I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Grilled Zucchini

Just a simple side to go with all the outdoor fare this holiday week.

Zucchini (you determine amount)
Olive oil
Fresh garlic or garlic powder (as much as I prefer fresh garlic, it does tend to burn when grilling)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice zucchini lengthwise 1/2-inch thick. Brush or slather with olive oil sprinkle with garlic powder or chop/slice fresh garlic onto zucchini. Place directly on grates, grill until brown, flip over and brown the other side.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Don't Stress Over Strudel

Who doesn’t love a good strudel but making a true strudel dough and rolling it out can be extremely labor intensive. Making strudel is such a culinary art form; I put it right up there with the small percentage of bakers who still make their own Phyllo dough. I have actually made strudel the traditional way, it was difficult to say the least but worth every last bite when it was done. I just don’t have the time or enough space in my kitchen to accommodate making strudel the old fashioned way. So here is a recipe for a very simple strudel dough where you make 4 smaller strudels (a little thicker than traditional) from one recipe. This dough is light, buttery and delicious, plus you do not require a huge surface for rolling out the dough. The fillings can be altered to whatever ingredients you prefer. You may also change this from a sweet strudel to a savory one just by adding meat or vegetables instead.

Helpful Tip - If you are really strapped for time just use store bought phyllo dough.

Less stress strudel

1/2 lb. butter
1 sm. carton commercial sour cream
2 cups flour
1 cup jam – any flavor you like. I usually do raspberry or apricot
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
powdered sugar

Blend together butter and sour cream; mix in flour to make a soft dough. Separate into 4 equal balls. Wrap in saran wrap or waxed paper. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Mix jam, raisins and nuts. Roll each ball of pastry about 1/2 inch thick. Roll up jelly roll fashion and lay on ungreased sheet. Bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered (confectioners') sugar and slice to serve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cold, Crisp and Creamy

When I worked at a party house this salad was requested most often, especially for weddings. Sometimes we had to make batches of waldorf salad big enough to feed 400 people that was a lot of apple chopping. It really is a delicious salad, especially in the hot weather. It’s nice, cold and crisp. Be very careful if using as a picnic salad, it has to remain cold due to the mayonnaise.

Waldorf salad

3 medium apples, unpeeled, cored, chopped (Golden, Red Delicious, Granny smith, Cortland, Wine sap, Empire) you choose
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 of a cup Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine the apples, celery, walnuts and raisins in a large bowl.
Combine the mayonnaise and lemon juice Stir mayonnaise mixture into apple mixture. Chill before serving.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Poor Under-appreciated Parsley

Parsley is much more than a garnish, it is high in vitamins A and C, and contains iron, iodine, and copper. Even though parsley has a very light scent and flavor, it is a terrific breath freshener and is also great for calming your stomach. Parsley is a member of the celery family.
My grandmother has always liked to use parsley. She buys it fresh, washes it, uses paper towel to remove excess water then she removes all the leaves and freezes the parsley in Ziploc bags or plastic containers. My grandmother is very heavy handed when using the parsley and it really does make a big difference in the flavor of so many things, such as her; “meatballs, pestos, pasta, salad dressings, salads, egg dishes (frittatas), beans, chicken”. You can really notice the difference if she leaves the parsley out, everything tastes much better with the parsley added.
So the next time you see that poor little sprig of parsley sitting on the side of your plate just waiting to be discarded, either eat it at the end of your meal and freshen your breath. Tear it up and sprinkle it over your food, anything other than just throwing it away. Make parsley a part of your day to day cooking, you'll be glad that you did.

Cracked Wheat and Parsley Salad

3/4 cup cracked wheat (bulgur)
1 1/2 cups snipped parsley
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp. snipped fresh mint
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Soak cracked wheat in enough boiling water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain wheat and press out excess water. Place wheat, parsley, tomatoes, green onion, and mint in bowl. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over wheat mixture tossing to blend well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Enough for 6 people

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ice Cream Melt Down

When the nice weather hits there is nothing I enjoy more than going out for an ice cream. Whether it’s a sundae, cone or shake, I’m a happy camper. Well, I do believe I went a bit overboard yesterday. In the afternoon while out and about doing some errands, my friend says;” do you want to go to Starbucks and get a coffee”? I replied; “actually I’d rather have an ice cream”. That sounded good to my friend as well, so we went to a place called Bruster’s. My friend had a brownie sundae and I had a double scoop waffle cone with peach ice cream and blueberry cobbler ice cream, it was heavenly. But wait, it gets better….later that evening a couple friends called and asked if I’d like to go for a drive and maybe a bite to eat, I said sure. Wouldn’t you know it, my friend just happened to hear about a new ice cream place we just had to try…so we did. My friend’s choice was very daring, she ordered a waffle cone with cotton candy ice cream, then had them dunk it in a bright green key lime dip, it looked very pretty. Her husband had a traditional vanilla chocolate twist……now let’s get to me, the person who just had ice cream barely four hours earlier. I cannot believe I am admitting this; I had another double scoop waffle cone. This time with pistachio almond and vanilla cherry ice cream (you had to see all the whole cherries popping out of this thing). Wait, there is more to this gut expanding story. After all this ice cream, guess what we did next? Went out to dinner of course, a nice little Italian place the food was wonderful.
I think today I’ll just have a salad!

Healthy Day After Salad

1/2 to 3/4 head lettuce, shredded (or mixed with Romaine, curly endive, spinach)

1/2 c. thinly, sliced celery
1 c. chopped or grated carrots
3 or 4 green onions with tops (sliced)
May add any additional fruit or veggie that you like.


1/4 c. oil
3 tbsp. white wine or tarragon vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (or omit)
1/4 tsp. pepper or a dash of Tabasco
Add a bit of oregano and/or minced parsley, if desired.

Combine ingredients for dressing and pour over salad about 5 minutes before ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lovin' Those Sugar Snap Peas

I love the fact that sugar snap peas have an edible pod. Other than snapping off the ends and removing that little string they are pretty much ready use. They are terrific eaten raw or served with dip. Sugar snap peas work well in any type of cooking and with an endless variety of ingredients. A great many members of my family, myself included really enjoy spicy foods. Here is a recipe that makes a great side dish to any meal. The natural sweetness of the peas in combination with the spiciness of the ingredients creates a unique and enjoyable flavor experience.

Spicy Sugar Snap Peas

1 lb. fresh sugar snap pea’s

1 tbsp. whole mustard seeds
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot dried red chili
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the garlic, then add the red chili and stir for a few seconds.
Put in the sugar snap peas and season to taste. Let cook for a few minutes until they have absorbed the flavor of the spices.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Malt Shop Memories on a Hot Sunny Day

The malted milk shake started in the 50’s. That’s when malt shops were the in place to hang out and be with your friends and listen to your favorite songs playing on the Jukebox. You could grab a burger and some fries wash it down with a malted, shake or float. The best part of the malted was getting to the bottom, where all the malt had settled and try to suck every last bit through the straw. Unfortunately malt shops have become a thing of the past but at least some of their delicious treats don’t have to be. Here’s a little tip try some of those syrups that they use for flavoring coffee;
Da Vinci, Monin or Torani” to come up with some unique flavor combinations.

Strawberry Malted Milk Shake

5 scoops strawberry ice cream
1/2 c. milk
1 tbsp. malted milk powder
2 tbsp. strawberry syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly, serves two

Chocolate Malted Milk Shake

5 scoops chocolate ice cream
1/2 c. milk
2 tbsp. chocolate syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly, serves two

Vanilla Malted Milk Shake

5 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/2 c. milk
2 tbsp. vanilla syrup or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly, serves two

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A little Bit of Blue to Brighten Your Day

I’m a really big fan of blueberries and this recipe is just another easy and delicious way to use this amazing fruit. This is great sliced and toasted with a little or a lot of butter.

Blueberry Loaf Cake

1/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pint blueberries

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the beaten egg yolk. Add the milk, alternating with the sifted flour and baking powder. Stir in the vanilla.

Last, gently fold in the whites beaten to a stiff froth.

Bake in a greased and floured loaf pan in a preheated 375°F oven until cake tests done (about 35 to 45 minutes).
Remove cake from pan by running a knife along edges. Spread a little butter over the top of the cake while it is still warm, and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Stale Goodie Pudding " Bread Pudding made from Love"

My mother loved to tell me the story of the big ceramic crock that sat on the counter in the kitchen of her childhood home. My mother loved this crock because it became a magic vessel that would hold the ingredients of a special dessert that could only be made once the crock was full. Everyday her mother would put stale bread, cookies, crackers even cake, whatever could no longer be eaten as is but was much to useful to throw away into this crock. Nothing that would rot or breakdown of course. Usually by the end of the week the crock would be full and the magic would begin. Her mother would take all the goodies from the crock and put it in a big bowl, she would add dried fruits if she had them such as raisins or apricots. If she was fortunate enough to have some nuts on hand those would go in as well. In another bowl she would mix some milk, eggs and a little bit of sugar (only because a lot of what was in the crock was already sweet). She would then pour the egg and milk mixture over the stale goodies let that sit in the fridge for an hour to thoroughly soak up all the liquid, place it in a deep baking dish, then into the oven it would go. My mother said she would just stare at the oven with anticipation; it was the longest hour she ever knew. But once the hour was up with bowl in hand she got a nice warm scoop of her mother’s “Stale Goodie Pudding”.
There really was no actual recipe for this but this is the recipe we follow when we need to indulge in the memory and feed our senses.

6 to 8 large eggs
1/2 gallon of milk
5 to 6 cups of bread cubed (any kind you like) the drier the bread the better the pudding.
1 cup of dried fruit (whatever you like)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Whisk eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. In another bowl have your cubed bread and dried fruit. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread let it sit in the fridge for at least a half hour to completely absorb all the liquid. Pour mixture into buttered 9 x 13 pan sprinkle cinnamon over top before baking at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Great as is but a little vanilla ice cream couldn’t hurt.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Vegetable Conspiracy

I think we have all had that one vegetable in our lives that has taunted us. My father hated squash, my grandmother use to trick him and tell him they were whipped sweet potatoes so he would eat them. When my mother was little she hated lima beans and her mother having a sense of humor would often make her succotash (heavy on the lima beans)! My mother would try to fit them all in her napkin for fear she’d never be allowed to leave the table. For me it was carrots, I didn’t like them raw or cooked. I didn’t even like the smell and wouldn’t you know it, carrots just happened to be my mothers favorite. So guess what I got all the time? Even if buying “Swanson Frozen T.V. Dinners” she always managed to pick out the ones for me that had the little carrot coins as a veggie. Do you know how many Swanson Dinners had corn or peas as a veggie option?….I loved corn and peas.
But time goes by and people change and their taste buds change right along with them. Now my father loves squash, my mother likes, not loves lima beans and I actually like carrots; ‘raw, cooked, in stew and especially glazed”.

Glazed Carrots

1 1/2 lbs. fresh carrots
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tbsp. butter

Scrape carrots and remove ends. Cut into lengthwise strips. Heat salted water to boiling. Add carrots, bring to a second boil. Boil 18 to 20 minutes. In a 12” skillet put butter, brown sugar, orange zest and salt, add carrots. Cook over low heat until carrots are glazed and caramelized evenly, takes 7 to 10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Grandmother's Cold Stuffed Tomatoes

When I was little this was a favorite grandmother, granddaughter lunch. These days it’s not as easy to find the really huge beefsteak tomatoes she use to get but any size or variety will do. The tomatoes she got from the public market when I was growing up were almost as big as the plate she served them on. She would cut them in wedges but not all the way through so she could spread the tomato open like a flower. It looked so pretty, and then she would fill them with; “egg salad, cottage cheese, tuna fish or crabmeat salad. These were really filling so we didn’t really need anything else other than a beverage. I loved those grandmother, granddaughter lunches.

You will need tomatoes, (the bigger the better) if it is a good size tomato one will do for a serving, If they are smaller I would do two or three per person. You can prep your tomatoes anyway you like to hold the stuffing.

1 (8 oz.) pkg. of imitation crab meat
1/2 c. thinly sliced celery
1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine crab meat and celery in a bowl, mix in mayonnaise and onions; add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cheery about Cherries

It's that time of year again! It’s cherry season, one of my favorite times. Growing up we had a cherry tree in the back yard that had the biggest, plumpest deep burgundy purple cherries. My friends, family and I would just climb the tree, pick a limb to sit on and eat those sweet juicy cherries until our stomachs hurt. We pretty much ate the cherries straight from the tree but the one thing we did like to make with the cherries was a “Clafouti”. Clafouti is a custard like dessert, it is basically a fruit (typically cherries) baked with an almost pancake like batter.
From what I have read apparently the French say you should never remove the pits from the cherries when making a Clafouti, they say leaving the pits imparts more flavor. I couldn’t agree more, I am sure that it does in the same way that bone-in meat imparts more flavor to the meat versus a boneless cut. But, I really like my teeth and would prefer not to crack them on a cherry pit, so I opt to take the pits out before making this recipe. That part is totally up to you.

Cherry Clafouti

1 lb. fresh sweet cherries or 1 can dark sweet cherries

1/2 c. sifted unbleached flour
2/3 c. sugar, save a tablespoon to sprinkle on top before baking
Pinch of salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
3 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

Wash and dry fresh cherries, or thoroughly drain canned cherries. In large bowl combine flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the salt. Add eggs, blending thoroughly with wire whip or wooden spoon. Add milk and melted butter, stirring until mixture is quite smooth. (Do not beat.) Butter a 9x9x2 inch baking pan. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp. of the remaining sugar. Spread cherries on bottom; pour in batter.
My apologies to all, I didn't even realize I had left out the cooking time and temp. Thank you anonymous for making me aware of that so I could correct it.
The oven temp should be 350 degrees and baking time is about 30 to 35 minutes.
Once again sorry for the accidental omit.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pudding Poke Cake

This time my Aunt made a “Poke Cake” using pudding instead of the gelatin. I have to say it was one of the moistest cakes that I have ever had, she did chocolate cake with chocolate pudding. I remember when I posted The Jell-O poke cake a few posts back it sparked a lot of memories for some. These recipes are just fun and meant to be shared.

Pudding Poke Cake
1 pkg. (2 layer size) cake mix (white, yellow or chocolate)

2 pkgs. (4 serving size) Jell-O chocolate instant pudding and pie filling (may also be creative with different flavors)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
4 cups cold milk

Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on package for 13x9 inch cake. Remove from oven. Poke holes at once down through cake to pan with round handle of wooden spoon (or poke holes with plastic drinking straw, using turning motion to make large holes.) Holes should be at 1 inch intervals. Only after the holes are made, combine pudding mix with sugar in large bowl. Gradually stir in milk. Beat with electric mixer at low speed for not more than 1 minute. Do not over beat. Quickly, before pudding thickens, pour about 1/2 of the thin pudding evenly over warm cake and into holes (This will make stripes in cake.) Allow remaining pudding to thicken slightly, then spoon over the top, swirling it to "frost" the cake. Chill at least 1 hour. Store cake in refrigerator.

Playing around with contrasting colors can be fun too. Such as; white cake with chocolate pudding, chocolate cake with vanilla pudding or a real pretty one is white cake with pistachio pudding.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Peanut Butter Ribs

This comes from an old friend of mine whose family has Jamaican and Korean roots. Talk about an interesting blend of cultures and how that translates into some unbelievably delicious recipe combinations. These ribs are just one of many of the great meals that they were gracious enough to share with me. For such a simple recipe there is a lot going on here flavor wise. These will definitely become a family favorite.

Peanut Butter Ribs

4 lbs. ribs (pork or country style)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup creamyPeanut butter
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 tbsp. ginger powder

A few Red Pepper Flakes for a little heat are optional

In a pan or pot, cover ribs with water that has been salted and peppered to taste. Bring to a boil. Boil 45 minutes, until tender. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, corn syrup and ginger. Drain the ribs, place in shallow roasting pan. Spread sauce over ribs. Place under broiler 6", turning and basting until browned, takes about 10 - 15 minutes

Friday, June 1, 2007

Trying to be more Flaxable

With all the talk about the benefits of flaxseed, I looked into it a bit and whether or not all the hype is true, it’s so easy to sneak into all types of food with really no effect on the foods taste or texture. I thought why not, it sure can’t hurt anything. Just keep your flaxseed in the refrigerator or freezer because they can go rancid.
Flaxseed seems to have a great deal of benefit in regards to diabetes and breast cancer, which my family has always had a high genetic risk for.
I even sprinkle a little on my veggies or put some in my yogurt, it’s really a very non intrusive way to do a little extra for ourselves.

Raisin Bran Flaxseed Muffins

1 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup all bran cereal
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup flax seeds
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of milk
1 cup raisins
1 cup water

Boil raisins in water for approximately 5 minutes; mix all other ingredients together. Add raisins and water to mixture, stir well and pour into greased muffin tin bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.
Makes 12 muffins.