Eat!

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.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Lemon Supreme Bundt Cake

Lemon Supreme Bundt Cake
 From scratch is best. Fresh is a necessity.These are the rules I live by. Today, I broke my own rules. I opened some boxes and jars and made this wonderful Lemon Supreme Bundt Cake. I did this because I am not a great baker. But I am adventurous and willing to take chances. A few years ago I made a Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze. This cake is basically a twist on that cake. It is really pretty and so, so delicious!

If lemons aren’t your thing, you could use an orange cake mix, vanilla pudding and orange marmalade. Strawberry cake mix, vanilla or cheesecake pudding and strawberry jam would also make a lovely cake. You could really use any flavor combination as long as you maintain the exact same measures. You can also skip the filling.

Serves: 10-14 slices
Time:  Active time 10 minutes; Cook: 30-35 Minutes: Cooling time: varies-cake in a few hours
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, 2 mixing bowls, mixer, rubber spatulas, a 9x3 Bundt pan and a gallon plastic bag, a microwave safe bowl, Optional-a rolling pin or sturdy coffee cup, a gallon plastic bag, a knife, or  citrus peeler

 

Ingredients:

  • Flour/butter for the Bundt pan
  • 1 box of lemon cake mix (15.25 ounces)- I used Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Lemon Supreme
  • 1 package of lemon instant pudding (3.4 ounces) I used Jell-O Lemon
  • ⅛ish teaspoon of salt (a little less)
  • 1-16-ounce (pint) container of sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 10 oz jar of lemon curd-I used Dickinson’s
………………
  • 16 ounces jar of frosting -I used Duncan Hines Creamy Lemon Supreme
  • A little milk
  • Optional: Lemon Cooler Cookies -I used Pepperidge farm Snowball Citrus Cookies
  • Optional-a lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour the pan. Set aside.
  2. In one bowl, mix the sour cream, eggs, and oil until completely combined. Wash the beaters. 
  3.   In the other bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding and salt.
  4.  Add the wet to the dry and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the bowl. Make sure that no dry ingredients are on the bottom.  Beat on high speed for about 2 minutes. Allow the mix to rest for about 15 minutes. While the batter is resting, pour the lemon curd into one of the plastic bags.
  5.  Spoon about ⅓ of the batter the into prepared pan. Snip a corner from the curd filled bag. Pipe the curd around the cake. Make sure to keep the curd in the middle of the cake, away from either edge. Spoon the rest of the cake mix on top of the curd and allow to settle.
  6. Place the cake into the oven on the middle rack, bake for about 50-60 minutes. Turn the cake about half-way through baking. You can insert a knife close to the edge and it should come out clean. However, you may hit the lemon curd and so this method isn’t full proof. Just know your oven and begin checking at about 50 minutes.
  7.  Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes then cool it completely before frosting.
  8. To make the glaze, place the frosting in a microwave proof bowl and add a little bit of milk. Microwave for 10 seconds and stir. If it isn’t the consistency you want, stir in a tiny bit more milk and microwave again. Do this until it is the consistency you want. If you get it too runny, you can add a little cream cheese or confectioners’ sugar.
  9.  If you are using the cookies for decoration, place them into one of the plastic bags and crush them with the rolling pin or cup. Peel long strands of lemon peel. Pour the frosting over the cake and allow it to run down the sides. Sprinkle on the cookie crumbs and arrange the lemon peels on top of the cake.

 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

When we were little, we were not dirt poor, but we weren’t rich either. As an inexpensive way to make us feel special, my mom allowed us to make the dinner menu on our birthdays. (Shout out to my sister Dana for always asking for cereal.) I asked for fried chicken livers and fried eggplant. My birthdays were not so popular with my siblings, but it was my day. And I do what I want.

Eggplant Rollatini is an homage to my birthday presents. No chicken livers, but lots of eggplant. 

Some people sprinkle salt on their eggplants and allow them to sweat and then dry them off as a first step. Unnecessary extra work. Those same people bread and fry their eggplant slices. I’m not sure why. Maybe they’re bored. But I like mine this way. You will, too.


 Servings: 6-8
Time:  Prep: 20 minutes; Cook: 40 minutes; Rollatini in an hour
Hardware: Cutting board and large knife, measuring cups and spoons, a bowl, 11.5’x13 inch baking dish

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants-1 ½ pounds
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt &  pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½  cup mozzarella cheese
  • ½ + ½  cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons of basil pesto (I always make my own)
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce ( I used Mid’s Tomato Basil)
  • Fresh basil for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400˚. Wash the eggplant and remove any wax that might be on it. Slice it, long ways, into ⅓ inch thick slices.
  2. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. I needed two, but you can cook it in batches.
  3. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. While the eggplant is baking, mix the ricotta cheese, ½ cup of the Parmesan, the egg and the pesto.
  5. Spray the bottom of the glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  6. Salt and pepper both sides of each slice of eggplant. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the cheese onto the eggplant and spread it out to the other end. Roll the eggplant slice up starting with the big end. Lay the roll seam side down into the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
  7. Pour the sauce over the eggplant. Use the spatula  to make sure that all the eggplant is covered in sauce. Bake for 30 minutes then cover the top with the rest of the parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes or until the top is bubbly and the cheese is golden brown. Serve warm.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sausage with Olives and Grapes

Usually, my Thanksgiving menu has a theme. This year, it is nostalgia. The Creamed Peas reminded me of my maternal Grandma.

Sausage with Olives & Grapes
This dish reminds me of my paternal Grandfather. He lived alone and was much older than my other grandparents. My other cousins called him Mr. Baldinelli or Grandpa Baldinelli. I called him Joe. I don’t know how that came about. Who recalls how we get or give names? Sometimes, when I was in high school, I would skip class and ride the city bus over to visit him. We always made lunch. He wasn’t what you might call warm and grandpa-ish, but he appreciated that I came over. We didn’t have much to talk about, but we talked about the food we were making. He often made this dish. Sometimes, he added grape tomatoes and garlic. Sometimes, he served it over crusty bread and sometimes we ate it by itself. But always, he talked to me and I listened, and he was my Grandfather. After lunch, I would clean up and catch the city bus back to school so I could catch the school bus home. I miss him.

This would be a great Thanksgiving brunch dish or a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Use whatever kind of sausage you like. Sweet Italian sausage would be nice. I used wiejska kielbasa because Fehrenbacher's Artisan Sausage, our local artisan butcher, had them in the case. I wouldn't use anything spicy.

 

 

Servings: 4-8 depending on how you plan on serving it
Time:  Prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 45 Minutes;  Goodness in under an hour 
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a wooden spoon, a fork, a deep, non-stick skillet that can be used on the stove-top and in the oven-I like to use cast iron, a heavy potholder, a plate, a large, pretty serving dish

 Ingredients

  • ½  Spanish onion, about 4 ounces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound  of seedless red grapes with the stems removed
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata black olives
  • 1½ pounds of sausage
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (you can substitute chives or parsley) Save a little for garnish
  • 4 cups of prepared wild rice
  1.  Slice the onions as thinly as you possibly can. Preheat the oven to 450˚. Rinse the olives if they are canned or jarred.
  2. Cover the bottom of the skillet in oil. Heat over medium-high. Add the onions and sauté until the onions turn translucent and just begin to brown.
  3. Add the grapes and olives. Salt and pepper generously. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, stirring often.
  4. Poke the sausages all over and place them on top of the grape mixture. Sprinkle with fennel seeds. Place the skillet into the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Flip the sausage over about halfway through. Check and make sure they are thoroughly cooked.
  5. Remove the sausage from the skillet.
  6. Return the skillet to the stove-top on medium-high. Add the chopped fennel fronds to the grape mixture. Gently stir. Add the vinegar and water to the skillet and scrape up any little brown bits from the bottom. Allow to boil for a minute or so. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, slice the sausage, at an angle, into serving sized pieces. Fill the serving dish with the prepared, warm, wild rice. Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the grape mixture and place it on top of the rice. Save a spoonful for garnish. Top the grapes with the sausage. Pour all the liquid left in the skillet over everything. Top with the remaining grape mixture and the fronds you saved.

 

 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Creamed Peas

Creamed Peas


My grandmother poured milk in sweet peas whenever she made them. I’m sure that was leftover from her growing up during the depression when Creamed Peas on toast was a popular meal. We didn’t eat them over bread, we had them as a side dish with Sunday dinner. There is a reason Creamed Peas were popular. They are inexpensive, filling, easy to make and so delicious. Serve this as part of your Thanksgiving menu. You will definitely be thankful.

Creamed Peas are pretty good as is. If you want to change them up, I have given you a list of optional add-ins. Only use one add-in and one herb. I added in pearl onions and dried basil.

I also suggested you use frozen peas, but you can use canned peas if you want. Make sure to rinse them a few times and don’t over cook them. Canned peas can be mushy. These can be made ahead and gently rewarmed.

 

 

 

 

Servings: 6-8
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 10 Minutes;  Peas in 14 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a colander, a large pot for the peas, a saucepot, a whisk, a big silicone spatula and a large serving dish.

 Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of frozen, sweet English peas
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cream
  • ½  cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon peppep
  • Optional add-ins: ¼ cup cooked, baby pearl onions, ¼ cup cooked, sliced mushrooms, ⅛ cup chopped cooked ham, 1 teaspoon dried basil OR 1teaspoon dried parsley OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme OR ½ teaspoon dried mint
  1.  Cook the  peas according to package directions and drain. Place them into the serving dish.
  2. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk until the roux is the color of butter, about another minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream. Bring to a low boil. Stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the salt, pepper, sugar and add-ins and herbs, if you are using them.
  3. Fold the hot sauce over the drained peas. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve warm.