Archive for September, 2008

This recipe is for a Pesto appetizer that is terrific on baguette slices or wheat crackers.  It is a coarsely chopped mixture – don’t make it if you don’t like garlic!  It freezes well and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Add more olive oil to this recipe and you have pesto sauce for any type of pasta!  It is also very suitable served with boiled meats and tortellini en brodo.  (Recipe to be posted soon!)

  • 5-6 cups fresh basil
  • 8-10 or more cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 large chunk pecorino cheese (4-6 oz)
  • coarse ground sea salt, to taste
  • coarse ground pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, about 1/4 cup

You will be chopping the first four ingredients in a food processor.  Finely chop them, but take care NOT to puree them, as you want texture!

In small batches, place basil leaves in food processor and chop.  Do about 1 cup of basil at a time.  Transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl after each batch.

Repeat the process with the garlic cloves, the pine nuts and the pecorino cheese; add each to the mixing bowl.

Add salt and pepper.  Drizzle in the olive oil only to wet the ingredients, it should not be liquidy.  Mix well and let sit covered for several hours in the refrigerator for the flavors to blend.

Serve with slice of baquette or crackers.  Or, add more olive oil and heat to serve as a pasta sauce.

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admin September 27th, 2008      No Comments »

~The BEST Caramel Corn~

My great friend, Linda Marshall, makes this addictive snack!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 qts popped corn

Preheat oven to 225 degrees

Heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Boil 5 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat.

Add baking soda and vanilla; stir well.

Pour over popped corn & mix.  Put in two 9×13 pans lightly sprayed with PAM.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Cool and seal in ziplock bags or other airtight containers.

For added pizazz, you can drizzle melted chocolate over the caramel corn.

THANKS, Linda!

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admin September 27th, 2008      No Comments »

What a treat we just enjoyed!  I’m sure those in Texas and cowboy-land have heard of this, but I had not; so I decided to give it a try.  We now have a new favorite Tex-Mex snack!

  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (shoe peg is best), drained
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 ripe avocados, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together.  Let sit for at least 1/2 hour (best if refrigerated overnight to let flavors blend). 

Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips or Fritos.

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admin September 20th, 2008      1 Comment »

We didn’t grew up eating biscuits very often, so they are not something I make from scratch.  When my hubby wants biscuits and gravy, he is happy when I pop open a can of store-brand biscuits – the homemade gravy more than makes up for it!

I stumbled across a copycat recipe for the Cheddar Bay Biscuits that Red Lobster serves.  I doctored up the recipe a bit, as I always do, and they were great – and so very easy.  I’ve since made them in a variety of ways, substituting the cheese and parsley with different types of cheeses and spices.  I’ve made them with parmesan and oregano for an Italian flair!  They have a nice kick when made with hot pepper jack cheese and cilantro!  The recipe calls for Bisquick, but I have had good luck with both Krusteaz and Aunt Jemima buttermilk pancake mixes.

  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 450.   Mix together biscuit mix, milk and cheese until a soft dough forms; beat vigorously for about 30 seconds.  Dough will be thick.  Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. 

Mix melted butter, garlic and parsley together.  Brush 1/2 of the butter mixture onto the biscuit mounds. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.  Immediately brush remaining 1/2 of butter mixture over the biscuits.  Serve hot.  Makes about 12, depending on size of spoonfuls you use!

Mangia bene!

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admin September 19th, 2008      No Comments »

My husband just fell in love with me all over again!  We love jalapeno poppers, but I have never attempted to make them until last weekend.  WOW!  They were great!  This is what I used:

  • 10 peppers (nice large sized, with stem still on)
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack Pepper cheese, grated
  • 5-6 shakes Tabasco sauce
  • 4 eggs
  • I cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • about 2 cups of oil for frying

I made a “T-cut” into each pepper, taking care to not cut all the way through – just enough to open the pepper to clean out the seeds

Mix together the cheese and Tabasco sauce.  Fill the opening in each pepper with cheese mixture and press shut.

Mix together breadcrumbs, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Beat eggs til well blended.  Heat the oil to 320-330 degrees.

Dip the stuffed chilies into the egg, then dip in the breadcrumb mixture.  Repeat to coat each pepper twice.  Place in the hot oil.  Brown on all sides – about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  Cool slightly.

I served it with apricot jam mixed with jalapeno pepper jelly.  A spicy hot/sweet treat!

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admin September 13th, 2008      2 Comments »

I catered a dinner party the other night and normally I don’t use a recipe I have never prepared before at a party.  But I saw these and came up with a variation of my own, and they were a hit!

Fried Ravioli

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 pkg frozen ravioli, any kind (I used cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsps chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • salt & pepper

Boil ravioli for about 2-3 minutes only, then transfer to bowl of ice water to stop cooking.

Heat oil in deep skillet or deep fryer.  Mix cheese, pecans and parsley in a large shallow plate.  Beat milk, eggs, salt & pepper in a separate bowl.

Dip the ravioli in the milk/egg mixture, then dredge in the cheese/nut mixture, twice.

Fry in oil about 2 minutes on each side, or 3 minutes total in a deep fryer, until golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with a creamy marinara sauce.  I used a jarred marinara sauce, added about 1/2 cup of whipping cream, and doctored it up with some fresh rosemary and fresh garlic.

Mangia Bene!

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admin September 8th, 2008      1 Comment »

We had a nice London broil two nights ago for dinner and there was a good pound and a half left over.  My mom used to make what she called “Hash” whenever she had leftover eye-of-the-round roast, prime rib, London broil, or even flank steak.  So I made her uncommon hash last night, much to my husband’s delight!

Cut up two russet potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.  Do the same with one large onion and three or four carrots.  Saute’ the vegetables in a little olive oil and a big spoonful of crushed garlic until fairly done.  Cut the meat into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the vegetables; cook until heated through and vegetables are done.  You don’t want soggy, overcooked veggies.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with Tabasco and enjoy!

Mangia Bene!

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admin September 8th, 2008      1 Comment »

My son called me tonight to ask how to thicken the liquid in the pot roast he was cooking. 

One of the great cooking aids I am never without is a box of cornstarch!  It has got me out of more liquidy jams than I can count – plus it also helps make a great gravy out of any au jus!

Take 1/2 cup of ice cold water and add 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch.  Mix quickly and well so there are no lumps.  Add into the hot liquid you are trying to thicken, turn up the heat and stir constantly.  Once it reaches a boil, it won’t thicken much after that.  So you may need to repeat.  This works well for thickening pot roast juices into a nice gravy, and, of course, is used for making all sorts of gravies, puddings, cream pies and more.

My favorite cornstarch:


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admin September 7th, 2008      No Comments »

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