Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Maple Orange Glazed Ham

Here is a glazed ham for Easter.  This is really easy and very tasty. I recommend using the cloves, it makes a difference.

Servings: 8 to 10
Time:    Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 1 ½ -3 hours
Hardware:  Roasting pan, meat thermometer, foil, measuring spoons & cups, a saucepot, and a wooden spoon

Easter Ham

  • 5-8 pound fully cooked ham
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground brown mustard
  • Whole cloves (optional)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°
  2. Place the ham, fat side up, on the rack of the roasting pan.  If you want to you can stick cloves into the ham in rows about an inch apart. Cover the ham in foil.  Bake the ham for about 20 minutes per pound or until the thermometer reads 145°.
  3. While the ham is baking combine the remaining ingredients over medium high.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. About 20 minutes before the ham is done remove the foil and pour half of the glaze evenly over the top.  About 10 minutes later, pour rest of the glaze over the ham.
  5. Allow the ham to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. 

Menu:  Maple Orange Glazed Ham, Cheesy Potatoes, Cucumber Salad, Dinner Rolls, Floriberry Crumble

Floriberry Crumble

Strawberries, blueberries, and oranges are all grown in North Florida, where I have lived most of my life.  So this dessert is not necessarily healthy, but it does stick to my philosophy of trying to use local fresh food whenever possible.  It is perfect for Easter.

Servings: 8
Time: Prep: 15 min. Bake 25 min.
Hardware: Microwave safe bowl, cutting board & knives, measuring spoons & cups, a mixing bowl, a fork, a saucepan, a spoon, a wooden spoon, a baking sheet, foil, a rubber spatula, and 8 ramekins

  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cooking spray
  • vanilla ice cream
Fresh Floridian fruit makes this dessert special

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325° Cover the baking sheet in foil.  Set aside.
  2. Wash, slice, and hull the strawberries.  Rinse the blueberries.  Mix the fruit together and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter for 1 minute on 50% power in the microwave.
  4. In the mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats.  Pour in the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.  Set aside
  5. Over medium high, combine the sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in the orange juice and the vanilla. Bring to a boil.  Boil for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Spray the ramekins.  Divide the fruit evenly into the ramekins.  Pour the orange juice mixture over the fruit.  Top each crumble with the oat mixture.  Use the spatula to spread the crumble to the edge of the ramekin. 
  7. Place the ramekins on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
  8. Serve with ice cream.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Fire Roast Peppers

I often list fire-roasted peppers as an ingredient.  The best way to fire-roast a pepper is over an actual flame.  However, you can also achieve this in the oven. 

Servings: one pepper
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes;   Cooking:  10-15 minutes,  Resting:  5 minutes
Hardware:  A cutting board and knife, a roasting pan or cast iron skillet, tongs, a large plastic container, the sink

  • A bell pepper

1. Wash the pepper.  Cut it into quarters.  Remove the seeds and white ribs.

2.  Place the pepper skin side up in the skillet.

3.  Place the skillet on the top shelf under the broiler and roast until the pepper skin is blackened and blistered.

4. Cover the pepper with the plastic container and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

5. Rinse the pepper under running water while gently rubbing.  The skin should just rinse off.

6.  Now you have fire roasted peppers.  These can be used as sandwich ingredients, added to soup, tossed in salads or used in any of these recipes:   Italian Sammies, Stromboli, Italian Flatbread

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cuban Sandwich Sliders

Everyone loves Cuban sandwiches.  Contining with my re-imagining of popular recipes, I decided to make Cuban Sandwich Sliders.  The pork in real Cuban sandwiches is usually marinated in mojo sauce. I added the main ingredients in most mojo sauces to the ground pork.  Great idea!  Most of my recipes require tweaking and refining, but this one was perfect the first time.

Servings: 6 sliders
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 20 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a large mixing bowl, a large heavy bottomed skillet, a spatula, a paper towel covered plate, a baking sheet, and a butter knife 
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 pound ground pork 
  • ½ cup cracker crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon each salt & pepper
  • 6 slider buns (mini-hamburger buns, potato rolls, etc.)
  • ¼ pound Swiss cheese
  • ¼ pound ham cold cuts (I like Boar’s Head Tavern Ham)
  • 6 tablespoons of mustard
  • 12 dill pickle slices
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Mix the pork, 1 teaspoon olive oil, crumbs, egg, juices, and spices together in the mixing bowl.  It is best to do this by hand. 
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet on high.
  4. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and shape into ¼ inch patties.  Cook each patty on medium for 5 minutes and then turn.  Cook for 5 more minutes or until cooked all the way through. Check the thickest patty and make sure the center has no pink. Place on the plate to drain.
  5. Slice the cold cuts and cheese to fit the buns.
  6. Cut the buns open and spread with mustard. Top one half of each bun with a patty.  Top each sandwich with two pickle slices, a slice of cheese and a slice of ham.  
  7. Bake the sandwiches, open face, for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese completely melts.  Immediately close the sliders and press them down.
  8. Serve with a side of black beans and rice.
Cuban Sliders with Black Beans and Rice


Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.  I thought it would be fun to make a St. Patrick’s Day entry for the blog.  It is very important to me that each of the recipes here be original.  So, I began researching Irish food about a month ago.  I read and read and tested a couple of ideas.  I finally decided to make Irish potato pancakes (boxty) and Guinness lamb stew.  It was inedible.
I learned a good lesson from that.  It is important for the food you create to represent you as a person.  My father is a first generation American who grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood outside of Boston.  His influence is easy to see in my recipes.  My maternal grandfather was a Native-American, who grew up in the South West.  He was also a cook in the Navy during WWII.  The Navy trained their cooks and he could make pastries and bread.   He also liked to grow vegetables, especially hot peppers.  It is from him that I get my love of heat and using natural ingredients.  My maternal grandmother was a Southerner through and through.  She cooked every day for about 15 people on a very low budget.  My Grandma gave me all my practical experience in the kitchen.  She taught me how to make gravy, fry chicken, and to look into the cabinet, find four ingredients and make a feast. My mother was/is not a good cook.  Almost everything she prepares comes from a box and often doesn’t turn out anyway.    However, she probably gave me the best gift of all.  She allowed me to experiment in the kitchen.  She didn’t care if I made white bean and tuna fish salad (so gross.)  She and my step-father gamely ate it, even if she was complaining and giggling hysterically while she did so. She let me know that it was okay to make a mistake in the kitchen and to be brave and to take risks.
Which leads us to the inedible Irish food.  I am not Irish.  Not even a little.  I tried, it didn't work.  And so my St. Patty’s Day blog is a stromboli.  It is wonderful.  You can serve it with green beer.
Serves: 6-8
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a skillet, a bowl, a wooden spoon, a rolling pin, and a pizza stone or baking sheet, a clean tea towel, a microwave safe bowl, a pastry brush
Time: Resting time: an hour and 10 minutes, Prep time: 30-40 minutes, Baking time: 20-25 minutes
  • A 16 ounce raw, fresh pizza dough (can be found in the bakery section of most markets)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 fire roasted yellow or red bell pepper
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced spicy pepperoni
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ - ½ cup flour
  • (cooking spray if you are using a baking sheet)
  • marinara sauce for dipping
  1. Allow the pizza dough to rest in the bag, at room temperature, for an hour.
  2. While the dough is resting, heat the olive oil on medium high.  Add the washed spinach and stir just until the spinach wilts (2-3 minutes).  Allow the spinach to cool and squeeze as much water from it as you possibly can.  Chop the pepper into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  4. Punch the dough down and divide it in half.
  5. Roll out one half on a lightly floured surface.  Sprinkle with enough flour to keep anything from sticking. The dough is very elastic and will shrink back. Keep stretching and rolling until it is about 6 by 9 inches.
  6. Spread ¼ cup on the mozzarella cheese over the dough, leaving about an inch border on the long sides and one of the short sides. Then take half the salami and cover the cheese as if you were tiling a floor. Slightly overlap the edges of the salami, and layer it as evenly as possible.  Then cover the salami with half the spinach, spreading it out evenly. Layer half the prosciutto next. Sprinkle half the chopped pepper evenly over the prosciutto. The next layer is half the pepperoni. Finally sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese evenly over the pepperoni.
  7. Start from the short side without the border, and roll the dough up, jellyroll style, toward the short side with the border.  Use the one inch border to seal the stromboli.  Pinch the sides closed and fold under (toward the seam).  Make sure the seal is tight or you will have a big mess.  Lay the stromboli on the pizza stone or the greased baking sheet, seam side down. Cover with a slightly moist- NOT WET-tea towel while you make the second stromboli.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
  10. While the strombolis are baking, melt the butter and crushed garlic in the microwave.
  11. As soon as you remove the strombolis from the oven brush them with the garlic butter and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. 
  12. Allow the strombolis to rest for10 minutes before slicing.
  13. Offer your guest cold marinara sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Honey Glazed Pork Chops

Honey glazed pork chops are quick and delicious.  Just add a side salad and steamed veggies and voilà dinner in less than 30 minutes.
Servings: 4
Time:    Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 15 Minutes
Hardware:  measuring spoons, a microwave safe bowl, a whisk, a large, heavy bottomed skillet that can be used on the stove top & in the oven (I prefer cast iron), tongs, a meat thermometer, a plate, tinfoil
  • 4-bone in center cut pork chops (about 2 lbs)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Whisk the stock, honey, vinegar, and brown sugar together and place in the microwave for one minute on high. Stir until everything is melted and completely mixed together.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the skillet on medium high. 
  4. Sprinkle both sides of the chops with onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Place the chops into the hot pan without crowding them.  Allow the chops to sear for two minutes or until they have begun to brown.  Turn them with the tongs and sear them for 2 minutes on the other side.
  6. Pour the honey mixture over the chops.
  7. Put the chops, in the same pan, into the preheated oven.  Cook them for 5 to 7 minutes depending upon their thickness.
  8. Check the temperature with the meat thermometer.  Remove them when they reach 155°.  They will continue to cook as they rest.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven off.  Place the chops on a clean plate and loosely tent them with foil.  Allow them to rest for 5 minutes.  Place the pan (without the chops) back into the oven to keep the glaze warm.  Pour the glaze in the pan over the chops before serving.
Honey Glazed Pork Chops