Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dinner for the King

First I 'd like to say that my husband takes this all in stride (Thank God) but he is Italian. Some of you may already know the Kingliness of the Italian male. My husband was doted on by his Mom like the majority of Italian males out there. He expects the tradition to be continued in our house. I am good to him because he is a good man. But as far as servitude goes, well...
I made this lovely meal for him because I love him.

This morning I was a little daring and decided to make my own lasagna noodles. I have made pasta once before from a recipe. It did not turn out so good. I have read a lot of recipes so I know basically what goes in one. I have some semolina flour here so here is my creation. I have to say it was dry enough that it did not stick to the roller but soft enough to be pliable. How it would fare in a pot of boiling water I have no idea but in the lasagna it came out great.

Pasta dough

3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup semolina
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Make a mound of dry ingredients. Make a well in the center add egg and olive oil. Incorporate the flour slowly into the egg mixture with a fork. Work with hand into a ball. Use as much water as you need to make a pliable dough. Not too wet though. If it feels sticky it too wet. Knead for about ten minutes. Let rest 20 to 30 minutes. Roll out into lasagna noodles and lightly flour. Lay them flat and let them dry.

In my lasagna I have a layer of ricotta mixed with roasted garlic, eggs, romano, spinach, nutmeg and s/p. The next layer is ground beef with mozarella. The top has a light sprinkling of cheese.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins

At what point does a recipe become your own? Does anyone have the answer to this question? Is there any kind of standard anywhere? I would love to hear comments about that.

Anyway the inspiration for this recipe came from DeliciousDays. I changed quite a few ingredients and adapted it to US measurement. The idea of Nutella and bananas was 100 percent DeliciousDays idea. BRAVO for that because wow it is a delicious idea!

I know this may sound funny to some but I often have a similar concoction after dinner. I cut up a banana and put a dollop of sour cream on it and then drizzle about a teaspoon of chocolate syrup. It is a nutritious cure for my sweet tooth.

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour

In a mixing bowl or a large bowl cream the butter and the sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add mashed bananas and the chocolate hazelnut spread. In a seperate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk and combined dry ingredients alternately to the butter and sugar mixture. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes. Insert toothpick to check. If it comes out clean it is done.

I made 12 regular sized cupcakes and 36 minis.

For the kids I combined cream cheese and powdered sugar for the frosting.

For the adults I added some Frangelico to the frosting.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Chayote Salad

Looks like someone is missing their dentures.

I heard about chayote quite a while ago. I think Tyler Florence was making a chayote and pear salad. I tried to grow them in my garden about two years ago to no avail. I tried finding them in stores with no luck either. Recently I discovered they have been under my nose the whole time without me even knowing it. I found them at the Asian store in Rochester, once I recognized them. I also found them at the Indian store. I AM SO EXCITED to finally try them. The taste is kind of like a suash but definitely has more firmness than squash.

Chayote Salad

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 chayotes
1 tablespoon olive oil
handful of grape tomatoes

Boil chayote for about twenty minutes until tender. Let cool enough so that you can handle them. Cut in half and remove pit. Slice thinly or in matchsticks and combine all ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Every year I say that I am going to make a nice Spring like cake. Every year I end up doing a traditional recipe. This is a recipe for Polish Easter bread from Its called Martha's Mothers Babka Bread. Its an excellent recipe.


2 c. milk
1/2 lb. sweet butter
2 pck. dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
4 lg. eggs plus 4 yolks
1 c. sugar
1/2 T. salt
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1 t. vanilla
1 T. rum or brandy
9 c. sifted, unbleached flour
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. dark raisins
1 c. golden raisins

1 egg beaten with 1 t. water mixed with some flour

1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 t. water

Scald milk with the butter. Proof yeast with a little sugar til foamy. Beat the eggs with the sugar and salt til thick and add the zest, vanilla and liquor. combine milk and yeast adding flour 1 c. at a time. Mix in the raisins and almonds. Knead dough, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down the well risen dough and divide into 3 well greased babka pans. Let rise again til dough doubles (about 30 minutes). Egg wash the dough before putting into a preheated 350° oven for approximately 25-30 minutes or til golden brown. Remove from oven, cool completely and frost with the glaze.

Sept. '98

Note: I definitely had to raise it for a lot longer than it said. Use round 8 or 9 inch pans with high sides. If you use anything bigger make sure you tent it as the top will burn before the inside has a chance to finish baking.

Happy Easter

Friday, March 21, 2008


I had to make crepes for my husband for his long anticipated manicotti fest. I had a pile of crepes because I doubled the recipe. What was I thinking? I usually find some life for all those crepes. What would it be this time? Lets see I have asparagus that needs to be cooked... Oh yes and some smoked slamon... and "yogurt cream cheese". The yogurt cream cheese I had bought some time ago and was begging for a new life. BLING. There goes the light bulb. A sort of a sushi with those ingredients. My friend who was coming over the next day was presently surprised by my creation. We dipped them in wasabi mayonaise and or soy sauce with wasabi (I didnt have time to grate the ginger... or maybe I just forgot). Anyway here is the recipe. I am quite sure you could come up with many things to put in this. Would love to hear what ideas you have.


4 oz smoked salmon
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz. yogurt cheese or cream cheese
1 lb of asparagus, chopped small and cooked
2 scallions
1 recipe crepes

In food processor combine cream cheese, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and salmon. Process until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture on crepe and sprinkle asparagus across crepe in a line towards one end. Roll so the asparagus is in the center. Sprinkle with scallions.

Crepes (Julia Child recipe)

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
2 eggs

Combine all ingredients except butter and whisk until smooth. Melt butter and drizzle into mixture while you whisk. Pour into hot griddle by 1/4 cup fulls.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


My daughter wanted to invite all of her classmates to her birthday party in January. With all the people we had coming I said that we would have to do something special for them. The teacher suggested just the girls from her class. I thought that was a great idea. I invited the girls. Here are a few of them making hats for themselves.

This is the hat making station... my mothers idea! Good job Mom.

Brownies and White Chocolate, Chocolate Chippers from Picky Palate (thank you).

Here are the cupcakes that have already been posted (click here) but I had to put them in here for my daughter.

I have learned a lot from the blogging world so far and it has only been a short time. The greatest lesson has been that I have come to appreciate the beauty in my life a little bit more. When I first started I would look at other people's blogs and think 'wow, how cool it would be to... ' whatever it was. Then I thought well what is wonderful about my life that I could write about. So far I have been finding some beautiful things, such as my kids. Essentially that is a blog for me, talking about what you enjoy and celebrating your life, whatever or wherever that is!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


My husband is just waiting to dig into his dinner!

I had some wonton wrappers to use up. I was going to use them for easy make ravioli. This recipe I found had the great idea of using them to make raviolis. This would have been nice if I could get them to stick. I tried wetting them too. Maybe they just weren't fresh enough. I decided I'd use them as a cup for some kind of filling. The light bulb went off. (I love those moments).

Spinach Ricotta Cups

1 cup ricotta
1 egg
2 cups chopped cooked spinach
pinch of nutmeg
s and p
romano or parmesan
wonton wrappers

Combine all ingredients except cheese and wrappers. Press wrappers into mini muffin tins. Fill cups nearly full with mixture and sprinkle some parmesan on top. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. When wrappers brown on edges they are done.

Friday, March 14, 2008

BORSCHT from the Pole side of me

I am half Polish and half Italian. My father use to call us "Po wops". This is a soup my Babka and mother use to make. As a child I hated it. Beets tasted too earthy for me. As an adult its like a little bit of heaven. When I make it, I freeze individual servings for myself. My husband and children have not come to understand the virtues of red beet soup... yet. For now, I get it all to myself. Its a quick and satisfying lunch.

You can make it with or without meat. I like it both ways. The recipe here is with meat as this is how the beet soup in this picture was made.


1 lb of a chunk of beef, preferably a piece of chuck roast
5 cups of broth or water (that is approximately 3 cans of beef broth)
1 cup chopped onion
4 medium sized potatoes, cubed
a bunch of beets, about 5 beets the size of a tennis ball
the greens of the beets or spinach
white vinegar
sour cream

Saute onions in a soup pot, when translucent add the beef and braise. Add water or broth and potatoes to soup and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer the soup. Let it simmer until beef is tender. Approximately one hour. While the beef is simmering, shred the beets. I use a knuckle buster rather then the food processor. Chop the greens. Add beets and greens. Cook for another 1/2 hour. When soup is finished you can add white vinegar to taste. This is usually done to counter the sweetness of the beets. It is not necessary. You only need about a tablespoon but its to taste. Some people put heavy cream in at this point, which is very good. However, if you are trying to save your calories for cupcakes then go for a dollop of sour cream instead. I use 1/3 less fat sour cream and really like it. There are probably as many ways to make this soup as there are Russians and Poles.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Check out the cupcake spectacular!

Cupcakes Spectacular 2008

Just ask my two year old and five year old.

I am so excited. This is the first recipe for a sweet treat that I made up by myself. AND I had success.

I have always liked recipes with sour cream in them. They always seemed to come out very moist. So...


1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream butter and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy. Add coconut and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder. Mix into wet batter alternately with milk and sour cream. Fill greased mini muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for about 12 minutes. Makes about 48 little minis.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Pasta machine!

Painting olive oil on crackers.

Doesn't this look like South America?

Voila... yumminess

And oh so good crackers!

I have always wanted to make crackers. I did try once and it was a complete failure. I found this recipe on Sesame-Semolina Flatbreads. I just recently bought some semolina for pasta. But hey crackers are a great idea. I added some Lori touches... 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder and I omitted 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and added nigella seeds (a small seed from a flowering plant that grows in Asia. See wikipedia for a more detailed definition.) I have them in my house due to my recent interest in Indian cuisine.

The thing that really caught my attention about the recipe is that it uses a pasta roller to thin the dough. (You can use a rolling pin too). I have one and I have only used it once. I was so excited because I thought these might actually be successful. And, here's the bonus, my husband would see that the pasta machine really was a worthwhile investment. Triumphant!

from which was adapted from Savory Baking from the Mediterranean by Anissa Helou. See wildyeastblog for original recipe.

150 grams all purpose flour
150 grams semolina
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
170 grams lukewarm water
olive oil for brushing
kosher salt or pretzel salt for topping

Mix flour, semolina, sesame seeds,a nd salt in a mdeium bowl. Add water and mix. Knead on lightly floured surface for three minutes. Cover and let dough rest for about 15 minutes. Knead for another two minutes and let it rest for twenty.

Preheat oven to 450 F with a baking stone at the bottom of your oven.

You can go over the time limits and still get good results. Cut into 12 balls. Roll through pasta machine at about a setting of five. Cut into pieces if you want smaller crackers or leave whole and run through a setting of three. You can do a level of two but I found the best results at three. Place dough on parchment and brush with oil, then salt them. I used a peel to transfer the sheet of crackers to the stone.

It was a lot of fun and we all enjoyed them, dipping them into white bean hummus with pesto. More on that later.

Okay here it is.


2 cups cooked white beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup pesto (you can use storebought. I freeze mine in the summer)
salt to taste

Process all ingredients in processor. If dry add water a tablespoon at a time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cozy Up With Some Stew

Some stew is good for the soul, especially when the soul is encountering freezing rain and sleet. Temperatures were dropping yesterday and it was just plain yucky here last night. Its a good thing I planned out my stew the night before. I have to plan as I have a toddler. All kitchen prep work is done while my little lioness sleeps. I just find it too difficult to do prep work while holding onto a curious tot.

Anyway here is the recipe for last night. My inspiration had come from La Cucine Italiana, December 2006 or so. But I tweaked it so many times that dare I say I could call it my own.

Pasta and Chickpea Soup with Clams

1 cup dried chick peas or two cans drained chickpeas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked pasta, preferrably ditalini
1 ( 1 quart plus) large can clams and broth
1 rosemary sprig
6 cloves of garlic (yes you can use less if you want)
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
s and p to taste

Soak beans overnight. Drain and cover with water, 4 cloves of garlic, rosemary sprig, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender. I pureed nearly all of the beans but that is up to you. I prefer them pureed, almost like a hummus soup. Return to pan and add remaining cloves of garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, clams and clam broth. Remove rosemary sprig. Before serving drizzle with olive oil. We sprinkled some pecorino romano on it as well.

It was gone this morning when I opened the fridge. This is how I can really tell the success of a recipe here at my house.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I get so excited when I pull out chicken from my freezer. I think there are so many possibilities, what will I choose. I tell my friends who definitely are not foodies this and they think I am crazy. They are thinking oh what will I make today with a decidedly different tone.

I decided to use some mint that I just bought from the Asian store we have here locally. I have gone in this store a million times and have just found the fresh herb section. Its a big warehouse of a store so it isnt exactly laid out for marketing. I decided to go Greek.

I was inspired by familystylefood's website Meditteranean Barley. Wow, what an outstanding recipe. I did not have eggplants or cherry tomatoes available. I substituted sun dried tomatoes and roasted acorn squash. I also found that I needed to add a lot more liquid to my barley. As a finishing touch I sprinkled some pine nuts on top.

Greek Style Chicken Marinade

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped mint, aka chiffonade
4 cloves garlic. minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon oregano

Make little slices in the chicken to allow marinade to penetrate. Marinate from 1 hour to 24 hours in advance.

Mediterranean Barley Salad (see original post on Epicurious or familystylefood)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 c red onion, soaked in cold water for ten minutes
1/2 cup fresh mint, chiffonade
2 oz feta cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 acorn squash, diced and roasted
3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 1/4 cup pearl barley
4 cups plus broth and or water
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy bottom pot. Toast barley until fragrant three to five minutes. Add spices and heat until fragrant, about one more minute. Add 4 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Check periodically to see if it needs more water.

While barley is cooking roast vegetables and chop remaining ingredients. Combine reserved olive oil, lemon juice, chopped mint, pepper, sugar, garlic and red onion.

Finally, add four cups of the cooked barley to the mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

The amazingly great thing about this recipe is that you can add so many things.

Thank you to familystylefood for getting me into pearl barley. I had mainly used it for soup but now I have a new venue.