Welcome to my site!

Welcome to my site!
I'm Cindy, and I love to cook! And, I love to eat... hence the size of my rear end! I come from a long line of cooks. My great great Grandmother was a cook in the original Harvey Houses. My grandmother Julia was an awesome cook, and my mom was incredible. I owe my skills to these great women. Especially my Mom who said this to me about making gravy... "Cindy Lynn, wallpaper paste is wallpaper paste & gravy is gravy. Never the two shall meet!" Shall we say my first experience at making gravy left a little bit to be desired! Thank the high heavens my cooking skills have improved since then! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baked French Toast

Found this easy and very delicious recipe on Pinterest.  It is a Pioneer Woman recipe.
 
I made it for our annual Christmas Brunch, it was a HUGE HIT.  Very easy to make – and I love that most of the work is completed the night before, with very little to do in the morning when you want to serve.  It can be enjoyed with syrup, or a powdered sugar and milk glaze, but we just ate it plain and it was heavenly!

 
Ingredients:

1 loaf sourdough bread (the kind you buy in the bakery section of the grocery store, long loaf – not already sliced)
8 eggs
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
Directions:


1.  Grease a 9x13 pan with butter.  Tear bread into bite-size chunks and place evenly in the pan.

2.  Mix together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge for several hours.  I did all the prep work the night before the brunch, it was in the fridge for about 11 hours.

 
3.  In a medium bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until it all looks nice and crumbly. (Although the directions said to use a pastry blender, I put everything in the bowl of my food processor and this blended up beautifully.)   Place in a ziploc bag and put in fridge with the French toast.


4.  When ready to bake, take pan and bag out of fridge.  Remove wrap and evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees (or 45 minutes if you like it more soft and pudding-like).


The blog that I found this recipe on said the following: IMPORTANT!!!!!!!  You must use a dense bread or this dish will turn out soggy.  You can't use regular sandwich bread because it will NOT soak up the egg mixture!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars


I've been making these FOR YEARS!  They are easy - and a true "hit' EVERY TIME.  I originally found the recipe on the back of a Skor pieces bag.  The grocery store in which I regularly shop does not carry Skor pieces, but they do carry Heath Bar pieces.  So, that's what I now use.  Works well either way.  You'll be the hero of the next party to which you bring these!  They are OUTSTANDING!
 
Ingredients:

 

2 1/3 c. all purpose flour                              
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar                   
¾ c. (1 ½ sticks) butter or margarine           
1 egg slightly beaten                                   
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts
2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 can Eagle Brand
1 ¾ c. toffee bits

Directions:
 
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13x9x2 inch baking dish. 

In a large bowl, stir together flour and brown sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add egg; mix well. 

Stir in 1 ½ c. of chocolate chips and the nuts.  Reserve 1 ½ c. of this mixture.  Press remaining crumb mixture into bottom of pan.  Bake 10 min. 

Pour Eagle Brand evenly over hot crust.  Top with 1 ½ c. of toffee bits.  Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture and remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips over top.  Bake 25 to 30 min. or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with remaining ¼ c. toffee bits.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  About 48 bars. 

Variation:  If you would like to add some coconut to this recipe, sprinkle about ¾ c. of shredded coconut over the Eagle brand, and then continue with remaining elements of original recipe.
 


 
 
 
 
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mocha Toffee Pie

Oh My Goodness!  This was AWESOME!  I found it on Pinterest - my new favorite pastime - and it was a huge hit at our dinner party last weekend.  It's incredibly easy to make and SO wonderful.  We all loved it!

Ingredients:
 
2 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/4 cup sugar
10 Keebler® Chips Deluxe® Original cookies , broken into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup toffee bits
1 Keebler® Ready Crust® Chocolate Pie Crust

Directions:
 
1. Chill small mixing bowl and beaters of electric mixer.

2. In chilled bowl, combine cream and instant coffee. Cover and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Add sugar. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold in cookie pieces and toffee. Spoon into crust.

3. Freeze at least 4 hours or until firm. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish as desired. Store in freezer.
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

I was "in charge" of the appetizers when going to our friends house for "dinner and a movie" last night.  I found this recipe on Pintrest; it sounded easy, looked festive and wonderful and MY OH MY tasted DELICIOUS!  I served it with Flipside Pretzel Crackers and also ribs of celery.  It was a definite HIT!  Of course, in my usual way - I've adjusted the recipe slightly, but I've linked to the original at the end of the directions. 

Ingredients:
 
½ cup bacon bits
½ cup chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½  cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 jalapeño (ribs and seeds removed)

crackers and celery ribs (for serving)

Directions:


Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Sprinkle with salt while cooking.

In food processor, whirl parsley, clove garlic, ½ of the jalapeno and cumin.  Add the shredded cheddar cheese and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Add the lime juice and Worcestershire; pulse until combined.
 
Add the cream cheese to the mixture and pulse again until combined.  Turn into a medium bowl.  Add ¼ cup of the bacon bits.
 
Season the mixture to taste with salt.

On a large plate, stir the toasted pecans, the other ½ jalapeño, which should be finely minced, and remaining ¼ cup of the crumbled bacon together until evenly distributed.
 
Shape the cream cheese mixture into a ball (the mixture will be sticky, I found it easiest to shape if I just barely wet my hands first). Roll the ball in the pecan mixture until coated on all sides.

Cover the ball and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Original recipe can be located:
 
 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gluten Free Coconut Cake

One of my good friends is gluten intolerant.  It was her birthday last week and I wanted to be sure she could celebrate with a cake that she could enjoy – and you know – wouldn’t make her sick!  She requested a Coconut Cake.  So, to Pinterest I turned!  I found numerous recipes for GF Coconut Cake.  This one sounded the best to me – so off to market I went.  With the amount of butter, cream cheese and coconut in this cake and frosting – how could it NOT be delicious?  I was pleasantly surprised and everyone loved the cake!  I want to be sure to “give credit where credit is due”.  Here is the location of the recipe I used:  http://www.gfreefoodie.com/recipes/detail/644/
 
Ingredients:
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter or butter flavored substitute, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
3 cups Gluten Free flour blend, plus more for dusting the pans
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk or non-dairy milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
 
For the Cream Cheese frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon Gluten Free vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure coconut extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
 
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the Gluten Free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.  (Note:  I tasted it at this point and was concerned because I’ve never used a gluten free flour mixture before.  The one I used contained bean flours – so the taste of the batter was a bit alarming.  BUT, it was really yummy once it was baked.)

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 55 to 65 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and coconut extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.
 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Indian Meat Loaf - Individual Size

Here is another meatloaf recipe.  If you’re familiar with Indian food they are reminiscent of the filling in Samosas.  We are definitely “hooked” on these individual meatloaves... I've made an Italian version - Click HERE for that recipe, and a full size Cajun version - click HERE.  I like to make these on Sunday so they are ready for dinner during the week.  They warm up beautifully in the microwave – they’re fabulous right out of the oven!

Ingredients:

Step 1:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 baking potato, cut into small bite-sized cubes
Water to keep potatoes from sticking and to help them cook
1 teaspoon salt

Step 2:
1 lb ground beef
½ lb ground pork
2 eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon curry powder

Step 3:
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt

Step 4:
Small can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon curry powder

Directions:

Step 1:  Heat a non-stick skillet.  Add olive oil.  Sprinkle cumin seeds and cook until they begin to sizzle. 

Add cubed potatoes and cook for a few minutes; add salt.  Add water as needed to keep the potatoes from sticking.  Remove potatoes to a plate to cool.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the eggs in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of curry powder.  Add the beef & pork and combine.

Step 3: Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet in which the potatoes were cooked.  Heat and add the onions and garlic.  While sautéing add the 1 tablespoon curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt.  Sauté until translucent; add milk and mix thoroughly.  Put the onion/milk mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.  Add to the meat mixture along with the cooked potatoes and combine well.

Step 4: Form the meat into individual loaves.  This should make approximately 6 loaves, depending on size.  Place the loaves on a rimmed baking sheet that has been covered in foil.  This helps with clean up. 

Place the baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes.  Mix the tomato sauce with 1 tablespoon curry powder.  After the loaves have baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven.  Spread some of the tomato sauce mixture on each.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 -30 minutes.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Navy Bean Soup


Years ago my Mom, Dad and I would frequently eat at Marie Callendar’s restaurant.  We loved their pies, salads, soups and especially the corn bread with honey butter.  My Mom really loved their Navy Bean soup – but she loved their vegetable soup as well.  So, she would order half Navy bean – half vegetable soup.  The waitress always looked at her strangely but would bring the soup as she had ordered it.  Years later – and I do mean years – we discovered the Navy Bean soup appeared to be made as my Mom had always ordered it; more vegetables and a bit “soupier”.  That was Mom – always ahead of her time!  Here’s my version of Navy Bean/Vegetable soup.

Ingredients:

1 Package of Navy Bean’s
1 white onion, chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ lb. baby carrots, each sliced into 3 or 4 smaller pieces
¾ lb. ham pieces
7 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
Extra water if needed

Directions:

Prepare the beans according to package directions.  Either soak overnight or use the “quick prep” method.  Drain and rinse well. (I use the quick prep method)

Drizzle some olive oil into the soup pot.  Add the onions and garlic; sauté until translucent.  Add the celery and continue to sauté for several more minutes.  Add the beans and ham; cover with chicken stock. 

Place on a medium low flame.  Put a lid on the pot, slightly ajar, and simmer for 2 hours.  Stir every so often so the beans don’t stick to the pan.

Meanwhile, cook the carrots in a separate pan.  Barely cover with water and boil until tender.  About 25 – 30 minutes.  Drain the carrots and set aside. I like to cook the carrots separate because I’ve found that the sugar in the carrots can cause the soup to have a sweet flavor that I don’t particularly enjoy.

After 2 hours of cooking test the soup for doneness.  Add the Old Bay seasoning, carrots and salt & pepper to taste.  Continue cooking until the beans are softened and the soup “comes together” in the correct consistency.  I believe mine cooked for about 2 ½ hours.  Add water as needed to keep the soup from becoming too thick.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Italian Meatballs


I love meatballs.  Of course I enjoy them prepared traditionally as in "spaghetti and meatballs", but these are baked and so delicious to eat as a snack.  I like that the outside gets so crisp and browned.  The flavor is really Spectacular!

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 93% lean because I knew I would be adding fat back in with the ground pork and Italian sausage)
½ lb. ground pork
½ lb. Mild Italian Sausage  (You could use the hot sausage if you prefer a spicier meatball)
2 eggs
¾ cup Italian bread crumbs (I use Progresso Italian Seasoned)
¼ cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
¼ cup chopped white onion
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the meats together in a large bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients in a blender.  Blend until thoroughly combined to make a slurry.  This allows the flavors to be thoroughly combined in each meatball.  I start with already minced or crushed garlic to avoid the possibility that the mixer may leave large chunks of garlic.  Pour the liquid mixture into the meat.    Mix thoroughly.

Form into large meatballs, approx 2” and place on two baking sheets.  I like to line my baking sheets with foil to make clean-up easier.

Bake at 375 for 40 – 45 minutes.  Start checking them after 30 – 35 minutes to avoid burning and sticking to the foil. 

Serve “as is” for a delicious snack - or add to your favorite sauce to make Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Indonesian Beef Curry with Coconut Rice


Oh My Goodness!  We really loved this recipe – found in the Cooking Light 2008 cookbook.  I will say that this version was almost too spicy for us.  Next time I think I will use only one Serrano chili!  But, even with the “too much spicy” – we all loved the combination of the spice with the scented coconut rice.  This was super easy to make, fairly quick, and tasted exotic!  I’ll be making this recipe again in the near future.  My only complaint… there weren’t any left-overs!

Ingredients for the Curry:

Olive Oil
1 ½ lbs lean top round, thinly sliced across the grain
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 serrano chilies, thinly sliced
2 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 cardamom pods crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Ingredients for Coconut Rice:

1 cup uncooked basmati rice (Basmati is a very fragrant rice and perfect for this dish, but you could use regular long grain rice if you don’t have any basmati)
1 ¼ cups water
1 cup coconut milk (I used lite-coconut milk)
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet; cook the beef in batches for 1 minute on each side.  Remove from skillet to a plate.  Keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium; add a bit more oil to the pan.  Add shallots, ginger, garlic and chilies.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the coriander and the next six ingredients. (cumin, salt, cloves, pepper, cardamom and cinnamon stick)  Cook for about 30 seconds, return beef to pan.  Add the broth and bring to a simmer.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for approximately 35 minutes – until the beef is tender.

Uncover and cook for a about 10 more minutes, until the sauce thickens.    Discard the cinnamon stick and stir in the juice.

While the curry is cooking – start the rice.  To prepare the rice, bring the water to a boil.  Add the coconut milk, rice and salt.  Bring to simmer.  Cover and reduce heat.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Turn off flame; let stand covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork – replace the lid and allow to stand for another 5 minutes.

Serve the curry over the rice… and let the flavors dance in your mouth!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chicken Tagine with Lemon & Olives


I found this recipe in my favorite inspiration spot – one of the Cooking Light cookbooks!  Of course – I adjusted it – but only slightly.  This recipe calls for cooking the chicken in a Tagine, which is a Moroccan terra-cotta pot. However, since I don’t own a Tagine – I opted to use a large heavy non-stick skillet that has a lid.  Since I’ve never had anything prepared in a Tagine – I can’t say for sure that this was just as good.  But, I can guarantee you – this was DELICIOUS!  The flavorful combination of lemon, ginger, garlic and cinnamon is so fantastic and the aroma that it produces while cooking is completely enticing.  Give this one a try…  I think you’ll be happy!

Ingredients:

Grated zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 – 14 boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ cup flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup green olives, rough chopped – with or without pimento
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Combine the juice and chicken in a large ziplock bag.  Seal and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.  Remove chicken from bag and pat dry.  Discard the marinade.

Dredge the dried chicken in flour.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, turmeric and cayenne.  Heat ½ the oil in a large nonstick skillet with high sides.  Add half the chicken and cook 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining chicken.

Add a touch more olive oil if needed to the skillet.  Add the onion, ginger and garlic  and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Add broth, olives, lemon zest and cinnamon sticks to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for approximately 1 hour – or until chicken is tender.

Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks.  Stir in the cilantro.  Serve with couscous, rice or flatbread. I served with Zatarain's Yellow Rice.  Yum!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zucchini Casserole


I found this recipe on the internet and made some minor "tweaks" to it.  Quite yummy.  A great side dish to our big Italian meal served a few weeks ago.  This was the "Il Secondi" course served with Chicken Saltimbocca.  Very tasty and wonderful accompaniment with the chicken.

Ingredients:

3 – 4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼” slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ of a white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
Large can (approx 28 oz) of whole tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes, use more or less depending upon your taste for spicy
Salt and pepper
Italian Bread Crumbs (I used Progresso)
1 cup Italian cheese mixture (packaged, or a mix including, for example, Mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone)

Directions:

Heat oven to 400° F.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the onion in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 30 to 60 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant. Cut tomatoes in 3 to 5 pieces, and add, along with the herbs and spices.

Cook over medium heat until the liquid is mostly gone (but not dry), stirring occasionally. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini into slices approximately ¼ inch thick. Take the largest slices and line the bottom of a 9 X 9" or 8 X 8" pan.  (Note, I cut the zucchini lengthwise) Sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the zucchini.

Spread about ¼ of the tomato mixture on the zucchini (don't even try to spread evenly; it won't work), followed by ¼ cup of the cheese.

Continue layering. Sprinkle some bread crumbs in between the zucchini layers to help absorb the liquid, as the zucchini will create quite a bit.  It should come out to four layers, but if it only makes three, just try to divide things relatively evenly. Don't put the final layer of cheese on yet.

Bake for 20 minutes. Top with the rest of the cheese, and lower the temperature to 375 F. Bake for about 20 more minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

Allow to cool for a bit before serving.  I found this to be better served the second day, and warmed up each serving in the microwave.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fresh Tomato Soup


I am a tomato soup lover.  Love a nice bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup on a chilly day with a delicious Grilled Cheese sandwich.  (or even on days not so chilly!) Memories of childhood days with my Dad – who also loved Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup.  His “little hint” was to add a teaspoon of sugar to the soup as it cooked, and he always used milk instead of water.  Mmm… Mmm… Good!  But, this recipe is for FRESH TOMATO soup.  Not sure if my Dad would love it as much as I do.  He was a “purist”.  But this still made me say Mmm… Mmm… Good! 

Ingredients:

2 – 2 ½ lbs fresh Roma tomatoes, sliced into wedges.  (I used 8 fairly good sized Roma’s)
½ lb. bacon, chopped into small pieces – or cooked and then crumbled
1 white onion, chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Approximately 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)

For garnish:
Parmesan Cheese or Sour Cream
Thinly sliced basil

Directions:

In a soup pot, cook the bacon bits until browned.  Remove from the pot and drain.  Reserve 1 – 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.  (You could cook the bacon in their full slices and then crumble them after they’ve cooled.  I opted to chop the bacon first and then cook the smaller pieces.)

Add the onions and garlic to the pan.  Cook for 2 -3 minutes.  Add the celery to the pan and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.

Add the tomato wedges, basil and broth to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 – 45 minutes. 

Place half the mixture into a blender.  Remove the center piece of the blender (to allow the steam to escape.)  Place a clean towel over the opening to avoid spatters.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into bowl.  Repeat with remaining tomato mixture.

Return the pureed soup to the pot and add the cooked bacon.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with basil and sour cream or parmesan cheese.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Calabrese Eggplant Bites


Here’s another winner from Giada de Laurentis.  I just love her show and I’ve never been disappointed in any of her recipes.  We love Italian food and I always enjoy her tasty dishes.  I made these for friends a few weeks ago.  They were a big hit!  Crispy and crunchy on the outside, warm and full of creamy cheesy goodness on the inside.  Served with a spicy marinara sauce; these will definitely impress! 

Ingredients

Eggplant
Vegetable oil cooking spray
One 1-pound eggplant, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Filling
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
½ cup plain breadcrumbs, plus extra, as needed
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 large egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Sauce
2 cups jarred marinara or tomato-basil sauce
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Vegetable oil, for frying
½ cup grated pecorino cheese

Directions:

Eggplant
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a small baking sheet or a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place the eggplant, cut-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Make 1/2-inch-deep slits over the surface of the eggplant halves using a paring knife. Drizzle with the olive oil and bake until golden and tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

Filling
Scoop out 1 cup of flesh from the eggplant, using a spoon, and place in a food processor. Blend until the eggplant is smooth. Add the cheese, breadcrumbs, basil, egg, garlic and parsley. Pulse until the mixture is thick enough to form into balls, adding extra breadcrumbs as needed. Scoop 25 balls of the mixture, each about 2 tablespoons, onto a baking sheet using a small cookie scoop.

Sauce
Bring the marinara and red pepper flakes to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Assembly
Pour enough oil into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted into the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer, a cube of bread will brown in about 4 minutes.) In batches, fry the eggplant balls until golden, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels.

Serve the fried eggplant warm or cold with marinara sauce and the grated pecorino cheese.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chocolate Cherry-Tini

I'm really loving the Pinnacle Whipped Vodka flavors. I got this idea from the Pinnacle recipe website. It's a great after dinner cocktail. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2-tini's:

2 oz Chocolate Whipped Vodka
1 oz Cherry Whipped Vodka
2 oz milk (or half and half)
Chocolate Syrup to swirl in the glass

Directions:

Chill two martini glasses the freezer.

Drizzle some chocolate syrup in each of the chilled glasses.

Put ice in a cocktail shaker. Add vodkas and milk. Shake vigorously. Pour into the chilled glasses.

(Note: If you use half and half, shake the vodka with the ice first. Then add the half and half and stir with a spoon. Shaking the half and half makes it too frothy.)

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