Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy Birthday MOM

Its family time again . On this day we are celebrating my mothers 79th birthday. She is a wonderful woman, friend, and my play partner. My dad passed 17 years ago and since then she has become an independant, smart, strong lady. Dont forget she is a woman of the old days where the woman was just an extension of her husband.

She has just retired from her job of 40 years as a secretary at the elemntary school I attended and her grand children attended. She was the rock at that school everyone loved and still loves her. She prepares the lttle ones to receive first communion and every year bakes bread with them to celebrate the ocassion with them.

In recent times she has gotten a bit slower and cant do as much as she used to and I worry about her. She still lives in the house I was born and functions quite well on her own. We all try to make her life as easy as possible without taking away too much of her independence. She is the most stubborn woman I know (guess thats where I get it from) and she makes me crazy at times but I know she is just fighting to not become a burden to anyone.

Ok so we all got together at a lovely restaurant overlooking a golf course and the sound. It was a beautiful day. We laughed talked and just enjoyed each other. I love my family and know how blessed I am. I am a single woman with no children so I appreciate all my brother and sisters neices nephews and inlaws (who are not really inlaws as they have been a part of me for so long. )

I know she had a great time and that is all that really matters.

Here's to you Mom may you see another 79 years.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Never throw anyhting out

With me its all about using a food until there is nothing left. These days everything costs way too much to just throw it out. I keep morphing it into another dish. My mom had a 1/2 spiral ham the freezer that was left over from Easter holiday this year. She had taken it out of the freezer and defrosted it in the fridge but never used it. So sure it was bad, she was ready to throw it in the garbage. I took one look and after through inspection found it just as good as the day it went into the freezer for future use.
First I proceeded to slice all the meat off the bone. I sliced some to use for dinner this evening. The next was to take some and cut it into chunks and proceeded to make a beautiful Quiche Lorraine. Last but not least I used the bone to produce a hearty soup with carrots, celery, onion
and potato. I threw some small bow tie pasta in and another meal was born.
So there you have it on peice of leftover meat provided me with three lovely meals.
Try this techinque the next time you have a tired peice of anything. Just a little imagination in the kitchen can lead to wonderful results.
Until tomorrow eat well live well.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy Appys

Today its all about appetizers. I love these little bites. It means I can have a little bit of everything and more of some. Sometimes when dining out I order my meal just from the appetizer menu.
I cooked up these treats again served them at a party. Wow! I couldnt believe how fast they disappeared. Hope you're inclined to try them and enjoy them as much as my guests.

Cheesy Mushroom and Bacon Bites
4 oz Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tbsp finely chopped mushrooms
1 tsp. milk
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp black pepper
1 (8 oz.) can crescent rolls

Preheat oven 375°
In a sauté pan cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Set aside to cool then crumble
In a bowl add softened Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, onion mushroom mixture, milk parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper and mix well.
Separate dough into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal. Spread about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture on each rectangle making an even layer. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Roll up starting at shortest end; seal. Cut each roll into 4 slices. Place cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Yields 16 pieces
Until tomorrow eat well live well

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweeeeeet Potato Tart

A delightful side dish sure to impress. Not only is it beautiful but it is made totally out of vegetables. The crust is made from layers of potato and parsnips peels. This “crust” is then layered with a creamy cheesy sweet potato filling and topped with more vegetables. This is delicious no one will guess how healthy it is for them. Virtually carb free and full of vitamins.

4 oz Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
8 oz. Brie cheese rind removed
2 large Sweet Potatoes
1 parsnip
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2-3 tbsp Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Spray a 9” removable bottom tart pan with non stick cooking spray.
Remove skin from both parsnips & sweet potatoes
Peel enough strips of both sweet potato & parsnip to make crust for the tart.
Line the bottom of the tart pan with the sweet potato & parsnip peels alternating strips
and overlapping if necessary to cover the bottom and sides. Reserve enough peels to decorate top of the tart.
Sprinkle bottom of potato lined tart with bread crumbs.
Cut sweet potatoes and parsnip into chunks and place in a pot of water seasoned with salt, pepper one crushed garlic clove, pinch of sage and nutmeg.
Boil until fork tender. Drain reserving some of the liquid to use in mash if necessary.
With a hand held mixer on high speed whip sweet potatoes, parsnips, cream cheese, brie cheese, sage and nutmeg until smooth and creamy. Check for seasoning and re-season if necessary.
Spoon into tart pan and smooth out to create an even layer.
Decorate top in lattice like fashion with remaining peels and sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs.
Bake in a 350°oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool in pan 10 minutes remove tart from sides of pan.
Place on a beautiful platter serve and enjoy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Home Grown Vegetables

Fresh Garden Tomatoes. There is nothing better. Every year if I plant nothing else in my garden its 4 tomato plants and fresh basil. Iam assured of a meal even when there is nothing else in my fridge. All I need do is add a few slices of fresh mozzarella some garlic good olive oil and a peice of crusty bread and viola a meal is born. You can even forego the bread and mozzarella and still have a tasty meal.

Every year I choose a different type of tomato to grow. I've done beefsteak and plum, last year it was grape and cherry. This year I was a bit late getting my plants in the ground and all my favorite garden store had left were 4 heirloom plants. I love heirloom tomatoes so I jumped at the chance to try my hand at growing some.

This summer in NY was espically brutal as far a being hot and humid. We had practically no rain. It took a lot of effort to keep everything hydrated and healthy. I waited and waited for my first glimpse of tomatoes. They were small at first then finally they started to get bigger and bigger. Then it took what seemed like forever for them to ripen. Finally my beauties were ready to be picked and what I got were the most juicy and delicious tomatoes ever. While some heirloom tomatoes are not so pretty to look at I like to think they have character. That is part of their charm. When you slice into them the color is such a deep red orange you would never find in any grocery store. Just by looking at them you know they came freshly picked from the garden.

I am now picking about 4-5 tomatoes a day. Most I eat in a simply dressed salad. I have broiled them with a slice of melted mozarella for an absolutly delish appetizer. I have even parted with some and shared with friends and family.

I highly recommend growing your own tomatoes. The only bad thing is that when the season is over we have to go back to eating store bought tomatoes. It just isnt the same. If you are lucky enough to get more tomatoes than you could eat you can make homemade sauce. Freeze it and you'll be reminded of all your summer work for the rest of the year.

I am proud of my beauties they fed me well this season. Until tomorrow eat well live well

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Family time

Today it was all about family. I spent a wonderful day at my younger sister, Patricia's, house. It was just our immediate family consisting of 20 people. That includes my 10 neices and nephews.

Most of us were there minus a few who were either working, living away from home or had other plans. It was really nice. I am fortunate enough to have two wonderful sisters whom I speak to and see on a regular basis. They are my best friends. I also have have a brother and while I don't talk to him as often as I like we both know the other is there and only a call away. My brother in laws well they are like my brothers since they have been a part of the family for so long. They are both good men, fathers and friends. My mom is a very big part of my life. She is getting older and maybe not as fast as she used to be but she and I play alot since my dear father passed 18 years ago and Im unattached free to do what ever I like.

About a month ago I became a Great Aunt. Its mind blowing as I dont feel old enough to be one of those. I remember my great aunts when I was a girl. They were wonderful and played a big part in shaping my life.I hope I can do the same for my great neice Gianna Lynn Rocco. She is the grand daughter of the same sister Patricia. Her son, my nephew Thomas is the proud father of this little beauty. She is the spitting image of her father and already the twinkle in his eye. The picture you see is that of 4 generations. My mom, my sister (patricia), her son Thomas, and his daughter Gianna. Again mind blowing and pretty special as far as I'm concerned.

I realize how blessed I am and try not to take my family for granted. They have always been there for me, supported me and cheered me on. I thank God every day for them because I know not every one is as blessed as I.

Family you gotta love them. I know I do.

Until tomorrow eat well live well.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coffee Time Treat

It's all about dessert for some people. I know one woman in particular who will almost forego any meal just to get to the dessert round. Im a bit particular about how I use my calories but the dessert I feature today excites me becaue it incorporates one of my favorite things. COFFEE. Its esay to make and even faster to assemble. Hope you enjoy

This dessert came about out of my LOVE for coffee plus the fact I had nothing to serve some unexpected guests one evening. In Italy dessert can be a simple dish of vanilla ice cream drizzled with hot espresso coffee. This is my spin on that dessert.

8 oz. Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
8 oz. frozen whipped topping (thawed)
1 cup cold strong coffee (I used espresso)
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp espresso powder

In large mixing bowl whip cream cheese, coffee and sugar together until well blended.
Add whipped topping and blend until incorporated. Add espresso powder whip a minute more.
Place coffee mousse in Italian demi-tasse cups. Place in freezer for 15 minutes until it firms up just a bit.
Garnish with grated espresso bean a slice of orange peel and some coffee beans.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A fun dessert for Kids and the Kid in all of us

Sugar Cookie Scotchies came about as a recipe submission for my RWoP contest "Dessert Time Crunch" submission as well as my love for anything "sandwichie" (is that even a word) Hope you enjoy. I used large cookies but you could make them from bite size cookies and you'd have a fabulous cocktail size dessert. The recipe follows:
8 oz Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
12 oz bag Butterscotch chips (divided)
capful vanilla
12 large premade sugar cookies
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts(divided)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 cup of the butterscotch chips until just melted and still a bit thick.
Add ¾ of melted butter scotch (reserve the other ¼ melted chips in a small bowl) to cream cheese and vanilla, beat until combined and fluffy.
Stir in ¼ cup each chopped macadamia nuts and butter scotch chips.
Turn 6 sugar cookies upside down and spoon some of the mixture onto each. Top with the 6 other cookies to form a sandwich.
Roll each sandwich in the remaining ¼ each of macadamia nuts & butter scotch chips.
Take the reserved melted butterscotch chips add a few drops of oil and melt down to a thin consistency. Drizzle over the top of each cookie sandwich. Enjoy!
Serves 6
Until tomorrow eat well live well

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September Days

Hope everyone had a great Labor day weekend. Now it's back to school, the weather is getting cooler and our thoughts (wether we like it or not) turn towards the holidays.
I am still making jams and but suddenly I am thinking about pies. You know apple, pumpkin, pear. I have a wonderful recipe for pear and fresh cranberry tart. Every time I make this it's a hit. And when I sell my pies for the holidays it's always my best seller.
I'm just waiting for the grocery stores to start carrying fresh cranberries and then I'll stock up on those babies to make my pie / tart. There is just no substitution as far as I'm concerned. The frozen or canned just can't cut it in my opnion. I did use dried cranberries once. It was good but it took on a whole different taste. I'll just wait. Promise to post the recipe as soon as I make it.
For now I'm still working with fresh figs. My tree is still loaded and I keep picking and adding them to everything.
Until tomorrow eat well live well

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Home Made Jams

Yesterday I wrote all about making home made jams. Well today I wanted to show you the finished products. Here are the fig & grape jams I am sharing with my friends and family.

With about 60 or so figs I got approx 3 cups of jam. From a large mixing bowl of grapes boiled down and strained I got approx 2 cups of jam.

In making each I tried to keep them as pure as possible, using only the fruit, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest and a bit of pectin to tighten the sauces up to make a spreadable jam.

I think we have a winner and a gift I am proud to present. These gifts cost me nothing but my time and I think it was time well spent.

You can produce any any type of jam you like with any fruit you like. It is not only cost effective but healthy as well becaue you have complete control over the ingredients.

A neighbor has a black raspberry tree. I bet if I give him some jam he'll let me pick some of those black raspberries (as long as I promise another jam in his future).

Now I'm off to make a mixed fruit pie. YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until tomorrow eat well live well

Friday, September 3, 2010

Last weekend of Summer

Well the summer is officially coming to an end this weekend. The beaches will close and on Tuesday the children will all be back to school here in NY. I for one am both happy and sad.

Happy that soon the cooler weather will be upon us. I have had enough! of being hot. It was a brutal sumer here on the east coast. I never remember sweating so much.

Sad becaue over half the year is gone already and soon the talk will turn to the holidays. Boy I am so not ready for that.

In the meantime my garden is still flourishing and I have plenty of tomatoes & basil. I have been living on Capresse salad. The tomaotes are just so perfectly flavorful.

Now I promised to tell you about the grapevine in my backyard. It has been there since I can't tell you when, and it is just beautiful to look at . Nature just does it's thing. Every year it gets better & better. The grapes are usually very tart to eat just picked, but this year they have a sweetness that is just lovely. Ok now I just had to go and pick them so I could make some jelly. It takes a lot of grapes since they are so small but really worth the effort.

Picked a whole bowl full, wahed them and proceeded to put them in a pot with a little water , lemon juice & lemon zest, cinnamon and 2 tbsp of powdered sugar. I boiled them until they burst and proceeded to cook them down for approx 10 min. I then strained all the skins & seeds and wound up witht the most beautiful grape sauce. I put the juice back in the pot added an envelope of pectin (bought in the local grocery store) and proceeded to cook for about 8-10 min more in order to thicken it producing the most perfect jelly. It's been a treat to have on my morning toast. I have put it in mason jars and given it away. Such a joy to share.

I just love taking something homegrown turn it into a delectible delight and then share it. For me there is no better sense of accomplishment. OK hope I inspired you to create something.

Until tomorrow eat well live well.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's been a while

So it's been quite a while since Ive been here. Ive been busy with life. Cant believe summer is over. Time passes faster and faster. Can't seem to keep up.

My garden did ok this season. I have gotten the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes and am enjoying them each day as well as sharing since I have soooooooooo many I cant eat or use them fast enough.

My greatest pleasure is my fig tree. I have consistantly picked over 100 off that tree each day. I have made fig jelly, fig pies, figs in wine red sauce over pan fried pork chops YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and I dont even like pork chops. I have found so many inventive ways to incorporate figs into every meal. The possibilties are endless. I have two (2) bags of figs in my freezer.

I am most proud of my pies. my sister who won't touch a fig, eats this pie. When baked, the figs take on a strawberry/raspberry taste. I use figs, lemon juice, lemon and orange zest cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Thats it. Baked in a 350 oven in a 9" pie crust for 30 min. Its a delighful dessert if I do say so my self.

There is nothing better than a fig picked right off the tree. I can't even look at the figs in the supermarkets. I tasted one and just kept looking for the flavor. Maybe I'm biased but the store figs dont hold a candle to mine.

OK tomorrow we'll talk about the grapevine in my backyard and what I do with the grapes (I wish I new how to make wine). Alas I never learned the technique.

Until tomorrow eat well & live well

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