Saturday, February 26, 2011

Garlic Shrimp with Broccoli

It's a Friday night, usually a pizza night at my daughter's...and if not, then shrimp night at my son's. We were all there together, to enjoy the easy shrimp dish that even the little ones like, including broccoli...and let's not forget the pasta, in this case it was whole wheat penne, with basil tomato sauce, which I did not photograph...(been done) so many time. The focus was on the shrimp, in a nice fresh garlicky lemon sauce-no butter, just extra virgin olive oil that it was sauteed in, and broccoli florets steamed, and added the the shrimp. Extra virgin olive oil wast drizzle on the top, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The sauce was the best part, to dip your bread into it. Yumm! No recipe required...just common sense, and pure enjoyment!
As I was sitting outside at Lora's house on the patio in the back yard yesterday afternoon, and just gazing at the gorgeous Bougainvillea bushes, I realized "spring is here"'s been here, in S. Florida, since the beginning of February. This is our spring season, with all the trees in bloom, all the beautiful flower bushes...I'm sitting in the midst of it...why not take a snap shot of all this natural beauty surrounding me? I got my little camera, and took some clicks...thanking God, and Mother Nature for what we have, and how fortunate we are, when others are suffering, the floods, storms, earthquakes. Never take life, and nature for granted. Every day is a "wondrous" never know what's in store for us, or our future!
The beautiful old mango tree that has been trimmed down, because it was reaching for the its glory of bloom, waiting for the summer kiss to bring forth its glorious fruit. This is all in Lora's back yard, on a sunny and beautiful Friday afternoon. Thank God, she is on her way to full recovery, from her procedure.
In the corner of the patio, I noticed that the Christmas Poinsettia is still in full bloom next to the potted aloe plant, and other little herbs, and plants. It's time to plant the Poinsettia in the ground, so it will bloom again for next Christmas. So, this was my observation of nature, and beauty, right before my eyes, that I have taken for granted, because it was in front of my eyes every day. Just take a moment, and view the nature, and beauty that surrounds you...does not have to be in "bloom"...but every precious creation has its own beauty, if you just take the time, and meditate upon it!

This is the very back yard. the screen fence you see, is the fence, surrounding the swimming pool. All the trees are in their super glory, so full and healthy. The back fence is dividing the neighbor with their two gigantic trees, that have been destroyed in the 2005 Hurricane, to the point, that one of the trees broke, and uprooted and fell over to my daughter's property, but the owner was determined to re-plant the broken tree, and he did, and it came back again...alive, and well. That's nature for you! now, I'm off to the gym, and later visiting the Greek Festival, right here locally. Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grilled-Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops

Being in the culinary industry for over 30 years...there are two important cooking equipments I learned to rely on, and the first one, is a large cast iron skillet, and/or a heavy duty stainless steel skillet, and a cast iron grill pan. or a Calphalon grill pan. Those are my "lifesaving" most important equipments, which is a "must have."  Also, there are two other important ingredients which is a "must have" is a high quality Dijon mustard and/or a high quality Stone Ground Mustard. Also, I rely on a special jam, or "preserve" which I use for glazes on my grilled meat, and also for glazing my fresh berries, melting it down, and this is my most favorite, which is sometimes hard to find. "Pure Seedless Boysenberry Preserves" that I gave away my "must have" secrets, I would like to share my super easy recipe for my Grilled-Boneless Center Cut Pork Loin Chops, along with My Roasted Red Potatoes, and Caramelized Onions to pair with it....and of course my most favorite sweet and spicy glaze. Here's and interesting link Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops that will help you with the grilling these lovely super moist and tender pork chops, which is called "the other white meat" true...yes, indeed!

These lovely small red potatoes are so tasty, and stays firm when roasting them at a high 425 degrees temperature for about 45 minutes along with sliced sweet onions, and sprinkled with fresh rosemary. All you need is a good quality sea salt, and freshly ground pepper for the spices. Just make sure you add them first to a large bowl, and turn them with enough vegetable oil...not olive oil, because olive oil tends to burn. add them to a cast iron skillet, or aluminum lined baking dish, and that is all. You're ready to roast them and it makes a beautiful side dish, with any meats, or other vegetables, including a salad which I used! Yumm! how could you possibly resist this roasted goodness?
Here's the finish result...just a simple mixed salad, with your choice of toppings. I happened to have grape tomatoes, pitted Nicoise olive, and Feta cheese on hand...these are always my most beloved staples. Just a splash of extra virgin olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar, mixed with a teaspoon of Stone Ground Mustard, for the dressing!

Grilled-Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops
my own recipe

2 to 4 pieces Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops
2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripped
(one for the potato, and one for the pork)

First step is to marinade the pork chops in the marinade, by combining the ingredients and spreading it on the chops, on a large plate, or platter. Cover, and leave it out on the counter, for no longer than 30 minutes, while you are heating up your indoor grill pan, or electric grill pan, or an outdoor grill. You could marinate it longer in the fridge, for up to 2 hours, but not necessary.
Place chops on the heated grill that has been seasoned with oil, or cooking spray, make sure you put the exhaust fan on. Grill for about 3 minutes, turn it a slightly to the right to get the "criss-cross" effect, and grill another 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over to the other side, and cover the grill pan with a large lid, lower the temperature on the stove, and proceed grilling the same amount of time. Total time should not be more than 10 minutes, or the meat will be tough.
This is not the kind of pork you should cook for a long time, or it will get tough. It is pure white meat, and NO fat!

For the glaze:
2 Tablespoon Stone Ground Mustard
2 Tablespoon seedless Boysenberry Preserves
(you can also use seedless raspberry or other seedless berry preserves)
1 Tablespoon dark Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil

Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower temperature, and cook until it reduces somewhat to a syrup. You can double the ingredients if you would like more glaze. Just drizzle around the plate at serving time, and drizzle some on top of the meat. Very festive, and delicious! Serves, 2 to 4.

One last note of Thanks to Sharon @Shosh's Yummy Foods for hosting this truly amazing giveaway with Progresso, and their fabulous Panko, which I already have been using, and love it...and the most Gorgeous Cookbook, ever, from Michael Chiarello. I love this chef, and all...seriously all his recipes. I don't mean to "toot my own horn" but this is my style of cooking which I have been doing all these years...that's my specialty, the homemade pastas, the grilling, the meats, sea foods, and vegetables and the simple, but elegant desserts. On the final note on his book. He has the most amazing black and white photographs, but as for the color photos, the lighting seems to be off, and most of the photos were taken inside, where they did not focus on the lighting, and they tend to have a darker image, not bringing out the true vibrant color of his famous dishes. The action photos are really superb, for that matter.

I have learned to pay more attention to the photos, every since we've been so involved with the Foodbuzz Community, and you can take some serious Tips, from Chef Dennis, @More Than A Mount Full, and just take a look at Gina's blog @ What's For Dinner Across State Lines who also took serious time to make her lighting better. You don't necessary have to run outside when the temperatures in your area have been in the teens, cloudy, or rainy...even here, in S. Florida I can't always capture the sunlight, but I do have a better new camera now, and focus on better lighting, and most important. "The Plating of my Food" that is my little trick and  secret, plus, honest reviews from Family members. They will surely tell you their honest opinions, so just listen, and learn!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Pizza...Awards...and PGA Mall

Last almost every Friday, Lora made this amazing pizza dough that has become a staple meal, with a side salad, or a vegetable dish. In this case she had the green beans, and leftover pancetta, to add to the pizza topping...and oh, yes caramelized onion, and homemade sauce that she always has on hand for a quick pasta dish. I keep bugging her to post the pizza photos, but she not only does not take photos of it, I always end up taking the photos. Her pizza dough is the easiest and best, made with all, or half whole wheat flour, and half bread flour. Here's Lora's homemade pizza recipe, @cake duchess
Just look at this yummy goodness...Sweet caramelized onions, crispy pancetta homemade tomato sauce, and ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese topping the thin, crispy, crunchy fresh, hot, homemade pizza dough. Trust me on this comparison to take-out!, for the lovely blue dish of  Lora's. Long story behind this set of 12 English china set, that was a gift to daughter's hubby, from a lovely English young lady that was a mutual friend to both Lora, and Fabrizio, that he brought into the marriage 10 years ago. They still manage to have most of the set, even if a plate or two breaks, lucky me...I find the same dishes at my thrift finds, but not cheap. Each plate costs $2.99. My daughter finally told me after I replaced 4 plates..."please mom, don't get any more, I'm trying to get rid of these, so I can get a new set"...

...and now, for the Awards!

I have not received such a lovely award as this, so far. This award came from my sweet friend, Mateja @Indulging Life. She actually designed this award herself, and personalized it. She really put her "heart and soul" into this. Do visit her beautiful blog, and make friends! I'm simply quoting what she said in her own words, when she completed the award, and what it meant to her. I am so honored by this...Thank you, Mateja!
This is what Mateja said:

February 1, 2011I think it is time for me to create my own appreciation award. And I was sitting and sweating, working hard on creating that perfect picture that would express exactly what I wanted to say, adding and removing, than adding some more. (ratatatata- drums) So here it is, "Most Deserved Award", the award for all my friends who make me feel like home, who spark the most beautiful memories from my childhood, inspire me, support me, introduce me to new foods, teach me new cooking/baking techniques, and challenge my imagination! 

These next 3 lovely awards, I received from a sweet couple,Anu Santanu who I recently befriended. They were ever so kind to honor me, not just with one award, but three! These come with rules, and I've been down the road before on the rules, from the previous ones. As far as promoting them to 15 bloggers, which I have done in the past, not just 15, but 30 or more at one time, and letting them all know...or not letting them know, some have not even responded even when I let them know...and some I left out, not on's difficult to keep track on paying it forward.
Thank you, Satu Santanu, for giving me theses generous, and lovely awards!

I regret to break the rules, and just let everyone take for themselves. and pay it forward if you would like to do so, with my "blessings"...You all deserve the awards, All of you who are out there all over the world, in different countries, states, or even local ones! Blogging is "time consuming" but so well worth it to stay in touch with other bloggers who have similar interests, and making friends to me is so important in this fast moving world, with so much happening, and ever changing events that changes our lives...forever!

Rules to claim and share these awards:....(optional)
  • Thank and Link the blogger who has given you the award.
  • Copy and paste the Logo in your blog.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other Great Bloggers
  • Comment and let them know of the award.
Last amazing and unique award, I received from my dear friend, Toni, @Boulder Locavore. She is also a very talented blogger, and has such a lovely blog, so interesting and have got to check her blog out!
Thank you Toni, for giving me this lovely award, I appreciate your kindess!

Help yourselves to the awards...take one, or take them all, pay it forward, or just keep it for yourselves!

I would like to show of one of the most beautiful malls of all the malls I've seen. It's the Palm Beach Gardens Mall, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, about a 30 minutes drive from us. Lora and I went there last Friday morning to exchange her Valentine's necklace that she was allergic to...(funny, but not so funny)'s this amazing little fun jewelry and gift shop that is totally affordable. Loved everything in there! Such a relaxing shopping mall, so beautiful, and they have everything there...not to mention, great sales!
Just look at the natural "sky light"...very efficient in saving electricity.
That's the it!
They have such fun things like these little crystal fishies, for only $86.00.
Crystal Butterflies...$110.00.
 Now, we're getting into the "bling"...a little more expensive, like this beautiful silver, or is it white gold bracelet?
for $475.00

Crystal beads...baubles, or little disco balls?...not exactly what I would hang in my living room, or on the car rear view mirror, but they're fun!
At last, have some early lunch, the Cafe at the Gardens Mall was really enjoyable, a lot of food courts to choose from. We had Chinese, which was pretty decent...somehow all the foods at these food courts, or cafes, as they call them leaves you reaching for the Pepto Bismol...the minute you get home, promising not to eat there, again!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Sicilian Puttanesca Sauce...and a Winner!

It's been a trying 3 days for me...trying to scan photos on my scanner, which is a Canon, flatbed, from ten years ago. I do have another newer model, from HP, but that is at least six years old, as well. That particular one, the scanner does not work. I'm trying to be this "self help" computer tech, and it' taking a toll on my patience already, figuring things out. Well, everything is working on the old scanner...lucky for me, I saved the soft-ware to upload the program, now, just a matter of time, how to upload the scanned Sicilian precious photos that I wanted to share with you. I will probably have to resort to my daughter's scanner later, to upload them. I made this pasta the other night at my daughter's house, and it was a huge success, even with the little ones. I have never seen a 4 year old child eat anchovies, black olives, capers, at all, and here I have my little "snow white skinned" blue eyed  Mediterranean grandson, who eats just about everything you put on his plate, especially foods, such as this, and wants a second helping. Something about Puttanesca, which derives from the word "putana=whore," really does have a history behind this famous sauce, does not mean actually, that putanas, where actually cooking it.

The real meaning of the Puttanesca sauce is that women, who just spent time "screwing" around all day, didn't have the time to make a real dinner, and just used everything they could find in the cupboards, and using fresh ingredients, of course....literally "threw" everything together. The real essence of Puttanesca is. "making do" with ingredients you have on hand. Now, doesn't this sound more logical? The nicest part about this, is using fresh blanched, chopped tomatoes, instead of the canned, and fresh herbs, such as fresh basil, and a few leaves of fresh parsley if you have on hand. A nice grating of Parmesan cheese, will guarantee you not only an amazing home made sauce from "scratch," but raves from the entire family, and this assures a beautiful company dish, as well.

I learned how to make this sauce, when the first time I visited in Sicily with my "then" husband and my baby daughter, of 6 months old, in the early seventies. I, as an independent American woman, did not like the strict ways women were viewed in Sicily, at the time. Things have changed drastically since then, and today, women are considered just like their "western counterparts"...meaning, that they are just like us, here, in the U.S. Did I bring on the change? I don't know, but I'd like to think I had a helping hand in it. For instance, women were not allowed, to go taking walks, alone or I should clearly define it, they were considered as "puttanas-whores," should they walk anywhere near the port. Well, no one could tell me otherwise, because I did just that, since my in-laws lived near the ocean, and the famous port in the province of Agrigento, which is the most beautiful place on earth, that you could find. It' has a lot of Greek ruins, from the days when Greeks ruled the island. They have such a beautiful port that is like a picture right out of a "tourist guide." Most tourist did not even know about all these amazing places back then. The port was filled with daily fishermen, catching their lively hood, and ships entering, and leaving the port.

There were NO women to be found on the port, except, ME...MYSELF...AND I, wearing  "red polka dots" culottes, as we called them back then, and a white straw hat to match, with cute white sandals. I must have stood out like a "sore thumb" just strolling around, gazing at the beautiful water, and watching the fishing boats, when I saw my husband, and brother-in-law running towards me, interrupting my calm serenity, and thoughts...saying "Que fai?" What are you doing? my broken Italian, I tried to explain to my brother-in-law, that I just wanted to take a walk, when my husband, in his broken English, was telling me, and ordering me...NEVER, NEVER, walk to the port, again, and NEVER, NEVER, take a walk dressed this way! "Don't you know, that only "putanas" dress up in red?...and in shorts?..."Please" I said, this shorts, as you call them, are just barely above the knees, and I'm young, so why should I not wear bright colors?...any way, that was my first lesson, what to do, and what not to do in Sicily!

One thing for sure, my sweet mother-in-law, Mattia, who my youngest little granddaughter takes the name from, loved me, unconditionally, and had the patience of a "Saint" for me, and we bonded on that day. Funny, as it may seem, but she taught me how to make this sauce....coincidence, as it may be, but this is a story I will never forget. Now, when I think about the Putanesca sauce, memories from that come rushing back into my mind, and I just have to tell it to someone, so I chose you, my friends...true story!

Sicilian Puttanesca Sauce
my own recipe

4 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup of white, or red wine ( I used white)
8 oil cured olives, or other black olives, pitted
4 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
also, extra for drizzling on top
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 anchovies, rolled in capers (optional)
a handful of white mushrooms, sliced (optional)
12 fresh basil leaves
a handful of Italian fresh parsley (optional)
1 lb. fusili lunghi, or spaghetti
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

First thing you must do, is to drop whole tomatoes in boiling water, to blanch them, just enough to see the skin loosening, and taking them out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Add more water to the large pot that the tomatoes were blanching in, to boil the pasta. Run tomatoes under cold water to remove the skin, easier. Chop the tomatoes into small chunks, removing the hard core.

Heat the garlic an the crushed red pepper in a large skillet, adding the olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add the wine, let it cook down a little, and add the mushrooms, and cook until it sweats, and liquids released. Add the  chopped tomatoes, and cook for a few minutes. Do not let the tomatoes get soft, leave them in chunks. Add the olives, and anchovies with the capers, stir and heat though until it comes to a boil. Turn off heat, and cover, until you are ready to incorporate with the pasta. Drain pasta, reserving a small amount of pasta water, to add to the sauce if needed. Serve pasta in a large pasta bowl, adding the sauce on top, and drizzle with additional olive oil, and snipped basil, and parsley. Pass the Parmesan cheese. Serves 4. Absolutely divine pasta, you will ever taste!

A popular residential and small shops area, in the city, in Sicily...province of Agrigento, 20 minutes from the actual Greek culture Sicilian city. This is a fairly recent photo from about 5 years ago.

....and the winner is: Rosemary, from Sprigs of Rosemary

I used the generated numbers from  1-40...earlier this morning, and the #10 came up. I noticed there has been a #41 since, sorry, but I want to be fair, and will not re-generate the numbers. I should have done this last night, but was working on trying to scan my luck, so I will post the photos of Sicily later. Also, I will try to get the widget too, which you can upload, but this is the number that came up, and Rosemary is the winner.
Congratulations, Rosemary, hope you can put the book into good use. I am confident that you will like it!
Thank you all, for participating, and leaving your kind comments, as always. I will for sure have more books to giveaway...I have lots, and can acquire them at an amazingly cheap price...that's my "thrifting" to share with you!

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Monday, February 14, 2011

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY...and a Giveaway!

If someone asks you...What does Valentine's mean to you? would you answer that?...As for me, I would say that to me it means a day to show your loved ones how much you care, and how much you love them. Not just gifts and cards, but in words and expressions! I'll be honest with you this cake I made with a cake mix...yes, boxed cake mix, and not my own...but, I doctored it up so well, that I was so inspired to be creative with the frosting, which really is from "scratch"...and being more creative by adding something pink or red, which happened to be a can of lite cherry pie filling that I had in my cupboard from this summer, that I did not get to use for my cheesecake. So, I decided to share my little heart shaped cake, which was baked in my heart shaped spring form pan, which was a thrift find...brand new Wilton's, for $1.99 retailing at least $16.99. I have gotten so much use out of this, that it's for sure, a keeper.
How can you not love this yummy cake filled, and frosted with real chocolaty goodness, and the oh, so yummy cherry filling, which is drained from the liquid, and save the cherry liquid to spread on top of the chocolate frosting.
Last minute dinner at my son's house...not knowing if I should go, my kitty Prince being so sick for the last couple days...not eating, just moping around, not letting me sleep at night...he was pacing up and down, I thought for sure this is it, since he is so old, but still so full of life and energy. How can you not feel sad when your pet gets ill?! I took this special little cake to my son's house, we shared it after a fabulous meal, and then off to my daughter's to share the other half of the cake...while they were in the middle of their fabulous home made sushi dinner, that Fabrizio made...even the little 4 year old grandson, the little guy, loves much for that, I went there to pick up my beautiful roses that they gave to me.
2 dozen beautiful roses, that I received from my family...they told me they bought it at Costco, since they were shopping there on Sunday. Isn't it so thoughtful? A favorite kitty mug, and a bouquet of roses, and "I Love You, MOM" ...HAPPY VALENTINE' much more would a Nonna, and a Mom want from her children, and Grandchildren. This is what Valentine's is about. Not the "Bling" or $$$...but a thoughtful simple gift, and to let your loved one know how much you care about them!

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
my own recipe

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
8 Tablespoon=1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sour cream
dash of salt
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can-15 oz. lite cherry pie filling

Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave, just
until softened, stir together, and set aside to cool a little.
Stir the sour cream into the chocolate. Add the vanilla, salt, and in a large bowl add the confectioner's sugar, adding the chocolate mixture and with electric mixer mix until frosting is light and smooth, and spreading consistency. Bake cake according to package direction, and when it is cooled, split in half.

Split cake in half, strain the cherries saving the liquid. Spread all the cherries on the bottom part of the cake,
and top with half of the frosting. Place the upper portion of the cake on top, and frost all over. Chill for about 20 minutes and spread the cherry liquid, which is already thickened over the top of the cake. (optional)...I was not happy with the result for the top, was expecting to do something more elaborate, but I was not prepared with other additions. You can just frost the top of the cake, let it chill for about 1 hr. or longer, before cutting it.
Actually, the cake was doctored up, I will be honest "Abe"...but will not divulge information, how it was, all I can tell you is that this was the easiest cake, ever...everybody loved it! Now, you will just have to get my giveaway, which is a fabulous book.
Now, for my fabulous "thrift find" book which is a 2003 addition, such a welcome for doctoring up cakes, and making cookies, cupcakes, bundt cakes, and one of my very favorite is a Banana Pudding cake, made with yellow cake mix, pudding mix, banana slices folded into the pudding, and topped with whipped topping...recipe is in the book. They'll think, you slaved away for this yummy dessert.
No rules apply...Just follow my blog!

Giveaway ends, on February 17, 2011, at 11:00 PM standard time...Sorry, but only U.S. and Canada apply!
Winner will be judged by Random generated number. I promise you, you will love this book and even if you don't it really is a nice gift for someone, who will appreciate short-cut and yummy cakes!

Wishing you all a  HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, from me...
PRINCE and MUSHIKA to your beloved pets...
with LOVE!

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