities :D

Neighborhood watch
Nigel, also known as the "little prince", likes the warm weather as well, but prefers to be inside sitting on the back of the sofa watching what goes on outside through our living room windows. Gawd forbid a neighbor decides to walk down his street without him knowing! teeee!

See what everyone else is doing on this warm summery day at Sweetnicks!


Blog of the Week May 28, 2006

One of the very first e-mails from a fellow blogger that I received shortly after opening my lil blog was from a gal named Tania. It was the nicest e-mail, welcoming me into the food blogging world. I immediately checked out her blog and was hooked that very minute. Not because she was so nice to introduce herself to me, but because she takes such a great pleasure in her cooking.. it's so obvious. The Candied Quince is a fabulous story-telling blog. Her creations make my mouth water and her stories make me laugh, inspire me and teach me things I did not know.

She talks to us as if she's known us forever.. and she isn't afraid to share personal tidbits from her life, which I love to read about. I find her stories of tormenting her sister, "Grammar Queen", hysterical and can relate as I have two younger sisters of my own who did their best to drive me insane while growing up. =) Of course I did my bit to drive them slightly batty as well.. what older sister wouldn't take great pride in a little terrorizing of her sisters?

Her instructions and tips from what she's learned in the kitchen are things that every cook can benefit from and Tania cooks real food that anyone can re-create or be inspired from to put their own spin on. If her beautiful pictures and yummy recipes don't hook you from the start, her warmness and charm will. Check out The Candied Quince and you'll see what I mean. :D


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cabbagy Casserole

Maybe it's because I was starrrffffink last night.. maybe it's because I see potential in this recipe.. I dunno. But I'm going to post about it instead of tossing the recipe in the garbage like I did with the actual dish. Ugh.

At our clam bake last year, a nice gal brought something she called "Cabbage Roll Casserole", basically it was all the components of a cabbage roll, layered into a baking dish. It was fabulous. I make a mean cabbage roll, if I do say so myself - thanks to my mommie =) But, cabbage rolls are a pain in the arse to make and if I can get outta boiling that head and burning my so-not-asbestos-fingers while peeling off each leaf in exchange for the same taste minus the fuss, well I'm all over it. Unfortunately, I never did get her recipe.. it was promised.. but, well, yanno how that goes sometimes.

So I had this head of cabbage in my fridge with the intentions of frying it one night, but I got one of my hankerin's.. so I went in search of the casserole recipe on our vast internet. I got lucky right off the bat and found it on a site I've never seen before.. the ingredients and the gal's instructions sounded right on to what I enjoyed back in October, so I didn't even bother looking further. Silly me. My finished casserole was something that was less than desireable. And I had a hunch that would be the case when I was putting it together. If you love.. no, wait.. if you LOVELOVELOVECAN'TLIVEWITHOUT cabbage, then this might be the recipe for you - because it was ALL CABBAGE with a lil of the filling type stuff. It was bland because it was so much cabbage to so little of the tasty tomatoey/beefy/ricey goodness. So I'm thinking if I ever do try this again, without searching for a new recipe, it could be fabulous with a few changes.. I'll post recipe as I found it and then note the changes below. May the force be with you, whoever it is that might want to try this recipe one day :D

Cabbage Roll Casserole
Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 medium onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can water
1/2 c. uncooked, long-grain rice
4 c. shredded or coarsely chopped cabbage
sour cream

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Brown beef, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil and stir in rice. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Place 1/2 of the cabbage in a greased baking dish (I used a 9x13 glass dish), cover with 1/2 the rice mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and bake for 60 minutes. Serve with sour cream. May be refigerated before serving.

Serves 6.

Okay right off the bat.. 4 c. of shredded cabbage is way, way too much.. either cut that down to 2-2 1/2 c. or double your beef/rice mixture. With that said.. following the recipe exactly, the liquids in the beef/rice mixture are way, way too little. I used a 15 oz. can of Contadina tomato sauce + a full can of water and it looked as if it wouldn't be nearly enough for the rice to cook in, so I added about 1 1/2 c. of my marinara (which is what I use in my cabbage rolls, anyway).. and even that addition was just enough to cook the rice in, but the rice soaked most of it up so it was still on the dry side when layering it with the cabbage, so I'd say double your liquids even if you cut the cabbage down. Also, the simmering of the rice for 20 minutes BEFORE you bake this thing for AN HOUR led to the dryness as well, I think. When I make my cabbage rolls, I do no pre-cook my rice.. I just put in it with the beef and after the 1.5 hours of the rolls baking, the rice comes out perfect. So, I suggest doing just that.. add your rice to the mixture and then start your layering.. after 60 minutes of baking, that rice will be perfectly done.

So here it is in a nutshell:
Cut down the cabbage.
Double your liquids (if not the whole beef/rice mixture).
Don't "double" cook your rice.

Good luck :D

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I miss my cutie-pie...

This is a little shout-out, just in case my sweet friend Ali is checking in.. she's been kinda burned out from blogging and has been staying away from the PC. Just wanted to let her know she is greatly missed and I hope all is well and that your lil "vacation" away has done you good - and uhhmmm.. is making you miss all of us and want to come back soon! :D Hugsssssssssssss =))


Lisa's Shrimp & Penne

I have a dilemma today. It's bothering me, big time! Do I eat my leftovers from last night's hella good dinner for lunch?? Or do I force myself to wait until dinner time tonight?? UGH! teeee! Quite frankly, I've been awake now for about 30 minutes.. haven't even finished my first cup of coffee yet and am thinking my shrimp & penne might not be too bad for breakfast :P Holy crap was it good! Can ya tell?

I started making this a few years ago.. I had shrimp and a cupboard full of pasta and all I knew was that I wanted to combine them somehow. I pretty much just looked in my fridge for ingredients that might work - I chopped, I minced and I threw it all together and it worked.. and worked well if I do say so myself, my friends :D

The tanginess of the lemon and tomatoes is wonderful with the salty, yet sweet shrimp. The heavier type of pasta works so well with the delicateness of the sauce, giving you something to sink your teeth in to. The tender shrimp and the pasta soaks up the garlicky, buttery, lemony flavors in a most heavenly way.. *swoon*

Shrimp with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Penne
Lisa's Shrimp & Penne

1 pound medium to large, deveined, shell on, raw shrimp
1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 7 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1/2 c. chicken stock, not broth
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 c. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/2 c. Pecorino Romano, grated
good handful of fresh, chopped parsley
2-3 c. penne
S & P to taste (If you have sea salt, use it in this recipe if you normally don't)

Remove the shells from the shrimp and set aside.

Fill a large pot with water and heat to boiling. Once it comes to a full boil, throw a good amount of sea salt in along with the penne, cook for about 7-8 minutes or until al dente.

While your water is heating up, place butter in large skillet and heat until it's melted and starting to bubble (You don't want to brown it, though) then add your garlic and tomatoes. Let the garlic permeate the butter for about 3 minutes then add your lemon juice and the chicken stock. Heat through about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until it just becomes opaque, then add the Parmigiano, then sea salt & pepper to taste, mix well. Once the shrimp has turned a creamy white and pink, take it off the heat. Your sauce should be thin.

When the penne is at al dente, using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, remove the pasta from the water and add directly to the skillet with the shrimp mixture. Add maybe a 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Just before plating, add the Romano and the chopped parsley. Sprinkle more romano on top and devour.. try to slow down so the juices don't dribble down your chin. Use a napkin, people! :P

Shrimp with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Penne cu

Just a couple notes on this one: I normally don't like to spend a lot of cash on my groceries.. I look for bargains and on occasion, I even coupon clip! But.. I have to say with this recipe, don't skimp on your ingredients. Such as.. I keep a good domestic Parmesan in my fridge as well as a hunk of the really good stuff, Parmigiano Reggiano - the cheese that costs like $12.00 for a small hunk - if you can, use that kind in this recipe. Make sure your shrimp are fresh, I didn't buy these at my normal grocery store, I made the trip to my local fish mart because I wanted to know for sure it was caught yesterday. And for really, really good depth of flavor, use stock instead of broth. You can buy a really good quality stock at the grocery store, it's located in the soup section and comes in a paper box. Or use your own homemade stock.. even better :) Because it's such a delicate (yes even with the 1/2 c. butter) dish, you really want fresh, vibrant flavors throughout.. trust me :D )

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 22, 2006

2 Things You've Been Told..

I'm sure it wasn't just my mother who said this, "If you eat that right now you'll spoil your dinner, put it back!" =) and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has seen the Lays potato chip commercials where they tell you that you can't just eat one Lays, eh?

'kay so I spoiled my dinner last night.. and Lays Schmays.. I made homemade potato chips around 4:30 yesterday.. and no, I could not stop after eating just one. I couldn't stop after eating just 25. And I'm pissed off to realize that a $3.00 bag of chips contains roughly 1.5 freakin' potatoes!

I had 2 sweet potatoes in my fridge that were going to go bad ANY SECOND and I russet potato that I can not even remember buying, it's been so long.. so I decided that making my own chips would be a smashing idea. I got out my mandolin slicer, made quick work of 3 potatoes and fired up my deep fryer. About 30 minutes later I had the most exquisite potato chips I've ever had. Who knew making your own was so damn easy and so much cheaper than buying them?? I'm all for spending that extra cash if it will get me what I want quicker than having to make it myself if I'm a tired gal.. but holy crap.. there's nothing to making your own chips and they blow store bought chips outta the water! I guess the one and only drawback that I can see is that the chips that weren't fried until they were a darker goldeny brown and crispy are kinda soggy today.. but hell, what's a few soggy chips when you've got mountains of crispy, oh sooo good chips?

Sweet & Russet Potato Chips cu

I'd love to say that I'll never buy store bought chips again.. but I know that isn't true as hubbs will want some at like 10:15 at night and I won't have the energy to pour myself a glass of water let alone slice and fry potatoes for him.. but for weekend snacking and parties.. I'm making my own from now on baby! =)

I'm a purist when it comes to my chips.. I only like salt, but I can totally see sprinkling these crispy yummies with grated parmesan or some dry herbs or spices or a lil onion and/or garlic powder or or cinnamon sugar for the sweet potato variety! Doesn't Orville Redenbacker have a cheddar cheese powder for sprinkling on his popcorn? That'd be killer as well. I guess the options are pretty much endless because if you sprinkle something on them as soon as they come outta the fryer, it'd stick.. I might even try fresh snipped chives the next time. :D

Sweet & Russet Potato Chips
Homemade Potato Chips

2 potatoes (I used Russet and Red Garnet Sweets)
peanut oil - however much your fryer manufacturer suggests, or enough to equal about 1 inch in a frypan
1 tsp. salt or whatever you'd like to sprinkle on them

Set your mandolin to very thin slices or slice very thinly with a good sharp knife - I left the skins on.

Fry in small batches until chips turn a dark golden brown. Transfer them to a big plate or bowl that has been lined with a couple paper towels or brown paper bags.

Sprinkle immediately with salt. Try to wait a few minutes before devouring them to avoid lip, tongue and roof of mouth burnage (not that I burned my lips, tongue and roof of my mouth after that first batch)

Store any remaining chips in a airtight container. I used 3 large potatoes and they made the equivalent of about 2 bags of chips. Seriously.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 21, 2006

WDB #35

Nigel - WDB 5-21-06
This would be Nigel looking off as Chloe jumped down to ruin their mom's fantastic picture for WDB #35 at Sweetnicks. Oh well.. better one than none, eh? hee!


Blog of the Week May 21, 2006

Someone who deserves recognition this week is a fairly new blogger. His name is Kevin and his blog is Acme Instant Food. Kevin has a flair for describing his dishes so that you can almost taste the deliciousness. He's creative but unpretentious in the foods he concocts. I'm quite envious of his abilities in the kitchen and the fabulous get togethers he throws. So much so that I wish I lived in Los Angeles with the hopes of being invited to one of his parties. =)

Kevin is also a great storyteller and he's someone who can joke about himself without coming off as self-conscious. I can tell he's comfortable in the kitchen and truly enjoys entertaining. A kindred spirit of sorts. When you read his blog you'll be pleasantly surprised that he sounds as if he's been blogging about his culinary creations for years and years and not someone who just started his blog a little over a month ago. He impressed me so much that his is the one and only blog that after reading for the very first time, I immediately added to my favorite blogs to read list (and this was just after his first post, I believe). I look forward to his posts very much and am always happy when he posts something new, which is quite often.

Not only does he blog about his own cooking, but he tunes you in to some cool places to hang out in L.A. For me, coming from all the way across the country, I like hearing about these places, the people who frequent them and the foods they serve. Hey, you never know.. one day I might just visit L.A. and I'll definitely need to know where to go, yes?!

Here's a deserving salute to Kevin and Acme Instant Food - may your blogging fun last for a very long time to come! :D


Macerated Berries & Mascarpone in Puff Pastry

So here is the story about last night.. I'll try to keep it short. =)

I made quite an big dinner, not just for myself, but because I was having a dinner guest. Unfortunately, that dinner guest could not make it at the last minute. I was bummed. Not only because I was looking forward to it and had put a good amount of time in thinking about what I was going to prepare and then the actual prep of the dinner.. but wtf am I going to do with all this food? har! I usually take these dinners I've been making while Hubbs is gone to my mom, but she can't eat beef.. so I have a boatload of delicious Italian stuffed flank steak if anyone is interested?? heeee!

I also have quite a nice summery desert left over as well. I had a hankerin' for strawberry shortcake but realized at the last minute that I had no Bisquick. Yep folks, I use Bisquick for my shortcakes. So what to do? I don't really like sponge cake all that much, so that was out. Searching pantry and freezer.. a package of frozen puff pastry jumped out at me. Perfect! I rolled it out, cut it into 12 squares and molded each square into the cups of a muffin tin. Although I docked the bottoms of the cups, they still puffed up but they worked and it was a nice compliment to the berries and cheese.

This desert is not too sweet and on the light side, which is truly nice for something after a heavy dinner of stuffed beef or just something nice to nibble on after a long, hot summer day.

Macerated Berries with Mascarpone in Puff Pastry
Macerated Berries and Mascarpone in Puff Pastry

For the berries:
1 container of strawberries
1 container of blueberries
3 TBS. white granulated sugar
1/4 c. orange juice

For the filling:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. mascarpone cheese, softened (You can substitute with cream cheese)
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 pkg. (1 sheet) puff pastry

Allow the sheet of puff pastry to thaw on the counter for about 40 minutes.

Either slice or chunk your strawberries and put them into a medium sized bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the strawberries a bit, to bring some juice out. Add the blue berries, sugar and orange juice, mix well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. You can make this up to a day ahead if you wish, store in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400º F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out into a 12" x 9" rectangle. Cut out squares, roughly 3" x 3" - you should be able to get 12 squares. Mold each square into the cups of a muffin tin. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are golden brown and puffed. You can also do this ahead, storing them in an airtight ziplock bag.

Combine mascarpone with confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Again, this can be done the day before, store in refrigerator.

To assemble your cups:
Take 2 of the puff pastry cups and fill each cup with 1 TBS. of the mascarpone mixture then spoon the macerated berries on top. I hadda get a lil bit of chocolate in the mix (surprising, eh?) and I had a container of chocolate Cool Whip in my freezer so I said what the hey.. a dollop on top added quite a nice finish to the not too sweet berries.

Macerated Berries with Mascarpone in Puff Pastry cu

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

My first time ever trying flank steak. I thought this was suppose to be a cheaper cut of meat? Apparently not at my store. Over $8.00 a pound. A sirloin is cheaper and not tough. Not that this was tough, it was fabulous.. after I pounded the hell out of it. heehee

Anyhoo.. I got the idea of this recipe from Cuisine at Home (imagine that!). They gave me the idea of stuffing the flank steak, but I decided their 2 versions of stuffing weren't exactly my cup of tea. So I sat here this morning going through other recipes and checking out recipes on the internet and nothing sounded really good. Apparently, a common stuffing for this steak includes bread crumbs and I'm not a big fan of bread crumbs. So I started to think about what sounded good to me and as per usual, sun-dried tomatoes came to mind. As did spinach and garlic and a good melty cheese.. I played with Gouda and Fontina, and decided on the Fontina. I was going to just process some sun-dried tomatoes, but instead went with sun-dried tomato pesto. The combination of the pesto, garlic, spinach and cheese wrapped tightly in a very tasty piece of meat was outrageous. Even though most of the cheese oozed out of the roll. I might just leave the cheese out of the mix next time.

I served this Italian stuffed flank steak with roasted baby yukon gold potatoes, roasted asparagus and sauted mushrooms.. pretty much the usual sides for me. =) I'm pretty good about trying new dishes, but it seems that I stick with the same side dishes most times, eh? lol

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak
Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

1 1/2 to 2 lb. flank steak
1/3 c. tomato pesto
15-30 leaves fresh baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. thinly sliced Fontina or Gouda cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 TBS. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400º F.

If your flank steak is thick, you'll need to butterfly it to thin it out for easier rolling and even cooking. Mine was pretty thin, so I skipped that step. Next lay your steak on a piece of plastic wrap and then lay another piece of plastic wrap over it. Proceed to pound the steak using firm (but not heavy) strokes, pound from one end of the steak to the other with the smooth side of the meat mallet. This will help break down the fibers in the steak to assure a tender bite.

Season the meat and spread the pesto evenly on top. Then lay the spinach leaves over the pesto, you can either go with a single layer or double (triple if you wish). Sprinkle the garlic over the spinach and finally the cheese over the garlic.

Next, starting from a short side, roll the meat over the filling all the way to the end. Don't be surprised if some of the filling falls out, just tuck it back in and continue rolling. To hold the stuffed steak together, it must be tied. Cut five or six pieces of kitchen twine (about 14" each) and tie the steak using double knots.

Heat an oven safe skillet over medium heat until it's good and hot. Sear steak on all sides in olive oil, ending with seam side down. Place the pan in the oven and roast steak for 30 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 140º for medium rare. To be honest.. I kinda screwed up thinking I was looking for 120º - so when I checked temp. at 25 minutes it was there.. I took it out and after letting it rest for 10 minutes, when I sliced it.. it was more like medium-medium well except for the very middle of the roll. Next time I'll only roast for about 15 minutes as I prefer my steak to be more on the rare side. I think that had to do with my steak being on the thinner side even before I pounded it.

This rather fiberous steak was not tough in the least, it had superb flavor and the stuffing complimented the beef really well. I was very happy with this dish and will most definitely make it over and over again. =)

If anyone is interested in Cuisine at Home's Argentine and All-American stuffed versions, just let me know and I'll e-mail the recipes to you. =)

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Zucchini

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my Cuisine at Home mags? Have I mentioned this about 89 kazillion times? Well I do, dammit! I'm even kind of feeling guilty for not going to all of my cookbooks for new recipes anymore.. I've got some serious change invested in them and mostly they are dust collectors because I'm so damn addicted to these cooking mags. Sheesh.

Cuisine at Home has a section called 1-2-3 Weeknight, where they feature quick and easy recipes for the tired cook after putting their 8 in the dungeon, bless them. :D

I chose this pork tenderloin recipe because of the rub. It has cayenne pepper in it, folks! Yessssssss I took a ride on the wild side last night! Okay well not really, the recipe called for 1/2 tsp. and I kinda only used about 1/4 tsp. small steps, people.. small steps! The rub was very good.. I could feel the heat on the back of my tongue, but it was actually pleasant and didn't make me want to run to my mommie. Now anyone else probably wouldn't even know it was there, but for me it was pretty damn good! The tenderloin was succulent, juicy and melt in your mouth tender. Yum! The zucchini was fabulous.. such a loverly lil summer squash (lurve you lil zucchinis!). I want to thank BNA of Peanut Butter and Purple Onions for reminding me of my grill pan sitting in my cupboard being neglected =) With all the rain we've been getting, firing up the big grill outside just wasn't gonna happen for me so remembering my grill pan came in very handy!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin w/Grilled Zucchini
Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Zucchini

For the Pork
3 TBS. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed (This rub was barely enough for 1 tenderloin, so I suggest doubling it if you are making 2)

Preheat grill to medium

Combine brown sugar, salt and cayenne; rub mixture over tenderloins. Lightly coat each with nonstick spray.

Grill tenderloins about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145º F., turning to brown all sides. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

For the Zucchini
1 medium zucchini
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
Olive oil for drizzling

Cut your zucchini into coins. Drizzle a little of the oil on the grill pan (You want to start your squash about 10 minutes after the tenderloin went on) and place the zucchini in a single layer, salt & pepper and drizzle a little more oil over the top. Grill for about 2 minutes and flip, salt & peppering the other side. Grill for about another 2 minutes or until they are as tender as you like them.

*Note: I have one of those large, cast iron, grill pans that sits over 2 burners on the stove, so I could grill my zucchini and tenderloin all at once. If you have a smaller grillpan, grill your zucchini after the tenderloin is done cooking.. while it's resting.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lemon Gooey Butter Bars

My mom has been hinting around that she'd like me to bake her something.. and well I didn't want to give her the Mexican Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies because, unfortunately, they weren't so hot the day after. They are the kind of cookies that are so YUM! the day you make them.. but they kinda lose their umph the next day in both flavor and texture. I ended up freezing a 1/2 doz. to let Hubbs try when he gets home and then ditchin' the rest of them :(

One of my mom's favorite flavors is lemon.. so I started thinking about what to make. I had so many wonderful choices, both in my books and on my favorite blogs.. finally I decided to go with the Queen of ButterMayoCreamCheesedom, Ms. Paula Deen. Bless her cotton socks. I make her Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake for Thanksgiving every year as no one wants pumpkin pie anymore after trying it, hehee. I remembered she had a lemon variety so I looked in her "The Lady & Sons, Just Desserts" book and the recipe was there.

If you've had her Gooey Butter Cakes you know how rich they are. I thought maybe the lemon would cut that richness a bit, but it does not. So I cut them into smaller bars. And I was feelin' a lil "saucy" so I got a little fancy and made myself a small batch of ganache and took advantage of strawberry season by making a coulis and some mashed strawberries for a lil added punch.

Lemon Gooey Butter Bars
Lemon Gooey Butter Cake courtesy of Paula Deen

For the Cake:
1 (18.25 oz.) box of lemon cake mix
1 egg
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted

For the Filling:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used mascarpone)
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 (16 oz.) box confectioners' sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
2 lemons, zested and juiced, you should get approx. 1/4 c. juice

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg and butter and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside. Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioners' sugar, lemon zest and juice and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter. Mix well. Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. "Don't be afraid to make a judgment call on the cooking time, because oven temperatures vary. You want the center to be a little gooey, so don't bake past that point!" Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares, serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Pulled a Homer this morning.. was almost done writing my post about Deep Dish Eggplant Parmesan Pizza when a finger went awry and hit some unknown key and a window popped up and instinctively I whapped the Esc key a couple times and then *POOF* went my post. Did it matter that it is one of those recipes where steps are involved.. lots of steps.. meticulously typed out steps by my frozen fingers (it's fakkin winter here again in NE Ohio GAH!) in the wee hours of the morning.. gone. all. gone. *sob*

So yeah.. I started to re-type it but ran outta time before I had to get ready for my 8 in the dungeon. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll have my coffee before I type anything. Mmm'kay?

On a totally non-foodie related note.. how many Grey's Anatomy fans out there? And was that the BEST FREAKIN SEASON ENDER OF ALL TIME?? I mean as far as season enders and their leave ya hanging bullshit goes. Now who is Meredith going to leave with? I want it to be McDreamy soooooooo badly, but I have a feeling she'll go with the ultra dull Finn. I don't know if I can go through another season of being teased with the possibility of Mere and McDreamy getting back together, people! I don't think I'm that strong!!

I am very saddened by the passing of hot heart patient guy. But I wasn't shocked. I figured with all the psycho-ness our sweet Izzy went through to steal that heart for him, something bad would happen in the end. But I was shocked over Christina's behavior towards Preston. I mean, it was right in character for her, but I kinda thought maybe the writers would make her a little more on the caring/supportive girlfriend side because it was Preston. Although she really can't do much wrong in my eyes.. I lurve her :D

Anyone with me on feeling not so great towards Callie? I'm not liking her. Not liking her one bit. I don't think she's going to fit in with the family, kids. I don't like her attitude or her stripper/doctor appearance. And seriously? who the hell walks in on two strangers in the bathroom and STILL goes pee right in front of them? c'mon. I don't care how tired or not-awake-yet I am, if I see 2 people I don't really know - as in we don't share the same dna or the same wedding bands, then hell no, I am not dropping my lady drawers and coppin' a squat in front of them.

I cried when they put Doc to sleep.. not really sure why that was even written into the show? That was the ONLY way they could start the ball rollin' for the Mere and McDreamy bodily fluid exchangeapalooza? I know, I know.. don't pay no 'ttention to me.. just an overly emotional doggie lover over here. :D

Alrighty then, I am at work (shhhhhh) and I really, should get back at it.. or at least appear to be back at it.. yanno ;)

No wait! I can't help but to also mention.. prom night in the hospital? 17 year old freshly de-virginized gal not even remotely upset that she's got cancer and will die? Sometimes it does kinda tick me off when even my most favorite shows settle for ridiculous story lines to pull a whole season together. ehh..


Deep Dish Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

Still on my eggplant & zucchini kick over here.. These two veggies alone make it easy for me to see how some people go vegetarian. Seriously. I haven't missed beef very much these past couple weeks, which is way weird for me. heee!

I sat down with my Cuisine at Home magazines again and picked out 3 or 4 recipes that I've got slated to try this week and next. My first was this Deep Dish Eggplant Parmesan Pizza. Unfortunately, it didn't thrill me. Although this is my fault, I kinda burned the crust. oops. I was shocked to see that this normally excellent publication that always shows you step by step instructions in making their recipes, including pictures, did not explain how long to blind bake the crust. Something I've never done before. It just said to bake it until it's golden.. well.. the damn dough is golden to start with and I didn't see much of a different goldeny difference after 10 minutes, so I went for another 5. It still didn't look much different from when I originally put it in the oven but I figured, jeezzzusssss it's gotta be done, right? Well it was.. probably too done, as after it baked the allotted time with the eggplant filling in it, the crust came out a dark brown.. like burnt dark brown. *sigh* The other not so great thing about this pizza was that there was no sauce used. You simply slather crushed tomatoes over your layers of cheese and eggplant. So the taste was closer to blah than anything else. I even salted between layers, figuring the crushed tomatoes weren't going to give much taste. Hmm.. So, I firmly believe, had I not overbaked the crust and had I used my marinara or my Aunt's simple pizza sauce, this would have been a fabulous new recipe for me. The good thing was, the 2 lbs. of eggplant called for was wayyyy wayyyy too much for my 10" cast iron skillet - so with the remaining eggplant and cheese, I layered in an 8" x 8" glass Pyrex dish with my marinara and THAT turned out fabulous. lol I will make this pizza again and I will make those changes, because the idea of this deep dish pizza is fabulous. They also give another version called Deep Dish Supreme pizza, which I might try as well. =)

Deep dish eggplant pizza
Deep Dish Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

For the Crust:
3/4 c. warm water (105º-115ºF)
1 TBS. sugar
1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsps.)
2 TBS. olive oil

Combine water, yeast and sugar. Proof until foamy, about 5 minutes, then add oil.

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. kosher salt

Mix flour, cornmeal and salt in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with a dough hook; add yeast mixture. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes, or until smooth. (If kneading by hand, knead for the same amount of time)

Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Punch dough down and re-shape into a ball. Return to oiled bowl, cover and let rise again, about one hour.

Preheat oven to 450ºF. with the rack on the bottom; coat a 9" cast iron skillet with 1-2 teaspoons oil.

Divide dough in half; wrap one half in plastic and freeze for later use. Roll out remaining ball, line the prepared skillet, dock the sides to prevent puffing and blind bake. "Since the fillings are so dense, the crust must be prebaked or it will be raw and doughy on the bottom. So you need to "blind bake" the crust, like pie dough sometimes is. First, line the dough with foil, keeping the edges exposed, then fill the dough with dried beans. This will help keep the sides from collapsing during the first bake. After baking briefly, lift out the foil and beans. At this point, the sides will be set, but bake the crust again to cook the bottom. (If you have a pizza stone, be sure to use it here - it helps crisp the bottom crust even more.)" You see? It doesn't say how long.. so may the force be with you :D

For the filling:
2 lb. eggplant
2 c. all-purpose flour
6 eggs, beaten with 3 TBS milk
Vegetable oil, about 1" deep for frying
Salt to taste
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c. canned crushed tomatoes

*Note: This recipe does not call for you to salt the uncooked planks of eggplant, let sit for 30 min. then rinse, to bring out some moisture and to tone down the bitterness of the vegetable. I don't know if it's necessary or not, but I took this extra step because I didn't want to take a chance of bitterness. It's optional though. =)

Peel eggplant and slice lengthwise into 1/4" thick planks. (I didn't peel mine and it came out just fine) Place flour and egg mixture into separate shallow dishes; line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

Dredge eggplant in flour, then dip into egg mixture. Fry eggplant in oil for about 15 seconds per side, or until golden brown. Drain on the baking sheet and season with salt.

Layer the eggplant, both cheeses and tomatoes 4 or 5 times into the crust, dividing items evenly among the layers. I only got about 3 layers.. quite possibly my eggplant and cheese slices were too thick? Finish top layer with mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake pizza 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly. Let rest 5 minutes so the cheese can set, before slicing.

Deep dish eggplant pizza slice

They suggest serving this pizza with a Roasted Tomato Sauce spooned on top of each slice. Unfortunately, the day I made this pizza was the day my IP decided to take a crap on me and I couldn't get online to get the recipe, so I can not vouch for it's taste but I am including the recipe in case anyone would like to try it. =)

Roasted Tomato Sauce
8 cups (4 lb.) Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 cup onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, whole
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. sugar

Toss with:
1/2 cup olive oil

Stir in:
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large casserole dish.

Toss with olive oil and roast 35-40 minutes, or until tomatoes have softened. Remove from oven and mash with a potato masher, keeping tomatoes a bit chunky.

Stir in basil.

As if this post wasn't long enough *cough* *cough* I had a boatload of eggplant and cheese left over after overstuffing my pizza. So I made a mini pan of Eggplant Parmesan, layering the eggplant and cheeses like I did with the pizza, but instead of using the crushed tomatoes I used my marinara. I baked it at the 450º F for 30 minutes and like I said wayyyyyy up there.. it was fabulous :D

Eggplant Parmesan

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blog of the Week May 14, 2006

I'm a day late as Adelphia must have been having problems yesterday because after maybe an hour of reading my blog list, my connection went *Poof* and was pretty much that way most of the day.. so without further ado.. this week's salute goes to one of my most favorite new friends I've met on this circuit of foodie love. Her name is Ellie and you can find her at Kitchen Wench, a lovely blog written by a gal who's enthusiasm for cooking is awe inspiring. She isn't afraid to take on her "kitchen demons" and most times, ends up kickin' their asses!! She has a wonderful sense of humor and warmth about her.. she just makes you feel extremely special :)

I especially like that a lot of her recipes are "foreign" to me. Just last week she was talking about a certain sweet cake that a lot of Aussies enjoy with their tea and I had no idea what they were.. so I asked her what they hell they were! And instead of just an explanation? She went and baked them so I could actually see what she was talking about! Now how many people would take the time to educate a Yank like me by going to all that trouble? Ellie would :D So, not only, am I assured of a good giggling fit by the time I'm done reading one of her posts, but I also get to see what people from so far away are eating. I love, love, love that about certain blogs, I find it completely fascinating.

Another thing you'll take away from Ellie's blog is the true feeling that she is a gal full of love for her family and friends and someone who honestly loves to make those people happy by feeding them her creations.. Oh yeah.. and if all of that isn't enough.. if you are a doggie lover, there's also Mr. Woofy.. he'll melt your heart the instant you see him :D


Mexican Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay well this week's chocolate binge can easily be blamed on Ali because of this month's Cinco de Mayo WCC #5 I couldn't stop thinking about Mexican chocolate.. Mexican cocoa.. Mexican coffee.. Mexican Wedding Cakes.. and finally, these Mexican Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies that I read about a few weeks ago when the announcement of the winner of the COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, Best Darn Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest. (Wow that's a mouthful) Chaim Potter of Napa invented these intense chocolately and slightly spicy cookies and took the top prize. Sooo.. thanks Ali.. I just hadda make them! :P

These cookies are delectible. Simply put. I can see how they won first place. They are crispy on the outside, chewy and gooey on the inside. The chocolate flavor is very intense and the spice is a nice background flavor. My only change to these, if I were to make them again (yeah, as if I wouldn't make them again, hello?) is to add maybe an 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Yes, me.. the spice hater of all time! I just think that a spicey cookie, should be a tad bit spicier. Hey.. I love me my gingersnaps! :D

MDCCC Cookies
Mexican Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used Vietnamese cinnamon because it is one of the most potent in flavor)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/8 tsp. finely ground black pepper
1/4 pound coarsley chopped good quality dark chocolate (I used the last of my Valrhona bittersweet chocolate)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325ºF

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and black pepper. Set aside.
In a small heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter. Let cool slightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the melted chocolate mixture with the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Line a 17-by-12-inch cookie sheet with parchment. Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop the cookie dough onto the paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they look flat and the surfaces crack (cookies should still be soft in texture). Let the cookies cool on the parchment on wire cooling racks. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. (As if they'll last that long)

Mexican Double Choc Choc Chip Cookies

Oh and later last night? Yeah well I was thinking.. hmmm.. just how could I kick this cookie up a notch?(was feeling so Emeril) So I slapped some Haagen Dazs Mayan Chocolate ice cream in the middle of two cookies and voila! Oh yeah baby!

MDCCC cookie sammich

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

WCC #5 - Cinco de Mayo!

I was so excited when Ali announced this month's theme for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge! Next to Italian, Mexican food is my 2nd favorite, hands down. We're lucky, we have an authentic Mexican restaurant nearby.. and when I say it's authentic, it's authentic right down to the home made dishes and mariachi band that walks through the dining room the whole evening. It's a great place to go when you are really feeling like having some fun at dinner time!

As soon as I saw the theme, I knew exactly what I was going to make. Chicken Enchiladas - mmmm mmmm good! This is actually one of my signature dishes that I make for a lot of parties I hold or attend. Although there are quite a few ingredients in it, it's a snap to make and it always turns out delish. This time around, for some odd reason, my grocery store didn't have corn tortillas in stock, so I used flour tortillas and really? They worked just as well and I got to save some time by skipping the step of soaking and heating the corn tortillas before filling them, so that was nice. =)

I found this recipe many years ago in a cookbook simply called "Mexico" it's a paperback cookbook that holds Mexican delights that are rustic and the recipes are simple to understand, which is why I like this book so much. There isn't a lot of fussing to make the dishes they offer, but I do find some ingredients are hard to find in these parts, so I usually have to improvise. Not their fault.. just the joys of living in the Armpit of the Midwest :D

I usually top these with guacamole and sour cream. I got the guacamole recipe from my friend Mindy and the recipe will be included at the bottom of this post.

5-10-06 (1)
Chicken Enchiladas

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or the meat from 1 medium sized roasted chicken
1 cup. marinade of your choice (I take a shortcut here and simply use Wishbone Italian Robusto salad dressing)
If you are using the roasted chicken, you can skip the marinade step.
2 TBS. olive oil
1 large spanish onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly, halved
10 6" corn tortillas (you can also use flour tortillas)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or mexican blend cheese, halved

Toppings: sour cream, chives, more green onions, guacamole* or salsa.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Slice chicken breasts into large strips. Place the cut chicken into your favorite marinade and sit aside for at least 30 minutes, although you can do this step the morning of or the night before.

In a large skillet, brown the chicken and spanish onion in the oil. Once browned, add the diced tomato w/chilies, soup, stock and stewed tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes. Take chicken out and place in shallow bowl. Continue simmering the sauce until it's reduced by half - about 20 to 30 minutes longer. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, using a fork or your hands, shred the meat. Then cover it loosely with foil to keep warm. After the sauce has reduced, pour it into the bottom of a 9" x 13" x 2" baking dish, reserving approximately 1/2 cup.

Combine the reserved 1/2 cup of the sauce and 1/2 of the sliced green onions with the shredded chicken. You don't want a soupy mixture so adjust the amount of sauce to whatever it takes to make the chicken mixture almost paste like. Set aside. In a small skillet, warm the cream, but do not bring it to a boil. Place one corn tortilla in the warm cream and let sit for about 20 seconds. Using tongs, flip it over and let sit for another 20 seconds. What you are doing is softening the tortillas so when you roll them they won't break. Skip this process if you are using flour tortillas, they are pliable enough the way they are out of the package to roll easily without breaking. Allow the excess cream to drip off the tortilla and place on a flat dish or tray. Immediately place about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the middle of the tortilla, top with cheese and wrap tightly. Place it seam down on the sauce in the baking dish. Repeat this process, one by one, until you've used up all the chicken mixture. You should get at least 8 enchiladas.

Once your enchiladas are rolled and in the baking dish, top with remaining green onions and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, or until the cheese has melted and is goldeny brown and delicious.

Plate your enchiladas and top them with whatever topping that floats your boat :D

5-10-06 (5)

A note about the guacamole - I'm including this recipe even though I don't know exactly where it came from. I got the recipe from my friend Mindy, who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend and so on and so on.. So I'm probably breaking the rules here? Also, I didn't have the ingredients to make it with the enchiladas so there is no picture, which might not be a bad thing because well.. let's just say this guacamole is not smooth, it has chunks of good stuff in it and uhmm.. if you didn't know what kind of tasty goodness it holds, you could mistake it for something you might find in a diaper. :S Now, do I win the prize for an outstanding description of this dish? Yeah, my guess is the avocado farmers' PR firm won't be looking to hire me any time soon. heeee!

Mindy's Guacamole

4 Avocados (peeled) (Make sure they are ripe not hard)
4 TBS. lime juice
4 tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
3 TBS. red onion, chopped small - not quite a mince.
1 tsp red chili sauce (I use Shirachi sauce found in the Chinese aisle)
Few dashes of chipotle Tabasco sauce
4 tsp. tomato Concase (I just use about 10 grape tomatoes chopped fine)
4 tsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste.

If you own a food processor, you don't have to finely chop all the ingredients, just chunk them and throw all ingredients except the avocado in and pulse a couple times. Do not puree. You want a rough chop for a great texture and so that you can identify all the vegetables. Once you have them mixed, in a seperate bowl, smash the avocado with a fork and then combine the mash into the other ingredients. Place in refidgerator for a couple hours to let the flavors meld. This guacamole does not have good "staying" power, so it should be used immediately as the avocado will turn brown after a day or so. This is also a wonderful dip for tortilla chips and Mindy says it's fabulous on turkey wraps as well. =)

Labels: , , , , ,

The Evolution of Dance

Oh. My. Gawd. This is absolutely hysterical.. I had to share :D


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Feeling a bit Pesci

Any Wayne's World fans out there? :D

Well my plan for this evening was to make my entry for this month's WCC event, hosted by the cutest cookin' hot mama of all time Ali (which if you aren't familiar.. and how can you not be? This month's theme is Cinco de Mayo and entries are due by May 15th.. so if you haven't contributed your fabulous latin dish yet.. please do so!) but I forgot I had a couple filets of Walleye in my fridge that I could not let go bad. If you aren't from the land of the Great Lakes, Walleye is a fresh water fish, which is firm bodied with a mild taste. They are an absolutely wonderful fish for pan frying or baking, especially if you can get your hands on one that has been freshly caught ;) Mine was caught last summer by Hubbs and flash frozen to keep us in stock during the winter when we needed a fix. Normally I pan fry these fish, but I wanted something lighter this evening so I decided to just wing it and see what I could do by baking it. As you'll see below, it didn't turn out to be the most photogenic dish I've ever made (even for the crap cam), but it was hella good!

Walleye w/Chard

There really isn't a "recipe" so to speak.. all I did was thinly slice a couple medium sized shallots and chopped a few cloves of garlic. I placed these on the bottom of a 8" x 8" pyrex baking dish and then covered them just barely with chicken stock. I placed the filets of Walleye on top of the shallot/garlic bed, then S & P'd to taste, placed small dollops of butter all over them and squeezed 1/2 a lemon over the whole thing. I baked at 350º for 4 minutes, uncovered. Then covered the dish loosely with foil and continued baking for another 9 minutes until the fish was easily flaked with a fork. My side was fresh from the market Swiss Chard, which was prepared simply by sauteeing it with minced garlic and a tiny bit of chicken stock.

The onions and garlic permeated the fish and gave it a great flavor, without over powering it and the chard was so delish without any bitterness at all. Truthfully, if I could substitute swiss chard for spinach all the time, I would.. but alas, I can't find it year round here. It's a great leafy green veggie that never has a bitter taste nor have I ever encountered any bitterness with it like I do sometimes with spinach.

So if you have the urge for a light mild fish dish.. try this, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out for something that I just made up as I went along =)

Labels: ,

Monday, May 08, 2006

London Broil to die for

I've wanted to hold out for Hubbs to come home before giving in to my craving of my grilled London Broil because it's definitely not a dish for one.. but I'm hearing yet another two weeks before the job will be done UGH! So I gave in to temptation this weekend. The London Broil is a cheaper cut of meat because it is known to be tough. Tough if you don't prepare it correctly or by not slicing it against the grain of the meat. If prepared and sliced correctly it turns out to be a loverly piece of grilled meat with an amazing flavor. I've used this marinade for years and have never once served it to friends or family without many requests for the recipe.

A cute story about my London Broil.. two years ago one of my closest and dearest friends announced she was pregnant. After many tears of joy and congratulations, she said that she was still going to work full time for as long as she could and that wouldn't give her much time to be eating right for herself and the baby so, "Would you feed me?" was her request. hehe I was more than happy to be of assistance and tickled that she liked my cooking so much that she came to me to help her with keeping healthy during her pregnancy. So I started thinking of all the dishes I would make and began giving her a list of my ideas. Well.. she politely smiled at me and said that what she really wanted was my London Broil. No problem, happy to fix it! The following week.. the same request.. and again the week after.. and again.. and again and again! Needless to say, I was making London Broil every Sunday for MONTHS. lol Her baby boy was born premature, but he was so strong and had such fight in him that we attributed it to all the beef he enjoyed with his mama that summer and fall! :D

Last night's London Broil was served with roasted tiny Yukon Gold potatoes that were rubbed with olive oil, kosher salt and chives and sauteed portabellos. Yum!

London Broil Marinade

1 London Broil, approximately 1 to 2 lbs.
1/2 c. soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS. vegetable oil
2 TBS. ketchup
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Poke holes in your LB with either a fork or the tip of a sharp knife. Dump all ingredients except the LB in a large ziplock bag. Close the bag tightly and give it a good shake or 10 to combine all the ingredients. Drop your LB in the bag and smoosh the marinade all over it, then place the bag on a flat dish and refrigerate overnight or at least for 8 hours, turning the bag over once.

When ready to prepare, heat your grill and cook the LB for approximately 4 minutes on each side for rare, 5 minutes on each side for medium rare and 6 to 8 minutes on each side for medium well to well. I highly recommend serving this cut of meat on the rare to medium rare side as the more well you cook it the more tough it will be regardless of the marinade or the slicing. Gah.

After your LB is grilled to your liking, let it rest off the heat for at least 5 minutes to evenly distribute the yummy juices throughout the piece, ensuring juicy slices from end to end! Cut thinly along the bias of the meat.. meaning cut it width wise and not length wise. Enjoy :D

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I am crushing your skulls, lil meringues!

Victory is mine!! MUAHAHHAAAAAA!!!!


Oh yes.. look at my lil globs o'puff! So crunchy yet so oooey gooey on the inside! Melty yet chewy! I have looked my opponent in the eye and I have risen victorious!

Am proud. Am also a dork.

So I got out my very old, but ALWAYS trusty Mrs. Fields Cookie Book. I've made so many great cookies out of this book.. it's fantabulous. I wish I would have went straight to her when craving these little light chocolately snackers yesterday, but Paula is truly a wonderful, good down home cookin' gal and other than her meringues, I've never made a bad recipe courtesy of my favorite butter guzzlin' southern gal =)

There differences in the recipes are as follows:

Paula uses melted chocolate chips, Debbi uses finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder to flavor the meringues. Paula uses just confectioners' sugar while Debbi uses both confectioners' and granulated sugar to sweeten the meringues. Debbi uses cream of tartar in the egg whites, while Paula doesn't add anything. And the kickers - which I feel are why Debbi's were pretty much fool proof - A: After piping or "globbing" (which I did*) them onto a foiled cookie sheet she lets them sit for 45 minutes or until they aren't sticky anymore. And B: She bakes hers at a much lower 200º for an hour, where Paula baked hers at 325º for 45 minutes. I think the combination of letting them dry and the cooler oven were the key to keeping these meringues from falling like they did. Also, I really liked the method of folding in the dry confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and finely chopped chocolate as opposed to folding in the melted chocolate. Where I thought I had kept my fluff when I made Paula's with the melted chocolate, I realized today while folding in the dry ingredients that I did lose a hell of a lot of fluff yesterday.. which probably also contributed to the horror. Oh yeah.. jeezzusssss, I almost forgot to mention, the taste of Debbi's was fantastic, deep chocolately goodness in every bite!

So there we have it.. Meringues - LOSERS, Lisa - CHAMPEEN!!! :D

MeringueVictory! (1)
Mrs. Fields Chocolate Meringue Puffs

2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 TBS. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. white granulated sugar

Line baking sheets with foil.

Finely chop baking chocolate squares in a blender and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder with wire whisk.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer at medium speed until mixture thickens. Increase speed to high, while adding granulated sugar slowly. Beat until mixture forms stiff peaks and turns glossy.

Gently fold in cocoa mixture and chopped baking chocolate with a rubber spatula. Fold ingedients into egg whites until mixture is uniformally brown with no streaks.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the meringue. Pipe meringue in decorative shapes onto foil-lined baking sheets.

Preheat oven to 200º F.

Allow meringues to dry at room temperature for about 45 minutes or until not sticky. (Don't try making these on humid or rainy days.) Bake for 1 hour. When cool, remove from foil with a metal spatula

*I tried to pipe mine into decorative shapes, but the only star tip I have isn't big enough to pass through the small bits of chocolate.. so my bag blew up on me. *sigh* I then proceded to drop 'em by large teaspoonfuls, not caring how the hell they looked. :D

To those who might have noticed that I've changed the subject several times, it's because it took until today (5/8/06) and a chat with the very sweet Ali on Yahoo Messenger that I realized yet again what the absolute correct quote was. Not that it would help anyone in recognizing it unless you are a dork like me and were obscessed with Kids in the Hall way back when :D

Labels: ,

WDB #32

5-2-06 (1)
There's nothing better than being pounced upon by 45 lbs. of Aussie Shepard and 17 lbs. of Lhasa Apso at the same time. Double the luvins! =) Check out everyone else's true love(s) at Sweetnicks this evening!


Blog of the Week May 7, 2006

As my list of favorite blogs to read continually grows a little longer with each passing month, I am finding it harder and harder to pick which one to salute each week - they are all so fabulous! This week's salute goes to Laura Rebecca and her kitchen :D

I found Laura Rebbeca from my favorite cutie pie Ali's site. What a pleasant surprise to find another gal who loves to cook real food. Nothing too fancy with hard to find ingredients. Just good yummy every day food. Her trials and tribulations in the kitchen often include very funny stories along with a lil snarkiness added in for that belly laugh that escapes, surprising yourself.

I feel a bit of kinship with Laura Rebecca as although her dishes turn out looking and sounding fabulous, she admits to being a completely disorganized cook and she will change a recipe to conform to what she's got in her pantry in lieu of running out to the store. I'm the same way. After I'm done cooking, my kitchen looks as if a cyclone hit it and I'm wayyyyyy to lazy to run to the store for an ingredient that I don't have on hand. Fakkk that. Well.. unless hubbs is around ;)

Another reason I like Laura Rebecca's site is that she grades her recipes and if they suck, she's not afraid to grade accordingly. I like that a lot. I'm all for the admission of things gone awry. It adds to the impression that she's truly welcoming you into her kitchen regardless of what the outcome is. I'm not saying she makes a lot of bad things, as a matter of fact, I've hardly seen anything that didn't turn out totally drool worthy.. just saying she's not afraid to admit to the occasional bomb. =)

'kay my faithful few readers.. if you haven't checked out Laura Rebecca's Kitchen do so now.. and I caution you. Try not to drink anything while reading her posts. It's very possible you won't be able to control your laughter, therefore bathing your monitor in iced tea. Not that that happened to me. :P


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Meringue 2 Lis 1 =(


What the hell is it with me and meringue?? When I whisk my eggs they turn out to be beautifully stiff and glossy. When I fold in other ingredients, I don't lose the fluff.. but when they come outta my oven.. GAH!!

Allow me to remind you about this monstrosity where I burnt the meringue on top, but managed to undercook the cake and the meringue on the sides. Pretty.

Allow me to introduce to you today's monstrosity:

5-5-06 Gah! (2)

Yes.. that's a sheet full of fluffy chocolately cappuccino meringues. See the fluff? No? GAH!!! Alrighty then, well I'd hate to waste 3 egg whites, a cup of confectioners sugar and 3 oz each of chocolate and cappuccino chips.. so let's plate them and see how they taste - maybe they'll be chewy instead of melty in your mouthy, I like chewy! Okay.. here we go.. lessee here..

5-5-06 Gah!

Hmmm.. apparently not only did they not stay fluffy, but they spot welded themselves to my cookie sheet. All but one. You see the one, right?? Okay, taste test next - I wasn't going to NOT sample them after I almost dislocated my elbow trying to pry them from my cookie sheet! On a scale of 1 to 10, I give them a negative 7. I only rated them that high because they did stick in my teeth and I was still chewing 5 minutes later.

Whatever meringues. What. Ever.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 05, 2006

My spin on Eggplant Rollatini

Last week while perusing my favorite foodie blogs, I visited Weekly Dish and started drooling over this dish of Grilled Eggplant and Portabello Salad yum! So I went out and got myself some beautiful looking portabellos and a big shiny eggplant with every intention of making this delicious sounding salad this week. Alas, my big shiny eggplant was looking a lil worse for wear when I pulled it out last night to chop it up and marinate it overnight for tonight's dinner. So I decided I had better use it up right then and there to be safe. I'll put another eggplant on my list for this week so I can make the salad next week. Doesn't it always work out that way? *sigh*

I was craving some kind of meat as well last night, since I've been doing the vegetable and pasta thing this week. I've been making
Giada's lasagna rolls for ages now and wondered if she had done anything similar with eggplant, so I consulted the mammary book. I found her recipe for Eggplant Rollatini and I gave it a quick look and got the gist of it, but decided I wanted to combine the way I make her lasagna rolls with my eggplant.

Eggplant Rollatini2

Keeper! Total keeper! The eggplant was so tender after grilling it and with the stuffing of beef and italian sausage and oohhhh the cheese, the melty ooey gooey cheese - I thought maybe I might have over powered the taste of the eggplant, but it was very present and ohhh so good =) I'm especially delighted with the way this recipe turned out as my mom is a total eggplant parmesan freak, but she's never cooked with eggplant herself and she's only found one restaurant in all of northeast Ohio that actually cooks the eggplant so that it's tender enough for her to chew. That's a good thing, that she found a restaurant, but it's kind of a bummer as well, because if we go anywhere else.. she can't have one of her favorite dishes. Well now, although it's not eggplant parmesan, I've got a dish I can make her that I know she'll thoroughly enjoy and that she can have more often. That makes me very, very happy! =)
So here's my take on Eggplant Rollatini.. enjoy!

Eggplant Rollatini
Lisa & Giada's Eggplant Rollatini

1 large eggplant
1/2 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 lb. sweet italian sausage (or use hot if you want a spicy kick)
1 (15 oz.) tub of ricotta cheese
1 (1 lb.) bag of fresh baby spinach (or a 10 oz. box of frozen, chopped spinach - thawed & squeezed until dry)
2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
sliced Provolone cheese (or mozzarella or any good melting italian cheese)
Pecorino Romano cheese
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Slice the eggplant length wise about 1/8 inch thick. Place your slices on a cookie rack that's been placed over a jelly roll sheet and sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt. Let sit for about a 1/2 hour so the salt can bring out some of the water in the eggplant and reduce the bitterness of it.

While you are waiting for that, brown your sirloin and sausage and chop the spinach. (By all means, you can use frozen, chopped spinach - just thaw it out and make sure you've squeezed all the water from it - I usually place the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel, wrap it up tightly and squeeze all the water out that way) Once the meat has browned, combine it in a large bowl with the spinach, ricotta, romano (wanna know how much? Hmm.. how much do you like cheese? Use as much or as little as you'd like - I like! So I probably used a good two handfuls), salt and pepper, set aside.

Heat a grillpan or your broiler.

When the eggplant is done sitting in the salt, rinse it really well and place on paper towels, blotting excess water from them. Drizzle olive oil on the side of eggplant that you'll be putting down on the pan and then drizzle the tops with a little more olive oil. Grill each side for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are tender.

Now it's time to assemble your rollatini. I took my eggplant off the heat and placed them on a cookie sheet and then spread about 2 TBS of the beef/cheese/spinach mixture of them and rolled them up. It was kind of messy but kind of fun as well =)

Place 1 1/2 c. of your marinara in a 9" x 13" baking dish and then put the rolls on top. Spoon the remaining 1/2 c. of your marinara over each rollatini and then place a slice of the provolone on each. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take the foil off and either bake for another 5 minutes to brown the cheese or if you just can't wait another 5 minutes (like me!) turn on the broiler to brown it quicker :D

I served this with a simple salad of leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes and yellow bell peppers dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and about a tsp. of good garlic salt. Yum!

*Note: I only got 7 rollatini from my eggplant and had about a good 2 c. of beef mixture left over, so if you have a large family, use 2 eggplants. I didn't want to waste the beef mixture, so while my rollatini was baking, I boiled 4 lasagna noodles until they were al dente and then made 4 lasagne rolls, which I froze for another time.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Spring Zucchini

Although you can easily get your hands on zucchini year round, I don't cook with it often until spring arrives. Glorious spring and all the wonderful veggies it promises to bring throughout the next few months.. happy happy!

One of my most favorite dishes in all the world is fried zucchini.. introduced to me as a child from my father. He was a vegetable FREAK! lol Thank God, or I'd probably not like my veggies as much as I do now. Dad would cook for us mostly on Sunday mornings and afternoons.. he was the king of breakfasts and snacks.. although he did have many recipes up his sleeve, my mother was the main cook in our family. I admit there are many things my father made that made me turn my nose up.. pickled pigs feet, head cheese sandwiches, neckbone soup, etc.. hehe But when he made his simple vegetable dishes I was always standing behind him just waiting for my plate. Oh.. and his fried dough with sugar & cinnamon sprinkled on it.. yeah, I was practically perched upon his shoulders waiting for those treats to be ready to be inhaled.

He was never a fussy cook.. not many ingredients went into his dishes and they rarely were cooking for hours upon hours (except for the sauce), so it wasn't a long wait to enjoy what he had concocted. His fried zucchini are a perfect example. He simply cut the zucchini into thin slices, dipped them in a couple beaten eggs and then dredged them into a flour, salt & pepper mixture before frying them to a golden brown. They are crispy on the outside and so tender and juicy on the inside. We'd eat these alone, never as a side dish.

5-3-06 (2)

Fried Zucchini

1 or 2 medium sized zucchini, washed and cut into thin slices (coins)
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. all purpose flour
1 TBS. salt
1 TBS. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil for frying

Put oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Combine the flour, salt and pepper thoroughly in a large shallow bowl. Dip your zucchini coins in the eggs and then dredge them in the flour mixture turning over to coat the coin completely, laying each coated coin on a tray or rack. Once the oil is hot (can be tested by dropping a small amount of the eggs in the oil, if they sizzle it's ready) carefully place the zucchini slices in a single layer but don't crowd them. Fry each side for roughly 3 to 4 minutes (until they are golden brown), drain on either paper towels or a brown paper bag. Lightly sprinkle with a little more salt if you think it's needed.. eat immediately if not sooner =)


Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The joys of gnocchi

Ivonne! Ivonne! I made them! My first attempt at gnocchi.. how fab is that? All thanks to Cream Puffs in Venice. I have not had gnocchi in FOREVER. Reason being, when my Aunt Doo (somehow a nickname for Antoinette) passed, no one else in the family made them. I don't like ordering them (or much italian food for that matter) out because rarely are they ever homemade. These were just wonderful.. brought me back to so many times in my Aunt's kitchen - they tasted just like hers =) Another little funny story about my Aunt Doo's gnocchi (which she called cavadels (I so sounded that out)) - when I was younger, much younger, most of my father's side of the family was still alive and we'd hold a huge family reunion every summer at some park in our town. Everyone would bring a dish for sharing (with like 90 hungry italians) and their own beverages. After everyone arrived, they'd lay out all the food buffet style and you'd have to RUN to try to be first in line, basically, for my Aunt Doo's cavadels. They were famous - as were her meatballs. God forbid you were late to these functions. If you were, you were stuck with my Aunt Julia's cabbage rolls which tasted like sawdust wrapped in plastic. Gawd. And you had to take one, regardless of where you were in line, because she was the only one who'd stand over her dish and dole them out making sure only one went to a person (as if anyone would want two) and making damn sure each person had one. All I can say is, there were a lot of uncomfortable gassy doggies at the end of those gatherings. teeee!

I miss those reunions. The men would always play bocce and then gather around a table with their jelly jars full of home made red wine and play cards for hours. The women would chase around their babies and kids, gossipping and telling stories about their husbands. And being a kid there was great, because with 50 aunts and uncles gathered - you were sure to be spoiled rotten that day. And there were hardly any rules.. we got to run amok and have a grand old time as long as we stayed away from the water "you don't know who has been peeing in that water - stay out!!" hehe

Anyhoo.. many thanks to Ivonne for sharing that recipe and a photo that looked so damn good that I knew it was finally time for me to make my own gnocchi. As much as the cheese and butter sauce looked divine in Ivonne's photo, when it came to finally eating these little dumplings made of potato, I couldn't resist fixing them like my Aunt did all those years ago. So I made up a quick batch of meatballs and marinara and dug in.. Mmmm Mmmm good! :D


The only change I'll make next time is to cut them a bit smaller.. I got a lil carried away because, obviously, I don't know what an inch is. lol

Again, I'm going to link to Ivonne's recipe because she shows you step by step the process in making them, which was really and truly helpful to me.

Gnocchi with cheeeesssse =)
My gawd I almost forgot the cheese! =)

Labels: , , , ,