Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Old Favorite, New Twist

Day three of still working in the yard and needed another quick meal for dinner.  My old favorite, but with a twist.  I love linguine with roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.  So I did it the easy way and it was better!

Start a pot of salted water for the pasta, before tomatoes go into the oven.  If I don't have any of my homemade pesto I use Costco's Pesto Sauce, it's wonderful!  I tossed 2 cups of grape tomatoes with 1/4 cup of pesto, roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until tomatoes just start to pop open.  
Drain the pasta when it's done, toss with the tomatoes and top with lots of grated cheese.  This meal served two. Yeah, it's comfort food for me and it's quick and easy.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2016

We're Grillin'

It was clean up the gardens day and power wash the deck/house day at my house last week, that's why I have been missing you all.   Had to get a lot of weeds pulled, brush cleaned up and dirt/moss off the house and deck, after the winter snow and ice.  On days when I am busy outside, that takes all day, I want something easy to fix for dinner.  After cleaning the whole deck, washing all the furniture, decided it was a beautiful day to eat outside.  Outside is my favorite place to be when it's sunny and warm.  I'll eat my three squares out there all Summer and into Fall.

So, since the hubby and I were outside all day, dinner had to quick.  He fires up the grill and I get our meal ready.  I had this grill basket stored in the pantry, I don't think I ever used it!  I have a habit of doing that. I was going to grill up salmon, and thought it would be perfect for that instead of the perforated pan I usually use.  It worked great! Check it out, nothing broke off and fell into the flame and the salmon was grilled perfectly. You don't have to flip the salmon with a spatula, just turn the basket over.  It has a long handle and the basket locks into place, so nothing falls out, and I am sure you will find a lot of other ways to use this basket and cook things on your grill.

Into the grill basket, hit them both with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper on both sides. I sliced lemon and grilled that too, it caramelizes and becomes sweet not sour, try it!
 Grill 4-6 minutes on each slide.  It's done when it flakes with a fork.  The salmon did not stick to the basket, didn't fall apart, and was perfectly cooked.
 I served it up with potatoes, peppers and onions with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I also cooked them on the grill in foil packets.  In about 20 minutes this whole meal was cooked to perfection and tasted phenom!
Just enough after a hard days work, and easy to prepare!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Light Lunch and Bruschetta Breads

I get bored from time to time, so I'll go out, walk the stores, check out what's new.  I went to Marshall's the other day, needed some new towels, and right next door is Aldi, so I popped in there to see what was new.  I found these interesting bruschetta breads.  I already had planned to make bruschetta this week to use up a bunch of tomatoes, so these went into the cart.  On the shelf were oregano and tomato flavored breads, I couldn't choose so I got both.
 I made my fresh bruschetta (see this blog 6/15/15 for recipe), loaded up a small bowl and 3 of my breads, I sprinkled a little grated Pecorino cheese on top, and that my friends was my lunch.
 How good does this look and it's easy on the waist.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wow, I was busy in the kitchen all day yesterday, working this recipe for Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies.  It took awhile, but I think I finally got it right.  The vegan in the house will have to taste test them and let me know how I did, AND believe me, HE WILL LET ME KNOW, hahaha!  There are so many ways to make vegan chocolate chip cookies when you look up recipes online, but I chose to work it myself, with some new ingredients I found, while perusing the organic/vegan aisles at the grocery store.  You never know what you will find when taking time to look around, especially in a big grocery store.

I pulled out my ingredients, lined them all up and got busy.
Well, well, well, would you look at this new product I found, The Neat Egg.  You can use this to replace eggs in baking, but you can't cook it for breakfast, sorry.
I combined the almond meal, flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Creamed the butter, added the sugars, egg replacement, vanilla and meal/flour mix.
These are vegan chocolate chips, a little pricey but worth it if you're a vegan!
Mix them all in and drop your dough by teaspoon on a baking sheet.
Pop them in the oven and when they come out they look just like your old fashioned favorite cookie.
I cool mine on a paper towel covered cooling rack, it helps absorb any extra oils.  I do this when I make regular chocolate chip cookies too.
Looking good!  I am sure he'll have a tall glass of almond milk with these for dunking.
And, they passed his inspection, half of them are gone already!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups Almond Meal, I used Trader Joe's
1 cup unbleached white flour (see note 1)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Vegan Egg Replacement to equal 2 eggs, I used The Neat Egg (see note 2)
1 cup vegan butter, I use Earth's Balance
3/4 cup pure granulated cane sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal, unbleached flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.  In a smaller bowl, follow directions on the back of The Neat Egg bag for mixing 2 "eggs", or see note at the bottom of this recipe. To make it from ground flax meal and water see note at bottom of this page. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter.  Add both sugars and continue to cream. Add the "egg" mixture, and blend it in. Add vanilla.  Add the flour mixture slowly until all is combined, scraping bowl as you are mixing. Turn off mixer, mix the chips in with a wooden spoon or spatula, until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Drop by teaspoonful onto baking sheets 2-3 inches apart.  Bake, turning sheets once during baking, until the edges are lightly browned and cookies are firmed up in the center.  Remove from oven, cool on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks covered with paper towels.  The paper towels help to absorb any excess oils from the cookies.  Cool completely before storing in airtight container. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

NOTE 1: Depending on the type of almond meal/flour you are using, your cookie dough may be a little too wet.   I used a different brand of almond meal/flour (Bob's Red Mill) and discovered they do not bake the same, hence the adjustment of the amount of flour to be used.

NOTE 2:  The Neat Egg is a new product I found in Wegman's while browsing around the organic/vegan aisles. It's an all natural vegan egg substitute, but can not be used as a stand alone egg, so you can't scrambled them up.  It is a combination of ground/powdered chia seeds and garbanzo beans (chick peas).  So here is the mix for Neat Egg replacement:

2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon Neat Egg mix + Mix well with a spoon = 1 egg

If you are using Flax Meal, here is the mix for that:

6 tablespoons of water + 2 tablespoons ground flax meal + Mix well with a spoon = 2 eggs

NOTE 3:  Test bake one cookie on a baking sheet to be sure the almond meal/flour and unbleached flour mix is right.  The cookie should not spread too much.  If the cookie comes out too flat add more unbleached flour.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

They Came In A Box And They Were Good!

Donuts are a favorite of mine since I was a kid, and Sunday donuts on the table when my kids were little, along with the Sunday paper, was a happening thing in our house. A good coconut donut is heaven to me,  vanilla cake donut, glazed with a white sugar glaze and drowned in sweetened coconut, ahhh.... just thinking about it makes me want one.  

Now, I don't usually make foods from boxes, but these intrigued me.  I've made donuts before from scratch, apple cider donuts, which were delicious by the way.  But while I was out and about, I came across this mix by Stonewall Kitchens and thought I would give them a try.  I already had the donut pan to bake them in, instead of frying, which is better for you anyway.  These donuts were easy to mix, fast to bake and didn't take long to cool so I could frost and decorate them.

Simple directions and ingredients to mix these are on the back of the box.  The box says it makes 10-12 donuts, I did get 12 donuts out of the mix.  I used the Wilton donut pan to bake them. 
 They came out of the pan perfect!
 The frosting mix comes in the box too.  All you need is a little melted butter and milk to mix it up.
 I frosted all but two of them, the hubby likes his plain.  I sprinkled jimmies on a few and left the others just frosted.
Yummy, I can't wait to bite into one of these babies!
Sweet little treats....
make the whole house happy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

An All Beef Patty, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese.......

You all know I browse and shop in a lot of different grocery stores.  Kimberton Whole Foods (no relation to WHOLE FOODS) is one of my favorite stores since my youngest son became a vegan eater.  While browsing in the store I found this interesting sandwich sauce and decided to give it a try.  Although it's not vegan, it has egg yolks in it, it can be considered vegetarian.  I started to think what I could do with the sauce after I tasted it when I got it home.  Well by golly! It tasted just like the special sauce you get at Mickey D's on their big burger, you know which one I am talking about.  That catchy song started playing in my head, and yes I started singing out loud!  Making this burger at home does make it healthier, because you know what's in it, so give this awesome sauce a try you won't regret it.  I also saw this sauce on the shelf at Wegman's, so check their stores too.

It even says special sauce on the jar, how funny is that?  And, it's not just for burgers, be creative, use your imagination.
 I started building my burger on a sesame seed bun.....go ahead and sing it, you know the words!
 And HERE IT IS! Served along with some Handsome Cut Fries by Trader Joe's, baked in the oven not fried.  My burger was delish and tasted exactly like my old favorite.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Quick, Inexpensive, Fix Me Up

Browsing in Marshall's last week, and came across these mercury glass, decorative drawer pulls.  There were four to a box so I picked up two sets.  My cabinet in the dining room needed dressing up so I brought them home and hoped they would fit.  They did, and for less than $10 spruced up the cabinet by just twisting them on.  The little things that make me happy!

Friday, April 1, 2016

I Love Old Family Recipes - Pizzelles

I'm on a roll, cleaning out the house for a yard sale at the end of April.  I have been through every closet, some of them twice, getting rid of things I no longer use, it's time.  Finally I hit the garage to try and organize things out there, that is where all my sale items are being stored.  I was cleaning off a shelf out there and low and behold, I don't ever remember buying a pizzelle iron, but I did. Now the price was $39.99, but I am sure I bought that baby with a coupon!

I don't remember making pizzelles even once, because my sister is the pizzelle queen in our family.  So, I dusted the box off, brought it inside and decided that I would give them a try.  My sister uses my mother's old family recipe, not sure where she got it from, my mother was all Irish not Italian and these are Italian cookies.  But anyway, I gave them a whirl, the house smelled wonderful as they were baking, and if I do say so myself, they were great!
Recipe below.
To print recipe, click on it, highlight and print.
To view photos in a larger format, click on them.

My dear thoughtful sister, had this made for me a few years ago for a Christmas gift, I love it! My mother's recipe was engraved on a cutting board in her own handwriting.  It's a gift I will always cherish and it sits behind a glass cabinet door in my kitchen so it won't get dirty. 
 My mother knew exactly how the mixing was supposed to be done, but the recipe is not written to understand how it is done, so I cleared it up in the recipe below. 
I mixed up a batch of pizzelle dough and....
 Got out my pizzelle....
And away I went, pressing and cooking pizzelles.
 After a few minutes in the press, they look amazing!
 They taste awesome too!  Cool them on a wire rack, as you take them off the press, so they crisp up. You don't want them soft.
 When they are cooled off, stack them up.  Wrap them in foil when they are all completely cooled.
 I have to step away from them now because I keep eating them, I just need to control myself.
 My Mother's Pizzelle's
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons anise extract, omit if you don't like or use less
3 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

Heat your pizzelle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.  In bowl of mixer, beat the 6 eggs.  Add sugar and beat until smooth.  Add the cooled butter, vanilla and anise and mix until combined.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until all is combined.  Drop by rounded teaspoon onto the hot pizzelle iron, press and cook until lightly browned. Gently remove from iron with a fork and place on a cooling rack.  When completely cooled stack them and wrap in foil. Makes about 5 dozen.