Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Care package delivered

This past weekend it was "family weekend" at our daughter's school.  In anticipation of this trip I whipped up a few of her favorite treats.  I also did some shopping, gathered supplies and packed up some remaining clothes that she wanted.  It was our first real experience as parents of a college freshman and I think we did ok.

As soon as I finished work on Friday I quickly got home to help pack up the car and get on the road.  Hubby and our son we're putting the finishing touches on their packing.  

Our departure was about 15 minutes later than planned.  I was excited to see her since it had been 3 weeks from our last visit.  Each time has gotten a little longer between visits.  We had a two hour and 15 minute ride to her dorm, but that turned into a three and one half hour trip with two separate construction zones and nothing going on.  

We finally arrived and showered her with gifts and treats.  On every happy girl and one beautiful weekend.  

So along with her favorite cookies I made my Rosemary Hummus and our favorite snack food- Spaghetti Pretzels.  This recipe was discovered a few years back while on a local wine trip with our foodie friends.  They served them with a local red wine and as we were leaving the winery I quickly memorized the recipe.  

Spaghetti Pretzels

20oz. Bag of pretzels 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package of Spaghetti Suace mix ( McCormicks)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons red wine

Mix all ingredients together  and pour over pretzels in a roasting pan and bake on a low oven (250 degrees) for 1/2 hour.

This recipe was first blogged in October 2013 for our college visit trip to UConn.  I really think the extra flour in these cookies makes them taste better than the standard Toll House Cookies.  

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies - 1970's recipe


2/3 cup  shortening
2/3 cup butter, softened
cup  granulated sugar
cup  brown sugar, packed
teaspoons  vanilla
3 1/2  cups  flour
teaspoon  baking soda
teaspoon  salt
cup  chopped nuts
2 (6 ounce) packages  semisweet chocolate pieces


Heat oven to 375° degrees.

Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients. 

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto un-greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

NOTE: If using self-rising flour, omit soda and salt.
SPECIAL NOTE:  Too keep them soft, place a piece of bread in the container.  It works!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Penne, Sausage and Tomatoes - Who doesn't love this one!

The garden is winding down now and we had an abundance of tomatoes to use.  I felt like I hadn't cooked in a while and it was my turn to put together a new recipe.  Rummaging through the freezer in the morning I found a pound of Italian sausage that would be the base of my dinner. I checked out the   web I found an article on the 25 healthiest pasta dishes on Cooking Light's My Recipes.com  site.  This one called out to me and I knew it would be a hit with hubby and our pasta loving son.  And given that we have a growing 14 year old boy at home, I doubled the recipe.  (This kid knows how to put away the pasta)

Fresh Tomato, Sausage and Romano Penne

8 ounces uncooked penne
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup vertically sliced onion                            

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.

Presto Pesto!

 It is an all time favorite in my house!  Pesto Sauce that is.  I have had this recipe for pesto since hubby and I were first married.  I found this recipe from Mr. Food - a TV chef who appeared back then on the local evening news and had the familiar line - "oh, it's so good".  My pasta loving kids love it and it can be used as a pasta sauce, pizza topping, marinade and even a dip. 

Now I know I have posted this one before over my friend Melina's gnocchi, but I have not show it as a topping to grilled turkey breast filets.    You can even freeze the sauce, maybe in old ice cube trays and pull it out during the middle of our snowy winters when fresh basil is rare.

Use the sauce to taste.  You might like just a little for flavor or use the full amount for the full effect.


Pesto Sauce

2 cups fresh basil, lightly packed
1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pine nuts, almonds or walnuts finely chopped
Dash of nutmeg

Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth.  Store in refrigerator covered until ready for use.  Mix well.  Serve warm or cool.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer Salad Before Summers' End


It was a late summer Saturday.  Yard work was completed, laundry was done and we needed a relaxing afternoon on the patio.  Hubby scoured the big blue binder and found a recipe we have tried before.  We knew it was a hit because it was an Ina Garten recipe and the notation on the page was "great".  We would love to live next door to her and be invited over to sample what she is making.

Off to the grocery store for the necessary ingredients and other dinner accompaniments.  It is a costly salad but it makes a ton.  You will be eating this for days!  It was a great late summer salad to make and went very well with our Rombauer Saturday.  

Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake

 So I started this blog to share recipes  with my friends and family.  At first it was very private and I didn't even share it with my husband and kids.  Then, once I felt comfortable I let them know about it and then slowly started to place post on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.  Now 2 years later my husband has taken over the kitchen and prepares some new and old favorites.  This one is an old favorite I have made before, but now it was his turn.  You should see him once he has plated something he immediately says "Take a picture".  

This recipe came from the Penzey's spice catalog and is great at this time of year to use up your zucchini and summer squash along with any tomatoes you may have.  A great early fall dish to accompany any dinner.   Wonder what he is making later this week?


Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake


2 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 tsp thyme
1tsp basil
1tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2c shredded cheddar cheese 
1/2c grated parmesan or romano cheese 
1/3c dry bread crumbs
1c shredded mozzarella cheese 


Preheat oven to 350. Combine the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, seasonings, and cheddar cheese. Place in a 1.5qt baking dish. Top with the parmesan or romano cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If you want, you can then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top and let stand 5 minutes, so the cheese melts before serving. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dinner request from the College Freshman

Our new college freshman came home this past weekend for a family wedding and we asked her if there was anything special she wanted while she was here.  A quick reply was "Pasta with breadcrumbs and olives, please".  We asked if there was anything else she would like and another quick response "apple crisp". Can't help not feeling lucky with this one,  two pretty easy dishes to make.

The pasta recipe was one we found a few years ago that is absolutely delicious.  The roasted breadcrumbs and the saltiness of the olives is a treat.  And with the olives, our pasta loving son is really pleased.

Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs and Olives (Giada De Laurentis)


1 pound spaghetti
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
3/4 cup pitted and roughly chopped  kalamata olives
3/4 cup pitted and roughly chopped large green olives
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and 1/4 teaspoon each of the sea salt and pepper. Stirring constantly, cook the breadcrumbs until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Stir the pasta into the bread crumb mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and add the black and green olives. Add the Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons of the parsley. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to coat, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Apple Cranberry Crisp from Fine Cooking

For the topping
  • 5-3/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  •  1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 oz. (3/4 cup) pecans, coarsely chopped
For the filling
  • 3 lb. apples (4 to 5 medium-large), such as Braeburn, Gala, Rome, or Honeycrisp
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 lb. (2-1/4 cups) fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Make the topping
Combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it's well blended and the mixture is clumpy but still a bit crumbly (it should hold together if you pinch it). Mix in the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble and bake the crisp
Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter the sides only of a 9-inch-square baking pan.
Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut each apple quarter crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Put them in a large bowl, sprinkle on the cinnamon, and toss until evenly coated. Combine the cranberries and orange zest in a food processor and pulse until the cranberries are finely chopped, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
Add the cranberries to the apples and toss to combine. Put the butter, orange juice, and salt in a small microwaveable dish or a small pan. Heat in the microwave or over medium-low heat until the butter melts, about 1 minute. Swirl to blend and pour the mixture over the apples. Toss to coat. Add the sugar and toss to coat again. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top of the apples.
Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set the pan on the sheet and bake until the juices are bubbling on the sides, the top is golden brown, crisp, and hard, and the apples in the center are tender when pierced with a fork, 60 to 70 minutes (rotate the pan for even browning, if necessary). If the top starts to get too brown after 45 minutes, cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes to let the juices thicken. Serve warm.

Monday, September 1, 2014

An abundent harvest- Quick and easy stuffed peppers

This one is so easy and quick.  Peppers stuffed with sausage and rice and then mirowaved and on the table in 40 minutes.    I found this recipe years ago when our local Wegmans would do little cards featuring a couple of recipes.  Now it is a quarterly magazine featuring a variety of items found and sampled when you visit the store.  Thank god I kept this recipe card because I cannot find this recipe anywhere on their website.

Italian-Style Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4- 5 

3 Large bell peppers, any color halved lengthwise and seeded
1 lb Poultry Italian sausage, casing removed
1 cup of rice (instant)
1 jar (26 oz.) Italian Sausage Sauce
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 egg
2 Tblsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese

Mix sausage with rice, 1 cup sauce, onion, egg and oregano.
Stuff peppers with sausage mixture.  Place peppers, skin side down in a microwave dish. Pour remaining sauce over peppers.  Microwave, covered on High for 20 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle peppers with cheese, recover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 
  (Note - I just cut the tops off the peppers and stood them up in the dish.)