Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chicken, Cabbage & Cannellini Beans

One skillet meals are the best. This one is easy, but has several steps.  Don't let this stop you from trying it. It's not a difficult just need patience. On a health note, no one wants undercooked chicken. Every, and I mean every, component of this meal is super delicious. It has many taste layers that will have your mouth in joy mode.

I have no idea how this recipe came to be...I just know I've been cooking it forever, it seems. And when I tell my hubby that this is dinner tonight, he sighs and his eyes glaze over. Okay, so I went too far to make my point. But you get my point, right?

I only use skinless chicken thighs. If in a hurry use boneless, but there is nothing more tasty then bone-in. My secret ingredient is kielbasa. It adds a smoky flavor that makes this dish a winner. Cabbage...I'm a savoy fan and only savoy. That's the one with the crinkly leaves. It's sweeter and more tender than the regular cabbage. BUT, if you can't find savoy, go ahead and use green cabbage. To make this dish more "stick-to-your-ribs" I prepare just a 1/2 cup of rice and add that at the end of cook time. And, oh, a half a can of cannellini beans go in at the very end so they don't get mushy. Just a bit of patience and you will be rewarded with a keeper for sure.

Yes, you can leave out the kielbasa...sigh, but you are doing this meal an injustice. Go for turkey kielbasa if the real thing is a deal breaker.

Chicken, Cabbage & Cannellini Beans: the 3 C 1 skillet meal

6 skinless chicken thighs, cleaned of excess fat
1/2 ring of kielbasa, any flavor, cut in circles
1 good size head of savory cabbage, rinsed
1/2 can of cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup of rice, cooked
onion powder
garlic powder
oil, canola & extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c chicken broth (optional)

Season chicken with salt, onion powder & garlic powder. Set aside. Put a drop of canola oil in a large skillet and heat. Add kielbasa and brown circles on both sides. Remove to a platter. Don't drain skillet. In same skillet, heat two tablespoons of canola oil until screaming hot. Brown chicken on both sides until deep, golden brown. Remove to same platter as cooked kielbasa.
While chicken is cooking, core & cut cabbage into manageable pieces (not too small).

Put half the cabbage in skillet. Drizzle with olive oil & season with a bit of salt, onion & garlic powder. Let the cabbage begin to cook, (stir so it doesn't stick) then add the rest of the cabbage to the skillet. Season the same as first batch. Go easy on can always add more at the end.
Once cabbage begins to wilt, cover the skillet. When the cabbage starts to look clear, add the chicken and kielbasa. Mix well. Add a drizzle more olive oil if it looks dry. Cover.

Meanwhile: cook rice according to directions. I use a 1/2 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cup of water and a dash of salt and drop of oil. Put in microwave for 7 min on high. Stir. Then cook another 7 minutes.

Add cooked rice to chicken mixture about 5 min before chicken is cooked through and cabbage is soft and clear. Chicken is done when pierced and juice runs clear. Just at the end of cooking process, add the cannellini beans. Cover and heat through.Taste a leaf...add more seasonings if desired.

*if you like a meal with some "sauce" add a 1/2 cup of broth when the cabbage is almost cooked.

No need for a salad. But soft rolls like King's Hawaiian sweet rolls or corn bread go well with this.
Serves 3-4

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Witch Finger Cookies

Yeah, yeah, I know...Nanette doesn't do Halloween. Blame it on being a senior in an Adult Community...reliving my childhood. I posted a recipe for Green Monster Cookies a few days ago because I was bringing treats to the Divas Halloween Party. Friday night was the Community Halloween Party and I was asked to bake Crooked Witch Fingers. At first, I thought it was for the dessert table, but found out they were props for the Haunted House. The Victoria Gardens Haunted House is one of the best I've ever experienced. Kudos to Shari who spends hours researching, building, directing to make this a yearly success. Yes, she has lots of help and dozens of volunteer horror characters, but she is the force behind the whole event. Girl Power. My contribution to this year's Haunted House were the Witch Fingers. I didn't actually see the ghoul chomping on them because I was too busy screaming and covering my eyes!
Back to the cookie....The dough is a bit finicky. Once the ingredients are combined, you must refrigerate it. I made the dough, wrapped it in plastic wrap and chilled for most of the day, baking the fingers in the evening. Cut off a chunk, then rewrap and put in the freezer as you shape the fingers. Once in the oven, rotate the trays after 10 minutes. Don't let the fingers get too brown. The recipe should yield 60 but I got 55 out of it.

Witch Fingers
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
55-60 whole almonds
1 (.75oz) tube red decorating gel

Combine flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter, sugar, egg, almond & vanilla extracts in a mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer and gradually add the dry ingredients as you continue to blend. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour.  
Set oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Remove a small amount of dough from the dough ball. Replace remaining dough in refrigerator or freezer. Roll dough into thin rope shapes. Press almond into the tip. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each finger to give the impression of knuckles.  Make slashes into the dough at knuckles. Arrange on lightly greased cookie sheets. Put cookie sheet in refrigerator for ten minutes to help retain shape when baking. Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating at ten minutes. Before fingers cool completely, remove the almond from end of finger and squeeze a small amount of red gel into cavity. Replace the almond to ooze gel out around the tip. Add red gel anywhere on finger for a "bloodier" look, if desired. 
originally found on under Spooky Witches' Fingers

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Hubby & Me as a Bumble Bee & Beekeeper

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Green Monster Cookies

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big fan of Halloween. In the autumn I look forward to Thanksgiving. Lots of good food rather than sweets and a reason to give thanks for all the blessings of the year...especially Our Bounty! Yet, anyone who knows me knows I love to cook and bake, so any excuse, even Halloween is a fitting excuse.

Recently, I became interested in Pinterest. I tried to hold out and ignore joining, but a site with tons of tried recipes, fun crafts and fashion...well I'm a sucker for. So, I've given in. And I love it!! I have to time myself so I don't spend hours on this fabulous site.

I found this recipe on Pinterest under the title: Ooey Gooey Monster Eye Cookies. The only change was from vanilla extract to a teaspoon of almond extract. I wanted more of a flavor to the cookie. It is ooey gooey and sweet. I tasted the cream cheese batter and it wasn't sweet (enough) but I restrained from adding sugar and glad I did. Once the chilled batter is rolled in the powdered sugar...the cookie is sweet enough. Do put the batter in the fridge like the recipe calls for, even put it back between baking batches. My cookies took 14 minutes to bake not the suggested 10-12. So check on that. Also, the eyes can be found in most department stores like WalMart, or Craft Centers with a baking dept., the brand is Wilton. I used 2 packages. The original color is neon green, but I used regular green food coloring. It's an easy recipe. Kids will enjoy baking this, too. Original recipe found at:

So why is a senior with no grandkids (yet) baking monster face cookies? community has a Divas club...yes, Divas. It's really an excuse to get together with a group of fabulous women and klatch. We have a wonderful Women's Club which works hard for local charities...very worth while. But Divas is just plain old fun. Two women host the monthly "meeting". They come up with a theme...there's snacks and lots of laughter. The theme could be Hollywood, Mother's Tribute, Snowpersons, Valentine's, etc. Sometimes there's a demonstration of a particular craft, or a trivia game, stuff like that. We wear pink, yeah a girlie color, but there's a strong sense of community, womanhood and camaraderie. It's good for the body as well as the soul. The October meeting email read: "Wear your Witches Hat! And bring a spooky story to read aloud. Refreshments will be served." So I will attend in a Good Witches Hat and wearing white, of course...oh, and a pink boa. I'll arrive with a scary story to read monster cookies. It will be a Boo-tiful Divas Gathering.

Green Monster Cookies

1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick butter, softened
1 8oz bar cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
powdered sugar
green food coloring
candy eyes (bloodshot eyes more spooky)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, almond extract, egg and cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in cake mix. Add green food coloring a drop at a time until you get the desired hue. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll a teaspoon full of batter into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12-14 minutes. While warm press a candy eye into center of each cookie. Makes approx.4 doz.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Humble Crock Pot Beef Stew

A crock pot or slow cooker is one of the most useful kitchen appliances invented. A busy mom, an in -the-workforce gal, a newbie chef...whomever, will save time and stress once she gets the hang of it. Don't keep this appliance in a back cupboard...keep it where you can readily get your hands on it. Everything from soup to dessert can be cooked in a crock pot.

Coming home on a cold winter's night to a pot of chili, soup or stew is one of life's delights. On a blistering hot day, you can cook anything your heart desires and not crank up the temperature in your home. The latest and greatest of the slow cookers now allow you to brown your meat in the pot, add additional ingredients, press a button and start the slow cooking process. Though, I don't always brown my roasts or stew meats before placing them in a crock pot, I will admit that doing so does add a more flavorful "home-cooked" taste to the meal. Now that it's more convenient to do so, it would be foolish not to.

My household consists of two, so it's not imperative that I have a large crock pot BUT I do. A five or six quart pot will hold a sizable roast or several pounds of stew meat and all the veggies. This makes it possible to either make extra for freezing or enough to send over to my son and his wife whose work day often extends into dinner time. Having a smaller pot is a good idea, too. This is perfect for split pea soup or tomato meat sauce for two or three.

Don't hesitate to get everything ready mid-day or early eve and hit the "on" switch before you go to bed. The meal is ready when you awake. Let it cool, then put the ceramic section of the pot that's filled with your meal in your refrigerator for supper or package the meal in containers.

I have found over the years that recipes I cooked a long time on the stovetop esp. ones that I had to keep a sharp eye on....stirring on a regular basis, were a snap to do in my crock pot. Not only did the recipe taste just as good, but because of the convenience-those "special dinners" were enjoyed more often. One that comes to mind is a specialty called Genovese, an Italian onion and pot roast meal.

An all-time favorite is the humble Beef Stew. I hope you enjoy my version of it. A few added ingredients make this basic recipe more hearty and extra tasty. As the stew cools, the gravy will thicken and be less "soupy". Be sure to serve with hot biscuits and a salad.

 Humble Beef Stew

4lbs stew meat, cubed
1/4 cup flour
10oz baby carrots
8-10 red potatoes, quartered
6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, cut in slices
1 envelope of dry onion soup
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 can beef gravy
2 Tablespoons parsley
2 Tablespoons flour mixed
in 1/2 c of cold water until
all lumps dissolve
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Gravy Master or
Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

Place cubed beef in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup of flour and garlic powder. Mix well. Set aside. Place onion, red potatoes, carrots & mushrooms on the bottom of crock pot. Top vegetables with cubed beef. Sprinkle dry onion soup over meat. Combine the broth and parsley with the flour that has been mixed with cold water. Blend. Add Gravy Master (optional) into broth mixture. Stir. Pour mixture into pot. Add beef gravy. Blend into meat & vegetables keeping most of the vegetables at the bottom of pot. Add salt if desired. Be sure lid is secure. Cook on low 10 hours.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Salmon Francaise

Yes, Salmon...not chicken or veal.
I have nothing against Chicken or Veal Francaise. It's a wonderful recipe. "Francaise" is French, but it seems ever so popular in many Italian restaurants.  It's not a difficult recipe, though there are dozens and dozens of them from which to choose. All start with dusting (2 lbs) of chicken cutlets (pounded thin) in flour, dipping them in (2) beaten eggs then frying in oil until golden brown- then the differences begin.... most believe that flour such as Wondra is a good thickener. Others swear by cornstarch.  But a purist would tell flour.  You see, if you add cold butter (1/2 stick), a tablespoon pat at a time, to the white wine that has been reduced -the sauce will thicken. You do this by removing the hot pan from the burner and melting the butter. Place it back on burner if the pan cools and no longer melts the butter. On and off...on and off. So...remove the fried chicken to a platter lined with paper towels. Cover platter with foil to keep chicken warm. Then drain the excess oil from the pan. Saute a chopped shallot in pan and deglaze with (1 cup) of good white wine scraping together any brown bits. Reduce until it looks like a light syrup. Whisk in the butter as I previously explained until smooth. Add capers (1 T ), juice of 3 lemons (or less to taste), and fresh parsley. Some love a 1/4 cup of heavy cream added but that is truly an optional ingredient. That's all the best Francaise recipe requires. Note: if sauce is warmed too much, it will separate.

A true foodie is always looking for a new recipe, a way to tweak an old favorite or whatever it takes to satisfy our food lust.  So there I was in my favorite supermarket perusing the shelves when I saw a display case with bright pink salmon in it. Hmmmm, I hadn't had salmon in a while... and what was that jar of sauce on the shelf above the cold compartment? I picked it up. Gia Russa Francaise Simmer Sauce. Huh, never heard of it. I'm always suspicious of jarred sauces, so I studied the ingredients....actually figuring I'd see a whole bunch of things I couldn't pronounced. Huh, again. Butter, white wine, garlic, lemon, chicken & vegetable stock, cornstarch, milk, parsley and a few spices I knew well. Huh. Pretty much all the ingredients in a Francaise recipe.

Then I noticed a recipe card....Mustard Dill Crusted Salmon. Now if a recipe is going to use a Francaise sauce why not call it Whatever Francaise? Well, maybe, not everyone is as familiar with this wine-lemon sauce as I first thought. Could be, right? So, I bought all the ingredients on the card, even for the recommended Tater-tot side dish, and left ever so happy.

The recipe was easy. Almost as easy as scratch Francaise. It was very tasty...buttery, lemony, with a hint of mustard and dill. There was only 210 calories per serving....very low especially if you skip the tater-tots and add sauteed veggies and a salad. With such a low calorie count....splurge with a warm, crusty loaf of bread.

If you can't find Gia Russa Francaise Simmer Sauce and really, really want to try this delicious fish dish...use my "Purist" Francaise Sauce above and substitute salmon (no frying) for the chicken. Don't use capers or parsley and definitely use the heavy cream (more if you want extra sauce). To cut cream calories...consider some vegetable or chicken broth instead of extra cream. Always salt & pepper to taste, if desire.

Salmon Francaise

2 Tablespoons butter or herb garlic butter
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 Tablespoon Dill relish
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 jar Gia Russa Francaise Simmer Sauce
2 salmon fillet about 1 1/2lb. skin removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Chop chives and set aside

Stir mustard, dill relish, breadcrumbs, chives into melted butter.  Blend well.
Pour about a cup of the Francaise sauce into a 13X9 baking dish and spread it in the dish. Top with salmon. Pour the rest of the sauce over the salmon, then top with the buttered breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until opaque and flaky. Serves 2 or 4 depending on size of salmon fillet.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Savoring Savannah: Crab Stew & Orange Scones

Hi y'all. I ate my way through Savannah.  I honestly did. My husband quipped that I never looked happier than when I was seated in Debi's Laurie's on Fried Chicken Thursday.

It all started at the Visitor's Center in Savannah Georgia's Historic District. We asked Carole for a tip or two for our two day visit. Carole is a southern lady who politely acknowledged me, but focused all her charm on my hubby, Steve. Who can argue with the upbringing of a southern belle? She pointed on a map all the must see attractions and when asked where to dine, she drawled, "If you leave Savannah hungry, you have no one to blame but yourself." That was the kiss of death.

City Walk
There are 668 Savannah restaurants reviewed on tripadvisor.  I only wanted to choose one. Steve and I headed to Paula Deen's Lady & Sons.
It had a limited menu, no ambiance and entrees at $27. No thank you, Paula. So our quest began...fortunately many restaurants had their menu tacked to a window. An hour later nothing caught my fancy, not even in restaurant laden, City Walk. Was I being too picky? Too food judgmental? Or was Carole at the Visitor Center's quip truly the kiss of death? Would I be destined to leave Savannah hungry & on the first night, no less?

So we vacated a coveted parking space, and toodled around looking for the "right" restaurant. Sisters on Skidaway Rd got good reviews for its down home southern cookin'. We stopped in. It was cafeteria style with one choice of meat and three sides. There was ox tails, turkey wings, pork chops, liver & onions, fried chicken and more. The sides: tomato & okra, lima beans, mac & cheese, collard greens & then some. It piqued my interest, but not so much my husband and we both agreed we wanted an eatery with some ambiance and more one-on-one attention. We were on the hunt, once again.

Tubby's Tank House
Finally, near Tybee Island was Tubby's Tank House. It had a hefty menu of fish, burgers, chicken & rib eye steak. We began with blackened yellow fin tuna, then the most silky crab stew,
I ordered grilled scallops with baked sweet potato, hush puppies and Cole slaw. Steve had a fried shrimp platter. Mark, our waiter, made the meal more enjoyable with his humor and kind demeanor. I'm sure his manners came from being raised by missionary parents. Good luck, Mark, with your screen writing career!
A 10 A.M. Walking Tour was first thing on our list the next day.  A dash into Panera Bread cafe gave way to the most delicious Orange Scone and steaming cup of coffee. I loved those scones so much that before we left Georgia, I bought 3 to take home. Yeah, I know I can buy them in any Panera, but I have  Food OCD.
Two cuties at Panera Bread
Anyway, Savannah Dan met four of us at Jefferson Square. It was a leisurely stroll with a Southern Gentleman who spoke about local tales, architecture, churches, cemeteries, fascinating history, "No hard's all good" he liked to say to the Northerners, and of course restaurants was a talking point. After two hours, he asked if we had any questions. Sure, I did. Where can I get truly southern fried chicken?
Debi's Laurie's on West State Street is the restaurant where Jenny worked in the movie, Forrest Gump. Thursdays was Fried Chicken Day...just what I hankered for. I delighted our good-natured waitress,

Fried Chicken @ Laurie's
Eleanora, by ordering dark meat, collard greens and rice with down delish! It was nothing short of finger lickin' great! Steve had a chicken salad sandwich with fries. And who did we meet there? Savannah ya know it's a good place to eat.

Carole said, "You can't leave Savannah without tasting Leopold's Ice Cream. You must try Tutti-Frutti." A Savannah tradition since 1919, it boasts a unique selection of freshly made super premium ice cream, milk shakes & ice cream sodas. It was not an idle boast. Tutti-Frutti was tempting, but I really wanted Butter Pecan. Steve had Pistachio which was loaded with pistachio nuts. Mine was creamy wonderful.

Our two day vacation to Savannah was winding down. We spent the better part of the day in and out of every shop on the famous and not too be missed, River Street. We wanted to visit a museum and/or tour a historical home, but it was getting late and streets were being corded off for a fashion festival. Now clothing and shoes call to me, but not we made our way back to our hotel.

We had time for a rare nap, shower, re-dress and then head out for supper. Two choices: Sweet Potatoes Kitchen on Waters Ave or Sand Fly BBQ on Ferguson. Sweet Potatoes Kitchen had mixed reviews and a limited menu with only two dishes standing out, Peach glazed chicken and meatloaf. There was Jamaican jerked chicken or pork, catfish and gumbo, but nothing tickled our fancy. So we drove to Sand Fly
Sand Fly

Southern BBQ...should anyone leave Georgia without tasting it? No. Sand Fly fit the bill with good reviews. There's a lot of casual restaurants in Savannah....this one was just that. Casual. The full menu was written in chalk on a huge blackboard. One wall was completely covered with license plates from every state. We ordered the Hog Wild Platter for two which consisted of 2 ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked sausage, potato salad and baked beans, oh & a thick slice of toast. Three sauces were bottled on the table: honey mustard, sweet ketchup-based BBQ sauce and a crushed red pepper sauce. The meal was good and just the right portion. The meats were smoky and tender...the best was the sausage. Steve raved about it. A country western crooner sang, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" while we drank bottled beer and took in the feel of the place. With a bill of $25, ya get your monies worth.

So I gained a few pounds, my cholesterol is probably higher, and I'm still trying to catch up on sleep, but our vacation to Georgia was memorable. There's 668 restaurants to savor in Savannah and they're now on my bucket list.  I'm determined &.... Who can argue with a gal with an Italian upbringing?

Crab Stew
16 oz crab claw meat (this will give you larger chunks)
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups milk
2 cups light cream
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp sherry
3 red or yellow potatoes peel and cut in 1 inch cubes

Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to medium heat. Start testing doneness at 5 minutes and continue testing until potatoes are cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Bring crab, butter and milk to a slow simmer for 10 minutes. Never boil milk or cream. Add cream, cooked potatoes and sauces. Add salt to taste. Bring just to boiling point, stirring gently and not too often so as to keep crab meat as whole as possible. Add sherry and turn off heat. Let stand for 2 minutes. Sprinkle a dash of paprika on top. Serves 4
*an easier version: Eliminate potatoes & use one can of cream of mushroom or celery soup (if you are fond of the taste of celery) and one can of cream of potato soup. Use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of light cream. Add the soups in the first step with butter & milk. Heat and stir until smooth, then add crab so it doesn't break apart as you smooth out the soups. Simmer 10 minutes and follow the recipe. You may not need salt.

Orange Scones
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (more if you like it sweet)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated orange zest or peel
1/4 tsp salt
5 1/2 Tbsp cold butter 
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 c chopped mandarin oranges, drained
(can reserve juice for glaze)

Glaze icing
1 cup powdered sugar (or more)
3 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp orange marmalade

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, orange zest or peel, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is similar to coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and egg & blend into dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in oranges. Place "dough" on a floured surface and knead about 10 times. Don't over knead. Pat into a 6 inch round and cut into 8 pieces or more for smaller scones, if desired. Separate and place wedges on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before icing.

Icing: Put powdered sugar in a bowl, stir in orange juice and mix well until all lumps disappear. Add orange marmalade. Mix well. If too thick, add more juice a little at a time. If more icing is desired...make a second batch of icing. Brush glaze over the tops of cooled scones. 
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Frozen Margarita Pie

Yep, any excuse for a party. Living in Victoria Gardens is like a 24/7 summer camp. My son likes to say that we party like a bunch of college students who don't have to wake up for class. Yep. We earned it.

Aside from the usual parties...The Christmas Crawl, New Year's Eve (Akvavit, anyone?), Cinco de Mayo, monthly Birthdays, we attend or host a Taco Party, It's May Party, It's Only 80 Degrees Party ;) and the latest....Lime Pickin' Party. Yep.

Got an invite....The Limes are ready for Picking, so bring a basket. We will provide the pizza and dessert. Bring what you drink.
The Host Couple, John and Felicia, have a unique citrus tree. As I mentioned in my post Lime Cookies this tree produces limes, lemons and honey bell oranges alternating every 4 months. Just-way cool. So it's lime season and a great reason to have a party.

I couldn't pass up trying out a new recipe. Any excuse, right? So what to bring, what to bring? Hmmm made Lime Cookies for a Taco Party, so I don't want to repeat. Finger snap! Margarita, anyone? I just happened to have Bacardi Margarita Mixer in my freezer. I used the basis of a popular Lemonade Pie recipe and combined it with cream cheese to give it more body....okay and more calories.

This frozen pie is perfect for a hot, summer evening party. The Margarita mixer is lime-tangy-sweet. If you want an easy dessert that's creamy and very refreshing, this is the one. It will not disappoint the adult palate.

I hear there's a frozen Mai Tai Daiquiri mix....Luau, anyone? Yep.

**tips: this is a simple pie to make, but it does need some prep thought. The night before-put mixer bowl, beater(s), can of condensed milk in refrigerator. Whipped topping should be thawed, but kept as cold as possible. Keep Margarita mix in freezer until ready to use. Doing this will keep the filling from becoming liquidy. FOLD in whipped not stir or mix briskly. Once pie crust is filled, cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least five hours or overnight. Great make-ahead dessert. You can use any flavor frozen concentrate-lemonade, limeade, orange, strawberry, pina colada, etc.

Quick Update: The pie got rave reviews! Not a crumb left on the plate. The Lime Pickin' Party was lots of fun with much laughter and good-natured teasing. We will be doing it again in lemon pickin' season!

Frozen Margarita Pie

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14oz) can sweetened, condensed milk
6 oz. frozen Bacardi Margarita mixer
12 oz frozen whipped topping
2 drops green food color (optional)

Pie crust:
Graham cracker pie crust, ready made
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs sugar
5 1/2 Tbs butter, melted

To make pie crust: In a bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until combined. Pour into a 9inch pie plate and press mixture firmly along the bottom and sides of plate. Bake 7-8 minutes in a 350 degree oven, then chill before filling. OR don't bake and chill for 1 hour.

Put softened cream cheese into the cold mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add condensed milk and Margarita mixer and just mix until combined. By hand, fold in whipped topping and food coloring. Once combined, pour into graham cracker pie crust. Cover in plastic wrap and freeze.
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Shrimp, Grape Tomato & Pasta

My son likes to cook. Being a modern husband he shares this duty with his wife. He often calls me for the details of a recipe at least once, okay, twice, even three times. Patience. I remind myself that cooking a good meal takes practice and I've been doing it for, uh, let's say, a long time. Hours after his final call will come the really final phone call...."Mom, it came out great!" The kid is a chip off the old, Italian block.

Back to the supper time phone calls....when Jared's phone number pops up on the caller ID and all I hear is a groan, I pretty much know there's a recipe dilemma.  The most common..."I forgot to defrost something to cook." Now, I have rarely faced this problem in my years of cooking. First, I am a obsessive compulsive grocery shopper. I get a high walking into a supermarket. Sooooo, I have enough pantry staples and frozen food in my freezer to survive a small war. Secondly, I take after my mother. She can grab 4 ingredients and create a feast fit for a queen. So, forgetting to defrost has never been a problem for me, BUT...this trait hasn't formed on my chip off the old, Italian block....yet.

When that supper emergency call comes in, I ask, "Do you have this, this, this or this?" If he has at least two on the list, we've hit a home run.  I will now give my dear foodie readers this gem of advice...Keep a bag of shrimp or a small bag of ready-made meatballs or a package of grilled & ready chicken strips and any frozen veggie in your freezer. If you do, you will never be stumped on what to cook tonight.

The recipe in today's post is simple, quick and tasty. The trick is season, season, season the few ingredients needed and you will enjoy this meal, heartily! It serves 1, so double or triple as needed.

Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, & Pasta

6 large to jumbo shrimp, cooked or if fresh, deveined and tail removed
6 Grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 Tablespoon olive oil + extra
1 handful fresh basil
1/2 cup broth, any flavor
3 cloves garlic
salt, pepper & garlic powder
angel hair pasta, enough for one serving OR
Rice sticks/noodles, yes, rice sticks
(I'm eating less wheat these days)

Put cleaned shrimp in a small bowl with garlic powder, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil. Mix & set aside.  Begin cooking pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, drizzle Tbs. of oil in a pan and saute garlic cloves for about 2 minutes. Add grape tomatoes, sprinkled with a bit of salt and more garlic powder, and saute for 3 minutes. Add shrimp and cook approx. 3 minutes on each side. If  using pre-cooked shrimp then saute only 2 minutes.
Slowly add broth while gently stirring all browned bits together with broth. Simmer 2 minutes. Add fresh basil and simmer 1 minute. Drain pasta well.
Serve shrimp mixture over the pasta with a side salad and enjoy!
*you can add more broth, but first be sure to scrape together all those tasty brown bits in the pan, then add more broth.
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Zucchini Soup

 It's never too hot to have a bowl of soup or a cup of coffee, for that matter. This soup is a summer favorite because of the abundance of zucchini during this season. You can use green or yellow or both. It's a light soup and perfect for a hot day. Living in Florida with air conditioning makes eating soup just as enjoyable as if I were eating it on a brisk winter eve. But even in the midst of a NY heatwave this soup was a must have.
Growing up, my dad always had a vegetable garden in the yard. Never a huge one, but one that contained tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and basil. I remember weaving through the rows of tomato plants with Dad. Sometimes, he took a small salt shaker with him and we'd pluck a rosy plum tomato off the vine and with the sun beating down on us, sprinkle the salt on a tomato before we ate it. The warm fruit would burst and squirt juice in every direction often dribbling down our hands. It was glorious and one of life's small pleasures.
Our summer bounty would yield vegetables for fresh tomato sauce, eggplant either for Parmesan or just breaded and baked/fried slices to nibble on.  Zucchini went into soups, breads, or stuffed with mounds of breadcrumbs, cheese and sometimes browned ground beef. And those zucchini flowers! Battered and deep for a king! Nonna made a Sicilian style pizza in her dark lasagna pan. It is what we call today, Pizza Margherita...tomato slices, fresh mozzarella with fresh basil on homemade crust. The colors of Italy. I adored eating it cold the next morning!
The best treat...dunking slices of Italian bread into a bowl filled with chunks of tomato, basil, olive oil, a splash of warm water and salt. There we would all be...dunking, chatting, laughing together until we ate our fill. So simple, so heavenly wonderful! If you add slices of fresh mozzarella to it, it became tomato caprese, but in those days I didn't even know it had a fancy name. It was just? Just what Momma made for us from the garden.
Nonna added a beaten egg to this zucchini soup. It was the Italian version of Chinese Egg Drop Soup. The beaten egg gives the soup some body. It brings back heart-warming memories of a little tomboy sitting at Nonna's Formica-topped table spooning zucchini soup into her mouth, skinny legs swinging beneath that table, all the while gazing at her favorite wall plaque ...God Bless Our Home. Truer words were never written. It was blessed then and it is blessed now. Grazie, Dio. 

Zucchini Soup
2 medium size zucchini, small diced pieces
1 can broth, any variety
6 cups of water
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
onion powder
garlic powder
1 T olive oil
rice or orzo pasta, optional
egg, beaten, optional

Rinse and dry two zucchini. Dice into small cubes. Dice onion. Peel garlic cloves.
Sprinkle olive oil (not too much or soup will be greasy) into a soup pot. Once oil is hot, add the garlic cloves and saute for a couple of minutes then add zucchini & onion. Saute until clear and soft approx. 20 min. Add parsley and basil. Mix. Add broth and water. Heat to boil then lower to simmer. Season to taste with salt, onion powder, garlic powder. Simmer for 1 hour.
If desired, cook rice or orzo pasta according to directions. Add a scoop to bottom of soup bowl, then add soup. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
**Zucchini Egg Drop Soup: after soup has simmered for an hour,  slowly add one beaten egg to it and whisk vigorously. I separate the soup into two containers and have one half egg drop and the other half without egg.
Soup freezes very well. Serves 6
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Remember To Make Memories At The Table