Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mediterranean Eggplant with Peppers, and Onions

So much for making my Eggplant balls. My daughter bought a ton of baby Japanese eggplants from our local Latina Produce market for about 10 for $1.00. Wow, how can you not want to get some? The trick is, finding a way of making these babies so they can still "shine" and show off their cute and tiny appearance. Unfortunately, after being roasted in a 375 degree oven, they come out looking like an over baked...or should I say "over tanned" wrinkled old lady. But do not "fret."...that's the best part. You can now, savor the flavor, of the tender,  little eggplants.
Treat them gently, and not peel them to discard their skins, or mash them up into a "Baba Ganoush" which I was about to do. Just let them be, and let their personalities flourish!

Mediterranean Eggplants with Peppers, and Onions
10 small Japanese eggplants
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 large tomato
1 green pepper
1 red, and/or yellow pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 sprig fresh rosemary, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano (fresh better, if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick the eggplants a few places with a fork, and lay them on a baking sheet with aluminum foil lined, drizzle them with a Tablespoon of olive oil a few drops of water, and bake them for about 45 minutes. They should feel soft to the touch, brown and somewhat wrinkly. If you have room on the same sheet, (I prefer a separate baking sheet) for the vegetables, and bake them at the same time as the eggplant.
To prepare the vegetables:
Cut peppers in half and clean out the seeds, cut onion in half and cut slices lengthwise also.Cut tomatoes in large cubes. In a bowl, mix them all together with the chopped garlic, the rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper, and place them on the baking sheet, adding the wine, and roast them at the same time, as the eggplant. When both are done, wait for the eggplant to cool a little so you can slice them in thirds and in an oven proof dish, carefully mix the two together. By now, they have gotten a little cool; you can serve them this way, or put the dish back into to oven for about 15 minutes, to thoroughly heat through. Serves 4.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe for the: Light and Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

 Light and Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs
for the meatballs
1 lb ground sirloin
1/2 lb ground chuck
1 whole onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 eggs
1/2 cup cracker meal (or 1/2 cup breadcrumbs)
1 handful chopped parsley, (or about 1 teaspoon dry parsley)
a few fresh basil leaves (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, Romano (I used grated Granana Padana)
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons olive oil for frying meatballs, and onion
salt and pepper to taste

22 uniform sizes, no getting your hands all dirty, and just gently roll them together with wet palms, ready to brown them in olive oil, and throw them into the sauce. You don't have to use all of them. After frying, you can freeze probably half, it's up to you.
Meatballs should look like these, nice and brown. They're ready to go in the sauce when all pink is browned evenly. 

Combine all your ingredients for the meatball, and just lightly form them, scooping them out with the 1 1/2 inch scooper. If you like, use 1/2 of the onions in the meatball mixture, and use the other half to saute them to put into the sauce.

Easy Spaghetti Sauce 

In a blender, blend each 28 oz can of Marzano tomatoes, one at a time, give it a whirl, and it's done. Pour into a med.large sauce pan, just like that, and start heating it at med.high. Saute half the onions if you like, and add them in the sauce, along with some of the parsley, the basil, bay, leaf and a small amount of chopped garlic. A generous grinding of fresh black pepper, kosher, or sea salt...PLEASE NO SUGAR! Tomatoes are sweet as honey...HONEST! When meatballs are browned, just throw them in there, partially cover the pot, and on med.low cook for about 4 minutes, or until you see the liquid evaporating. You won't be sorry you followed this method, because sometimes you just want to make a vegetarian sauce, and leave out the meat. Serves 6.

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The easiest way to chop garlic and onion, is to first, buy a plastic jar container of whole peeled garlic, and put them into a food processor, larger than this size, and process them till they're finely chopped, and spoon them into a small mason jar, fill them with canola or vegetable, and use them for whatever your garlic calls for. Sure beats all that chopping by hand. This little food processor I got at Goodwill  $2.99, and whenever I just want to chop onion in it, just quarter the pieces and drop them in there. For meatballs, or meat loaf, they are especially goo, because you don't have all the large unwanted pieces in there, that usually don't cook all the way. This is such a time savor. The garlic will last you at leas a good whole month.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake (The Boondt)

Inspired by the Big Fat Greek Wedding, I pulled out my old bundt cake pan which I probably have not used in at least over 20 years. Still looks great, nice design, and sturdy. Cannot find another today exactly like that. Fire engine red, kind of wearing out, but the inside is solid non-stick, and it's really heavy duty. Actually someone gave me any idea to bake a whole chicken in the bundt, standing it upright. Not a bad idea, but somehow, I'd feel weird baking a cake in it afterwards. Certain wares, are made for certain things, and not to be used for anything else. I would not be able to get the propped up chicken out of my mind, next time I would bake a cake...also knowing that certain family members are vegetarian, and I could not lie to them that prior to the cake a chicken was basking in it, in the oven.
Getting back to the "Boondt." I loved the movie, and loved that one particular scene, where the future mother-in-law brings a bundt cake to the engagement party of the Greek family. Here's an excerpt from the scene.
Toula’s father introduces each and every family member to Millers and when all the introductions are through, Mrs. Miller holds out a bundt cake. Completely confused, Toula’s mother asks, “What’s this?”
“It’s a bundt cake.” Mrs. Miller says.
Completely dumbfounded, Toula’s mother repeats, “Boondt?”
Yes, Bundt.”
Oh…It’s a cake!” She finally confirms. “This cake has a hole in it…”
So, without further adieu...let me introduce you to my BOONDT...Bundt Cake!


Did I forget to mention, that this wonderful Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake, is topped with a yummy Caramel glaze? It is so easy to make, just like the cake too. Like I mentioned in previous banana bread recipes, I always have extra bananas left over, and when it gets down to the "magic 3" amount, and it has little brown spots on them, it's time to make something with it.

Hi Friends!
Yesterday, I was gone all day, and just now, I noticed I wiped out the entire photos, and now I have to start back again to copy from my scribbled note the recipe, all over again.

Also, thanking everybody for the nice comments, regarding my BOONDT...bundt cake, with the caramel icing. The cake is all gone now, so on to my next adventure. So sorry, for any inconvenience, here's the recipe once more.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
3 ripe bananas mashed
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz pkg. Nestle semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. (you can use the cooking spray for baking)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and dash of salt. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, butter, and the eggs, with an electric mixer, till nice and creamy. In a small bowl, mash the bananas. Add the ingredients from the medium bowl, which has the egg mixture, to the flower mixture, and mix at a low speed to combine. Now, mix in the bananas, the heavy cream, and the vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, by hand, and mix lightly. Pour into the bundt pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, Top should be a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before flipping cake over, on a plate. Cool for another 10 minutes, before drizzling on the glaze. Serve 6 regular sizes, or 8 larger slices.

Caramel Glaze

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, melt sugar with the butter, on medium high heat, until it comes to a bubble. Add the cream, and vanilla, and lower the heat. Keep stirring until it thickens, and comes to a bubble. It should get a nice amber color, thick and gooey! Immediately take it off the heat, and with a soup spoon, start drizzling the cake evenly, all around. It will set in a few minutes, and will have a beautiful shine to it from the butter, and the cream. The flavor of the caramel, banana, and chocolate chips, will be fantastic.


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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thai Shrimp Noodle Soup

Today, is one of those South Florida days, that you welcome a nice bowl of soup. It's raining, and a nice breeze, but still a hot 82 degrees. We're not seeing fall or falling leaves around here, that's for sure! I connected with a lot of nice friends through Foodbuzz, and they are from all over the United States, and the World. I'm glad that I have the Google Translator on my blog, so other people with different languages can actually translate it to their own. I think it's so cool to have that widget. Sure brings a lot of us together...and not have to have the mishap of the biblical Tower of Babel. We're all ONE...and one thing I'm sure of is that we all share common interests, being FOODIES!
I didn't feel like going to the store to pick up any specialty items, my "good old standby" bag of shrimp in the freezer always is a good "friend." Ready, when I am...sounds kind of corny, but it really is true. For the Thai shrimp noodle soup, all you need is the shrimp, the rice noodles, some vegetable, and don't forget the spices. The Thai sweet, and spicy chili sauce, always works, and it's good for dipping as well. Instead of posting the recipe later, I will start now. I hope you enjoy a different soup, instead of the same old...same old, and also really good if you're a vegetarian, No meats of any kind that is in the soup. Just all fresh ingredients. I wanted to keep the broth separate, and the shrimps separate, but decided to combine the two, so instead of eating a vegetable soup, and shrimp with vegetables on the side the best of the two are happily joined together.
The first thing I do, is saute the onions, garlic, and peppers, add some chopped fresh cilantro, and the strained cooking liquid from the shrimp shells and tails, and add it to the heated up vegetable broth that already has the sugar snap peas in it.
...and here's the finished product. The shrimp goes in with the sauteed vegetables, at the very last minute, when vegetables are soft and just tender, and let shrimp turn pink. Add together the shrimp and vegetable mixture, and serve it in a nice soup terrine. This is not just any soup terrine.
Did I get lucky?...or did I get luck! A Graf von Hennenberg Porzellana 1777, from The German Democratic Republic. It has the green crest on the bottom, and the coat of arms. Truly a beautiful porcelain work of art. Don't know what year, don't know what it's worth, but I would not want to sell this beauty. It's a keeper! Paid $7.99 for this truly antique at World Thrift, in West Palm Beach. The elderly couple that some me buy it, suggested that I take it to the  antique fair that we have here, to have it appraised! I just might do that out of curiosity.
Thai Shrimp Noodle Soup

1/2 lb. shells and tail on, large deveined shrimp
(you can use 1lb. if you like)
32 oz carton all natural. vegetable broth, or 2 16 oz. cans
1 cup water
2 1/4 in. thick slices of peeled fresh ginger
( or 1 teaspoon of good quality powdered ginger)
1 red bell pepper, sliced diagonally, or
(1 orange, or yellow bell pepper)
1 green bell pepper sliced diagonally, or
(you can stay with just the yellow, orange or red)
1 medium onion cut in half, and sliced diagonally
3 oz. fresh snap peas, string removed from the back
( you can use frozen pea pods if you like instead of fresh)
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
juice of 1 lime
handful of fresh cilantro chopped
3 oz. rice sticks (rice noodles)
1 Tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce (also used for dipping)

Remove shells and tails from shrimp, and boil them in the 1 cup water, strain the liquid, and set aside. In a large skillet,over medium high heat. Saute the onions, peppers, garlic and ginger, (or add the ginger powder) in the vegetable oil. When the onion starts to get wilted, add the cilantro, and saute for another few minutes. Add the chili  Add the shrimp, the chili sauce, the juice of the lime, and  the reserved strained water. Let the shrimp get nice and pink and take it off the heat. Have the broth ready at this time, warming it up, adding the snap peas, At this time, you can add all the ingredients from the shrimp, and mix it into heated broth. It's ready to ladle out, adding a little more chopped cilantro on the top. Serves 4.
This is not too spicy, but you can add more chili sauce to the individual bowls, and also extra lime juice.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Italian Sausage and Peppers

I was not going to post this...seems like I'm contradicting myself about eating healthy. Actually this is not so bad, considering I made it as light as possible. No grease, no extra fat...this would certainly can be categorized in the Atkins diet, maybe even Weight Watchers?...been there, done all that...and so, the saga continues.

Before I post the recipe for my Italian sausage and peppers, I will proudly show off my Suzanne Somers stainless steel skillet, 10 in. in diameter, has a nice non-skid handle, and the best part was, that this skillet has never been used by any one. I paid $2.99 for it, at Goodwill, and I've had it for over 1 year. In order to cook or fry on high heat, you must either have a cast iron skillet, or a calphalon, or a heavy duty stainless steel, as it is in this case. You will only destroy you nice non-stick pan. I absolutely love this frying skillet, it's easy to clean, even if you get burns on there. When you soak it in hot soapy water, the stain just rolls off. I am all green practically, with cleaning supplies. Just simply scour it with baking soda...takes the place of the strong chemical scouring powder, and you can also clean your sink with the baking soda, and will freshen up your garbage disposal. So now, on to my recipe...actually not really a recipe, just the instruction of how I came up with this great idea for the sausage and peppers. Not drowning it in oil, not letting it get lost in red sauce, but everything fresh from my refrigarator, that needs to be used up, anyway.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

2 links of mild Italian sausage
1 link of hot Italian sausage
(about 1 lb.)
1 green bell pepper
2 Hungarian wax peppers (or banana peppers
or Cubanelle, you can variate the peppers of your choice)
1 large onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium tomatoes (fresh)
1/2 cup vegetable broth or plain water is good
salt and peppers, (optional)
(sausage and peppers, are hot and salty enough)
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
Cut sausages with a sharp blade knife, to 3 inch pieces. ( slices will just fall apart, so this is suggested.) Cut peppers lenghtwise into about 1 inch strips, (not too thin) Cut onion in half, and cut fairly thick slices, lengthwise, also. Tomatoes cut in half, and also sliced thick into lentghwies slices. (Everything is cut lenghtwise, so they look nice and uniformed.)  First, start with the sausage to brown them in the vegetable oil, on med.high heat, for about 10 minutes, so they get nice and brown. Lower the heat, and just cook them low, for an additional 15 minutes. Add all the peppers, onion, garlic, and tomatoes, and saute them, leaving the sausages in the skillet, but at this time, add half of the broth or water. It will start to caramelize it, and keep cooking them for an additional 15-20 minutes, adding the rest of the broth to keep getting nice and juicy, this way it will not burn, or get dry. You should end up with perfectly cooked sausages, and just the right texture of the peppers, and onions. The tomatoes will stay nice and soft, and not falling apart. Serves 2.
Leftovers are great for the next morning with scrambled eggs, or reheated and served in a hoagie roll with melted mozzarella. (that is if you're cooking this for 1, but if for 2, you will not have any leftovers.) If you like pork, this is an ultimate comfort food!
Another excerpt, from WOMEN FOOD AND GOD

The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value and possibility. To change your body, you must first understand that which is shaping it. Not deprive it. Not shame it. Not do anything but accept--yes, Virginia--understand it. Because if you force and deprive and shame yourself into being thin, you end up a deprived, shamed fearful person who will also be thin for ten minutes. When you abuse yourself (by taunting or threatening yourself) you become a bruised human being no matter how much you weigh.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

A Nice Salad, and "WOMEN FOOD AND GOD"

I've been obsessing the last couple weeks, about my life,  and doing a little (lot) of soul searching, what is it with us women that we always have to be worrying about our weight? It should be more of a problem how you look, and how you feel, not because of that magic number which could be either joyful, or detrimental to our self image. If you feel good, and you are comfortable with yourself, no matter the size, (except obesity)-which is another subject, then why torture yourself, "what if I loose 10 lbs, 30 lbs, or maybe 50? Well, if you set your mind on it and you really want to do it, then by all means set your goal.
I ordered this "gently used" book from ( remember? I'm a thrifter.) I just cant' seem to put it down, it is really intriguing, and tugging at your "heart sleeve" about these stories of women that have been trying to lose weight for years with all the diets that are out there, only to lose it and gain more weight back. So, stop dieting, and concentrate on being happy with who you are, the way you are, and get to know YOU! You will start to have a clearer focus of what you are actually feeding your stomach, and your soul.
Since I've been blogging about FOOD, and THRIFTING, just for about a few months, I've been so focused with all the helpful information out there, through my Twitter friends, and my Foodie friends, from Foodbuzz. I did not even imagine all the wonderful people out there that have so much to give, and share. So, do yourself a favor, and check out all these amazing food blogs, and the great people that contribute them from the heart. You will not be sorry...and you will make lots of friends in the interim.
I did not express this minor confession for the reason that I have these issues, but then we all have some sort of issues that we have to, or have had to work out, and FOOD is one of them for most people. Either you get passionate about it, and start realizing that there are so many fresh and nutritious things are out there, there is no excuse for any of us not to start a new chapter in our lives, with our love of GOOD FOOD, and not obsessing about it like a "lost love"...maybe a lost puppy! ...hope not.

Here are some deep excerpts, from WOMEN FOOD AND GOD by: Geneen Roth

I don't believe in the God that most people call God, but I do know the the only definition of God that makes any sense is one that  uses this human life and its suffering--the very things we believe we nee to hide or fix--as a path to the heart of love itself. Which is why the relationship with food is a perfect doorway.
While I realize that some people find the word God explosive and potentially divisive, and that others have a deeply satisfying relationship with God, I us the word in this book because it evokes a vast expanse that we cannot penetrate with our minds, although we can know it through silence or poetry or simply sensing what is always here.
And because pairing food with God fizzles the mind--the two seem as unrelated as titanium computers and scarlet peonies-- all that you believe about food and God can fall away.

After reading a few chapters of my book, I wanted to be more aware of what I'm going to make for lunch for myself. Romaine salad, always on hand in the frig, better than the ready bags of salads. This one, you cut it yourself, and it's more economical, and lasts longer,. Three nice heads of Romaine, is equivalent to a bag of cut up salad, and (you can feed an army with the Romaine)...and lasts longer when it's not cut up. Cucumbers, sliced red onions, sliced tomatoes, and a few olives Top it off with hard boiled, sliced eggs, and freshly grated carrots...use nothing but your best extra virgin olive oil, and a little drizzle of your favorite vinegar. I like white balsamic, lately. Oh, and the plate, I bought 2, just to make myself looks so nice on the photos. Isaac Mizrahi plates, from Target, purchased ate Goodwill, for 79 cents, each. Now, isn't that special!?

A simple Lipton ice tea, made with the real tea bags, specifically just for ice tea. One tea bag will make a huge pitcher of ice tea. I love it with lime, lately, since lime is so cheap to buy, you can get about 10-15 limes for just $1.00. The glass is a Coca Cola collectible glass, @ 69 cents a piece, I was able to get two, so now I have a set of two special collectors glasses.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Cajun Oven Fried Chicken

I hesitated to post this photo of my Cajun Oven Fried Chicken, because it seems like that's all I post is chicken dishes, and of course dishes, as in special thrift find dishes, platter, etc. There are endless possibilities to with chicken. Our family never gets tired of chicken, so therefore it is a staple dish in our family. Although this was my simple little dinner, I thought I would share this recipe, and the special flat bread I bought at my local, all time favorite supermarket, besides Whole Foods. Another story about that.

 Cajun Oven Fried Chicken

! whole chicken cut up in 8 parts, or
chicken parts, of your choice
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
or a (mix of your own)
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
salt, and pepper to taste
1 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine spices and buttermilk in a shallow dish. Dip chicken pieces one at a time, into the buttermilk mixture, dredge in Panko. Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. Turn chicken over, after 20 minutes. 8 pieces servings
I like to freeze flat bread, pita, and any other kinds of quick breads that I am not using at the time. As you can see, this flat bread was purchased about 3 days before the expiration date, and had I not froze it, it would have expired. That goes to show you that it's all natural, and does not have a long shelf life, therefore, if you don't use it up right away, you only have literally 2 days, and it will start to dry, or get stale.  I grilled the bread in my cast iron grill pan, just barely heated it up, and I'll tell you, I cold have eaten up all three large pieces, just like that, with nothing else. This was incredibly so good, that I have to keep buying this, and one day, make my own, if I get ambitious enough for it.

I've also neglected lately, to show off my thrift finds treasures. This one really is a treasure. "Holly Hobby" how I always loved everything Holly Hobby, which became later, "Precious Moment". This plate, is by American Greeting Co. in Cleveland, Ohio, my precious home town. The year, 1972. Can you believe this? Takes you back, doesn't it? Don't know why no one grabbed was displayed at Goodwill, on their Green wares rack. $1.99. Not a chip, not a scratch. How could any Holly Hobby lover would go wrong with that.? I pulled this out from back of my kitchen cabinet, did not even display this, and I served my Cajun Chicken dinner on this plate for myself. Made me feel pretty special. I gave something like this to my mom back in those days as a gift, but this was not the one. I'm keeping some one else's treasure, that was given to their mom, and I guess that particular mom passed away. It's usually like that. Sometimes you walk in there, and you'll see a whole set of beautiful china, matching coffee cups, and other items, that you just feel, another person passed away, and the family donated it. Well, in this case, I gave it a good home!

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

This particular interesting Cheese Cake Cookie bars goes back to the seventies, that I was anxious to recreate. Just trying to make things more up to date and interesting. The original recipe calls for ready made chocolate cookie dough, and too much sugar, and butter, The creme cheese topping is what makes it so special, and unique. In order to make this extra yummy, you actually have to make the cookie dough from scratch, which really isn't difficult, and instead of chocolate chips, I added Nestle semisweet chocolate chunks, or you can make your own chocolate chunks that would even be better. This was part of the Sunday Lunch for Ten, and I even had enough dough left over to make cookies with. All, in all, it was a successful dessert, and everyone loved it. I highly recommend it.

Chocolate Chunk Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup(1 stick) unsalted butter softened
1 cup pure vegetable Crisco
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 cups(12 ounces) Nestle semisweet chocolate chunks,
or your own,  chopped

In a medium size  bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, In a large bowl, with a hand electric mixer, mix the butter, Crisco, vanilla, and the sugars until nice and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, until real fluffy. Add half of the flour, and mix with the mixer. (don't mix the whole amount with the electric mixer.) Now, fold in the second half portion of the flour, and fold in the chocolate chips. Divide dough into two large logs and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Unroll, the dough, and slice about half in slices to pat into an 8x8 in square pan, or use all the dough to pat into a 9x13 pan,( but you will not have left over dough to make cookies with.)  also the larger pan will have a flatter topping with the creme cheese The choice is your. (I made it in the smaller pan, and still had enough dough for 18 cookies too.

Cream Cheese Topping
2- 8 ounce package Philadelphia Creme Cheese (left out to soften)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a hand electric mixer, Beat cream cheese with the sugar until nice and creamy, add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Last, add the vanilla, and beat for another minute or two. Fold the Cream Cheese Topping on top of the cookie crust dough, and bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for about 30-35 minutes. Cut into small squares, or bars. Serves 8
For easier removal from the pan, line the pan with aluminum foil, and let sides hang over. When it's done, you can remove it with the aluminum foil, for easier cutting.

Chocolate chunk cookies, from one recipe dough, or make the full recipe for the 9x13 inch baking pan with with 2 inch sides
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Comfort Food-Lunch For Ten

Shrimp is another staple I keep lately in the freezer, because we get the best frozen, as well as the fresh shrimp, of course. 24oz. of large shrimp from our local Publix market, $11.99. is a real bargain, and oh, so good.  Sauteed just with olive oil, garlic, and butter, with spiced with my favorite Hungarian hot paprika, fresh parsley, and fresh lemon. Served over jasmine rice. All of these items, is a must have in my kitchen. I can't say, that I get anywhere from 4 to 14 people dropping in, (I would not tolerate that.) That was in the days when I was growing up, in our family home. My Mom would feed the whole neighborhood just with her huge pots of home made soups. I can say, that I do get 10 people, just about every Sunday, my 2 children, their spouses and their children, 2 for each.(4) and my ex-husband.(you can never really get away from a Sicilian...LOL)Family gatherings are always nice. You don't have to wait for a holiday to have them. I live on the beach now, practically my back yard, so everyone enjoys the beach, and the large Olympic pool. The beach is private, so we don't have to venture out to a public beach. My condo apartment is small, but just the right size for me. If anybody feels like cooking in the closet, well, that would be me. Both my children have nice fairly large kitchens, with plenty of counter space, well, I have a "shoebox" of a kitchen, but then, I have the vast ocean ground to make up for it...LOCATION, LOCATION! That's the "key."
I used the Moroccan spice blend to rub on the chicken, and also baked the baby sweet potatoes along side. Roasted the the ripe peaches and plums to have them with the chicken, also.
The potatoes take less time to roast than the chicken, so you have to remove them after about 45 minutes/
Broccoli spears, steamed and dressed with your favorite vinaigrette.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Moroccan Spicy Shrimp

I just love to make skewered, broiled, or grilled shrimp. So fast, so easy, it's elegant, yet casual for any occasion. With the combination of the Moroccan spice blend, and Hungarian hot paprika, you can start with a Hungarian Csardas(a folk dance)...and end up Belly dancing...your choice. These spices really kick!
Moroccan Spicy Shrimp 

18 oz. peeled and deveined shrimp, tail left on
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put all the shrimps, in a large baggie, In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients, and pour over the shrimp, seal and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Soak about 4 or 5 large bamboo sticks in cold water, for the same amount of time. skewer shrimp, as shown on photo, and broil, until they turn pink in a preheated broiler/oven, or you can grill them, which is also very nice. Should be about 40-44 shrimps. 
note: do not throw away the leftover marinade. You can brush more on top while you're broiling, or grilling, or you can heat in microwave for extra sauce. Serve with extra lemon slices, or wedges on the side.
Just have to show off this beautiful Italian platter. Notice the little butterfly on the right side? I found this in an antique shop, in West Palm Beach, before my "thrifting days." I still consider this a bargain. To me, it's not just a bargain, but to treasure something like this, which is so beautiful. The cost of this platter was about $35.00. I still think it was a bargain. The Moroccan spicy shrimp was served on this platter.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Angel Food Cake with Fresh Berries

So, here we are, celebrating birthdays, and Labor Day weekend in South Beach  I call my family, "the skinny family." Everybody exercises, even the two little Chihuahuas, that has to be walked everyday, due to the "weight gain" that I am guilty of, watching them for a month, while they were vacationingng in Italy...and still didn't gain weight...and here I am, reading an interesting book called, WOMEN FOOD AND GOD by Geneen Roth, that can really inspire you. Getting back to the cake. I didn't have a plan, but I did have a lot of fresh berries, about to make a mixed berry sorbet, but instead, made an Angel Food Cake, knowing that it's light, low in calories, and cholesterol, and this is the kind of cake my daughter would love. I consulted with my "bible" the 1986The New Good Housekeeping cookbook that has everything from A-Z recipes, that are simple, and gourmet, you can dress it up, jazz it up, any way you like it, no funky ingredients, but if you are creative, you can make it your own. I did adapted it my way, the spiked flavor of the Limoncello was just the right touch, but, I think I will stick with the original recipe next time. No substitute, no gimmick. The cake turned out wonderful, the "birthday girl" was happy, and so was everyone else...and so ends, another Birthday Celebration!

Angel Food Cake-(original recipe
1 2/3 cups egg white (12-14 egg whites, at room temp.)
1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In small bowl, stir confectioners' sugar and the cake flour, set aside. In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites. cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form: beat in extracts. Beating at high speed, sprinkle in sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. beating until sugar is completely dissolved, and whites stand in stiff peaks. Fold in flour mixture just until flour disappears.
Pour batter into ungreased 10-inch tube pan.Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert cake in pan on funnel, or bottle ; cool completely in pan. With metal spatula, carefully loosen cake from pan.; Place on cake plate.
Note: This recipe is from the New Housekeeping Book, first edition, copyright 1986. I love my no-nonsense book that has great basic recipes, and with a little imagination, can be updated, and adapted from the original.
I adapted the recipe, which I am happy with, but next time will add 2 extra egg whites, and be more careful about folding the flour in. Also I reduced the baking temperature, which worked fine. Here's the adapted version which I used.
Angel Food Cake-(adapted from the original recipe)
1 3/4 cup sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour
12 egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Limoncello, or fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, spin sugar till superfine. Sift half the sugar with the flour. Set the rest, aside. In a large metal bow, combine egg whites, Limoncello, (or lemon juice) salt, and cream of tartar. Beat with hand mixer on high. When halfway done, but still creamy, (not stiff) slowly add sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Keep beating until stiff. Follow the above recipe's instruction for baking, and cooling.
Glaze for berries
1 jar of fruit spread; strawberry, or seedless raspberry. Heat in small saucepan, and add juice of 1 lemon. Heat until it comes to a boil, and sieve through a fine sieve. Brush on berries, either separately, and place on powder sugar topped cake, or you can directly brush on top of the berries already assembled on cake. It is a light cake that is always a welcome dessert.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Light "Prime Filet" Tuna Salad

The most welcomed tuna salad...ever!
Light "Prime Filet" Tuna Salad
1 5 oz. Solid White Albacore Tuna (I use Bumble Bee)
1 Tbsp. Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of a fresh 1/2 lemon
Sm. handful of Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 of a large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a small bowl, break up tuna with a fork, but keep it chunky. Mix all the other ingredients in there, and mix it lightly. The entire amount packs into 2 halves of a toasted pita, accompanied by your favorite sides. Serves 2, or 1, if you're really hungry.
What you see on this photo, is actually what it is. A simple light tuna salad, stuffed into a toasted halved pita pockets, and the colors are not exaggerated, not enhanced. Slices of Roma tomatoes, red, firm and sweet, I always buy a large bag of Romaine lettuce to have on hand for salads, and for sandwiches, and of course decorations. Always have some kind of pickles, in this case, sweet mini gherkins. You might say I have a fairly nice staple in my cupboards and refrigerator. The tuna is a new kind, that I did not see until recently. It comes a s a 4 pack, Bumble Bee "prime fillet" Solid White Albacore, and they mean just that.It is a gourmet tuna, and it's right on the can, gold color, to be exact, packed in water, but I must say, packed real solid. I'm very impressed with this brand. As you can see, it packs well into the pita pocket, and is not watery or spilling out. I am very basic at home with stuff that I make, not try to "overdo" the effects, but keep it real! I leave all the fancy stuff to other foodies out there, and I just marvel at the beauty of their creations, but sometimes wonder about...did they actually make the stuff?...and wonder about some of the recipes, but in most cases, they are quite precise, depending whose recipe it is. It is better to adapt a recipe, you just can't follow exactly what the recipe calls for, anybody with a common sense of cooking would know that. Getting back to my tuna salad.
The sad part was, that this was my "lonely little Labor Day dinner"...OK...take that back, it wasn't lonely, because we spent a nice weekend at the fabulous Fontainebleau Hotel, and Resort, and returned Labor Day, late afternoon. As you can see the photos, of the Maya Tapas and Grill, in South Beach, we ventured out to have lunch, and dinner out on the town, instead of at the Hotel, where all 7 restaurants were totally booked till late night. People in the pool, were crowded together, even in the "kiddie pool" I have never seen anything like that, and I only live 60 miles north from there. Come to think of it, I worked about a few blocks north from the hotel, on the 25th penthouse floor of a condo there about 10 years ago, as a Private Chef.I know this whole area quite well, and South Beach is even more popular now, than ever! I have never seen so many tourists and locals out on the street walking and hanging out in places, ever! Maybe in New York, or some European famous city.I will post my simple little recipe for my tuna salad for this case, it was for 1.
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