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We’ve got a great, easy and VERY tasty veggie dish!!  I will share my secret ingredient with you and when you make this for your kids… hubby… or boyfriend… they will jump up and down and beg for more!!!  I promise this!!

Let’s start with some yummy veggies.  

Yes, we can find these same veggies mostly year round, but they are far more plentiful at certain times of the year and if you have a garden, you probably grow most of them!  I don’t have a garden, I’ve tried… alas… it is not my calling to grow anything in the ground.

I like to get my veggies at the local Farmers Market…. or in a pinch, Safeway!

Here we go….. Take you beautiful fresh veggies and slice into nice bite size pieces.   Then take your zucchini, yellow squash & onions and place into a skillet with a drizzle of EVOO.  Top with some sea salt and cracked pepper, then saute for about 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat (be careful not to cook too much, we want them nice and firm).  Fight the urge to add more spices… you don’t need them,  the flavor of this dish will dance on your tongue!

When time is up, transfer to baking dish and add 1 can of Italian Stewed Tomato’s.  I also like to chop some fresh tomato and add to the mixture.  Here is where we add the secret ingredient… Ready???

Just shake about 1 to 2 teaspoons of Garlic Bread Sprinkle onto the mixture and stir… top with shredded jack cheese (or whatever you have on hand) and pop into the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes!

Scoop out a serving and taste…. It’s really delicious…. even non-veggie eaters seem to love this dish!!

Feel free to serve with some crusty bread to sop up all those juices…

If you’re anything like me you won’t be able to shove it in your mouth fast enough!!  You’re gonna LOVE this dish!!
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…  I am truly blessed!  Why, you ask???  So many reasons 🙂 – but this week, it’s because my daughter and my daughter-in-law both love to cook and I get to eat their delicious creations!!!  I was visiting my grandkids in Tucson this week and Cassie (my lovely daughter-in-law) made a dish that I just have to share with you all!!  Cassie is of Lebanese descent and often presents one of her family favorites to us when we visit.  Happily, this visit was no exception!  So get ready for a bit of culture and tons of taste ’cause I’m going to start sharing some of her gems with all of you!  Yay!!  More veggies for Bex to try!!! 🙂

This recipe comes from Cassie’s grandmother.  Lucky for us she inherited her recipes and cookbooks and remembers how she cooked with her grandma everytime she makes one of her recipes.

Okay, so let’s start with the basics… the filling recipe that I’m giving you is used in a variety of dishes and is also great for peppers, grape leaves or cabbage!

Basic Filling

  • 1 cup rice (raw)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice – heaping
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  •  ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 ¼ lb. lamb, coarsely ground or ground beef

In a bowl wash rice in cold water and drain.  Add salt, spices and stir well.  Cassie likes to double the allspice and cinnamon amounts, however if you haven’t used these spices in meat before – you might want to start with the recommended recipe to make sure you like the flavor.  Add your choice of ground meat and mix with hands, adding some cold water to help mix.  Set aside and prepare squash, cabbage or grape leaves.

Ingredients for stuffed squash

  • 12 to 14 medium size squash (yellow summer, zucchini)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 lb can tomatoes and 8oz can tomato sauce

Wash, stem and scoop out each squash. Leave sides about 1/8 inch thick. After pulp has been scooped out, rinse out squash.

Stuff the koosa with the above filling, leaving about ½ inch opening unfilled to allow rice to expand.

Place about 1 to 2 cups of the scooped out pulp like we do or if you used lamb, a layer of small lamb bones in the  bottom of pot.

Add seasonings over mixture and it’s time to place the stuffed squash (koosa) into the pot!

 

Add the tomatoes and enough water to barely cover koosa… I feel so ethnic!!!

For another flavor… try adding one or two teaspoons of dry mint for the last 15 minutes of cooking. 

 

 

Cover with lid and cook on low for about an hour (until koosa is tender and filling is cooked.

 

 

When finished, you can serve individually or cut into pieces like we did!  It looks wonderful, doesn’t it??

  Let me tell you… it’s tastes even better than it looks… And healthy too!!  Enjoy!

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What a busy couple of weeks it’s been!! There was a small birthday party for my 3 year old grandson and then a 2 week family vacation at the beach in Malibu.  Fabulous time!!

Most of the time we try to have small birthdays for the kids unless they are celebrating a milestone age.  Birthday parties are usually given at ages 1, 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21… depending on if they are still cool enough to hang out with Mom and Dad as they get older!!!  I wonder… does anyone else do this?  It just seems like too much to have major parties for every birthday when you have several kids or grandkids!  What are your birthday traditions???

This was an ‘off’ year so it was just family for dinner and cake.  My daughter, Kelly,  decided to do Nacho’s on the Table for the birthday party and what a hit it was!!  No recipe is needed… and there is so much fun to be had by all!

Start by buying a couple of those disposable plastic table cloths and a black magic marker… each guest chooses a seat and writes what they like on their nachos on the table cloth.

Then the hostess pours corn chips down the center of the table and starts adding the toppings.  As you go down the table you only top the chips with what the person at that seat likes.

Everyone eats with their hands and it’s such a fun way to have a dinner!!  The other grandkids are already asking if they can do this for their birthdays :).  Oh…. and clean up is so simple… just pick up the corners of the table cloth… wrap up… and throw away!!  No muss… no fuss!  I think this might become a new birthday tradition for us!  When you try this… and you know you will :)… use your imagination and ENJOY!!!

Happy Birthday Mason!!

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One of our Fat Bottomed Friends mentioned that she thought our Peachy Cobbler sounded great, but she couldn’t try it because she was allergic to cinnamon.  That got me thinking… and as promised, I got out my measuring spoons and my spices and got busy this weekend!!  My goal was to develop a cinnamon substitute for those of you who might be allergic to cinnamon.  It was fun…. I felt a little like a scientist!  I was careful not to use any allspice as many of those who have an allergy to cinnamon also are allergic to allspice.  After a few hours of taste testing… by George…. I think I’ve got it!  Who the heck IS George, anyway???

So… here you go.  I believe that we’ve come up with a very nice substitute for cinnamon, if you must.

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ginger

It’s Nuvegin… uh… Ginomeg or… Clovinut?  Surely someone can come up with a better name for this!! Why don’t we play ‘Name this spice’??  Mix spices well, then measure and use just like cinnamon.  I even added the mixture to some sugar and made mock-cinnamon toast.  I was pleasantly surprised at how different and good it tasted!  In fact, my husband even ate a second piece!  Mind you, this does NOT taste anything like cinnamon…. but it’s a nice way to add spice to apples, peaches and other like-dishes that call for cinnamon if you’re allergic!  Try it…. I think you’ll like it!! 🙂

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This is a guest post by my granddaughter, Kyleigh! I guess she has seen me taking pictures of my cooking lately and she knew something was up!  She has subscribed to our blog and when ever something new is posted she will call me and then wants to discuss it.  She has given me a few suggestions on doing things a little ‘better’.  She had a recipe of her own that she wanted to post, so I thought I’d give her a shot.  I’m not really sure about the name of her dish… I didn’t notice any nuts in the recipe…. I wonder what the ‘Nutty‘ is for???

Ingredients:

Graham Crackers

Honey

Bananas

First you take an empty glass with a flat bottom and crush the graham crackers on a paper plate.  On a different paper plate you need to drizzle some honey an then on yet another paper plate you should take a peeled banana and slice into bite size pieces.

Pick up a piece of the banana with a fork and pull through the honey so it is covered, then roll in the graham cracker crumbs and place on your serving plate.  Repeat until you have used all the banana.

Then she came up with this crazy idea and added some nutella to her honey plate!  “Nana! Look what I just dreamed up!!” She’s a gal after my own heart.  Try taking the banana pieces and cover with Nutella, then roll in graham cracker crumbs!

The Nutella covered pieces didn’t look quite as pretty on the plate… and the taste testers were a little wary…

But the final verdict was a happy one!!  This is a great recipe for the kids to do!!

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So, we’re strolling the aisles of the warehouse store….I say to the hubby…hey, do we need peaches at home? Not exactly the most earth shattering of conversations I agree, but hey, it’s Costco! The place where you have to buy so much of one item at a time that you’ll be eating it for the next 6 months unless you have a family the size of a football team…which we don’t, there are only 3 of us, so who knows why we’re even at the warehouse store??? Not to mention you need to have a pantry the size of a barn to store it all! Not a barn in sight in my neck of the ‘burbs…so I try really hard not to buy somethin’ before we really need it. Alas, old-timers disease must’ve had us in it’s painful grip that day. Neither one of us remembered we still had peaches from the last venture to the super-size store. So home we trot with 4 more large jars of these golden gems floating in luscious sweetness. So while hubs is hauling the stuff in I start cramming the loot in every available cupboard…and I do mean cramming, careful if you open a cupboard or the freezer at our house! I pull open the dog food drawer, (cuz that’s where I’m now storing overflow pasta sauce & peaches…makes perfect organizational sense, don’t ya think?) and what do I find but 3 jars of peaches! All of a sudden they’re not looking quite as deliciously golden and they’re looking a lot more like, oh crap, what am I gonna do with all these freakin’ peaches! No way are they fitting in the dog treat drawer! (yes his food is now in the garage…sorry Rocky.)

Guess it’s just time to get peachy.

Hey, that reminds me of  those peechee folders we had in High School! Totally random thought, it just flew in there. No worries, it’ll fly right back out.

So here’s a Peach of a Cobbler, I promise!

Ingredients:

  • Butter
  • 32 oz peaches with syrup or juice, do not drain
  • Yellow Cake Mix
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • More Butter
  • Brown Sugar (optional)

Now these are some pretty tuff instructions, so listen carefully…

 

 

Butter your dish.
I used a round casserole this time, but you can use a 9 x 13 if you like.

Open the peaches.

(I used a full 24 oz jar & about a 1/3 of another jar)

Dump the dry cake mix on top.
Don’t mix into peaches, just flatten it out a bit across the top.

Sprinkle on cinnamon,

use as much as you like.

Grate on some fresh nutmeg.

Or use ground if you don’t have a handy dandy nutmeg grater like this lucky girl!

Put generous pats of butter all over the top.

It looked like it needed something here…or perhaps I just had a craving…so I sprinkled on some brown sugar just for fun. Your call.

         

Bake at 375º  for 45 minutes to an hour. Watch it carefully after the 45 minutes. Depending on the size of the pan you use you may need to take a knife & poke down some of the cake mix on top down into the peach juices. Don’t worry you can’t mess this up.

See? Just look at all that golden bubbly goodness!

P.S. For the cookin’ in the wild crowd, try this in a dutch oven. It’s a winner!

I know, cuz I won a cooking competition at a boy scout outing with this one. Uhhh, I was a scout’s MOTHER, just to clarify. Personally, I was a Camp Fire Girl. Got the beads to prove it!

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Wine a little, you’ll feel better! Or so I’ve heard. Guess it depends on just how MUCH wine you drink whether you’ll feel better or not, hmmm? Two birthdays on the same day sounds like a good occassion to figure it out, don’t ya think? We sure did! Our friends are all a little wine-y, so at the suggestion of one of the birthday duo we decided to throw a Birthday Bocce Ball Tournament & Antipasto Party. I’m tellin’ ya, appetizers are the way to go if you’re having a party. Fix it before, put it on the table, let the guests help themselves. Then the hostess can get wine-y with all her rowdy friends! Wait…is that a country song? I don’t live in the country. Does it matter? Actually, I’m a REAL Housewife of Orange County! No caterers, no party planners, no florists, no hair stylist, no designer clothes. Forget what you see on TV, this is the way we really do it in the OC. Just, food, friends and wine.

First up, Prosciutto Wrapped Melon

Cube a ripe cantaloupe. Slice Prosciutto in strips lengthwise. Wrap around melon. Secure with fancy toothpick. Put on pretty blue plate. Okay, any color plate will do. That’s it.

Oh yeah, if you do this ahead of time (always a smart idea), stick this in the fridge until it’s party time.

Sweet & Sticky Stuffed Dates with Marscapone

Slice the date lengthwise down the middle, but not completely in half. Using a teaspoon, and your fingers, fill cavity with Marscapone Cheese. For those of you not familiar with this, Marscapone Cheese is an Italian cream cheese which is very rich, creamy and spreadable. Or stuffable, in this case!  Arrange on a plate, slap it on the table. Or place gently depending on how much you like the bowl you put it in. No refrigeration necessary if served within a few hours.

Antipasto Party Platter

No recipes here. I bought 3 types of good quality Salami, Olives from the deli, Pepperoncini‘s, cubed up some Provolone and Havarti, added a dish of Boconccini (fresh mozarella balls marinated in olive oil to the non-italians), shaved Parmesan and stuck a store-bought Pasta & Sun-Dried Tomato Salad in the center. Basically, buy what you like…that fits your budget and make it look pretty on your best platter!

Had so much fun shopping for stuff for this platter, I couldn’t get it all on the plate! So I had to make another small platter!

This one has Herbed Boconccini (balls again), Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Chunky sliced Genoa Salami, Giardiniera Hot Pickled Vegetables (straight out of a jar), some more Provolone, Crunchy (store-bought) Garlic Toast and Sun-Dried Tomato slices.

Bex Bruschetta

Make a few hours ahead.

A bunch of ripe, red, juicy Roma Tomatoes. I used 10. Quarter & seed them, then chop. 4-5 cloves fresh Garlic finely chopped. A handful of Fresh Basil. Hint: this stuff just doesn’t keep very long, so buy it fresh & use it fast! Add about a teaspoon of Kosher Salt to bring out the juiciness of the tomatoes, then get out your best Olive Oil, yes the good stuff…the stuff that cost more than your last bottle of perfume….don’t be stingy now, swirl it around the bowl a few times, then stir. Cover with plastic wrap and let the flavors marry…I, Tomato, take thee Basil…let it sit on the counter until you’re ready to serve. Don’t refrigerate. That’s not good for tomatoes, makes ’em mealy and destroys the flavor. At least that’s what they say….not sure who ‘they’ are…maybe the food police? Anyhooo, serve it up with those Crunchy Garlic Toasts you saw on the platter, or a freshly sliced baquette, whatever bread you want. Or just sit in front of the bowl with a spoon shoveling it into your mouth if you like. I think I saw someone doing this on Saturday! So I guess it was a hit. 🙂

That’s enough now, we’ve got plenty! Throw all those bowls & plates on the table. All right…place gently, it’s hard to stick a toothpick into broken crockery. The guests all brought an offering, so here’s the loaded table. Additions include: fruit, veggies & dips, pistachios, chips, crackers, salad, bread sticks, hummus, pita chips, red-pepper spread, and bread dipping oils.

Doesn’t it look tasty?

The Bocce Ball participants sure look happy. Yes, they are too playing Bocce Ball, I know it looks like they’re just drinking…there was a rule that you had to have a glass in hand when you threw, so really, these folks are just getting prepared for their next turn!

Now here’s some actual Bocce Ball! Okay, it looks more like a little discussion about who is closer, but I had to show you we really did play. I’m just not sure who won!  It wasn’t me.

The day after…

Here’s the UNloaded table! Guess I won’t buy those breadsticks again! ha!

 

 

 

 

 

One cheese platter destroyed.

 

 

 

Final Cork Count – 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead soldiers – 15

Some problem with that math somewhere….no I’m not telling you how many people there were….or weren’t…

No wine glasses were broken and no party guests were harmed in the making of this blog.

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