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PAMA™ Martini

Pomegranate liqueur makes a delicious and intoxicating martini. You can use any kind of pomegranate liqueur with this but we like to use PAMA™. These can be strong  so you can add less of the ingredients if you like or add ice to your drink. Either way it’s a great unique martini!
Here’s Sluggo about to enjoy one!

PAMA Martini

INGREDIENTS:
1½ ounce PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1½ ounce premium vodka
¼ ounce orange liqueur

DIRECTIONS:
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel or lemon slice.
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Cheryl’s Cheesecake

From the first time I tried this recipe I was in love. This is such a delicious New York style version. My friend Cheryl is like another sister or cousin and I am so happy she shared this recipe with me so many years ago! (At my first bridal shower I believe!) It is a simple plain, cheesy, creamy cake. I love to top it with my favorite fruit such as fresh strawberries! It is not a low-calorie dessert so if you were looking for one stop reading now! You will also need a good spring-form pan for this, a must for anyone making a cheesecake.

INGREDIENTS:

4- 8 ounce tubs of whipped cream cheese

¼ pound of unsalted butter

16 ounces sour cream (1 pint)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1½ cups sugar

5 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

1. Allow cream cheese, sour cream and butter to come to room temperature. In a large bowl, blend together all ingredients except sugar.

2. Beat eggs into mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

3. Pour mixture into a greased 10″ spring-form pan. Place spring-form pan into a large roasting pan that has been half filled with hot water.

4. Bake in a 375ºF oven for one hour. Cool in oven for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven and continue to cool.

5. When cool remove from spring-form pan carefully. Serve plain or top with your favorite fruit topping!

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Strufoli (Honey Balls)

This is a recipe that my grandmother (Nana) used to make for us years ago, usually around Easter. Though they are good at any time of the year for any occasion. The first time I made these it took me forever to roll each little ball. Then I talked to my Italian Aunt Rosie about making them and she laughed when I told her I rolled each little ball individually. She said that took way too long! She told me to roll the dough into long strips like giant pretzel rods and just cut them! Simple! These little honey balls are really good and bring back so many childhood memories. They stay fresh for a very long time and you can even freeze them for another time! (Without the honey of course!) They really are simple to make and always a hit.

Strufoli (Honey Balls)

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

2½ cups flour

½ cup honey

vegetable oil

colored nonpareil (confetti)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar,  and butter. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. The last ½ cup of flour can be added if necessary to make a smooth dough. Let dough stay in bowl, covered with a dish, for ½ hour.

2. Roll out portions of dough. Cut dough into strips, rounded like pretzels, then cut into ½-inch pieces.

3. Heat about 2½ inches of oil in the bottom of a pan or deep fryer. Fry the pieces of dough, a handful at a time. If you can do this in a frying basket, it will be easier to take them out. Place pieces on paper towels to drain.

4. Heat honey until just under the boiling point. Place strufoli in a bowl and drizzle honey over them, gently tossing. Arrange on a large platter and sprinkle with the nonpareil (confetti). You can shape into a mound on a large flat dish or into a wreath.


Makes about 150 little strufoli

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Leaner, Meaner Shrimp Scampi Follow-up

Hi everyone. Okay I made this dish tonight. It was delicious! It wasn’t so heavy as shrimp scampi sometimes is with all the butter and oil. The noodles were coated nicely and the parmesan cheese of course made it perfect. I also added fresh basil to the finished dish which gave it a great flavor as well. The recipe says it makes 2 servings and that is correct. If you have another dish to serve with it then you can stretch it to maybe 4 servings. And to try yet another dish I decided to try the “Braised Cucumbers” recipe I had seen the other day in Julie & Julia. I didn’t use real butter and it still came out very good! I am trying to cut calories so I used “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Mediterranean Style”. It was still delicious! And of course John added parmesan cheese to his. So I followed his lead and it was even better! Very tasty. I was surprised. The sauce turned into a sort of syrup and it was just a very different taste all around. I would make it again, though I may make it Italian by adding a little garlic. So a success for two new dishes tonight! Oh and by the way the name Leaner, Meaner Shrimp Scampi, was my stab at being witty. ♥

Leaner, Meaner Shrimp Scampi & Braised Cucumbers

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Leaner, Meaner Shrimp Scampi

One of my all time favorite shrimp dishes is Shrimp Scampi. I love the butter, the oil, the garlic and of course, the shrimp! I am actually going to make this recipe tonight. I found it today in my email from Hungry Girl. Who is Hungry Girl? I am sure some of you have heard of her lately or seen her on TV. She’s on Rachael Ray quite a bit as well as all the talk shows. She shows us a healthier way to eat all of our favorite dishes. I have to say that I use quite a lot of her recipes and love them all. I have all her cookbooks, there are three. One of the newest ingredients for me that she uses as a noodle/pasta substitute is “House Food Tofu Shirataki Noodle Substitute”. I  can hear some of you groaning…Tofu?? Yes, tofu. It’s not a horrible thing. Really!! When you prepare these noodles with sauces they are delicious. No they do not taste like real pasta, but they are still fantastic. Loaded with soy protein and fiber! GOOD!!! They come in pouches covered in water in the organic section of the produce department. I buy them all the time and use in casseroles, for fettuccine alfredo and a ton of other dishes. Today’s recipe calls for the Fettuccine style noodles. They come in spaghetti style and angel hair style as well. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my regular pasta but living with a carbophobe makes me nuts so I have to make substitutions.

(Check http://www.house-foods.com/Tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx for recipes and information) So tonight’s recipe is courtesy of Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien. I will take a picture and post it afterwards but for now I am including a picture of hers.

One more thing on this recipe that I really like. The shrimp calls for the tails removed! Hooray! This is one of my pet peeves. Why must the tails be left on with almost all shrimp dishes? Besides that it looks nice? Really? Is that the only reason?  I hate having to make a mess attempting to remove these tails while I am eating. Especially in a restaurant! Come on, cook without the tails! You’re not going to eat them anyway so why leave them on? Okay I feel better now!

INGREDIENTS:

1 small lemon

2 packages House Foods Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine Shaped Noodle Substitute

¼ cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon chopped garlic (I will add more garlic as we are LOVE garlic)

8 oz. raw shrimp, peeled, tails removed, deveined

1 plum tomato, chopped

1 tablespoons light whipped butter or light buttery spread (I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter w/Olive Oil)

2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

Optional: Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, chopped parsley, fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut lemon in half, and squeeze the juice from one half into a small dish; remove any seeds, and set aside. Cut the other half into wedges, and set those aside as well.

2. Use a strainer to rinse and drain shirataki noodles well. Pat dry. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 1 minute. Drain excess liquid. Dry as thoroughly as possible, using paper towels. Cut noodles up a bit, using kitchen shears if you have them. Set aside. (The noodles are very long so this is why you need to cut them up a little)

3. Bring a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray (butter flavored if you have it) to medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.

4. Add shrimp and tomato. Stirring occasionally, cook until shrimp are opaque, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and continue to cook and stir for 1 minute.

5. Raise heat to medium high, add shirataki noodles, and mix well. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, until entire dish is hot and shrimp cooked through. Add butter and stir.

6. Plate (or bowl) your scampi and top each serving with 1 teaspoon Parmesan topping. Garnish with lemon wedges and, if you like, season to taste with optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Makes 2 servings

Serving Size: ½ of recipe (about 1¾ cups)

POINTS® value: 5 (for all you WW fans)

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Black & Red Chili

I love chili. Even on a hot Florida evening I love chili. It is so simple to make and tastes even better the next day! I call mine red and black because I use red kidney beans and black beans. Lots of fiber and protein! Sometimes I like to add some brown rice to mine or even ditalini pasta.This recipe usually makes a big batch and will serve 4-6. It also freezes well so when you are searching the freezer or fridge for something to cook when you don’t have time, just defrost and heat! I think this recipe is pretty spicy too but of course my husband thinks otherwise!  Enjoy it with a cold beer or even a nice glass of wine! I make this at least once a month because it’s so good.

Black & Red Chili

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound ground beef, crumbled (your choice)

1 medium onion, chopped (I use Vidalia)

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Rotel tomatoes (your choice)

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes (fire-roasted are my choice)

¼ cup Basic Chili Seasoning (See past posting)

sour cream

shredded cheddar cheese

olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more.

2. Add the ground beef and cook till there’s no pink left, stirring well.

3. Add the drained beans and mix well. Heat through a few minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes and heat through. Add the chili seasoning and stir well.

5. Bring mixture to a boil, stir and lower heat to simmer. Cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes or more and stir occasionally.

6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

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Buying Fresh Fruits & Vegetables at Their Peak (Part 2)

As promised here is the list of when it is the best time to buy fresh vegetables, when they are in season.  What are the best vegetable to buy now? Or in 3 months from now?  Right now in Florida where I live the corn is just starting to come out where in the north it won’t be at its best until August or September. I remember when we spent the summers in Maine as kids and we couldn’t wait for August because we’d go to the farm stands and get all of that delicious sweet yellow and white corn, fresh from the farms. It was so crunchy and sweet and you could eat 2 or 3 ears at a sitting without any problem.  Some vegetables are great all year-long which is a good thing! I hope this information helps out when you’re shopping. Another thing when you are buying items at their peak they are usually the best price as well. So keep that in mind as well! Happy shopping and eat your veggies!

  • Artichokes: March-May: Look for heavy, compact, plump globes. Large tightly closed, fleshy leaf scales. Good green color. Heavy for size.
  • Asparagus: March-June: Look for tightly closed buds. Straight, tender, rich green stalks. Open tips and angular or ridged spears are signs of over maturity.
  • Green/Wax Beans: April-October: Look for crisp, long, straight, blemish-free pods.
  • Lima Beans: April-August: Look for bright color for the variety. Crisp, dark-green, well-filled pods.
  • Beets: June-October: Look for firm, round, smooth, deep red-colored roots. Fresh-looking tops. Avoid those with long roots and rough, scaly areas on surface, because they are tough, fibrous and strong flavored.
  • Belgian Endive: October-May: Look for firm without bruises. Color should be white with greenish cast.
  • Broccoli: October-May: Look for firm, closed, dark-green florets. Firm, tender stalks. Yellowing green-colored heads of broccoli are over mature.
  • Brussel Sprouts: October-November: Look for miniature, compact, bright-green heads.
  • Cabbage: All Year: Look for well-trimmed, solid heads. Heavy for size.
  • Carrots: All Year: Look for firm, bright-colored, smooth, clean, well-shaped. Avoid rough, cracked or green-tinged roots.
  • Cauliflower: September-November: Look for bright-green leaves enclosing firm, closely packed creamy-white curd or florets. Avoid bruised or open florets.
  • Celery: All Year: Look for fresh, crisp branches. Light green to green color. Should not have wilted, rough look or puffy feel to the stalk.
  • Corn: May-September: Look for fresh-leaved, green husks. Plump, milky kernels. Avoid cobs with small or large, dented or shrunken kernels.
  • Cucumbers: May-August: Look for bright, shiny green; firm; well-shaped.
  • Eggplant: August-September: Look for firm, heavy, smooth, even dark purple. Free of bruises or cuts.
  • Lettuce: All Year: Look for fresh green leaves with no wilted or bruised areas. Heading varieties of lettuce should be medium weight for size.
  • Mushrooms: November-April: Look for dry, firm caps and stems. Small brown spots or open caps are still good in flavor.
  • Okra: May-September: Should have tender, bright-green, bruise-free pods, less than 4½ inches long. Pale, faded, hard pods are tough and fibrous.
  • Onions: All Year: Look for well-shaped; hard; small necks. Dry paper skins. Free of green spots or green-depressed leathery areas. Crisp green tops. Two to three-inch bleached-white roots.
  • Parsnips: October-April: Should be small to medium size; smooth-skinned; firm. Decay and bruise free.
  • Peas: April-July: Look for well-filled, bright green. Swollen, light-colored or gray-flecked pods contain tough, starchy peas.
  • Peppers: All Year: Look for good shape; firm exterior; thick flesh and bright, glossy skin.
  • Potatoes (White): All Year: Should be fairly smooth; well-shaped; firm. Free of most blemishes. Avoid bruised, sprouting, shriveled or green-tinged.
  • Potatoes (Sweet): September-December: Look for thick, chunky, medium-sized with no bruises or decay. Should taper at the end.
  • Radishes: May-July: Look for medium-sized (¾-1 inch diameter); good red color; plump; round; firm; crisp. Bright-green tops.
  • Spinach: March-May: Look for large, bright, blemish-free leaves with good green color. Yellowing indicates the start of decay. Avoid leaves with coarse stems.
  • Squash (Summer): June-August: Look for bright color; smooth; glassy skin. Heavy for the size; firm; well-shaped.
  • Squash (Winter): September-November: Should be heavy for the size. Hard, good-colored, unblemished rind.
  • Tomatoes: May-August: Should be well-formed; blemish-free; plump. Over all rich red color and slight softness.
  • Turnips/Rutabagas: September-March: Should be small to medium size; smooth; firm; heavy. Few leaf scars at top and few fibrous roots at base. Purple-tinged white ones are turnips. Yellow-skinned, larger roots are rutabagas.

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Crab Cream Puffs.

I found this recipe over 15 years ago in a newsgroup online somewhere. It’s been a while since I’ve made them but they are so good that I think I’ll make them for my next party! They are certainly worth the extra effort it takes to make them. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can freeze the un-baked puffs and then bake them as needed! If you decide to do this make sure they are totally thawed out before baking or they will not puff up as much. To freeze them, place an entire baking sheet of un-baked puffs in the freezer for about 2 hours or until frozen solid. Once they are frozen they can be stored in a plastic bag or freezer container in your freezer!

This recipe also reminds me of a funny story when I made them last. I had made them and was serving at a get-together with some friends. (Kerry I think you’ll remember this!) My friend Kerry’s then husband John, insisted he hated crab meat and would never eat it. (same thing with lobster but that’s another story!) Well we knew if he tried them he’d like them. So we told him they were cheesy zucchini puffs. He believed us and ate about 6 of them before we told him the truth! He loved them, though he kept insisting he didn’t. Either way, they were delicious! They are pretty rich so go easy on them. Enjoy with a nice glass of Prosecco or Champagne!

Crab Cream Puffs

(Photo is for illustrative purposes only, I did not have a picture of my own so I found one closest to what they should look like)

INGREDIENTS:

10 ounces crab meat, drained & flaked

¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

3 green onions, chopped

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup water

½ cup butter

1 cup flour

4 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine the first five ingredients; stir well and set aside.

2. Combine water and butter in saucepan; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; add flour and stir vigorously until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a smooth ball. Constant mixing is very important to prevent the batter from sticking to the pan.

3. Remove from the heat and allow flour mixture to cool slightly so it doesn’t cook the eggs when added.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing with a strong spoon (wooden one) after each addition until the mixture is smooth.

5. Stir crab mixture in the pastry batter.

6. Drop batter by heaping teaspoons (not too big) onto ungreased baking sheet. A large cookie press or pastry bag with a large star tip could also be used to place the individual puffs on the baking sheet.

7. Bake fresh pastries at 400ºF (375ºF convection) for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350ºF (325ºF convection) and bake another 10 minutes.

Serve warm.

Makes 36 servings

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Pina Colada Delight

Who doesn’t like Piña Coladas? Nobody that I know! This recipe is a non-alcoholic version so it’s also kid friendly. I know my nieces love piña coladas so make lots to share!  Feel free to add some of your favorite rum to the mix though if you so choose! With the weather getting warmer there is nothing better than a frosty cold beverage to sip and  relax with! I make this using light ice cream and sugar-free syrups but again, feel free to go whole hog on it! Sit back and imagine you’re on a tropical beach or by the pool or on a cruise! (My fave!)

Pina Colada Delight

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup light vanilla ice cream

½ cup pineapple juice, cold

3 ounces sugar-free coconut syrup

2 tablespoons canned crushed pineapple in juice

2 cups crushed ice or 10-16 ice cubes


DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high-speed for about 30 seconds, until mixture is smooth and completely blended. Serve in a tall glass! Top with a piece of pineapple or cherry or fancy umbrella!

Makes 2 servings

** If you can’t find the sugar-free coconut syrup you can use the following: 3 ounces water, 1½ teaspoons coconut extract and 4-5 sugar-substitute packets.

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Tube Pound Cake

I had previously posted my first baking recipe for Girl Scouts, this is my sister Michele’s first recipe. For Girl Scouts as well. (Sorry Billy, it’s for Girl Scouts!) It’s another pound cake but made in a tube pan. It’s also a really easy recipe and is delicious. This cake is extremely moist and buttery, and it is better if allowed to stand for at least 4 hours before being served.


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups self-rising cake flour

4 eggs

1½ cups sugar

1 cup butter (½ pound)

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tube Pound Cake

DIRECTIONS:

1. DO NOT PRE-HEAT OVEN!!!!

2. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 20 minutes.

3. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 or 10 inch tube pan.

4. Place pan into cold oven and turn heat to 350ºF.  Bake for 1 hour or until cake tests done.

5. Cool on cake rack for 10 minutes then turn out of pan carefully and place topside down on rack until completely cooled. (At least an hour) Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar if desired.

**Coming Next Thursday: Cheryl’s Famous Cheesecake!

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