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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Meema's Pineapple Upside Down Cake

At my grandmother’s house this past Saturday she was telling us how popular pineapple upside down cake was when she was younger. If they were expecting company she would always bake one and everyone was always so impressed. In those days she said it was considered quite the fancy dessert and people felt very special to have one made for them. According to her no one bakes these anymore so she has taken it upon herself to reintroduce pineapple upside down cake to the family and we’re mighty glad she did, absolutely delicious and pretty too.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 can pineapple slices in syrup
maraschino cherries

Use an 8" square or round pan. Drain can of pineapple, saving the syrup. Place butter in 8" pan, melt in the oven while preheating to 375°F.

Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter. Arrange whole pineapple slices and cherries (with cherries in centers of pineapple slices) over the brown sugar in pan. Cut some of the remaining pineapple slices into half circles, and then line the sides of the pan with them (standing up).

In a bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, softened butter, milk, egg, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the pineapple syrup.

Pour batter into the pan being careful not to disturb the pineapples and cherries. Bake at 375°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is golden and has pulled away from the edges slightly.

Remove from oven and allow to stand for a few minutes to set and then turn it upside down onto a serving dish. Serve while still warm.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

So Many Different Aspic's on Jell-O, Gelee` and Jellied Salads

Here’s something to ponder… is aspic a fancy name for
Jell-O? Or is Gelee` a fancy name for jellied salad? Or………? I did not realize how many points of view there were on this subject. My grandmother insists that aspics are always savory and Jell-O or jellied salads tend to be sweet. My aunt on the other hand says; “Jell-O is a jellied salad when you put vegetables in it”. For example my aunt makes a lemon Jell-O with shredded cabbage and carrots which she tops with a dollop of Miracle Whip salad dressing (really delicious by the way). This would be referred to as a jellied salad. Now my mother frequently made the lime Jell-O with cottage cheese and pineapple in it. If my mother made it in the Pyrex baking dish it was her lime Jell-O salad if she put it in her Jell-O mold it was her Jell-O mold fruit dessert. Needless to say it is quite confusing depending on who you talk to. I guess all that really matters with any food is that it tastes good, gets people together and conjures up some good memories in the process.

Vintage Aspic

1 1/4 cups tomato juice
1/8 teaspoon crushed basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (3 oz.) pkg. lemon Jell-O
3/4 cup white dinner wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional but good)

Heat tomato juice, basil and salt to boiling. Add Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat; blend in wine and wine vinegar. Chill until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in crumbled cheese.
Turn into small ring mold. Serve on salad greens, can be topped with sour cream. Flavor improves with age, can be made several days in advance. Serves 5-6.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Going Bananas

These are just fun and tasty little treats. I love working with egg roll wrappers and wonton skins. This is something you can bring the whole family in on and have some fun in the kitchen, let the kids imaginations go wild and come up with their own unique flavor combinations. Try different fruits or nuts, Peanut butter and Nutella work really well here.

Banana Egg rolls

Cut bananas into lengthwise quarters. Crush up some peanuts. Heat oil (about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) in skillet and make sure it is hot! If you really want to kick these up a bit toss in a few chunks of white or dark chocolate.

In egg roll wrappers:
Sprinkle sesame seeds
Sprinkle coconut (optional)
Sprinkle sugar (white or brown)
Sprinkle chopped peanuts
Layer banana quarter on top diagonally

Fold up and glue ends down with water/cornstarch mixture (about 1/4 cup water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch). Fry in oil until light brown. Fry in skillet or deep fryer. Dust with powdered sugar (optional). Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Homemade Ice Cream Pies

In the summer months my Cousin Lori usually always has a couple of her homemade ice cream pies handy. When we come for dinner she just pulls a couple out of the freezer, puts on a pot of coffee and dessert is served. This last get together she had one with chocolate ice cream, Spanish peanuts and chocolate sauce as well as one with vanilla ice cream and strawberries. They are so good on a hot day and so much less expensive than buying those name brand ice cream cakes and pies.

1 pre-made pie crust (any flavor)

1 qt. ice cream (any flavor)
Assorted candy, nuts, cookies, etc.
Sauce, hot fudge, caramel (any)
whipped cream
Maraschino cherries (opt.)
Canned pie fillings are great to use as well.

1. Take favorite flavor of ice cream from freezer to soften for about 15 minutes.
2. Spoon ice cream into pie crust until about half full.
3. Chop favorite candy, nuts and/or cookies into small pieces using a kitchen mallet or food processor.
4. Sprinkle these pieces on top of ice cream layer.
5. Finish filling pie shell with ice cream.
6. Garnish top of pie with whipped cream, sauce, cherries, candy, nuts, and/or cookies.
7. Re-freeze for 2 to 3 hours. Serves 6 to 8 people.

Chocolate pie crust
Cookies 'n cream ice cream
Hot fudge sauce
Crushed Oreos

Chocolate pie crust
Peppermint ice cream
Hot fudge sauce
Crushed candy canes
Crushed chocolate bars

Graham cracker pie crust
Neapolitan ice cream
Hot fudge sauce
Strawberry sauce
Pineapple sauce
Sliced bananas
Crushed walnuts
Whipped cream
Maraschino cherries

1 (9 inch) chocolate pie shell
1 qt. coffee ice cream (soft)
1/4 c. Kahlua
Chocolate frosting
1/2 c. pecan halves

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And The Winner is...........

I would like to thank Chef John over at Foodwishes for naming me as a recipient of the Thinking Blogger Award! He gave me this award about a week ago, but I am just now getting around to making the announcement. Part of this great honor is that I must now give this award to five other blogs. It is so hard to choose only five out of the hundreds of truly amazing food blogs out there. But after careful thought I have chosen my five knowing that my five will choose their favorite five and so on (There is plenty of fame and notoriety to go around). I hereby bestow this Thinking Blogger Award to the following blogs:


A Fridge Full of Food

Vanilla Garlic

Butta Buns

French Kitchen in America

Congratulations to you all and now as you reign supreme “Thinking Bloggers” you all have the difficult decision of naming five worthy subjects to be next in line.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What A Crock

I have probably had the same Crock pot for more than twenty years. Why I don’t use it more I will never know, it is such a time saver. It’s usually coming across some clever crock pot recipe that drives my curiosity and leads me to take it out and place it back on the counter.
I love German potato salad and have followed a traditional recipe for years. I came across this recipe in a magazine and just had to give it a try, not to mention the fact that I really, really missed my crock pot.
All kidding aside, I tried this recipe and you can’t believe how good it is and how easy. I really should use my crock pot more.

Crock Pot German Potato Salad

5 lb. potatoes, boiled in skins, cooled, peeled and sliced

1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 lg. onion, diced
1 (16 oz.) bottle Wishbone Italian salad dressing (doesn't have to be wishbone)

Layer ingredients in crock pot and pour bottle of salad dressing over top. Heat several hours on low setting before serving.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Better The Next Day Brisket

I’ve eaten a lot of brisket in my life but I have to tell you that this recipe has a flavor unlike any other I have ever tried. That second day of cooking really allows the flavors to deepen and the meat to tenderize even further. A nice change from the smoker BBQ Briskets we all know and love.

2 1/2 lb. boneless beef brisket, fat side up in heavy casserole

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. mustard
1 1/2 tbsp. minced onion or onion powder

Combine above ingredients for sauce and pour over beef. Cover with heavy aluminum foil and bake at 300 degrees for 3 1/2 hours. Refrigerate beef and sauce separately. Next day slice beef and arrange in a 2 quart baking dish. Remove hardened fat from sauce and pour sauce over beef. Cover with heavy foil and reheat at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What's for Breakfast?

No matter what you decide to flavor your pancakes with you can never go wrong with ricotta cheese in your pancake batter. The ricotta adds richness and a lighter quality to your pancake. Whole milk or part skim ricotta is totally up to you, whichever one you choose will not alter the taste, the only difference will be the number of calories.

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
1 tsp lemon zest
1 pkg (6 oz) frozen blueberries or fresh if you have them.

Stir all ingredients together. Over medium heat, warm greased griddle 5 minutes. Using 1/4 cup measure, pour batter onto griddle. Cook 4 minutes or until golden, turning once. Repeat. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

Friday, July 20, 2007

That's One Sharp Loaf of Bread

My mother always said I should by stock in a grated cheese company, I just love the stuff. Although “Parmigiano Reggiano” seems to be the grated cheese that is touted the most, I have always leaned more towards a good "Pecorino Romano". Romano cheese is sharper, stronger and has more bite. Don’t get me wrong I love and do use Parmesan in and on many things it has a wonderful flavor, just quite a bit milder. I have always enjoyed really strong sharp cheeses; one of my favorite eating cheeses is “Extra Sharp Aged Provolone” as well as “Grana Padano”. These sharp cheeses are delicious eaten with a drop of good aged "Balsamic Vinegar" placed upon each bite.

Sharp Italian Cheese Bread

5 cups Bisquick

6 eggs
2 cups Romano cheese
1 cup milk, room temp.
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Teaspoons black pepper
1 egg yolk

Combine Bisquick, cheese and pepper in large bowl. Beat eggs, milk and oil with electric mixer. Add to dry ingredients (mix with spoon). Generously grease 2 (12 1/2 x 4 1/2) pans. After putting dough in pan smooth top with wet hand.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 25 minutes until lightly browned. Brush top with beaten egg yolk. Bake 10 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A day at the Casino

Yesterday seven of us went on one of those casino package bus trips. We went to Seneca Niagara Casino on the American side of the falls. You couldn’t beat the price $17.95 second person was half price. The package came with luxury bus travel, $20.00 each in gambling money and a $5.00 voucher for lunch, plus depending on how many points you had on your player’s card you could get an additional dollar amount off the price of your lunch. You could not beat the lunch that we had, we went to their"Thunder Falls Buffet" which had a seafood bar with shrimp and crab legs, fried haddock, fried catfish, mini crab cakes, and all were delicious. They had an Italian bar, salad, bar, pizza bar, southern bar with biscuits, collards, brisket and fried chicken, the brisket was wonderful. Then of course there was the dessert bar which was deadly, I couldn’t decide so I had to try a couple different things (huge sacrifice on my part lol).They had assorted pies, cakes, bars, cookies, brownies even an ice cream sundae bar with all the toppings, I’m surprised they didn’t have to roll us out of there.
All in all it was a great day; we left at 9:30am and were back by 7:00pm. Travel time wasn’t bad as we are only an hour and a half drive away. My 90 year old Aunt who is here from Florida just for the summer came along with my grandmother (her sister) who is 88 they are the only two left of their 5 siblings. So it was really cute seeing them sit on the bus conversing as little old Italian sisters do. The conversation on the bus seemed to veer towards the making of a good doughnut, probably because the doughnuts that we got on the way weren’t the greatest. So today in honor of that conversation I decided to include an old family doughnut recipe, enjoy.

Sweet Milk Doughnuts

4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
2 eggs (well beaten)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 -6 cups of oil for frying

Blend together. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut using a doughnut cutter or just cut into any shape you would like and let set 5 minutes, then deep fry. You may eat as is or dust with powdered or cinnamon sugars.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Always the Bell of the Ball

This is a nice little twist to plain fried peppers, you’ll be surprised at how just a few simple ingredients turn fried peppers (an already delicious dish) into something really special. I like to use assorted colored bell peppers. There are so many to choose from theses days;” red, green, yellow, orange, purple, black and one that is sort of a cream color”. But if you are on a budget the green ones are always the least expensive, the colored ones are usually about a dollar more a pound, that is if you are shopping for them at your local supermarket/grocery store. To get the best price always go to your local farmers market. Mixing colors really does make for a beautiful presentation.

Sweet and Sour Bell Peppers

4-6 bell peppers
oil for frying
1-2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1/4 cup wine vinegar (to your taste)
Sugar to taste

Cut up peppers. Fry in skillet as usual. When cooked to your liking, take out excess oil. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs; stir and let crumbs toast awhile. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add vinegar to tartness desired and a pinch of sugar. Let cool and eat.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vodka...not just for drinking.

We were out with friends the other night and went to an Italian buffet. The amount of choices were staggering, they even had tripe and fried calamari as part of their offerings.
One of the biggest draws was their pasta bar; they had five types of pasta, five different sauces and more than a dozen ingredients for you to choose from to mix in. They had prosciutto; pine nuts, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes just to name a few. Once you decide on your ingredients they make your pasta to order right in front of you, it was really very nice. I had linguini “Ala Oglio” which is olive oil, lots of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and just a couple anchovy filets all topped with freshly grated cheese and parsley. One of our friends had “Penne Ala Vodka” which I tasted and have to say it was absolutely delicious. Vodka, tomatoes and cream are definitely a winning combination.

Penne Ala Vodka

1 lb. Penne pasta
1/2 stick butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 to 7 scallions, chopped
2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz. total)
1/3 cup vodka
1/4 cup heavy cream
Basil, oregano and pepper to taste

Sauté chopped garlic and scallions over low flame with butter. Add tomato sauce, vodka and spices. Let come to boil and simmer 45 minutes. Add heavy cream; cook 10 minutes. Put water up for pasta.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just Frittering My Life Away......

I love Bisquick; it makes life in the kitchen so much easier. I have been making Fritters since my early teens; I started making them with apples. Over the years I have used a variety of fruits such as cherries, peaches and bananas. Vegetable Fritters can be a wonderful addition to any meal we regularly enjoy corn, artichoke, zucchini and spinach.
For a truly delicious appetizer try making clam Fritters, you can dip them in tartar sauce or cocktail sauce. They are easy to make just follow the recipe below, minus the apples of course and substitute 2 cans of drained chopped clams, that’s it. If you want to get fancy and make the clam Fritters casino style just add a little crumbled crisp bacon and finely chopped bell pepper. When they come out of the fryer a squeeze of fresh lemon makes them taste like the real deal.

Apple Fritters

2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups of apples any variety , chopped (or use 2 cups of any ingredient to create the Fritter of your choosing)
Oil for frying

Powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on apple fritters (also great dipped in maple syrup or honey)

Mix Bisquick, milk and egg until well blended. Stir in apples. Drop by small teaspoonfuls into about 2 to 3 inches of deep hot oil (360-375 degrees). Turn and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with sugars, syrups or honey.
Makes roughly 2 dozen

Monday, July 9, 2007

We saw Paula Deen make this on the food network and now it has become one of our family’s favorite pass around dishes. Depending on whose house we go to there might be something a little extra or different in the casserole. I add just a little finely chopped jalapeno to mine for a little kick. My cousin adds some cubed cooked ham and her mother likes to add bacon. The saltiness of the ham and the bacon are a real nice contrast with the sweetness of the pineapple.

Hot Pineapple Cheese Casserole

2 (20 oz.) cans chunk pineapple, drained

2 cups grated cheese (preferably sharp)
6 tbsp. flour
6 tsp. pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sleeves of Ritz crackers, mashed
1 1/2 sticks butter

Mix cracker crumbs with butter. Mix all ingredients except cracker crumbs. Spread cracker mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

We say "Banana" and He says "Granola"

We have a little 5 year old guy in our family who is very particular about his food. No matter how you prepare chicken, unless you tell him that it is a chicken nugget…he won’t eat it. The same for seafood, he’ll eat fried calamari as long as you tell him it is a “Fish Finger”. For the most part he won’t eat anything green except green beans and my grandmother’s batter fried celery (a green salad is definitely out). Italian sausage is an Italian hot dog and just make sure it isn’t the hot kind. He will only eat peanut butter sandwiches because he doesn’t like jelly (his mother said he is starting to like jelly just a little). Absolutely no condiments that means;” mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup. One time someone was kind enough to bring him a McDonalds Cheeseburger Happy Meal his mother had to wipe off all the ketchup, mustard and pickles. He stopped eating it when he saw a little smudge of mustard that she failed to wipe off.
Last but not least he does not like nuts, something his great great grandmother has had to learn when baking, this way she remembers to leave the nuts out of her recipes. As with this recipe below, which the Baby says is quite tasty. This recipe usually calls for about a half a cup of walnuts, so please feel free to add them back into the recipe. This recipe is made a couple times a week in our family for two reasons, we like it and we always have a surplus of overripe bananas that need to be used. This recipe was originally called “Banana, Walnut, and Chocolate Chip Bars” but the little guy has decided that they are called "Granola Bars. You can just call them good; they are sweet, moist and bursting with banana flavor. Great for a snack or dessert.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bars

2/3 cup shortening

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugars. Add dry ingredients sifted together. Add last 4 ingredients and spread evenly on a greased jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 or 25 minutes or until light brown. These bars stay moist for a long time.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Coffee and.....Nectarine Pie

I love when you are out visiting friends or family having that special get together cup of coffee or tea that there is usually some sweet satisfying goodie to go with it. I’ve gotten some of my best recipes just stopping by friends for coffee. This is one of those times…..
All I am going to say is; “Nectarine Pie” Flaky, just the right amount of sweet, the fruit tender and juicy, just wonderful.

Fresh nectarines (6-8 for 1 pie) depending on size

1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. butter
Pastry for double crust pie (store bought or homemade is just fine)
Milk, just a little to brush top of pie crust

Slice nectarines and spread evenly in pastry-lined pan. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over sliced nectarines. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the fruit filling. Dot with butter.
Top with pie crust; crimp edges and slit top. Brush top crust with milk, then sprinkle with sugar. Protect pie edges with foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until top browns.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tag I'm It.......

My inner MM, the resemblance is uncanny!

Find your "inner MM"

I have been tagged to post 8 random facts. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts: Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random facts about themselves. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged. Go to their blog and leave a comment telling them they're tagged.

1. I was awarded “Daughter of the Flag” in grammar school. I led assemblies in the national anthem and had special privileges because of it for a term of one year... I did not realize what an important award it was until I was older; all I remember is my Mother crying because she was so proud of me. I guess to receive the award you have to have had the highest grade point average of all the 1st thru 5th grade students in the district. According to the papers my Mother gave me I had a 98% average.

2. I love to eat lemons with salt. I just cut them in wedges, sprinkle salt on them and eat the fruit away from the skin.

3. For the first fifteen years of my life I was insane about Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand. I had to see every movie they were in, had every album they ever made and kept scrap books with articles about them.

4. One of my favorite things to do is go to the Casino; I love slot machines especially the poker slots.

5. When I was 9 yrs. old I got to shake President Johnson’s hand at the Whitehouse while on vacation in Washington with my Aunt.

6. For years I thought I had killed a zebra at our local zoo. I was 4 years old and feeding the zebra popcorn and the lady told me to keep my hand open but I must have closed it and the zebra bit me (not seriously, just a little nip that broke the skin a bit). Three weeks later our local newspaper said that the zebra had passed away, I thought that it died from biting me, the family had a good laugh on that one. Turns out the zebra was just very old.

7. My drink of choice…. “Bourbon”

8. If I allowed myself and my conscience does not get the best of me, I could easily consume an entire cheesecake….. Did I just say that out loud?

I will now tag only 8 of the many blogs I do so love and enjoy.