Monthly Archives: April 2010

Basic Meat Filling

This is the basic meat filling to use with the stuffed plantains. It can also be used with stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage etc. The recipe calls for ground beef but you can also add ground sausage to the mix if you wish.

Ripe Plantain

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound lean ground beef (or ground pork)

3 chili peppers, finely chopped and seeded (any type of pepper you want is fine)

1 green pepper, finely chopped and seeded

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon wine vinegar

6 green olives stuffed with pimentos

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

hot sauce to taste

Stuffed Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a heavy pot, add 1 tablespoon oil and saute chili peppers, onion, green pepper and garlic for 10 minutes.

2. Add oregano, salt, vinegar and ground beef. Stir over high heat until meat loses its red color.

3. Turn heat to low. Add olives, capers and hot sauce. Mix and cook 30 minutes for beef or 1 hour for pork.

4. Let cool slightly so it won’t be too hot to handle when stuffing the plantains or other item.

Stuffed Cabbage

Mom & Grandma’s Stuffed Plantains

Stuffed plantains are one of my favorite recipes from when I was growing up. I haven’t made it in quite a while but maybe I will soon! My mother and grandmother used to make this quite often for us. It is a little involved but tastes so good it’s worth the trouble! They are filled with a delicious meat filling but you can also substitute shredded cheddar cheese for the meat filling.

INGREDIENTS:

6 whole ripe plantains, unpeeled and halved

2 quarts water

1½ tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Basic Meat Filling (recipe to follow in separate post)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Bring the water and 1½ tablespoons salt to a boil. Add plantains, cover and boil rapidly for 20 minutes. Drain, peel and mash together with the butter, ½ teaspoon salt and cornstarch. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Coat hands with cornstarch. Spread some of the plantain mixture on a flat surface (cutting board) and make a nest in the center. Stuff center with filling. Cover with plantain mixture and form into balls or mounds. Repeat to make 16 stuffings.

3. Fry in large pan until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with rice.

Serves 8

Spicy Garlic Barbecued Pork Ribs

Who doesn’t love barbecued ribs? Nobody that I know of! But when it comes to barbecuing them everyone tends to shy away because they “take so long”! No they don’t! Not how I do them anyway! For my recipe you do have to think ahead and marinate them overnight for the best results. You can also marinate them a few hours ahead of time, but overnight is best. I’ve searched and searched and watched and watched all the ways to have great barbecued ribs. The one recipe I found to be the best so far was from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. I tweaked her recipe to make it more Genua! These are also made to be cooked on a grill with charcoal. I’m sure they’ll be fine with a gas grill but we have charcoal. I also use either pork loin ribs or St. Louis Style ribs as we love to have meaty ribs! Don’t be scared by the amount of ingredients either. It’s not so bad. I am the first one to skip making a recipe because of the amount of ingredients! Remember it’s all for the marinade/sauce!

Spicy Garlic Barbecued Pork Ribs

INGREDIENTS:

3 racks of pork loin ribs or St. Louis Style ribs (6-8 lbs)

1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil

1 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)

6 cloves garlic, minced (you can add less if too much garlic for you)

1 tablespoon chili powder (you can add less if too spicy)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (you can add less if too spicy)

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (or you can use 1 tsp powder)

1/3 cup cider vinegar

½ cup tomato paste

½ cup honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

¼ cup orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat the vegetable or olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the onions and garlic for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.

2. Add the chili powder, ground cumin and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the zest and ginger and cook for an extra minute.

3. Add the vinegar, tomato paste, honey, mustard, soy sauce and orange juice and simmer uncovered on low heat for 15 minutes, until thick. Stirring occasionally.

4. Marinate the ribs in 2/3 of the sauce for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

5. When you are ready to grill prepare the grill with a single layer of hot coals and then add a few more coals 5 minutes before cooking, which will keep the fire going longer. Place the ribs on the grill and cook for about 25-30 minutes, turning once or twice to cook evenly on both sides. Brush with marinade as needed.

6. Check the ribs after 30 minutes. If they are still not ready (thicker ribs may take longer) just cook for another 5-10 minutes. Check to make sure they are to your liking. EAT!!

Layered Salad

This is a recipe that I am sure most people have had at least once at a party. Some call it seven layer salad also. I have added a few ingredients of my own so it comes out a little more than seven layers! The picture I have here is when I made it for my friend Dana’s baby shower back in 2004! I usually put this salad in a trifle dish but if you don’t have one you can use a large clear glass (9×12) baking dish. There are usually no leftovers either. If you want to cut some calories use light mayonnaise, 2% cheddar, turkey bacon, and a sugar substitute such as Splenda for the sugar.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head lettuce, torn into bite size pieces

1 cup celery, diced

4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced

10 oz. frozen peas

1 cup shredded carrots

1 small sweet onion, diced (or you can use red onion if you prefer)

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sugar

4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (or more if you like)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place lettuce in trifle dish or 9×12 dish. Layer remaining ingredients (except for mayonnaise, sugar and cheese)  in order given.

2. Add sugar to mayonnaise and spread over top of salad like frosting. Top with the shredded cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Buying Fresh Fruits & Vegetables at Their Peak (Part 1)

Like most of our local supermarkets we can usually get any kind of fruit or vegetable year round. Transportation improvements and storage facilities have aided in this. But if you want to get the most nutritional value and flavor from a fruit or vegetable it’s best to choose at the peak of their freshness. But what is fresh at what time of the year? I know when I lived in New York strawberry season was usually at its peak in June. But here in Florida it’s March and April. Different regions of the country have different growing seasons therefore some peaks of freshness may vary. I have put together a list of fruits and vegetables and when the best time is to enjoy them at their best! It’s a big list so I am going to break the list down to two posts. 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! This list will tell you which months are best for the freshest products and also what to look for when choosing your produce.

  • Apples:  September-May: Look for good color; firm to touch. Avoid those that are soft & mealy.
  • Apricots: June-July: Should be golden-yellow; plump; firm. Avoid pale yellow or green, very hard or soft, shriveled and wilted ones.
  • Avocados: All Year: They should yield to gentle pressure; vary in size, shape and color from green to black. Brown markings on skin do not lower quality.
  • Bananas: All Year: They should be firm; yellow touched with green. If needed, ripen at room temperature.
  • Blueberries: June-August: Should be firm; plump; full-colored; bright, clean, fresh appearance.
  • Cranberries: September-December: Should be firm; plump; full-colored; bright, clean, fresh appearance.
  • Strawberries: March-July/June-August: Should be firm; plump; full-colored; bright, clean, fresh appearance. Only strawberries should have hull (stem cap) attached when mature.
  • Cherries: May-June: Should have a fresh appearance; firm; good size for type of cherry.
  • Coconuts: September-March: Should be good weight for the size; milk inside still fluid. If no milk, coconuts are spoiled. Avoid ones with moldy or wet-looking eyes.
  • Figs: July-September: Should be fairly soft to touch. Use at once, spoils quickly. Sour odor indicates overripe fruit.
  • Grapefruit: October-June: Should be firm; well-rounded; heavy for the size; smooth textured. Avoid coarse, puffy, rough-skinned fruit.
  • Grapes: June- December: Should be fairly soft; tender; plump. Well-formed clusters with green, pliable stems. Darker varieties are free of green tinge; green grapes have a slight amber blush.
  • Kiwi: June-August: Should be soft to the touch, like avocados. Sometimes called Chinese gooseberries.
  • Lemons: All Year: Should be fairly firm; smooth and glossy-skinned; heavy for size.
  • Limes: May-October: Should be heavy for size. Green variety are more acidic than yellow.
  • Mangoes: April-August: Should be solid and not too soft to touch. Can vary in size from a plum to an apple and in color from yellow to red. Smooth skin often speckled with black. Green mangoes are sometimes used in cooking.
  • Cantaloupes: May-September- The color and aroma are best guides. Delicate aroma; thick netting that stands out; yellow-tinged skin under the netting. No evidence of stem at blossom end.
  • Casabas: July-October: Buttery-yellow, wrinkled rinds, lengthwise furrows.
  • Crenshaws: July-October: Yellow-gold rind; pleasant aroma.
  • Honeydews: February-October: Creamy, yellow rinds; pleasant aroma.
  • Persians: July-October: Thick webbing; gray-green to brown skin under webbing.
  • Watermelons: May-August: Dull surfaces with cream-colored undersides; symmetrical shape.
  • Nectarines/Peaches: June-September: Should be plump; fairly firm depending on type. Skin color white or yellow with a red blush.
  • Oranges: November-June: Should be heavy for size; firm; skins not too rough.
  • Papayas: All Year: Should be greenish-yellow to full yellow in color; flesh gives slightly when fruit pressed in palm of hand.
  • Pears: August-May: Should yield to gentle pressure at stem end. Color ranges from creamy yellow to russet. Ripen at room temperature.
  • Persimmons: October-May: Should be firm; shapely; plump; orange-red color; attached stem cap. Handle gently. Looks like a large red tomato in shape and firmness
  • Pineapples: February-August: Should have “piney” aroma; golden-yellow; slightly soft. Ripe when leaf is easily removed. Green fruit may not ripen properly. Over-mature fruit may show soft-watery darker spots on the base or sides.
  • Plums: June-September: Should be plump; full-covered, soft enough to yield to slight pressure. Softening at tip is usually a sign that fruit is mature. Avoid shriveled and hard plums.
  • Pomegranates: September-November: Should be thin-skinned; bright purple-red; looks fresh.
  • Tangerines/Tangelos: November-January/January-October: Should be deep orange or yellow; glossy skin. Loose skin. Overripe fruit has puffy, dry skin.

**Coming Next Week: Vegetable Peak Months!

Greek Dipping Sauce

I just came up with this recipe while looking for something to do with the crème fraîche I had just made a few days before. (Thanks Wendy!) I was having fish for dinner that night and usually I make my own tartar sauce but I wanted something different this time. This is what I cam up with. We used it on top of our pan-fried tilapia. But it’s perfect with fresh veggies as a dip or a sauce for lamb or anything you want to put it on!

Greek Dipping Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup crème fraîche* (recipe below)

6 oz. container Greek non-fat plain yogurt

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

1-2 cloves garlic (use 2 if you really like garlic)

1 teaspoon dried dill

juice of 1/2 lemon

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until all ingredients are mixed well.

Makes about 2 cups

CREME FRAICHE RECIPE

This recipe is courtesy of my friend Wendy Larsen.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place ingredients into a clean sterilized jar with a tight lid. Shake to combine and let stand at room temperature until thick, 24-48 hours.

2. Once thickened shake gently and then chill until you are ready to use it. Keeps up to 2 weeks in refrigerator.


**As Wendy told me, yes it is strange to have this sit on counter for 24-48 hours but it works and you won’t get sick. Don’t worry! It’s very cool once it’s all thickened!

Italian Margarita

One of my all time favorite drinks is the margarita. But when I discovered this recipe I was sold on a whole new version of the classic margarita. The only problem is that when I first made this drink it called for  Coconut Tequila. I had just bought a bottle of Margaritaville Coconut Tequila on a clearance shelf and decided to find out what to make with it. The only problem with this is that there was a reason it was on the clearance shelf. It was being discontinued and of course now that I fell in love with this drink I couldn’t find the tequila anymore!! Soooo I have improvised and came up with a recipe just as good.

I will give both versions in case by some chance you happen to come across the coconut tequila. Each version makes 2 drinks.


VERSION #1

INGREDIENTS:

3 oz. coconut tequila

1 oz. amaretto liqueur

8 oz. margarita mix (with our without alcohol)

DIRECTIONS:
Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 1/3 with ice. Shake and strain into martini or margarita glasses! Garnish with a maraschino cherry if you like!

Italian Margaritas

VERSION #2

INGREDIENTS:

1 oz. coconut flavored syrup (I use the sugar-free kind by DaVinci which you can find online or usually in stores like HomeGoods, Marshalls or TJMaxx)

1 oz. amaretto liqueur

2 oz. silver tequila

8 oz margarita mix (with or without alcohol)

DIRECTIONS:
Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 1/3 with ice. Shake and strain into martini or margarita glasses! Garnish with a maraschino cherry if you like!


(Amish) Friendship Bread

As promised here is the recipe for the actual Friendship Bread or Amish Friendship Bread as it’s called sometimes. Amish Friendship Bread has been around a long time, and some people claim that the recipe did indeed come from the Amish. However, there is no real connection to the Amish people. No matter where the original recipe came from, the fun is in the sharing. You create a bread mixture and after it is ready to bake you share some of the dough with your friends or family. You give your friends parts of the dough, and you keep some of it so that you can continue to make it. You can keep the chain going on your own, and your friends can start chains of it as well. No matter what, the Amish Friendship Bread is something that you can all share.

If you get a starter from a friend, you can easily follow the instructions that come with it. There are also so many things you can do with the mixture once you are ready to bake it! I will give some examples of what you can add to your bread at the end. It’s up to you, be creative! Have fun!!

Friendship Bread

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup starter mix

2/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl combine starter, oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir well.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

3. Stir dry ingredients into wet mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

4. Spoon mixture into 2 well greased loaf pans and bake in a 350º oven for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

VARIATIONS:

– use chopped pecans & dried apricots in place of the walnuts and chocolate chips

– substitute 1 teaspoon rum extract for the vanilla and add 1 cup of flaked coconut and 1 cup well-drained crushed pineapple

– substitute raisins for the chips

– omit the chips and add 1 cup applesauce and 1 cup raisins

– omit the chips and nuts, substitute 1 teaspoon nutmeg for the cinnamon and add 2 cups fresh blueberries

Mom’s Eggplant Parmigiana

This is a favorite of many people when it comes to Italian food. My Dad could eat it all the time if he could! It’s really a simple recipe, it just takes time to prepare. I found a copy of this recipe in my mother’s handwriting. It was written on a calendar planner page from December 31, 1953, 7 months after she married my Dad! It’s pretty wild to find a handwritten recipe from over 50 years ago! I am not sure where the recipe originally came from but I am going to guess it came from Nana, my Dad’s mother. I also notice that the eggplant is not breaded before frying making it a little different from most versions of the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large eggplant or 1 small ones

1 cup olive oil

1 ¼ cups of your favorite tomato based sauce (I use marinara sauce)

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

½ pound mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

DIRECTIONS:

1. Peel eggplant and cut into thin slices (round).

2. Fry in oil until brown and drain well on paper towels.

3. Place 1 layer of fried eggplant into a casserole dish (square 8×8 is good for this recipe), cover with sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place a layer of mozzarella cheese on top of that. Repeat procedure until all eggplant is used, ending with mozzarella cheese.

4. Bake in pre-heated 400º oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot. Serve with extra parmesan cheese for top.

Serves 4

**Coming Next Wednesday: Stuffed Plantains!

Juicy Soy & Garlic Infused Pork Chops

Yes there is such a thing as juicy pork chops. If you cook them the right way that is! My recipe is simple and takes only about 12 minutes to cook. I marinate them in the ingredients listed below a few hours or more before cooking. The longer the better. I make these quite a lot especially since I can get them at such a great price at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Using boneless pork loin chops also makes them juicier as they have a little fat on them.

Soy & Garlic Infused Pork Chops w/Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles

INGREDIENTS:

4 boneless pork loin chops (I usually get the ones that are about 1½-2 inches thick)

garlic powder

soy sauce (I use the light version)

paprika

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place pork chops in a container with a lid so they can be put in fridge to marinate. Poke  the pork chops with fork several times on both sides. This is so the soy sauce is infused better into the chops.

2. Sprinkle the pork chops liberally with the garlic powder and paprika on both sides.

3. Shake the soy sauce onto both sides of the pork chops until they are well coated and you have soy sauce in the bottom of container. Make sure they are all well coated.

4. Put in refrigerator for 2 hours or more. You can turn them once if you like to make sure the soy sauce gets all over.

5. Spray a broiling pan with cooking spray. Place pork chops on broiling pan and broil on high about 4 inches from the heat. Broil for 6 minutes and turn. Broil for another 6 minutes. Check the chops to make sure they are cooked through. You can use a meat thermometer also. I usually just cut them in the middle a little. If they need more cooking just cook for another minute. You don’t want to over cook!

Dining with Donald

Donald on Dining in and Out.

Cruise Ship Recipes at Home

How do I Make That?

Rachael Ray

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Joanne Eats Well With Others

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Garlic Girl

It's Not Just Popcorn!

BuzzFeed - Tasty

It's Not Just Popcorn!

An Edible Mosaic™

It's Not Just Popcorn!

StephenKing.com - Latest News

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Food52

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Big Bear's Wife

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

It's Not Just Popcorn!

The Weekend Gourmet

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Skinnytaste

It's Not Just Popcorn!

What's Cooking at the Genua's?

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Chef in Training

A great place to find easy, delicious and family friendly recipes.

The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time

that's what she eats.

aubrey johansen.

Simply Recipes

It's Not Just Popcorn!

It's Not Just Popcorn!

overdeepblueseas

OVER DEEP BLUE SEAS BLOG @ WordPress.com

Sluggo's Escapades

What's Sluggo up to today?

RavieNomNoms

A Girl, Her Blog, and Lots of Food Pictures!

%d bloggers like this: