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, 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.


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)


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! 


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


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! 


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

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

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

Vegetable oil, for frying
½ cup grated pecorino cheese


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.

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.

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.

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


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.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chicken Saltimbocca

This started as a Giada De Laurentis recipe.  She says on her website that “Saltimboccameans “leap in your mouth”.  The flavor of this dish will definitely want to make you leap for joy!  Giada also says that traditionally this dish is made in Italy with veal, but she prefers to substitute the chicken.

I did make some very slight alterations to the cooking method, stuffing and sauce.  Originally I cooked the chicken according to the directions – but the chicken didn’t really brown up.  So, I’ve changed the directions in my version slightly.  This was fairly easy to make and so incredibly full of flavor.  We all just loved itRefreshing and light.  You can prepare the chicken rolls and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them.


6 (3-ounce) chicken cutlets, pounded to evenly flatten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and all liquid squeezed out
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices of provolone
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup of dry white wine
1 Tablespoon corn starch
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt & Pepper


Place the chicken cutlets flat on the work surface. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay 1 slice of prosciutto atop each chicken cutlet.

Squeeze the thawed spinach to remove the excess water.  In a small bowl, toss the spinach with 1 tablespoon of oil to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange an even, thin layer of spinach atop the prosciutto slices. Place a slice of provolone over the top.  Fold the provolone in half so that it doesn’t stick out of the chicken. Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each chicken cutlet as for a jellyroll. Secure with a toothpick – or tie with twine.  (I opted to tie them.) Note: at this point you can place the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  Remove from fridge about 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.   Remove the chicken and place on a platter.

Add the chicken broth, wine and lemon juice to the pan, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium.

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl, add the water, and mix well.  Add this mixture to the sauce to thicken.

Return chicken to pan, cover and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Continue to simmer the cooking liquid over high heat – add more cornstarch and water if it needs further thickening.  If too thick, add a little water or chicken broth.

Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper, to taste; add the butter and stir to melt and combine.

Remove toothpicks from the chicken (or cut the twine).  Drizzle a bit of the sauce over the chicken; place the remaining sauce in a serving bowl.  Serve immediately and await your guests rave reviews!

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