Monday, September 30, 2013

A more healthy bent...

Stacked Summer Vegetable Salad

3 medium yellow or green zucchini
Kosher salt
4 medium carrots
1/2 small red onion
1 - 2 cups torn leaf lettuce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
 Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


1. With a vegetable peeler or mandoline shave zucchini in thin strips. Salt lightly, then transfer to colander to drain, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, shave carrots in strips and thinly slice onion.

2. Rinse zucchini and drain in colander. To assemble salad, in a 2-quart square dish layer one-third each of zucchini, lettuce carrots, and onion. For dressing, in a glass measuring cup whisk together lemon juice and oil. Drizzle some of the dressing on layered vegetables. Repeat layering and dressing twice. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 12 hours before serving.

3. To serve, sprinkle salad with fresh dill and pepper. Cut salad in rectangles with a sharp knife; lift out with a spatula.

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another Q n E

I know, I know, not terribly healthy, but looks thing, though, make your own meatballs, sauce, even bread!

Meatball Sandwich Casserole

You will need:

1 bag of frozen meatballs (I use Mama Lucia Brand, personal preference)
1 jar of marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce if there isn't any marinara on hand
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Italian blend cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 loaf of fresh Italian bread, sliced

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400. Place entire bag of meatballs in pot with sauce (I also add garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste) and cook over medium heat until warmed completely through, about 10 minutes. Stir as needed to keep meatballs from sticking to pot. Once heated through remove from heat. Place meatballs in the center of a 9x13 baking dish, layer mozzarella and Italian blend cheeses over meatballs topping off with the Parmesan. Take the slices of Italian bread and line the pan all the way around with them so that they are kind of keeping the meatballs toward the center of the pan. The bread slices will be standing up in the pan as shown in the picture. You have creative freedom here with the can lightly butter and garlic the bread prior to placing it in the pan if you prefer or even brush lightly with olive oil and garlic. The choice is yours. I have made it plain and as noted above and all are delicious!

Place in oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, serve and enjoy! 

A side salad goes nicely with this quick meal!

Buon Appetito! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall is coming...

So, I saw this and it looked awesome, and seemed like a good fall/winter recipe to have on hand.

Loaded Potato Soup

1 package (12 oz) bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
6 cups chicken broth
2 lb baking potatoes, peeled, cubed
2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 container (8 oz) sour cream
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (10 oz)
3/4 cup sliced green onions 

In 12-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon; set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Cook onion in bacon drippings over medium-high heat 6 minutes or until almost tender.

In 6-quart Dutch oven, mix onion, broth and potatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.

Meanwhile, in same skillet, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour with whisk until smooth. Cook and stir 1 minute. Gradually stir in 2 cups of the milk. Pour milk mixture into potato mixture. Add remaining 2 cups milk, the salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with whisk, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.

Stir in ham, half of the bacon, the sour cream, 2 cups of the cheese and 1/2 cup of the green onions. Cook until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted. Evenly top individual servings with remaining bacon, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup green onions.

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Snippets #2...weekend getaway.

1)Awaiting "The Business", chillin' at The Grey Eagle in Asheville. 2)Entertaining the entertainer Joe Cruz at a concert in Waynesville. And 3)We amuse ourselves for hours with the not-as-easy-as-it-looks pool table in our cabin.

Cover band "The Business" was one of the best I have ever heard.

He seemed to find it amusing that as I was putting cash into his tip jar, I said "you do accept cash, I assume." Great wine bar (The Classic Wine Seller),
great piano playing.

Small cabin, but beautiful wood inside and out.

And some more random pics:

Great perch early in the morning or late in the evening...

Sometimes it's the simple things...the benefit of staying in a little cabin, you can cook (and save).  Steak, pasta, wine, the end.

And leftover steak works well for breakfast...

Lake Junaluska

Chapel on the lake.

Snippets of our weekend in the blue Ridge Mountains...part 1

Sunrise over Lake Junaluska. I may or may not have been a bit grumpy about having to get up so early, but it was certainly beautiful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Summer's coming to an end, but...

"Chilly" Cheeseburgers - Ice Cream Sandwich Sliders

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 cups chocolate ice cream
  • 16 ounces white chocolate or white confectionery coating
  • 1/3 cup (plus more) corn syrup
  • orange and green paste or gel food coloring
  • 1 tube Betty Crocker Red Cookie Icing
  • ......
  • 3 parchment paper lined baking sheets
  • 16 pieces of plastic wrap
  • 4 food handling gloves
  • 2 gallon sized zip top bags
  • 1 rolling pin
  • 1 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter
  • 1 2 1/2 inch square cookie cutter


Pour Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix into a mixing bowl. Add softened butter, and stir until well blended. Add 3 tablespoons milk and 2 eggs and stir just to combine. The dough will be very sticky and thick.

Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Sprinkle sesame seeds over half of the dough scoops.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 9-11 minutes until slightly golden brown around the bottom edge. As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, press down on the cookies without sesame seeds using a spatula in order to flatten them out. They will become the bottom buns of your burgers and will look much better with a flat bottom. Allow your cookie buns to cool completely.

Scoop out about 1/4 cup ice cream onto a piece of plastic wrap. Cover and press on the ice cream, forming it into a patty that is just slightly larger than the cookie buns. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Create a total of 16 ice cream burgers. Freeze them until firm, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the modeling chocolate to use cheese and lettuce. Place finely chopped pure white chocolate or white confectionery coating wafers in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 40 seconds, then stir, heat 30 more seconds then let sit for 1 minute. Stir vigorously. If needed, heat for 10 second increments, stirring after each, until melted. Allow chocolate to cool to between 88 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring often while it cools. Pour in corn syrup.

Stir quickly fully incorporating the corn syrup into the melted chocolate. If it seems dry, add more corn syrup a small amount at a time until it is smooth and pliable. If it's greasy, allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes, then knead until smooth, preferably on a marble or granite counter.

Knead the modeling chocolate until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and set at room temperature for an hour.

Divide and color half of the modeling chocolate using orange food coloring and the other half with green. I suggest you wear food handling gloves and knead in paste or gel food coloring until you get the desired shade for cheese and lettuce.

Cut slits on three sides of a gallon sized zip top bag. Set orange modeling chocolate in between plastic. Roll out to about 1/16th of an inch thickness. Do the same with the green modeling chocolate. Remove from the bag and set on a cutting board or counter top.

Use a 2 1/2 inch round cutter to cut 16 circles of green modeling chocolate. Use your fingers to flatten and crimp all around the edge of the circle creating the appearance of lettuce. Use a 2 1/2 inch square cutter to cut out 16 pieces of orange cheese. Pipe some Betty Crocker Red Cookie Icing on the underside of each bun. Set a piece of lettuce on each of the flattened bottom buns and a piece of cheese on the sesame seed speckled top buns.

Pipe a dab of red frosting in the center of the lettuce. Unwrap and set one frozen chocolate ice cream burger on top of the lettuce. Add a dab of red frosting to the center of the cheese and turn it upside down on to the burger and place in the freezer. Repeat, making a total of 16 Chilly Cheeseburgers. Freeze the ice cream sandwiches for at least an hour. If keeping longer, wrap each Chilly Cheeseburger individually in plastic wrap, put them in a large zip top bag, and store for up to several weeks in the freezer.

Serve the Chilly Cheeseburgers frozen, allowing them to warm up just a minute or two before biting into them.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

For those "lack of time" evenings...


1 pound Hamburger
1 Onion, chopped
4 1/2 ounces Can chopped chilies
1 can Mild enchilada sauce
10 1/2 ounces Golden mushroom soup
10 1/2 ounces Cheddar cheese soup
10 1/2 ounces Cream of mushroom soup
10 1/2 ounces Cream of celery soup
1 package tortilla chips
Brown hamburger and chopped onion, pour off grease. Put all ingredients in
crock pot except Doritos chips. Mix and cook low 4 to 6 hours. Last 15
minutes before you are ready to eat, add tortilla chips and stir.

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For our southern constituents...

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

The secret of this is not to stir anything. That's what makes your dumplings. When you dish it out, you have your dumplings on top. 

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded ( I use a store bought rotisserie chicken) 
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick of butter 
2 cups Bisquick 
2 cups whole milk
1 can cream of chicken soup (the herbed cream of chicken soup if you can find it)
3 teaspoons of chicken granules (I use Wylers)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon of salt or more to taste 

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Layer 1 - In 9 x 13 casserole dish, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Spread shredded chicken over butter. Sprinkle black pepper and dried sage over this layer. Do not stir.

Layer 2 - In small bowl, mix milk and Bisquick. Slowly pour all over chicken. Do not stir.

Layer 3 - In medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of chicken broth, chicken granules and soup. Once blended, slowly pour over the Bisquick layer. Do not Stir.

Bake casserole for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another Q n E



2 cans of crescent rolls
1 8oz package of cream cheese at room temp.
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350. Place a sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheet or baking pan. 

Open the crescent rolls carefully so as not to tear the dough. Do not will need to leave it in it's cylindrical shape. Slice the dough into pieces about 1/4 inch thick (as though you're slicing cookie dough). Place the slices on a cookie sheet. Now press the center in to make an indentation for the cream cheese filling.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese, regular sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and sour cream. Add a dollop of the mixture to the indentation you made in each circle of dough. I find that about a tbsp works well, but you can use as little or as much as you like. 

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. While the danish are baking, you can make a quick royal icing to drizzle over the tops. 

Drizzle for top:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp softened butter

Mix together the confectioner's sugar, milk and butter in a small bowl. Use a spoon to drizzle it over the tops of the danish, or you can put it into a small zip-top bag and snip of the corner for an easy "piping bag."

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Had to share...

Baked Fried Chicken

Place thawed chicken breast tenderloin strips in a bowl of milk. Let soak for 20-30 min.

Mix in a Gallon Size Ziploc or Large Bowl: 
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 T Season All
3/4 tsp Pepper
1 c. Flour
2 tsp. Paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1/2 stick of butter into a few pieces and place in a 9x13 pan. Melt butter in pre-heated oven.

Spread melted butter around the bottom of the pan. Lightly spray the pan, if needed, to make sure that there are no dry spots.

Shake excess milk off of chicken and completely coat each piece with the seasoning mix. You can either shake the chicken in the bag, until coated, or dip each piece in the bowl until coated.
Place each piece of chicken in the pan.

Cook for 20 min. Turn each piece of chicken and continue cooking for 20 more minutes, or until cooked through.

Buon Appetito!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tis the season, almost...

So, just a quick note. I usually prefer the from scratch type of recipes, but it looked good, and we're coming up on fall...and sometimes you just gotta make the easy ones... 

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze 

For the Cake: 
1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

For the Glaze: 
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons apple cider
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Empty the contents of the boxed cake mix and pumpkin puree into a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer or stand mixer beat until well incorporated. The batter will be very thick, but will come together nicely.

Pour batter into a greased 7 x 11 X 2 pan. This is the small, rectangular-sized pan from your Pyrex set. You know the set you had to have when you got married and rarely ever used all the pieces. Finally, you have a use for it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then flip onto a platter.

Make the glaze while you're waiting.

Combine powdered sugar, apple cider and pumpkin pie spice. Glaze should be thick but pourable. Add more sugar or cider if needed. Pour over the cake while still warm. Reserve some to pour over each slice when served.

Originally from:

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just because I liked the name...

So, yeah, probably not too healthy, but I'm sure it tastes pretty good. I just to post, because the recipe title made me chuckle.

White Trash Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can corn, drained
Small brick of Velveeta, cut into cubes
Tater Tots

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown beef and onion together then drain.

2. Spread beef mixture in bottom of a casserole dish. Layer soup, corn, Velveeta, and tater tots.

3. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until tater tots are golden brown.

Buon Appetito! (If you can with this one)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

From a friend.



22 REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups
3 cups of white chocolate chips
1-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

Line a 9x9 casserole dish with foil. Lightly spray it with cooking spray.

Arrange your Peanut Butter Cups on the bottom (16 total)

In a large sauce pan add your white chocolate chips & sweetened condensed milk and heat over medium low heat until all of the chocolate has melted.

Once everything is well combined immediately pour the chocolate/milk mixture over your peanut butter cups.

Chop the remaining 6 peanut butter cups into smaller pieces and spread evenly over the top of the mixture and press down slightly.

Let cool on the counter for a while and then cover with plastic and put in the fridge to cool completely. We've actually just stored our fudge in the fridge to keep it longer since it made so much!

Once it's cooled in the fridge for a couple of hours you can cut into bite sized pieces, or huge chunks... it's up to you.

Buon Appetito!

Some Italy pics just because...

Ortigia duomo (Siracusa)

Pantelleria, Sicilia

Punta Secca, Sicilia

Roccatederighi, Maremma Toscana, Tuscany

Salemi and Castello di Salemi, Sicily

Tempio Selinunte

tramonto da Citta del mare Terrasini PA.

Tropea, Calabria  Photo by efilpera

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finally did a wee bit o' cookin'...

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I had not had a great deal of time to experiment and cook on my own lately, so my posts have mostly been cool things people had sent me or I had seen while perusing recipes. The other night I did have time to make dinner, though, and I wanted to share it because it was an experiment, and it turned out great. My wife had mentioned doing an easy dinner of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches one night. So, I decided to go ahead and make the soup myself (as well as the bread, though we just ate it straight out of the oven and didn't mess with cheese sandwiches). It was actually tomato basil bisque, not tomato soup. Here's what I did for the soup:

3, 14.5oz cans of chicken stock
2, 6oz cans of tomato paste
2, 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 C cream
about 2 C fresh basil (roughly chopped)
about 1 T minced garlic
ground rosemary-
salt                       - all 3 to taste
garlic                  -
1/4 C flour
olive oil to coat pan

So, I realize that not all the ingredients have measurements, and I apologize for that. However, seasoning is really a "to taste" sort of thing as each palate is different. Anyway, I basically started with heating up the olive oil, and cooking the flour, then adding the cream (a basic roux), chicken stock, and minced garlic. Then I added the tomato paste, as it needs to cook a bit, as well. After that, I basically just added everything else, the crushed tomatoes, the rest of the stock, and the spices. After it had cooked down a bit, I hit it for just a few short bursts with the immersion blender. I just wanted some of the basil and crushed tomatoes a bit smaller, but I also wanted it to be somewhat thick and chunky. I let it simmer on low for about an hour, while stirring occasionally. Anyway, the family really liked it (my biggest critics), so I chalked it up as a a victory. Here are the pics:

Nothing like fresh basil, amazing (and it's from a buddy's garden)

Not promoting any particular brand, although I try to get low sodium, no msg, type of products.

The roux

Just about to immersion blend


Just added these bread pics for the heck of it (basic recipe below)

Finito, also

Breakin' bread

As I said, it was good. Sometimes it's the simple things...

Here's the quick bread recipe I used:

2 C warm water
2 T yeast
2 T sugar
2 t salt (we have totally switched to sea salt)
6 C flour 
Optional, top with fresh rosemary, sea salt, and fresh black pepper

Add yeast, sugar, and salt to water in mixing and stir. Let it sit for a minute until it gets a tough foamy. Put bowl on mixer and add the flour, mix just until it forms a ball. Knead for a minute then put in greased loaf pans, I used 1 round, and 1 loaf pan. Bake at 325° for about 35-45 minutes.

Buon Appetito!

Good n healthy, too.

Worlds Best Chocolate No Bake Bars
Looks so good, I bet you didn't guess they are GOOD FOR YOU!
Made with coconut oil & honey instead of sugar!

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
... 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (be sure to use unrefined for the coconut flavor)
2 cups dry oats (not instant)
1 C shredded coconut
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
1 t vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted. Pour into a 9x13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it's set, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the fridge. If they last that long!

Buon Appetito!

Looked pretty good, and pretty easy...

Almond Joy Brownie Bites

1 box of family size Chocolate Fudge brownie mix 
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk 
1 (14 oz.) bag coconut
1/4 C milk
1 C chocolate chips, melted
1/4 C almonds (or nuts), crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line (regular size, not mini) cupcake pan with paper liners. (Don't skip the paper liners as they make stick).

Make brownies according to package directions and pour batter only half way up the liners.

Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. While they are baking, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and milk together.

Remove brownies from oven and spoon on some sweetened coconut.

Place bake in oven and continue to bake an additional 14-16 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing the paper liners. Drizzle on the chocolate then sprinkle on the almonds.

Originally from:

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Not recipe, more of warning...

Always better to make your own food. Sadly, the family dinner has become all but obsolete. Check out the article attached to this pic below.