Friday, August 29, 2014

Fried Dough

If you're Italian, you certainly grew up eating fried dough, and if you are not Italian, you have probably eaten fried dough at an Italian feast or carnival.  Pasta Fritta, Pizza Fritte or Zeppoli, it's all good.  It is the best inexpensive treat I make for my family and it doesn't take long to make.  I was lucky enough to have my son bring home a ton of fresh dough, from the bakery he gets bread from, for the restaurant where he works.  I had so much of it (6 one pound bags), that I froze a lot of it to use later for pizza or whatever else I can come up with.  I kept one bag out and made fried dough the other night.  You can also buy fresh dough at most grocery stores, it can be found in the dairy case.  This is how I make it and you will love it.  

I use canola oil to fry the dough, put about 2 cups in the bottom of a deep frying pan.  
Heat the oil on high heat, until a small ball of dough dropped in the oil, floats to the top.  Reduce heat to medium/medium- high.  Layer a few paper towels on a plate to drain the dough when you take it out of the oil.    
 While the oil is heating, grab a paper lunch bag and pour 1 1/2 cups of sugar into the bag.  This is to coat your dough when done frying.
 You can also use cinnamon & sugar.  I make 1/2 the fried dough regular sugar and 1/2 cinnamon sugar.  Cut pieces of dough into the sizes of your choice.  I like them on the smaller size, 2 or 3 bites each.
Stretch the pieces out before dropping into the oil.  Brown on one side, then using tongs, flip them over and brown on the other side.  
Remove from oil with tongs, to the paper towels and drain.  Toss a few in the bag of sugar.
 Shake to coat them and place on a platter.
I'm in heaven with these delicious little pillows of sweetness.  Dig in, they are great!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes

One of the side dishes that I made for my daughter's Bon Voyage party, was creamy delicious potatoes. With the help of my sister, my partner in crime, we made a huge panful to feed 16 people.  They were easy to make.  She broke out my Mandolin Slicer and sliced the potatoes in no time flat, while I was cooking the sauce on the stove.  Combine them together in a baking dish and you have yourself some awesome, can't stop eating, potatoes!  Recipe below.

The mandolin and the Idaho's.
 There she is slicing the potatoes and putting them in a bowl full of cold water. The slicer makes them all uniform in size so they cook evenly.
 Three more ingredients and that makes the sauce.
Creamy, golden brown, delicious potatoes.
Cheesy Creamy Potatoes For A Crowd

1 - 16 oz. container of whipping cream
1 - 16 oz. container of half and half
2 - 6.5 oz. containers of Garlic and Herbs Boursin cheese
5 lbs of Idaho potatoes
Salt and pepper

Wash potatoes and leave the skins on.  With a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the potatoes so they are very thin.  As you are slicing them, put them in a bowl of cold water to keep them fresh looking.

Combine the heavy cream, half and half and the containers of cheese in a medium saucepan.  Over medium heat, cook and stir with a whisk to break up any lumps in the cheese.  Continue to cook until completely combined and all the cheese has melted.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking pan (I used a medium size foil pan) with cooking spray. Drain the potatoes, and evenly layer some of them in the bottom of the baking pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, ladle some of the cheese sauce over the layer.  Repeat until all the potatoes are in the pan and end with cheese mixture on top.  Tightly cover the top of the baking pan with foil.  Place the pan on a baking sheet, so it does not spill over in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the foil and put under the broiler for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTE:  Recipe can be cut in half for smaller portion.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Paris Is Always A Great Idea!

My youngest is leaving for Paris, France next week, for her whole Junior year of college.  We are going to miss her, A LOT!  I thought it was bad enough sending her off to college her Freshman year.  She went to London that year for her first semester.   I was a mess, worrying how would she manage, shop for herself, cook for herself, learn the money system, the transportation system, school, as well as just being in a foreign country.  It was very scary for me, not her though, she mastered all of it.   I grew many gray hairs that year,  now I will have to buy stock in one of the hair color companies!   A year is a long time not to see her.  She will be there for all the holidays too, we won't see her until May 2015.  She does not speak French, has to learn another money and transportation system, school will be another challenge for her.  She is very bright (not just a mom saying her kid is bright) she really is smart.  Took college courses in her senior year of high school, always on the honor roll since elementary school.  She also can hold her own in a group of seasoned adults when having conversations about politics, religion or any other subject you throw at her.  I am sad about her leaving, but also glad for her, she earned it with all her hard work through many years of school, and she deserves it because she is a good kid, never any trouble.  I had many sleepless nights these past few months, but time's running out for me to worry, she is leaving and that's that.  I will see and talk to her via social media, I am grateful for that, and I am sure she is going to have the time of her life!

In honor of her leaving, we decided to have a small gathering (a going away party, but sure to return!) of her friends and family for a night of everything French.  French food, decorations, music and wine.  One of the first things I made was a dessert, Madeleine's, and they were so easy to make.  Madeleine's are little cake/cookies.  Recipe below.

What you  need: Flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, eggs, honey, salt, lemon and lemon extract and confectioners sugar.  You also need a Madeleine pan, they are not very expensive, and trust me after making these, you WILL make them again.
 Some equipment you will need and butter melting in the pan.
Butter is melted and adding the honey.
Lemon zest and pure Lemon Extract.  My Madeleine's were lemon flavored, you can make them whatever flavor you like.  My dry ingredients mixed together.
Mixing in the wet ingredients and generously spray that pan.
 The batter will be on the bubbly side.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.
 I used a flatware tablespoon to fill my pan, it almost has the same shape and size as the pan.  The batter went in with no mess.
 Baking in the oven and getting brown around the edges.  Sprung from the pan and cooling on a rack.  The bottom of them are plain....
 When turned on the right side they have a shell shape.
 Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve.

Cooking Spray
7 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of honey
3/4 cup of unbleached flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs, room temperature, beaten
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon of pure Lemon Extract
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  When butter has melted add the honey and stir until honey has melted. In a medium bowl with a whisk, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined.  With a hand mixer on low, add the eggs, lemon zest, lemon extract and the butter mixture.  Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray Madeleine baking pan with cooking spray.  Spoon batter until 2/3 full into the wells.  Bake until brown around the edges and cake springs back when touched, about 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from oven and shake them out of the pan onto a cooling rack, they have to be removed from the pan ASAP or they will stick.  Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve, or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, then dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.  Makes 18 large Madeleine's.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sweets For My Sweets And Sugar For My Honey

I bought a bunch of sweet potatoes at the farmer's market for my son who is vegan.  He couldn't eat them fast enough, so I served them in a new way and made fries for dinner last night.  Sweet potatoes are so creamy inside when they are baked and these fries come crispy on the outside from the oven.  My family loved them!  They are so good and sweet, you can even serve them as a dessert.  I know it sounds crazy to mix potatoes, cinnamon and sugar, but try them you'll love them.  Recipe below. 

Four simple indredients and you get sweet, creamy, tasty fries.
Cinnamon Sugar Sweet Potato Fries

3 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of Saigon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash sweet potatoes and remove any roots or blemishes, but keep the skins on.  Pat them dry.  Cut potatoes into long fries.  I made mine by cutting the potatoes into fourths lengthwise then cutting each piece into fries.  Place fries on a baking sheet.  Drizzle on the oil and toss, making sure all potatoes are covered.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes then under the broiler for 5 -8 minutes (depending on your oven), until they are golden brown and crispy.  While potatoes are baking, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. When potatoes are done, remove from oven and toss with cinnamon sugar.  Serve warm.  Makes 4 - 6 servings.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I've Got The Skinny On the Leggings

I got the lowdown on these leggings that everyone is wearing, I thought I would give them a try.  Fall and Winter are staring us down here in the Northeast, the trees are already turning and it's only August! Soon it will be time to bundle up and stay cozy, with leggings, sweaters and boots.  I love the look, and it's been around for some time now.  I found this pair of leggings at BBB and used my $5.00 off a $15.00 or more purchase.  The price for the leggings was $19.99 but came down to $14.99 using my coupon.  I can never say it enough, USE COUPONS, you want your money in your pocket. I put together some outfits with my leggings by layering other pieces in my wardrobe, check them out.

These are the leggings in black.  They have a high waist, are made very well, and have a lot of spandex.  They fit snug, make you  look slimmer, hide a multitude of sins (body flaws), and you can't see through them, that is a good thing!
I paired them with a heathered gray long sleeve top and my riding boots.  Then I just fancy tied a gold scarf around the neck.
Took off the gold scarf, added a royal blue drape sweater, and then added a rolled neck scarf.
 Took off the royal blue drape sweater, put on a red drape sweater, then added a black and white infinity scarf with pom pom ball fringe.  All easy, versatile pieces.  If it gets too warm remove the sweater or the scarf and you still have a cute updated outfit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


We had a Black Walnut tree right by our driveway that had to be cut down before it fell on top of our cars.  I was sad to see it go, although it was a nuisance, the squirrels knocking the walnuts all over the driveway and the cars, leaving the nasty skins, that they chew off to get to the walnuts, all over the place.  The skins are acidic, and do cause damage.  I never like cutting trees, they offer a lot of shade from the sun blocking ultra-violet rays, they clean the air, provide oxygen and conserve energy, just to name a few things our environment friendly trees do for us.  But, when one gets diseased or eaten by bugs, it becomes hazardous, and needs to be taken down.  We had a tree expert come out and do an analysis of the tree and she told us to let it go, it could not be saved. 

It only took about a half an hour to remove it, after strategically marking where to cut it so it did not fall on the house or another tree.  My hubby first cut a wedge into the tree with his trusty STIHL chainsaw - he calls it Killer,  and it fell perfectly, no damage to the driveway, house or other trees, "Operation Tree" gone good.
 It was more rotted than we thought, it just snapped into a lot of pieces.
 Making cuts to put onto the wood pile for the fire pits.  We use the fire pits all through the Fall months, we never have to buy wood.
 It had insect dirt under the bark of the tree, and the bell, the very bottom of the tree, was rotting out.
 Insects were boring into the wood to make a home.  Tree gone and grass planted.  Next year we will plant a new one.