Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cheese Cake

I saw a recipe in my local paper The Journal News the other day and it looked fabulous. It was for a Pumpkin Cheesecake. This time of year anything made with pumpkin gets me excited. I love the taste of pumpkin! Pumpkin and butternut are my favorite.
The recipe is adapted from a country singer Trish, that's all I remember about her. I did change a few things in the recipe, but I don't think that it would make that much of a difference. She used pecans and I used walnuts (its's what I had in the house) and I added a hint of orange zest...because I like it. Otherwise, everything else is pretty much as Trish said to make it.

20 gingersnap cookies crushed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/2 stick unsalted butter melted

mix all together and line the bottom of a 9" spring form pan and bake in a  350 preheated oven for 8 - 10 minutes.  Let cool.

With an electric mixer,
Beat 16 ozs of cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar .
Add 1 tsp vanilla.
Add 3 eggs, adding each egg, one at a time.
Mix well.
Reserve one cup of the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To the cheese mixture add 1 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
*orange zest
taste it and see if you want to add some more cinnamon or nutmeg. I did!

Take your mixture out of the refrigerator and only using half of the reserved mixture drop spoonfuls into the bottom of your pan. Now put your pumpkin mixture on top. Now spoon the remaining cheese mixture onto of the pumpkin mixture. Using a butter knife swirl through the top and make a marble design.

Bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes.
Trish didn't say to bake the cheesecake in a water bath, but I went ahead and did that anyway. I can't wait to take a bite of this one!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuscany Tonight

Awhile back I won a contest for a recipe I submitted called Tuscany Tonight.

I will write more about this later. It was a fabulous evening!

For now, I'd just like to post these two links until I have enough time to compose myself and write a worthwhile entry.

below is the link for the press release from the wine company that sponsored the contest

below is the link where you may view some pictures from the evening

I'm attempting to make some of Chefs focaccia today. I'll let you know how that turns out!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkins are not just for Pie

Usually when I think of pumpkins I usually think of a delicious pumpkin pie.
I love pumpkin pie!
But for today let's think of the pumpkin in another way other than "pie".
For instance if you carve out the inside of the pumpkin you can use it for a vase and make a lovely fall centerpiece for your table.

We hollowed out the inside of the pumpkin and then arranged some lovely fall flowers inside the pumpin that we thought would look nice on our table. It looked beautiful!

Another way you can use a pumpkin is to use it as an actual serving dish. You just need to find the right size pumpkin that you want to work with!

This recipe was so easy to make. In fact I made 3 different variations of this pumpkin dip.
Recipe 1

8 ozs cream cheese - softened at room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
Mix the powdered sugar and cream cheese together until smooth
Add 15 ozs of pumpkin puree
add 1 tsp of each spice  cinnamon, ground ginger,  and  ground nutmeg
adjust to your taste
zest of one orange and mix all together and put into pumpkin
sprinkle top with a little bit of brown sugar

Recipe 2

1 package of instant vanilla pudding
1 pint of whipping cream
With an electric mixer beat on med and then high speed for about one minute until thick
fold in 15 ozs pumpkin puree
add cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg
add zest of one orange
chill for 20 minutes and then fill pumpkin and serve

Recipe 3

1 package of instant vanilla pudding
1 large container of Greek Yogurt (I used Fagee)
Beat with electric mixer until thick
add pumpkin puree and spices and orange zest as above
chill for 20 minutes before serving

Serve this with some gingersnap cookies, cinnamon grahams, pecan sandie, and some sliced apples.

Buon Appetito

Friday, September 28, 2012

When in Rome...

...Make pasta!

I am back from a fabulous 2 week vacation with my husband. We sailed the French, Italian and Spanish Riviera's on a Holland America Cruise Ship. What a great time! We met so many interesting people and have come home with lists of names and addresses of people who live all over the world with invitations and promises to visit our new friends again some as close as New Jersey and some as far away as Bali!
It's really amazing how all industries are catering to the foodie crowds. The excursions that interested me the most were the ones that were centered around food, creating food, finding food, shopping for food, and most of all eating food!
When in Rome we decided to go to the Roman Countryside and we had the opportunity to go to a Estate in Ariccia. We were told that a Count still lives on the Estate and makes wine. I didn't meet the Count, but I did meet his son!

We pulled into the Estate. It was beautiful! I'll let the pictures do the talking.


We were led into a courtyard area, where a large banquet table was set up with some appetizers and some sweet white wine and homemade bread. Best of all was Nona waiting for us for the pasta demonstration. With just flour and water she was going to show us how to make a delcious homemade pasta.

We could choose to watch her or help her.  So with permission I filmed her as she rolled out the gnocci and then not being shy I jumped in on the action myself. I could tell by her big smile and thumbs up that she gave me that I did a great job!

I have another video to upload but blogger keeps telling me that there's an error! It's only 51 seconds long! geez!

After making the pasta we all went into the dining room where the red and white wine flowed freely and we were served a delicious lunch.

There was an antipasti of fresh grilled vegetables, a beautiful salad with fresh aragula followed with the pasta we made with a meat sauce and lasagna. I was so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures.
Afer lunch they gave us a tour of the inside of the building and showed us a small wine cellar.
I quickly spotted the homemade limoncello! I wish they had given us a few shots of that after lunch!

Buon Appetito

Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer Short Ribs

Is there such a beast? Sounds like a contradiction to me. Usually made in the winter months, braised slowly for hours to make a hearty, belly warming meal, short ribs are always a the winter, but in the summer? I'm not so sure.
So while gazing at a box of beautiful ripe white peaches I thought that I could somehow mix the two and come up with a dish  that would taste really good.
So I gathered up some other ingredients, sort of like a mystery box challenge, fit for an entree round on Chopped and came up with Summer Short Ribs.
Beef Short Ribs! Cooked with porcini mushrooms, white peaches, and onions and braised in a white wine and burbon sauce. For a garnish I cut a peach in half, dipped it in brown sugar and let the peach brown in some butter.
There are some nice flavors happening here!
My husband and I are off for a fabulous 2 week trip to Italy, France and Spain.
I look forward to sharing pictures with you when I get back.

Buon Appetito!

Friday, August 24, 2012


While not your typical Ribolita, this was absolutely delicious and will satisfy both the meat eaters and the vegetarians in your life.
I made this without any meat tonight, and did not use the typical leafy vegetables that are usually used for this delicious twice heated soup. I used what I had, and what I had came from my own garden and that made it taste even better.
I started by cutting up an onion and a few cloves of garlic.
I added them into a stock pot with enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and cooked the onions until they were  cooked to a clear color. I added the garlic, and then I added a huge zucchini that I had cut up into chunks, skin and all. This is where my recipe changes from a traditional Ribolita. I believe that Kale, Escarole, Spinach, Chard  and or other leafy greens would have been used. I just didn't have them!
I cooked the zucchini until they started to wilt and then I added some fresh cut up tomatoes from the garden.
I added enough vegetable stock to cover my cooking vegetables and seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, a pinch or red pepper flakes, and pinches of fresh rosemary, fresh thyme,  and fresh sage.
I added a can of Cannellini beans. I know, I cheated. I usually like to cook them, I just didn't plan this one out.
I always keep the "rind" from the parmesan cheese wrapped up in my freezer. I added a nice piece to the soup. It's going to add such nice flavor!
I brought it all to a boil, added a few chunks of day old stale bread and a few handfuls of Fregula.
Fregula is beautiful little round balls of pasta. You cook it like you would cook rice. It is delicious. I once had an argument with someone who insisted that it was a legume. Boy is that a story for another  another time! I just love google! haha!

 I covered the pot and let it all simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes.

Just before serving I added a little fresh chopped parsley and some grated parmesan cheese, and drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil on each serving. Yum!

I think I heard a moan from the table. It was that good!

I'm going to make this again, and the next time I make it there is going to be some pancetta and leafy veggies simmering in the pot!


Buon Appetito!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zucchini Bandits

If you are reading this you are probably thinking that you have seens these before. To which I can say, You are right, you have!  Zucchini Flowers or  Zucchini Blossoms, are a staple in our home the summer months. I plant extra zucchini plants just for the flowers!
My family loves these to the point of even  suggesting a zucchini flower raid when we don't have enough from our own garden.  I won't go into the details about our raids,  I'm sure you will understand why!  I seem to get caught in the act all the time!  My husband has told me that he can see the headlines now...Local woman arrested stealing zucchini flowers...and he's not bailing me out!
I have no shame!
I think I'll start knocking on doors asking for them. Perhaps my luck will be better that way! I've even gone to the local farm and asked them to sell me the flowers but they just won't give them up. They think they need all the flowers for the vegetable to grow. They don't. Some of them grow on a long stem and those are the ones to pick, early in the morning when they are wide open. It makes them easier to clean and stuff.
If you would like the recipe for these delicious stuffed zucchini flowers you can find it here.
We also love pasta made with zucchini and if you have extra stuffing left over you can use it to create a delicious tasting dish.
I submitted the recipe for the above dish in a contest being offered by Premio foods.  Check out the contest. You might want to submit one of your own recipes using their products.

Here's my recipe for the above dish.

Paccheri di Pasta Fresca con  Salsiccia e Zucca

1 pound Premio sweet sausage
1 pound Pasta, such as a Paccheri or an extra large Rigatoni
1 large green squash, cut into 1” pieces with skin on
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
freshly grated Italian cheese, such as parmesean
1 tsp beef bullion paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup pasta water
salt and black pepper to taste
a pinch of red pepper flakes
a pinch of rosemary

>In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the chopped onions and garlic.
>Take the sausage meat out of the casing, and break  into pieces.
>Add the sausage to the cooking onions and garlic.
>Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 - 15 minutes or until cooked      through.
>Add the beef bullion paste, red wine and mix well.
>Add the zucchini
>Cook for another 10 minutes.
>Add fresh chopped parsley

>Cook the pasta in a seperate pot with salted water.
>When pasta is cooked, remove from water and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water
>Add pasta to the sausage mixture, add the pasta water if needed to make sure all the pasta gets a hint of the sauce
>Add the fresh mozzarella and freshly grated cheese

 Serve in seperate bowls and enjoy!

Buon Appetito

Thursday, July 12, 2012

WW- Ying Yang Beans

Wow, I can't believe that it's almost been a month since my last post.

I joined the group Wok Wednesdays, cooking  out of Grace Youngs' cookbook, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, twice a month  and have been terrible about keeping up with the group. There were
issues, not with the group, but with me that kept me from posting and cooking with them.

When I saw that we were to make Ying Yang Beans I was excited. This has been a favorite of my
family for quite some time.

HMarket recently opened in my neighborhood so I am blessed to have a place to shop where I can find
all the ingredients I need for any Asian inspired recipe.

We love Sesame Seeds so I added some and I also added some pickled vegetables.

There's never any left overs!  Grace's recipe was easy to make and delicious.

This weekend I am scheduled to tape a segment for Neighborhood Chefs. I am so excited! Check back
with me. I'll post some photo's of my big day. I'm still tossing around ideas as to what I'm making. If I
can pick enough zucchini blossoms I will definitely makes those along with another dish.

I know I've been terrible about posting with regularity and it's not about to get any better in the
immediate future. I've got a few busy months coming up!

I will be posting pictures to my Pinterest account, so if you aren't following me on that and want to see previews of what I'll eventually be blogging about, check me out on there.

Until the next time!

Buon Appetito

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pickled Eggplant

I can remember the first time I tasted pickled eggplant at my mother in laws house in New Jersey. My father in law brought home a bushel of white eggplant from a farm in Southern New Jersey. He did that all the time, if he saw something while he was out and it looked good, he came home with a case or a bushel of it! As I think of this I am realizing where my husband gets this from!
 My mother in law was a little exasperated by the amount of eggplant in front of her, after all she wasn't feeding an army, it was just the two of them, but she knew exactly what to do with all of them! Of coarse there was a tray or two of parmigiano made but the rest were pickled and went into jars.  If you were lucky you were gifted with one of the jars filled with this simple refreshing and delicious mixture!
The eggplant I used for this is sometimes called a Sicilian Eggplant.  They are usually round and have a white skin.
If you can't find a white eggplant use the purple ones.

This recipe is very simple, and very easy to make.

For one jar you will need

1 large white eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2  cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
4 - 5 cloves peeled garlic, cut into pieces
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt
olive oil
oregano to taste
red pepper flakes
fresh chopped parsley
* may add capers if you like them

In a pot large enough to cook the eggplant, bring the vinegar, water, garlic and red pepper flakes to a boil. Add the eggplant, bay leaf and the salt.  Cook the eggplant until it gets soft, this takes about 5 minutes. Drain the eggplant mixture.
In a bowl mix the cooked eggplant with the fresh chopped parsley, a pinch or dried oregano, a pinch of red pepper flakes and more salt to taste.

Put your epplant into a jar and top it with olive oil, cover and let it sit for a few days to let all the tastes marry.
This never lasts in my house. As soon as it chills it's gone!

Buon Appetito

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stationery card

Twenty Twelve Flourish Graduation Invitation
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View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wok Wednesdays!

While surfing around the other day I found a blog that I would like to share with you all.  Matt from GreenEatsBlog was encouraging other bloggers to participate in Wok Wednesdays.  If you would like to participate, please go to Wok Wednesdays blog and sign up!

On selected Wednesdays  a recipe will be featured out of Grace Young's cookebook, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

Yesterday was our first Wok Wednesday, with a very simple Stir- Fried Garlic Spinach! This was very fast and yummy. It took me longer to clean the spinach than it took to cook it.

I purchased 3 bundles of fresh spinach thinking that would probably give me the 16 cups of spinach that the recipe was calling for.  I've forgotten what a pain in the a$$ it is to clean fresh spinach. I've gotten very used to the triple washed, cleaned and trimmed spinach that you can purchase these days! haha!

I cut off the bottom of each bundle of spinach.
I filled the sink with the spinach and then ran cold water over the spinach and let the spinach sit. I removed the spinach from the water, cleaned out the sink, there was plenty of sand and dirt on the bottom and repeated the cleaning process. I think I did this 3 times to make sure there was no dirt left anywhere! There is nothing worse than chewing on sand! So when you think it's clean, clean it again!

The Woking part was easy! I heated the oil and waited until it was hot enough, added the garlic and worked quickly so the garlic didn't burn. The spinach was added and tossed and then sprinkled with a little salt and tossed again.
Out of the wok, and into a serving plate, right to the table.
Enjoyed by all!
I'm looking forward to woking again. We'll be making a chicken dish. Check back soon!
Buon Appetito

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Caracara Mexican Grill

My sister, Marlene and I had the pleasure of dining at Caracara Mexican Grill on Monday night.  For those of you who live in the vicinity you are very lucky to have this gem located in your backyard!  This is not your typical Mexican restaurant. This is dinning!

For those of you who know me, know that I talk to everyone. This occasion was not an exception to the rule.  I think it's important to get to know the people who are around me, especially while sitting at the bar snapping photos.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the moment I forget to ask if it's alright. I'm so glad I started talking!

Julie our bartender made the most delicious Margarita for me. Give me a silver tequilla with fresh squeezed lime juice over ice, lightly salted  with a  touch of Agave Nectar and I am transported back to Mexico. We are talking good times!
Marlene, my sister, who never drinks ordered the Sangria, which she sucked down like nobody's business!  Before I was half way through with my drink, she was ordering another, sucking up the very last drop.  She's working on her New Year's resolution to "drink more"!

We ordered an appetizer of Calamares Fritos, which were Blue Corn crusted and served with Chipotle Honey Aioli and  Ranchero dipping sauces. The Calamres were delicious, crispy and very fresh!

To our surprise, Tony the owner, sent out another appetizer for us to try! Tamales Camarones. This was not your average Tamale. We couldn't stop eating this dish. The tamale was rich and creamy, mixed with corn and a Chipotle cream. The texture was creamy and had intense flavors from the smokey Habanero salsa.  This appetizer was amazing. I can't wait to go back and try the chicken tamale!

Marlene ordered Costillas A La Parrilla. If you like short ribs you have to order this dish! The short ribs were slow cooked with Dos Equis Beer and served with a three chile salsa.  This is another winning dish!
I ordered the Carne Asado. Out  came a perfectly prepared medium rare Skirt Steak.  The steak was so tender and juicy that I ate every single piece and left nothing on my dish!
Our only mistake was not saving any room for deserts!  I won't make that mistake again.
Executive Chef Nestor Hernandez has a magic touch. Our meal was so delicious it rivaled the best meal I had recently eaten in Mexico!

Cinco de Mayo is this weekend and Tony is offering some specials for the occasion and the party will last all weekend long!  I strongly suggest you make reservations!

Tell them, Lorraine from The Food Crawl sent you!

Caracara Mexican Grill

354 Main Street
Farmingdale, New York
516 .777.2272

Like them on Facebook!  Check out the specials! On Meatless Monday's, in addition to the regular menu there are many delicious specials offered!

Buen Apetito

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Italian Inspirations Recipe Contest

My recipe made it to the top 5 in the contest being run by Johnsonville Italian Inspirations!

MY RECIPE,  which was submitted will now be cooked by a Chef and then judged based on taste.

The next time I write about this I hope it's with good news.

Thank you Johnsonville for giving me this opportunity to shine!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pesto Crusted Roast Beef

I love Sundays when there is nothing to do but be lazy and relax.
This translates for me into a day of cooking a really delicious meal for my family, without the rush of getting everything onto the table for "dinner time". I can take my time and play all day in the kitchen!

Sunday's  rules are different from the weekday rules.

When we were kids we ate our Sunday dinner no later than 3 in the afternoon.
Our parents didn't have to deal with softball practices, or soccer games, or any other sports activities. Sunday was a day of rest and there were no activities planed, except  for Church and family!

Today our schedules are so busy, it doesn't matter what day of the week it is!
Give me a rainy Sunday when everyone is sleeping in, cozy and relaxed without running off somewhere and I am so happy.

It gives me the opportunity to make a Sunday dinner like we had when we were kids.
First you start with an antipasto, then a pasta, followed by a meat, with the vegetables and a salad.

This past Sunday gave me the perfect opportunity to make one of those big Sunday meals.
I haven't made a roast beef in a very long time. The other day my son, Stephen said it would be nice to have roast beef so he could make sandwiches with the left overs.
So for this Sunday dinner I decided to make a Roast Beef and wanted to give it a different twist.
I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper. With a pastry brush I spread pesto all over the roast. More chopped garlic went all over the roast and then I rolled the roast beef so it was coated with french onion flakes. I don't know why I had these in my pantry, but they were there and I thought, why not?
I put the roast in a preheat 450 degree oven for 15 minutes and then turned the heat down to 350 degrees. I added a couple of peeled carrots, an onion and mushrooms to the pan with beef stock and 1/2 cup of Sweet Vermouth.

I cooked the roast until it reached an internal temperature of 135- 137 degrees and then let it sit, tented.
In my opinion, the meat was a little overdone after letting it rest.

Next time, I'm taking it out at 125 degrees, letting it rest so the roast will be medium rare. This was more of a medium to medium well.  It was still tasty, tender and most delicious.


Buon Appetito