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Cooking for Two: Caprese Sauce on Basil Gnocchi

Cooking for Two: Caprese Sauce on Basil Gnocchi

Don’t you just love those caprese appetizers? Those little fresh mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes skewered on picks and drizzled with balsamic vinegar? So yummy! I decided to make a sauce based on those delightful, summery, picks-o-goodness! Only no toothpicks. Because that would be dangerous.

I picked up a package of basil gnocchi at our local World Market for this dish, but regular gnocchi should work also. I used “pearl” tomatoes – which are more golf-ball sized, so I’m not sure where the name came from! A couple of diced, seeded Roma tomatoes would work just dandy. Speaking of pearls, I wish I could have found those cute little pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls, but oh well!

1 – 16 oz. pkg. Basil Gnocchi

3-4 cloves Roasted Garlic

mozzarella balls, tomatoes, basil, caprese sauce

The sauce just needs to simmer a little longer to warm through!

¾ c white wine

1 tbl. Balsamic vinegar

1 tbl olive oil

3 small Tomatoes, cut in wedges and seeded

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/3 c chopped fresh basil (I use scissors)

12 fresh mozzarella balls (1 inch size –although I would have loved to have found the pearl-sized mozzarella)

SAUCE: Measure the wine and Balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan – add the roasted garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt & pepper and simmer 2 minutes longer. Put in the mozzarella balls and basil and warm through.

gnocchi, caprese sauce, basil, tomatoes, mozzarella balls

We ate every single bite!

GNOCCHI: Using only mountain spring water, hauled by hand in a copper bucket…kidding! Cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and stir gently. Serve immediately.

Note: I should have added a teaspoon of sugar to the sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar…next time!!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Recipe

 

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Guest Post: Mom’s Magic Meatloaf

Guest Post: Mom’s Magic Meatloaf

Your guest blogger today is my daughter, Andrea. I asked her to write a guest post because she as waxing poetic about my meatloaf recipe. Well, it’s sort of my recipe. Let’s put it this way: My mom put this recipe in a church cookbook a million years ago and this is the same recipe with my modifications. Andrea has a blog HERE. Follow her – she’s funny!

Fact: there is no way to make meatloaf look good in pictures.  I’m not claiming to be a master at the camera phone food technique, but I’m no slouch.  And meatloaf is one of those foods that just doesn’t photograph well.

But OH the taste!  Meaty and juicy and redolent with spices from the sauce you have slathered upon it.  We made meatloaf last night, and I insisted that it be my mom’s meatloaf.  Because everyone’s favorite meatloaf is almost invariably their mother’s.  Until you try this meatloaf and realize that your favorite meatloaf is actually from MY mother.  My husband declared it to be magic and said that he would be sending his very culinary minded brother the recipe.

Not only is this recipe full of delight and husband-pleasing goodness, but it is pretty quick and easy to come together.  Perfect for when you are trying to throw together dinner while the Seahawks game is paused and everyone is hungry and apparently no one in town knows how to go the speed limit to get you home in time for kick off.

Side note: I am trying out football this year, and this is fortunate as the Seahawks are having a very good year.  Go shiny pants, go!

The Seahawks won the game, but I think we won it even more because we were eating delicious meatloaf while sitting on the couch and they were running around in the wet and cold while wearing spandex.  I think it is clear who comes out on top in that comparison.

So the recipe is as follows:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 4 slices of bread, diced up (any old bread will do.  I think we de-crusted ours for maximal mushy texture)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ c chopped onion
  • 1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
  • Pepper, fresh ground, to taste

Combine all this goodness together.  Spray a large loaf pan with non-stick spray and press the meat mixture into the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Now, make the sauce by combining:

  • ½ c Ketchup
  • 1/3 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp allspice

We only had mustard seeds and allspice berries so we used our handy-dandy coffee spice grinder and put in a little extra of both.  The resulting concoction made our entire kitchen smell like happiness.

After 30 minutes in the oven, take out the meatloaf and carefully drain out any liquid that has built up.  You will be worried that you are setting yourself up for dry meatloaf as you are pouring all that juice into the sink, but believe me when I say that everything will be fine.  Just drain the meatloaf without dumping the whole thing into the sink, and you’re good.  Then slather that sauce you just made on the top of the meatloaf and pop it back in the oven to finish.  20-30 minutes- ours took 30 minutes.  Check your desired doneness with a meat thermometer.  Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before slicing.  Try not to actively salivate onto the meatloaf unless you aren’t planning to share.  I won’t blame you in the slightest if you want to keep the entire thing for yourself.

This is the only meatloaf picture I will subject you to.  You need to try it for yourself to really appreciate it.

This is the only meatloaf picture I will subject you to. You need to try it for yourself to really appreciate it.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Guest Blogger, Recipe

 

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A Recipe in Progress: Orzo & Red Rice

"I'm late - but dinner won't be!"

When they first came out, frozen dinners were a marvel of science; a product of convenience for the modern woman. Later they became a symbol of poor nutrition and of lack of finesse in the kitchen. Today, you can find frozen dinners that are tasty and healthy. One that I tried when I had a solo weekend was by Healthy Choice (I think) and called “Mediterranean Pasta.” I loved it! It had pasta, rice apples, cranberries, spinach – very flavorful. Naturally, it was discontinued, but not before I wrote down all the ingredients and attempted to re-create this dish for myself! As it says in the title of this post, it is a work in progress…

I still don’t think I have the spices down quite right – none were specifically mentioned on the package (curse them!), but who’s going to know the difference? They don’t make this one anymore! If this sounds like your kind of recipe, please give it a try and let me know what you thought; what changes you made; how it can be improved, etc.

And speaking of changes, I like the flavor of Swiss chard better than spinach and I added mushrooms (small, sliced Portabello mushrooms). I’m calling it “Orzo and Red Rice” because I already have a recipe I use with the original name.

Let’s talk about ingredients: Red rice is an interesting choice and you may need to look hard for it, but I think a wild rice would be an acceptable substitute, nutrition and texture-wise. Fontina cheese is similar to mozzarella, but I’ve also substituted smoked extra sharp cheddar – the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, so it is not a huge issue. Swiss chard is a fairly new vegetable for me – we bought a farm-share one summer and ended up with a lot of it. My research indicated that the stems are not eaten and the big vein down the middle should be removed, so that is how I prepare it. Also – a bunch makes a big pile of chard shards! Don’t panic because it will cook down in a few minutes. Like most of the other meatless main dish I make, my husband thinks it would be better if it included sausage or some other meat. Up to you! Apple juice was listed in the original ingredients’ list, but that is not something I keep around much. I usually end up buying a 3 pack of 100% apple juice in little boxes. (Hence, I chose 6 oz. as the amount of apple juice needed in the recipe!)

Ready to serve!

This recipe takes about 45 minutes, including prep., so it is very doable on a busy night. It all goes into one pot – in my case, a deep, 12 inch covered skillet (one of my most-used pans!), so you don’t have too much to clean up afterward- especially if you have a dog who will snap up that apple piece you dropped!

Be sure to let me know how/if you liked it and any other comments you wish to make!

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Asking for Feedback, Recipe

 

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My Husband Likes to Bake, So I Let Him: Raspberry Scones

It’s not that I don’t like to bake – I do! But my husband has developed a talent and drive to bake which I will not discourage! He particularly enjoys baking goodies for breakfast – scones, muffins, coffee cakes, etc. He was whining a bit that he loves the flavor and texture of scones made with King Arthur Scone mixes, but feels they are too expensive. (They are! They run between $7-$9 for a package that makes a dozen – crazy!) We have started buying King Arthur Flour when it is on sale – I can’t articulate the difference. Perhaps it is a finer grind of flour, a different type of wheat – but baked goods are just better when made with this brand. They have a website, so you can order items directly from the company, but you won’t save a penny and it will probably cost more, so look in your local grocery store if you are interested in using their products (or keep checking their site for sales). It is a nice website, though! In a moment of inspiration, he looked up scone recipes on the site and found one that would accommodate the ingredients we had on hand, without a  pre-breakfast dash to the grocery store!

Raspberry Scones made with King Arthur Flour

It was a blueberry scone recipe – we didn’t have any, and it called for vanilla yogurt – also absent from the larder. What we did have was raspberries and a container of Greek-style Honey Yogurt – both acceptable substitutes! It also listed almond flavoring and lemon zest – neither of which went into this  batch. I didn’t miss them and you won’t either! The recipe on this PDF is the altered double-batch version he made for us. They are “dropped” instead of kneaded and cut-style scones and was the way the recipe was written.The scones were sweet and had a lovely vanilla-raspberry flavor! No jam or butter needed – all that is built right into the scone!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in Recipe

 

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Gemelli Pasta with Bacon & Broccoli Rabe

While on a family visit to Michigan, my husband and I went to the local grocery store to pick up a few things for his mom. At the checkout stand were the usual impulse items: candy, gossip rags, magazines geared toward women and cooking magazines. One of the cooking magazines caught my eye – Cooking Light: 5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Recipes. It had a beautiful picture of grilled salmon with a chutney or something artfully drizzled on it – looked very yummy! I picked it up (just as the merchandiser intended, I know!) and flipped it open to a full page photograph of the finished result of the recipe I’m going to share with you in this post. No – I didn’t tear out the recipe and leave the rest of the magazine! How dare you suggest such a thing! No -I bought it, took it back to the in-law’s and proceeded to go over it with a yellow highlighter and post-it flags. Yes, really. There are quite a few tasty ideas in that magazine and you may see more of them here in the future!

They play a little fast and loose with the definition of “ingredient” in the magazine – spices, water, oil (or other cooking fat) are not included in the “5” promised by the title. And the 15 minute time frame is tossed right out the window. It is clearly typed below this particular recipe, “Prep: 4 min. Cook: 25 min.” I added that up and guess what? Yup – over 15 minutes! (Thank you 2nd grade math!) The prep time – set at 4 minutes, assumes you pre-sliced garlic, pre-cut up bacon, pre-trimmed broccoli rabe*, etc. No – I think it took me probably 45 minutes to pull this together, but that is not too bad in the scheme of things. As always, I altered the recipe – this time by adding quartered artichoke hearts, quartered grape tomatoes and serving with Parmesan cheese. If I had had any feta in the house, I would have ignored the Parmesan, added sliced black olives and sprinkled it liberally with feta cheese – but that will be for another time! For a PDF of the recipe that you can view and print, click here.

To be clear, everything ended up in the large skillet – mine is wok-like with a glass lid and I think it is sometimes referred to as a “chef’s pan” or the “everything pan” – I do use it a lot and rarely use regular skillets.

Gemelli Pasta-Broccoli Rabe-Bacon-Tomatoes-Artichoke Hearts...

*If you are confused about Broccoli Rabe, it is sometimes sold as “baby broccoli.”

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Recipe

 

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Breakfast is My Favorite Food: Banana Waffles

I am the first to admit that breakfast is my favorite food. Muffins? Yes, please! Eggs Benedict? Sure! Scones? I’ll take two to start! Bacon? >drool< It will come as no surprise that waffles are frequent menu items for our weekend breakfasts!

I recently had a over-ripe banana languishing on the counter – not enough to make bread or muffins, but just right for Banana Waffles!

Banana Waffles on a sunny Sunday morning!

The original recipe (from AllRecipes.com) called for bananas sliced onto batter in the waffle iron and did not include any oil. That is a recipe for disaster, waffle-wise! If your waffle sticks to the iron, it is no longer a waffle; it is a scramble. We made the recipe the first time as written, except that I mashed the banana and added it to the batter. When we opened the iron to remove the first one, both the top and bottom plates had waffle attached – not good! Lesson learned, we added canola oil for the next one. This made a very light, fluffy waffle! It had to be removed carefully – it clung to the bottom plate, but I was reluctant to add more oil. I’m guessing that this is due to the banana. (Note to self: write a paper on: The Transitive Properties of the Mashed Banana When Added to Waffle Recipe) By using a fork and teasing onto a large spatula, I avoided creating a scramble. The photo is from the second time we made the Banana Waffles – a sunny and warm Sunday morning! Breakfast on the veranda, anyone?

Banana Waffles

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mash banana in small bowl, add milk, oil and egg; stir to combine and break-up the egg. Use a wire whisk to stir the wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl; stirring until well blended. Heat/prepare waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add recommended amount of batter to the iron and cook until done. Remove carefully (as described above) and serve with butter & warm maple syrup.

Important Note: Your waffle will only be as good as the waffle iron you use! Please see my review of the Caphalon No-Peek Waffle Iron. Best. Waffle. Iron. Ever. I highly recommend this product!

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Information, Recipe

 

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How Do You Cook Corn on the Cob?

Yum! Fresh Sweet corn! One of the best flavors of summer!

Summer is here and one of the best things about this season is readily available fresh produce! Berries, peaches (soon, I hope!), green beans, peas, summer squash and corn on the cob – to name a few. Since I had some corn over the weekend, I thought I’d ask around to see what other people do with their sweet corn.

Do you boil or grill? Do you nuke it? Eat it raw?

How do you serve it? Do you use basics – butter, salt, pepper? Or do you experiment with other toppings? Do you use those little corn holder thingies or tough it out? Do you have those little corn shaped plates?

My way to cook sweet corn is simple. I husk the corn, removing the silks and breaking off any natural “handles” so it will fit into my pot. I put them in a pot of water, cover and bring to a boil. And then I turn off the heat and let stand in the hot water for at least 10 minutes to heat through. That’s it! We have those cute little plates – got them for a wedding gift, back in the day – but don’t always use them. I don’t use the holders – I think my fingertips are made of asbestos or something! We tend to go with straight butter (low-fat margarine, really) and salt and pepper. Basic, classic summer sweet corn!

Your turn! Tell me how you cook and eat your sweet corn…I’ll be waiting right here!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Asking for Feedback, Information, Recipe

 

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