Friday, September 30, 2011

A Great Appetizer.....Mexican Caviar!

Happy "finally feeling like FALL DAY," the humidity is finally GONE, and its really nice outside.  I finally bought mums and pumpkins today, getting ready to finally decorate the outside of the house, yesterday I decorated the inside of the house, with all my "fall things," looks so pretty. I am hoping for a cooler weekend! 

I have to say, I have 18 FOLLOWERS!!!  I am so excited that you all are reading and enjoying my blog....thank you! And a special "thank you" to my Sister, for telling everyone about my blog, she has a lot of "Followers"......such a nice big sister!  If you haven't checked out her blog, here's her link:

We are doing something special on  Monday, so come back and check it out!!

Here's another recipe that I think you all would enjoy, it's great for a big gathering, and perfect for munching while watching football.  Now is the time for football, and we watch it faithfully in this house every Sunday afternoon, and Monday night.

Mexican Caviar is a fairly new recipe, I got this recipe from my friend Ann Marie. It's a crowd pleaser.  It has a Mexican flare, with beans, corn, and tomato's, along with cilantro, scallions, and lime juice.  I absolutely LOVE cilantro, fresh cilantro that is.  I have never really cooked with it before.  I didn't grow up eating the herb, Mom never used it. This recipe calls for a lot of cilantro, and mixed with the other ingredients, and especially the lime juice, (freshly squeezed lime juice) it tastes so fresh, and absolutely delicious and colorful.  The first time I made it, I couldn't get enough, I even served it with grilled chicken, and my family loved it. Serve it with those "scoop" tortilla chips, they make a nice little bowl for the caviar.....YUMMO!

Mexican Caviar
2 cans black beans
2 cans Mexican corn (you find it right where the can corn is sold)
2 cans of diced tomato's with Jalapeno peppers
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 whole bunch of Cilantro minced without the stems
2 stalks of green onion/scallions chopped
2 whole limes squeezed (fresh only)

Drain and rinse the beans in a colander until all the liquid is gone.  Do the same with the corn and tomato's, put them all in a big bowl.  Add the minced cilantro, and scallions. In a separate bowl whisk the canola oil, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and lime juice.  Add to the bowl of beans and other ingredients.  Stir.  Taste it, what does it need, more salt?  Add a little, more pepper?  Add a need to taste your food to see what it needs to be delicious!!!!!  Chill for 3 hours or overnight.  You can half this recipe if you're having a small crowd.  Serve with Tortilla chips.....or even serve with grilled chicken cutlets, or even over brown rice for a side dish.  YUMMO!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apple Tart

It sure feels like Fall here in New Jersey, you can tell by the leaves changing colors and falling.  But the humidity is awful, we are kind of going through a little "Indian Summer, with a "tropical flare" so it seems.  The temps have been in the high 70's and low 80's, and today it has been pouring pretty much all day long!  I love to cook and bake on rainy days, but not on humid days, makes me lazy, sluggish, and I've had a headache for days, not to mention what it does to my HAIR!!  I want to finally shut off the air conditioner, and open the windows, and feel Fall crisp air, better yet, I want a good hair day!

We love to go apple picking and we go every Fall.  We haven't gone yet since it's been so HUMID, but we plan on going very soon. There's nothing like a big bushel of apples waiting to be made into apple sauce, apple pie, apple butter, and Apple Tart.  This tart is so easy, and you don't have to roll out a pie crust.  It has an easy "pat in the pan" crust, and 1 cup of the crust mixture is reserved for a crumbled topping.  It's so easy, I use the food processor (when I had one), to make the crust, but a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture works just fine.   I usually use a tart pan with a removable bottom,'s my Mom's, she lent it to me some years back, and I keep forgetting to return it....and sometimes I just use a spring form pan. If you don't have those pans, you can just use a pie plate, I'm sure you have one of those, right?

Enjoy the Fall, go apple picking with your family, take some pictures, make it a special day.  Then make this most delicious Apple Tart, so easy, and so YUMMO!

Apple Tart
For the Crust
2 sticks butter chilled, cut up into little pieces
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl, cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or 2 knives, until it looks like tiny peas.  Reserve 1 cup for the topping, and press the rest into a tart pan with a removable bottom, or a spring form pan. 

6 apples, peeled and cored
3 TBS corn starch
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Slice the apples, and combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the apples and mix.  Pour into the crust and top with the reserved topping. .Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turn oven down to 350 for another 20 minutes. Let cool, put it on a pretty cake stand, and when cooled down sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Faux Crab Cakes.....honestly so delicious!!!!

Well, it's suppose to rain here in New Jersey for the next seven days.  We really don't need anymore rain, since we just had a hurricane pass through about a month ago, Hurricane Irene, she left us here with no power for days, and floods everywhere!  So glad that's over, but today it's raining and the humidity is killing me!  I've been having the same headache for days, and I am looking forward for cooler, dryer weather to come and STAY!!!

This is a delicious recipe for "Crab Cakes", but you don't use crab meat, you use TUNA FISH in a can!!!  It's kind of a "poor mans" recipe for Crab Cakes, since crab meat is very expensive. It's easy, and delicious, and everyone loves them.  It's perfect for a ladies lunch when I have my girlfriends over, but I have made them for lunch when my hubby is home as well.  I usually serve them with a big romaine salad, filled with apples, craisins, walnuts, and feta cheese and Italian dressing, such a nice and hearty salad.  I came up with a Honey Dijon Sauce which is drizzled on top, this sauce is so delicious, give it a try, you will not be disappointed, and it's so easy!  YUMMO!

Faux Crab Cakes
2 cans white tuna in water
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup mayo (you can use light)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
lemon juice to taste, fresh or bottled
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying pan

In a skillet on medium to high - heat about 2 -3 tablespoons of oil (canola). Mix all the ingredients together. Form into patties, should make 6 and fry until crispy turning only once for about 6 -8 minutes or so - they may fall apart so don't turn them right want them crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Honey Mustard Sauce
1 cup mayo (you can use light)
2 TBS honey
1 heaping TBS mustard
2 tsp. lemon juice
a little pepper to taste

Whisk everything in a bowl, and drizzle on top of the "crab cakes" delicious.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Corn Souffle

I've been making Corn Souffle for only a couple years now, and it's a hit each time I make it. It's such a simple recipe, you'll only need one mixing bowl, and all the ingredients can be found in your pantry, well you do have a well-stocked pantry, right? That's for another post, I guess...... This recipe calls for Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, and one day I didn't have any in my pantry....shh, don't tell Martha! So, instead of running to the grocery store, I got onto the internet and found a Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix"clone." I had all the ingredients, and it came out so good! This is not like a "corn bread", which can be on the dry side, but moist and creamy. It's a great side dish for a barbecue in the summertime, and even goes great with Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix Clone2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn meal
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbs vegetable oil
Sometimes a recipe will call for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. Here's the clone recipe you can make at home. This is equal to 8.5 ounce box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.

Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well with a whisk. Whisk in veggie oil and mix until dry mixture is smooth and lumps are gone. This is the stuff that is actually in the box. If you want to make muffins, you just add 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk...stir until combined, fill muffin tins, and bake 15 -20 min.

Sour Cream Corn-Spoon Bread1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (or the recipe above without the egg and milk)
1 (8oz) can cream corn
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup oil or melted butter(I used the butter)
1/2 tsp. salt
Beat eggs and butter, add salt, and corn bread mix. Mix in corn and sour cream. Pour into casserole dish and bake 35 minutes on 350. Bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Best Coffe Cake Around....Jewish Coffee Cake

I love to bake, and I have collected many recipes over the years, some are tried and true, and others were flops!!! This coffee cake has been my favorite over the years. Actually it's called Jewish Coffee Cake, I don't know why, I don't think it has anything to do with the Jewish tradition, or maybe it does.  I make it a lot, for my kids school meetings, church suppers, friends and family. This coffee cake is very moist, it calls for sour cream, and the topping is the best part, chocolate chips and chopped almonds, mixed with cinnamon and sugar!!!  I got this recipe from my friend Cheryl.  Cheryl made it for me many times, when I babysat her boys years ago, or when we would get together for dinner at her house, even before I was married.

I remember the first time getting ready to bake it.  I was just newly married, and we were having a couple of friends over to our new apartment,  I was so excited to make my friend Cheryl's cake for the first time.  I bought all the ingredients, I didn't have a well-stocked pantry as I do today, I was newly married.....I didn't even have a Kitchen Aid mixer like I do today, I had a new hand mixer, one of my bridal shower gifts, and I was so proud and EXCITED to finally use it.  I started mixing all the ingredients.  I knew how to cream the butter, eggs, sugar, and then add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. But something seemed wrong, I was to add 5 tablespoons of baking powder to the flour?  Really 5 tablespoons?  So I added it to the flour mixture, then to the creamed mixture, and woops, something happened, the batter got so stiff, I couldn't even mix it!  What did I do wrong?  This was the first time making this cake, and it was my favorite cake, and I was newly married, and I wanted everything to be perfect like my friend Cheryl's cake....and company was coming soon......WAAAA!!!!!  I threw out the batter, had no time to mix up another. What was a newly married wife to do?  I didn't have anything else to make, I didn't have any other recipes.....we didn't have the internet back then you know!  So, I sent my new husband out for Cannoli's, we had a bakery right around the corner.......and everyone loved the Cannoli's. Time has passed since then, 23 years to be exact, and I have perfected Jewish Coffee Cake, and have been baking it ever since!

Jewish Coffee Cake

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. (yes 2 TSP NOT 5 TBS) baking power
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter at room temp
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs (farm fresh of course)
1 8 oz container sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped almonds or whatever nut you like
3 TBS sugar
1 TBS cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients, mix well.  Add 1 cup of chocolate chips and mix well. 

Rest of chocolate chips
3 TBS sugar and 1 TBS cinnamon mixed
Mix the chocolate chips, almonds, cinnamon and sugar together
Pour half the butter into a well buttered and floured bundt cake pan, Add half of the topping, pour the rest of the batter on top.  Top with rest of the topping, cover every bit of batter, will look so pretty.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool.  Invert on a cake platter so the topping is upright on the platter, it's so pretty.  You can dust with powder sugar if desired......ENJOY!

Meatloaf.........yes Meatloaf 101

The days are really feeling like Fall around here, and I am in the mood for more comforting meals.  I just love meatloaf.....not the singer...well I do LOVE "Meatloaf" the singer, I use to listen to his music years ago, and I would still listen to his music today!  But, I'm talking about meatloaf, the delicious meat dish, just has a bad name, wonder why and who named it a "loaf."  But the dish is delicious....when it's made right!  So yummy with all the right flavors added, it comes out so wonderful. 

I found this recipe years ago from Sara Molten, she use to be on the Food Network channel, and I've loved it ever since, and make it for my family when we are in the mood for meatloaf.  I use the three meats, veal, pork and beef, just makes all the difference in the world.  The best part is the glaze on top, it's ketcup, cider vinegar, and brown sugar, like a sweet and sour, and just adds the right touch to this delicious meatloaf.  Give it a try, you will not be disappointed, and why not listen to one of Meatloaf's Albums while enjoying your dinner......won't that be fun!

The Best Ever Meatloaf.... 101
You can find the "3 meats" at the grocery store, it's ground veal, ground pork, and ground beef.. you will need about 2 1/2 lbs altogether
1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 stalk of celery minced
2 eggs (fresh from your chickens, of course)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs (you may need more....if it's too wet after you mix it add a little more)
1/4 cup milk
1 TBS yellow mustard
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. oregano, 2 tsp. salt and pepper to taste.
2 tsp. fresh parsley
2 tsp. butter

Saute the onion, carrot and celery in 2 tsp. butter in a pan until soft. Then mix the 3 meats, eggs, bread crumbs, milk, mustard, parsely oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, and sauteed onions, carrot, and celery in a bowl. Mix lightly but you want it all combined. Form it into a thick log, kind like a football, and put it in a greased pan. Spoon the glaze on top and over the sides, and bake in a 350 oven for 1 and 1/2 hours until done. This makes a big meatloaf, so use the leftovers and make cold meatloaf sandwiches the next day, don't forget the mayo!!!!

Glazed: This is a's what makes this YUMMO!
1/2 cup ketcup
2 TBS cider vinegar
2 TBS Brown sugar (I even used the Splendar Brown Sugar)
Mix all of this up and spoon onto of the uncooked meatloaf.

I made mashed pots with it, and since I didn't make a gravy, I sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms with 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs canola oil, salt and pepper to taste, until soft and caramelized. I then served this over the mashed delicious!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Homemade Granola!

Homemade Granola, we just love it in our house.  I use to buy granola at one of my favorite stores, COSTCO, the stuff is so delicious, but EXPENSIVE!!!  And who knows what is in that stuff anyway? So I found a great recipe, and like I do with all recipes made it my own.  I never strictly follow a recipe, I always do it my way, adding my own touches.  This recipe is so delicious, and crunchy, and very easy.  It has dry oatmeal, brown sugar, honey, almonds, walnuts, and my secret ingredient, coconut.  The coconut gives it that special toasted "crunch!"  I don't put raisins or other dried fruit in my granola, but you can, just add the dried fruit after baking, and cool. When it's done baking, it will feel kind of soft, don't worry let it sit in the pan for a while, and it will get nice and crunchy as it cools!  We eat it as a snack, the kids love it in their lunches, and my hubby likes it with his yogurt in the morning.  Try it, you will not be disappointed, and probably won't buy that expensive granola again!  ENJOY!

Homemade Granola
3 1/2 cups old fashioned Oats (Oatmeal)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, toss and put on a well buttered cookie sheet, or spray the cooking sheet with cooking spray.  Bake in the oven on 350 for about 30 minutes.  Now you have to watch it, don't let it burn, I turn the granola over with a spatula about 3 times during the baking process.  Cool in the pan... it will get crunchy while it delicious!  YUMMO!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Perfect Day for Hearty Lentil Soup

I can really feel Fall in the air!  It was a chilly 41 degrees when I took Becca to the bus this morning.  I do enjoy the Fall, the leaves are changing, and falling, not to mention all the leaves in the pool, we have to close the pool soon!  I love decorating the house with my Fall things, going apple and pumpkin picking with my family, it's a tradition we do every year, and I look forward to it!  The cooler temps, makes everything so warm and cozy, and nothing like a big bowl of soup to comfort my tummy!
Have you ever tried Lentil Soup?  It may sound not very appetizing, but really is one of the most delicious soups, especially on a day like today. My mom made the best Lentil Soup when I was growing up, it was delicious.  I usually start the soup in the morning, so it can simmer on the stove just about all day.  I have even made it in the crock pot on days when I'm not home, so easy!  The dried lentils are easy, you don't have to soak them overnight, like most dried beans, just rinse them and they are good to go.  I use kielbasi in my lentil soup, makes it nice and hearty, and my hubby is happy, cause it's not dinner if there's no meat! Serve over brown rice, it's a hearty and delicious meal, and don't forget the homemade bread.....homemade bread, look for that recipe soon.  Enjoy!

Lentil Soup 1 bag green lentils
1 large onion diced
2 starks celery diced
1 large carrot diced
1 whole (Hillshire Farm) link of kielbasi cut in small pieces
garlic minced - about 1 clove
salt and pepper to taste (we like it very well seasoned)
1 bay leaf
3 tsp. beef bouillon
1/2 small can tomato paste
About 5 cups of water

Rinse the lentils you don't have to soak them overnight. In a large pot saute the onions, celery, onions and garlic until soft, add salt and pepper. Add the kielbasi and then the lentils. Saute for about 3 more minutes. Add the water, beef bouillon, bay leaf, and tomato paste. Stir and cook over low heat for about 5 hours or so...or after sauteing the veggies add everything to a crock pot and cook on high for 5 hours or so.. Serve over cooked brown or white rice - Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh My.........Banana Cream Pie

I love having a house full of family and friends, we entertain a lot especially in the summer. We have a big deck off our kitchen which makes it great. I find entertaining to be very easy and satisfying, a lot of people would disagree.  I think the menu should be easy, I want my friends and family to come and enjoy themselves, and I want to ENJOY myself too.  There's  nothing like having a stressed out hostess, makes it uncomfortable for EVERYONE!!! 
One of the simplest desserts that I often make is Banana Cream Pie, and it's one of my favorite desserts too!   I even switch it up by using the same recipe, without the banana's, and add toasted coconut, and it's Coconut Cream Pie!  I also make this pie into a trifle, I omit the crust, and layer the custard, whipped cream, banana's and vanilla wafer cookies into a big glass bowl....YUMMO!!!!

But today I'm going to show you my recipe for an old fashioned Banana Cream Pie. I use the same crust recipe I posted with the Chicken Pot Pie a couple days ago, it's flaky and so easy to make.  The filling, with the whipped cream is so easy, and just simply delicious, I promise, you will wow your family and friends.

Pie Crust
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vinegar
In a large bowl put the flour and salt, and shortening, then using a pastry cutter or 2 knives cut the shortening into the flour and salt. Using a liquid measuring cup, break one egg into it, and then fill it to the 1/2 cup line with ice cold water, and add 1 tsp vinegar.....YES will be fine you'll see. Mix it with a fork, then add it to the flour/shortening mixture and mix together with with a fork, then get your hands in there and gather the dough together don't be afraid, this pie dough recipe you can work the dough and it will still be flaky! Form into a round disk, if it's too wet, add a little more flour, too dry, add very little will be sticky, but not overly sticky.....all depends on the day and humidity.......wrap in plastic wrap and put in the frig for about 1/2 hour, or you can even leave it in there for 2 days, or freeze it for whatever pie you want :)

Rolling out the pie dough
You will only need to roll out 1/2 of the dough disk for this pie, since there is no top crust for this pie.  Cut the disk in half, and using your hands shape the dough into a ball then on a well-floured surface, using your rolling pin, flatten it out and put more flour on the pin and on top of the dough and roll out into a round circle big enough for your pie plate.  Keep moving the dough around so it doesn't stick.  Put the dough into a pie plate, don't stretch it, lay it in the pie plate forming the plate, if you stretch it the dough will shrink when you bake it, and you don't want that! Now cut off the extra dough hanging over the edge of the pie plate, and make a pretty fluting edge. Put it into the frig and chill for about 1 hour, yes making a most delicious pie takes time and patience!!!!  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and now your going to "blind bake" the pie shell. Prick with a fork so it doesn't bubble up, and bake for 15 minutes until lightly brown.
Hint When I "blind bake" (that means baking an empty pie shell in the oven for pies with cream filling that don't have to be baked)  a pie crust, sometimes the pie shell "shrinks" so I always put the uncooked pie shell in the frige to really get it chilled, "blind bake" using dry beans, or pie weights. Put a piece of tin foil on the chilled pie shell and then add dry beans, and bake in the oven on 400 degrees, after about 10 minutes or so simply take the tin foil off the pie shell, and continue to bake the pie shell until lightly brown.  Cool before adding the filling.
Vanilla Pudding Filling
1 2/3 cups water
3 TBS cornstarch
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
2 TBS butter
1 tsp. vanilla
In a medium pot, add the water and cornstarch, whisk until combined, add the sweetened condensed milk, whisk. Separate the yolks from the eggs, be careful not to get any egg white into the yolks, it's very simple, break the egg and use your fingers to separate the eggs.  Pour 1/4 cup of the water/cornstarch sweetened condensed milk mixture in the bowl of egg yolks, this is called tempering the yolks so the heat doesn't scramble the eggs, mix with a fork, and add them into the pot of water/cornstarch and sweetened condensed milk, and whisk, whisk, whisk until it thickens about 5 minutes or so, you will see it bubble up and get thick, don't let it burn, nothing like burnt pudding, keep whisking!!!  Now when it's all thick and delicious looking take the pot off the heat, and add 2 TBS butter and 1 tsp vanilla.  Whisk it again, until the butter is melted and let cool.  I usually put a piece of plastic wrap directly on top touching the pudding so a "skin" doesn't form. 

Wbipped Cream - do this right before you serve the pie!
1/2 pint COLD Whipping Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream (they are the same thing, but the "Whipping Cream" is CHEAPER!
1/4 cup sugar
When the Pudding filling and pie crust are cool, now you can assemble the pie.  Slice about 3 banana's and lay them on the bottom of the baked and cool pie shell.  Add the pudding filling on top of the banana's.  Chill for 4 hours or overnight.  Just before serving, whip the whipped cream, and put on top of the pudding filling.  Serve immediately.  Took a while to do, but so YUMMO!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do you call it Sauce or Gravy?

Marinara Sauce with Meatballs......some people call it sauce, some call it's SAUCE, not gravy! Gravy is brown, SAUCE is red, guess it depends on what side of the "river" you came from. I came from the New York City side, and we called it SAUCE.....we had gravy with our turkey on Thanksgiving!  Now that we cleared that up.....what about homemade meatballs?  Not those frozen golf balls....I mean meatballs that you buy at COSTCO, or some other store.....but the most delicious homemade meatballs, fried.....not BAKED, yes fried in a little olive oil until perfection, and simmered for hours in a big pot of delicious homemade SAUCE.....with minced onion, garlic, fresh parsley, fresh basil.....simmering all day long on the stove.  That is how my mom made her SAUCE when I was growing up in New York City.....and that's how I make mine too!  
Mom started in the morning, usually on a Thursday morning, she made a big pot of sauce with all the fresh ingredients, and she always made meatballs and fried up sausage for the pot as well.  It simmered all day long, and whenever anyone went into the kitchen we always knew to "stir the sauce".......and, well, tasted it too!  Memories of my childhood always revolved around cooking.  I started cooking with my Mom at the age of 10.  I was always in the kitchen with Mom, watching her cook, tasting the food, asking questions, and helping her.  I enjoyed it so, and learned a lot, and that's why I love to cook now!  I don't feel as it's a chore, but a delight to serve delicious meals to my family and friends, the clean-up is another story!  Mom would always serve spaghetti, baked ziti, or cavatelli with her homemade sauce. And I do the same now, of course a salad and good Italian bread goes with the meal too. 

For the Sauce
3 cans crushed tomato's (I like Redpack, Tuttirusso, or Contadina)
1 onion minced
1 clove of garlic minced
1/2 cup of fresh parsley minced
1/4 cup of fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste about 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS sugar (YES I use sugar to cut down on the acidity)
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup Parm cheese
In a big stock pot, heat up and add the olive oil, and saute the onion on medium heat, then add the garlic, but lower the heat cause you don't want to burn the garlic, nothing like burnt garlic!!!!  Add the tomato's, careful they splash, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, sugar, parm cheese and oregano.  Stir with a WOODEN SPOON, I always use a wooden spoon when making homemade sauce..... bring to a boil and immediately turn down to simmer.  Now make the meatballs!!!!

2 pounds chop meat (85% lean would do)
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
3 TBS fresh parsley
1 TBS fresh basil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4; cup Parm cheese
2  TBS olive oil for frying

Mix together with your HANDS......YES... you need to do this with your hands!!!  Roll into medium size balls.  Heat a skillet to medium heat with 2 TBS olive oil, and add the meatballs, do not crowd, they need room to brown.  Brown for about 2 minutes on each side, and then using a slotted spoon transfer to the big pot of simmering sauce.  Cook for 3 hours on simmer, or all day if you have that time.....uncovered.....yes uncovered, or if the tiny spattering of sauce on your stove bothers you, then put the lid on,  but not all the way, you need the sauce to thicken and with the lid on, it will not thicken!  Serve with any kind of pasta you desire, and use the leftovers for homemade pizza...... Enjoy!  YUMMO!!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Ultimate Comfort Food.........Chicken Pot Pie.....YUMMO!!!

Have you ever made homemade chicken pot pie?  It's the ultimate comfort food!  It's my daughter Rebecca's favorite meal, and she asked for it last year for her birthday, which is August 3rd.....and it was a very HOT day, I will add. It was one of my favorite's growing up too.  I started making this recipe years ago, even before the kids came along, I never got it from a certain recipe, I just made it up, and loved it ever since.

I make my own pie crust, but you don't have to......yes you can go to the store, and buy the Pillsbury or storebrand kind, but honestly, making your own pie crust is really the easiest and cheapest thing to do, and what satisfaction......yes I said SATISFACTION!
I usually use leftover chicken from when I roast a whole chicken a few days before, which can make this a really inexpensive meal, and if you make your own pie crust, well then hardly any expense at all. Or just use chicken cutlets, cut them up and brown them. Give it a try you will NOT be disappointed. 

Pie Crust
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vinegar
In a large bowl put the flour and salt, and shortening, then using a pastry cutter or 2 knives cut the shortening into the flour and salt. Using a liquid measuring cup, break one egg into it, and then fill it to the 1/2 cup line with ice cold water, and add 1 tsp vinegar.....YES will be fine you'll see.  Mix it with a fork, then add it to the flour/shortening mixture and mix together with with a fork, then get  your hands in there and gather the dough together don't be afraid, this pie dough recipe you can work the dough and it will still be flaky! Form into a round disk, if it's too wet, add a little more flour, too dry, add very little will be sticky, but not overly sticky.....all depends on the day and humidity.......wrap in plastic wrap and put in the frig for about 1/2 hour, or you can even leave it in there for 2 days, or freeze it for whatever pie you want :)

About 2 cups COOKED shredded chicken (if you don't know how to cook it, cut them up in small pieces, and put a little canola oil in a frying pan, and cook until lightly brown)
2 cups milk, 2% or whole
4 TBS cornstarch
2 cups chicken stock or 2 cups water with 2 TBS chicken bouillon added (I use the water with bouillon)
4 TBS butter (don't worry you're not gonna eat the whole pie, well maybe you will)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups mixed frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrots, whatever)
In a large pot, add the milk, cornstarch, add the water with the bouillon mixed, or chicken stock, salt, pepper,  butter,.whisk constantly, but watch it, keep whisking, you don't want it to will start to bubble and become thickened, take off heat and add cheese, stir let it melt, and then add the COOKED chicken, and veggies.. stir.....COOL... now the pie crust
Take the pie dough out of the frig,  and on a well floured surface, cut the dough disk in half, take one of the halves and roll out, this is the bottom of the pie.  Make sure you have a dusting of flour on the bottom and top of the dough before rolling, and on your rolling pin...roll out to a rectangle since you will use a 9x13 dish, or a round dish if you want to use a deep round casserole dish.  Keep rolling take your time if it sticks add a little more flour, moving the dough so it doesn't stick, move it around after each roll with the pin. Put it on the bottom of a 9x13 dish, then add the cooled filling, and roll out the top pie crust the same way, lay it carefully over the filling, seal the edges, and cut three holes in the top crust for vent holes.  Bake in a 350 oven for 40 minutes until you see it bubbling and light brown.  Let sit for 10 minutes before servings......SO YUMMO!!!!.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm back, now let's get cooking!!! Mac & Cheese 101

A bit of Fall is in the air, and when I feel it, I start cooking comfort food. Mac & Cheese is one of my family's favorites.  It's really easy, once you make this recipe you will never buy the blue box again. This is a Martha Stewart's recipe.....but I've made it my own.

This is Mac & Cheese 101
6 Tbs butter
1/2 cup flour
5 1/2 cups milk - I use 2%
1 lb little shells or elbows
2 tsp salt, pepper to taste and 1 tsp, freshly ground nutmeg - buy it fresh it's so much better.
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you like but the cheddar is really good)

In a deep pot, melt the 6 Tbs butter, add the flour and mix with a whisk for 1 minute, do not let it burn! Immediately add the milk and constantly whisk, add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg....constantly whisking until it gets thick, it will take about 5 mins or not walk away or answer the phone, it will burn, keep whisking!!!

When the sauce gets thick, remove from stove and add the cheese...stir....taste it, does it need more salt, pepper? Add's really yummie now. Cook the pasta, you all now how to cook pasta right? Well if you don't bring a big pot of water up to a boil, and add the pasta, stir it and let cook for about 7 minutes until done. Drain the pasta and add back to that big pot. Using that big pot to mix, pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until all creamy and combined. Spray a large 9x14 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray, and put the pasta with cheese sauce in the dish.

Topping: 4 Tbs butter melted
1 cup bread crumbs -
Melt the butter in a little pot and add the bread crumbs to the melted butter and stir until all combined. Put this topping on top of the mac & cheese...and bake in a 350 oven for 1/2 with foil on....take off the foil for the remaining 10 minutes. You will love this...give it a try, don't be scared, making a cheese sauce is one of the easiest things to make.......Enjoy!