Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hershey's Brownie Pie a'la Mode

So, how could I do a pie week without including a decadent chocolate something from Hershey? Clearly, this recipe fits the bill. If you ever need a chocolate fix, I think this should be your 'go to' dessert! Don't forget the chocolate sauce. That's what puts it over the top!!

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons water
1-1/3 cups HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped nuts(optional)
FUDGE SAUCE(recipe follows, optional)
Ice cream(any flavor)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch pie plate.
2. Combine sugar, butter and water in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Immediately add chocolate chips; stir until melted. Add eggs; beat with spoon until well blended.
3. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to chocolate mixture, stirring until well blended. Stir in vanilla and nuts, if desired; pour into prepared pie plate.
4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until almost set. (Pie will not test done in center.) Cool. Prepare FUDGE SAUCE, if desired. Top pie with scoops of ice cream and prepared sauce. 8 to 10 servings.

1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Combine all ingredients in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until hot. Using whisk, beat until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. About 1-1/2 cups sauce.

CONVENTIONAL METHOD: Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cherry Cheese Pie

I've always felt a strong connection to my grandfather, Pop Maloney. Maybe it's because he also loved to bake. Maybe it's because I was born on his birthday. Whatever the reason, I'm glad to have known him, if only for a short time.
This is his recipe and it has become a staple in my family for every holiday gathering (made famous by my sister, Maureen). It's one of my all time favorite desserts!! Thanx Pop.

1 pie crust or half the recipe for Easy Pie Crust
1 can cherry pie filling
1 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese
8 tbs sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 can evaporated milk
3 tbs flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350. Line pie plate with crust. Flute the crust to make a decorative edge. Spread pie filling over bottom. Cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla. Slowly pour cheese mixture over filling. Sprinkle cinnamon over top. Bake for one hour or until set.

Clearly you could use any other favorite pie filling, such as raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, peach, or pineapple.
Be very careful when transporting the unbaked pie to the oven. It's super easy to spill as you walk across the kitchen with a pie filled with liquid. An easy way to prevent this is to open your oven and pull the center rack out a little so you can get to it. Before you pour the cheese mixture over the filling, place your pie plate with fruit filling on the rack. Pour your cheese mixture over the filling and sprinkle with cinnamon as usual. Then carefully slide the oven rack back in. No need to worry about spilling!
I always put a baking sheet or a sheet of foil on the rack below the pie because I have a habit of over filling the pie and it sometimes bakes over.
I always use a Pyrex pie plate, which is deeper than a regular 9" pie plate, just because I like more cherry filling in the pie. My Mom used to make 2 pies at a time, and she'd split one jar of pie filling between the two pies.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

Here are some interesting facts:

In acting, it was common for a crowd of extras to shout the word "rhubarb" repeatedly and out of step with each other, to cause the effect of general hubbub. As a result, the word "rhubarb" is sometimes used to refer to irrelevant chatter by a chorus or crowd of extra actors.

In Baseball, the term "rhubarb" is an old-timey reference to a fight amongst many players. The iconic bench-clearing brawl is known as a "rhubarb".

In the 1989 film Batman, The Joker tells Bruce Wayne to "never rub another man's rhubarb". The term was used as a threat to Bruce Wayne, warning him to leave both men's love interest alone.

In Canada, the phrase "putting it in the rhubarb" describes driving a vehicle off the road, possibly into roadside vegetation.

When I think of rhubarb, I don't think of a hubbub or a brawl or a threat or driving a car. I think of that amazing extremely tart tasting plant that looks like "red celery stalks" and is WONDERFUL in pies and jams. It's famously paired with strawberries but stands beautifully on its own.
This recipe is a different twist on the usual rhubarb pie. It's creamy and delicious, with a yummy crumb topping.

Pie Filling:
one pie crust or half the recipe for Easy Pie Crust
4 c rhubarb, cubed
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1 c sour cream

Crumb Topping:
1/2 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c butter

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a pie plate with pie crust. Flute the crust to make a decorative edge. Arrange rhubarb in unbaked pie shell. Mix sugar and flour; blend in sour cream and pour evenly over mixture. Blend topping ingredients till crumbly. Sprinkle crumbs over rhubarb. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, then at 350F for an additional 30 minutes till fruit is tender, filling set and crumb topping golden and bubbly.

Seriously, it's all about the brown sugar crumb topping. 'Nuff said.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blueberry Apple Pie

What's your favorite kind of pie? If someone were to pose that question to me, I'd have to say, hands down, it's apple, with blueberry running a close second. What could be better than to put them both together?? Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream while it's still warm, and I'm in heaven! It just doesn't get any better than this.

pastry for a two crust 9" pie
4 macintosh apples
1 pint blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
cinnamon to taste
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Using either a ready made pie crust or my Easy Pie Crust, line a deep dish pie plate with one pie crust, making sure to let it hang over the edges about an inch. Set aside.
Peel, core, and chop apples into small dice. Pick over berries to remove any stems. In a mixing bowl, place apples, berries, sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt. Using a rubber spatula, GENTLY toss ingredients together, being careful not to smash the berries. Pour apple-berry mixture into prepared pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces and place over top of apple-berry mixture.
Place second pie crust on top. Fold top crust under lower crust to form a ridge. Flute to make a decorative edge. Cut slits in top to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Bake 30-35 minutes more or until crust is golden. Cool on rack.

Instead of just cutting slits in your top crust, try weaving your pie crust like I did for the picture. To learn how, watch my video, How To Make a Lattice Top.
Use as much or as little cinnamon as you like. I usually just get the container of ground cinnamon and do a few shakes across the bowl just before I toss everything together.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Gooey Butter Cake-Off

For years and years, I've looked for the right recipe for Gooey Butter Cake. When I say "the right recipe", I mean the one I can use as the standard against which all others are compared. Well, usually, I'd only find a recipe that uses a cake mix as its base. Even Her Highness, Paula Deen, uses a yellow cake mix to make hers. Somehow this didn't sit right with me. Sorry, Miss Paula. I wanted to make it from scratch!
Well, lo and behold, I finally found a recipe that makes its base from scratch. But wait! The cake mix recipe has cream cheese in it....and the scratch recipe uses corn syrup. Hmm....which one is authentic? Which one is the REAL Gooey Butter Cake? How does one decide?
So then I decided to do some research to find out where the recipe originated. As it turns out, it comes to us from St Louis, MO, supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a St. Louis-area German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but inadvertently reversed the proportions of sugar and flour. Hmm...that still doesn't tell me which on is the REAL one.
I also found out that The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission includes a recipe for the cake on its website, and it uses cake mix and cream cheese. But, according to my research, almost all bakeries in the greater Saint Louis area use a recipe based on corn syrup with no cake mix or cream cheese involved. Clearly, the only way to decide which was the "right recipe" was to have a Gooey Butter Cake-Off! And so it began.
I made both recipes, the mix and the scratch. The mix was clearly easier to make, but the batter for the scratch was clearly much more buttery and in my opinion, much tastier. The scratch seemed to take a long while to bake, and they both turned out to be much darker than I had expected by the time the center had finally set.
So I brought both cakes to a family gathering. Jeanie, Denny, Cathy and I all thought that the scratch recipe was much better, but that's not how the rest of the crowd saw it. Everyone else seemed to like the mix recipe. I think it was the cream cheese that pushed it over the edge. Ginger said she didn't even want to finish the piece of scratch cake, but she wanted to eat the entire mix cake. So there you have it. If you'd like to conduct your own Gooey Butter Cake-Off, please tell me your results!! Here are both recipes.

The Mix- (the one on the left)
Gooey Butter Cake
2 pkgs yellow cake mix
1/2 lb butter melted
4 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
8 oz cream cheese

Combine the first three ingredients. Mix well. Place into a 9x13 pan. Press the layer in evenly. Beat the last 3 ingredients together very well, until very light. Pour over the top of the dough layer in the baking pan. Bake 45 - 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely before serving.

The Scratch-(the one on the right)
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
1 c all-purpose flour
3 tbs sugar
1/3 c butter or margarine
1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c butter or margarine
1/4 c light corn syrup
1 egg
1 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c evaporated milk
powdered sugar; optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour and 3 tablespoons sugar. Cut in 1/3 cup butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Pat in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. For the filling, beat the 1 1/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup butter until combined. Beat in the corn syrup and egg just until combined. Add the 1 cup flour and evaporated milk alternately, beating just until combined (batter will appear slightly curdled). Pour into crust-lined pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until cake is nearly firm when you shake it. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Remove to a serving plate; sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar, if you like.

I used a golden butter cake mix instead of yellow cake mix, and I increased the scratch recipe by half and used a 9x13 pan.
Big thanx to everyone in my family for being my tasters!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hershey's Cocoa Chocolate Shake

As I was browsing through some recipes, trying to decide which recipe to post, I realized that it's been quite some time since I posted a Hershey's recipe. Clearly, I've been neglecting the chocoholics of the world. I'll try not to let that happen again! Hopefully this will make up for it. This is the perfect thing for a warm summer night. It really hits the spot!

1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chocolate or vanilla ice cream

1. Place water, cocoa and sugar in blender container. Cover; blend briefly on low speed. Add milk.

2. Cover; blend on high speed until thoroughly blended. Add ice cream. Cover; blend until smooth. Serve immediately. About three 6-ounce servings.

Thought from Joey:
Is anyone else thinking Kahlua? Who's with me????

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dina's Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Dina is another one of my most favorite people on the entire planet, and she just happens to be a fabulous cook. Every time I stop over for a visit, we inevitably wind up talking about food and whatever new recipes we've tried and cooking shows and such. She recently made this vinaigrette for Tricia's bridal shower and it was a big hit. I'm so glad she shared it with me! Thanx Dina!

Here's the recipe for the salad dressing. It should yield you about 2 cups, enough to dress a couple pounds of lettuce - if you need more just double it! I used baby spinach for Tricia's shower. Enjoy! (P.S. If you're not into mayo, omit it and just add a bit more honey!)
Love, Dina

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup vinegar (red, white, or cider)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together mustard, mayo, vinegar, honey, salt & pepper. Gradually
whisk in the oil. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Note from Joey:
When I made it, I didn't have the exact ingredients, but I used what I had on hand and it all worked. I used regular vegetable oil instead of olive oil. I used half cider vinegar and half white vinegar. And I doubled the amount of honey, just because I like a sweeter dressing. My friend, Paul, loved it so much he said he wanted to bathe in it. It's THAT good!!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stuffed Peppers

I asked Michael what his favorite food is, and to my surprise, he said "Stuffed Peppers." Really? Seriously? I guess I was expecting him to say pizza or spaghetti or French fries or something. I thought, "Well, alrighty then! Stuffed peppers it is!" So, Michael, this recipe is for you. But you have to PROMISE me that you'll make it. You can totally do this!!

6 lg green peppers
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
16 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 c uncooked rice
3/4 c water
salt and pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
a good handful of fresh parsley, chopped
10 or 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Favorite Marinara Sauce or your favorite tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350.
Cut tops from green peppers; discard seeds and membranes. Chop enough of the tops to make 1/4 cup, set aside. Cook the whole green peppers, uncovered, in boiling water for 5 minutes, invert to drain well. In a skillet, cook ground beef, onion and the 1/4 cup chopped green pepper until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Drain off excess fat. Add undrained tomatoes, uncooked rice, water, salt, pepper , Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and basil. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Stuff peppers with meat mixture. Cover tops with marinara sauce and bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.

To save time, brown and drain the beef and vegetables as directed, stir in a cup of cooked rice along with herbs and spices, and omit the 3/4 cup water. Then stuff the peppers and bake them as usual. This would be the perfect way to use up some leftover rice after you've ordered Chinese food.
You can also substitute a 1/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup for the crushed tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Layered Taco Dip

I honestly don't know where I got this recipe, but every time I make it, it disappears in no time flat. I seem to vaguely remember going through my sister Maureen's recipe cards when I first moved into my own apartment about a million years ago (just because I wanted to build a recipe collection). Maybe that's where I got it. Hmmm, I'm not sure. Hey, Reen, does this recipe look familiar to you?

1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese
1 (8oz) container cottage cheese
2 heaping tbs sour cream
1 packet taco seasoning
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
8oz shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and half the taco seasoning. Spread in a 9x13 pan or serving plate. Stir together diced vegetables and spread over cream mixture. Sprinkle with half of remaining taco seasoning. Top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle with remaining taco seasoning.
Serve with tortilla chips.

I like this recipe more than the usual seven layer dip because the cream mixture is really yummy, and I like the crunchy addition of the diced bell peppers. Still, you could add a layer of bean dip and a layer of guacamole and you'd have a seven layer dip. You could also make it a little more hearty by starting with a layer of ground beef, browned, drained, and spiced up with some of the taco seasoning.
To save time, use a jar of salsa instead of chopping the tomatoes. To add color, use yellow or orange peppers in addition to the green. Diced black olives would be a nice addition and also chopped jalapenos if you'd like to add some heat.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How To Make a Lattice Top

Many of my friends call me when they have cooking questions and I'm always glad to help, if I can. When I first moved out, I used to call my Mom (almost daily) with cooking questions. Now, I'm happy to be able to pass that info along to my friends. I've never taken any cooking classes or anything. I just read and watch and learn by trial and error. Hopefully through this series of "how to" clips, I'll be able to demonstrate a few techniques that I've learned. I'm hoping to have many friends and relatives as guests in my cooking videos. Let me know if you'd like to do one with me! My best friend, Paul, was nice enough to be in my very first one. Thanx, Paul!
Today's video shows you how to weave strips of pie crust pastry to form a lattice top. It's really a lot simpler to do than you might think, and everyone is always SO impressed by it! So, the next time you feel like having some pie, don't buy one. Make one at home! You'll be so glad you did because it's better when you make it!

Special thanx to Michael and Trish for helping to make this video possible!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Peach Lemonade

How 'bout a nice tall glass of ice-cold lemonade?
It's the perfect thing for a hot summer day!
Adding the peaches makes it amazingly refreshing!

1 3/4 cups white sugar
8 cups water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 peaches, pitted and sliced

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Remove seeds from lemon juice (if any), but leave pulp. In a big pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water. Float peach slices in pitcher. Let it chill for a while so the peach and lemon get to know each other a little better. Serve in a tall glass over ice.

The key to this recipe is the simple syrup. Dissolving the sugar insures that no sugar will be wasted on the bottom of the pitcher.
For a yummy variation, add some fresh raspberries. They'll turn your lemonade a pretty pink!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ina's Homemade Applesauce

My sister, Jeanie, used Ina Garten's recipe and made this last week. SO good! It's really simple and makes the whole house smell good while it's in the oven. And who doesn't love that?

2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 to 8 apples)
3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap (about 6 to 8 apples)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples (reserving the peel of 2 of the red apples) and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples, reserved apple peel, and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 1 hour, or until all the apples are soft. Remove and discard the red apple peel. Mix with a whisk until smooth, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Some people like their applesauce to be very spicy, while others prefer a milder sauce. My Jeanie always says "there's no such thing as too much cinnamon", but I like the apples to shine more than the spice. So, it's your call.
Oh, and about the picture...Miss Ina always likes to garnish with whatever is in the dish so people can see what they're eating, but I garnished with blueberries (even though there are no blueberries in the recipe). I just thought they looked nice next to the blue background.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

White Chocolate Mousse

There's one dessert that is synonymous with sheer decadence, and that's chocolate mousse. Make it white chocolate mousse and it's a special occasion! Pair it with fresh berries and you have a dessert that's simple to make, yet impressive and romantic. LOVE IT!

1/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Set saucepan in cold water to cool mixture. Place in the fridge until thoroughly chilled. Whisk again until smooth. Beat cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold into cold chocolate mixture. Spoon or pipe into serving dishes. Chill in the fridge until it's time for dessert!

For a lovely presentation, top with miniature chocolate chips, fresh raspberries and a sprig of fresh mint.
You can easily substitute other chips, such as semisweet, milk chocolate or even peanut butter chips.
Save time by making it a day ahead!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Steamed Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

So, Kelli called me up last night and asked me if I was cooking dinner. "Um, sure, yes, I'm cooking dinner. What shall we have?" We decided to just pick up a rotisserie chicken and have some vegetables on the side. I suggested steaming some broccoli and roasting some asparagus. She asked if we could maybe melt some cheese over the broccoli and I said "Well, how do you feel about cheese sauce?" "PERFECT!"
So here it is. A super easy sauce that's absurdly simple to make and is perfect over any steamed veggies, French fries, or baked potato. So good!

1 bunch fresh broccoli
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Cut broccoli into spears and steam over boiling water until tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir together cheese, cream and salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a few minutes until it's smooth and thick. Pour over steamed broccoli and serve.

You can easily add other cheeses or substitute another cheese such as Gruyere or Fontina. If you'd like to cut the fat a little, use light cream or half and half.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Jeanie is always trying new recipes and new variations of old recipes. I stopped by her house as she was decorating Tricia's wedding cake (which was BEAUTIFUL, by the way) and she asked me to try these cookies that she found in Bon Appetit Magazine. They're SO good! Chocolate chips, sure. White chocolate, of course. But it's all about the CHERRIES! Here's the recipe just as my Jeanie sent it to me. Try them!

1 cup dried tart cherries (I bought a bag from Target)
1/3 cup cherry liqueur (Cherry Heering) - I used the juice from maraschino cherries
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used salted), room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
8 oz. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Bring cherries and cherry juice to boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat and let soak 15 minutes. Drain cherries and pat dry. (I cut up into smaller pieces.)
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and both extracts and beat to blend. Add flour mixture and beat on low just to blend. Stir in cherries and all chocolate chips. Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment (or Silpat)lined baking sheet, spacing 1" apart.
Bake cookies until edges are light golden, turning baking sheets halfway through cooking, about 13 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Tip from Joey:
Feel free to substitute whatever flavored liqueur you'd like. It'll just add another dimension of flavor.
These cookies freeze well. Store your baked cookies in the freezer in a ziploc bag until you're ready to serve them. They only take a few minutes to thaw. You can also roll the unbaked dough into a log, wrap it well, and keep it in the freezer. Then just slice and bake as needed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Trish's Super Simple Salad

Trish made this salad last week when we had our little get together and everyone loved it! It couldn't be simpler to make and it's the perfect accompaniament for your Italian dinner.
Thanx Trish!

Mesclun salad mix
roasted peppers
vine ripened tomatoes
fresh mozzarella
Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette

Place salad mix in a large salad bowl. Cut the peppers, tomatoes, and mozzarella into small bite sized pieces. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Top this salad with some grilled chicken or sliced London broil and it's a meal all on its own!
Clearly, you can add or substitute any ingredients, but be sure to use the fresh mozzarella cheese. (You know, the kind that comes in a little tub of salted water). The hard kind that you'd shred for pizza just isn't the same.
To add character to your salad, try cutting the peppers into strips and the tomatoes into wedges. The different shapes will add to your presentation.
If you're not a fan of Newman's Own dressings, try mixing up a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing, just as directed, but use Balsamic Vinegar instead of regular vinegar. That's my favorite!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Barbecued Ribs

This cooking method comes from my sister, Patty. I'm sure many people will say that "low and slow" on the grill is the best way to cook ribs, but these ribs are to die for. They're SO tender it's like they just melt in your mouth. I'm thinking it's time to fire up the grill! Who's with me???

pork ribs
salt and pepper
any favorite barbecue sauce

Trim excess fat from ribs, then salt and pepper them.
Fill a large pot with approximately four inches of water. Stand the ribs (meatier side down) on end in pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for about 40 minutes (until fork tender). Add more water as necessary. Remove from pot. Place ribs on grill and baste with barbecue sauce until the sauce caramelizes on the ribs.

You can also do these in the oven instead of on the grill. Follow the recipe above, but after removing them from the pot, place them in a baking dish and baste with barbecue sauce. Bake in a 325 oven for another 45 minutes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jeni P's Summer Sangria

Jeni P. is one of my favorite people on the planet. She mixed up a fabulous white Sangria for our little get together at Trish's and I immediately asked her if I could post the recipe. She is, after all, the Queen of All Beverages.
Serve it at your next get together. You friends will love it!
Thanx Jeni P! "You did good!"

1 mango
1 white peach
4 or 5 glugs of white rum
1 bottle of Luna di Luna Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio
16 oz bottle of Sprite
1 1/2 cups white cran peach juice
1/2 cup orange juice

Cut up the mango and peach and soak them in the rum. The longer you soak them, the better it'll be. Remove half of the fruit and discard. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Serve chilled.

Soaking the fruit is an important step because the fruit absorbs the alcohol, making the rum sweeter. This is why you don't want to put all of the fruit back into the sangria. Just discard half of it and float the rest in the pitcher or punch bowl.
If you can't find the Luna Di Luna, use any sweet white wine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bruce's Three Bean Salsa

My good friend, Bruce, brought this to Trish's house one night when Trish had a gang of us over for dinner. As soon as I tasted it, I immediately asked him for the recipe. It's a little change of pace from the usual salsa and it's delicious! I think what I like most about this recipe is the blend of flavors and the rainbow of colors. It's so fresh! Clearly, that's what makes it. Another great thing is that it has no meat and no dairy, so it's perfect for those who choose vegetarian or vegan cuisine.
Thanx Bruce!

1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can chick peas
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1 jar mild salsa
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Drain and rinse beans. Add to a large mixing bowl. Finely chop all vegetables and add to bowl along with salsa and seasonings. Stir well. Serve with tortilla chips.

You can easily substitute any kinds of beans. It's really just a matter of what you have on hand or what your favorites are. You can seriously go in any direction with it. For another variation, try adding some corn to the mix by choosing any kind of corn or by choosing a salsa that has corn right in it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blueberry Sauce

 I got this recipe from my sister, Jeanie. She's always in the kitchen cooking for a million people. Sometimes I really can't imagine how she does it! She amazes me! She loves blueberries as much as I do and this sauce is fabulous! Spoon it over everything from pancakes, waffles, or French toast to a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a piece of toasted pound cake. Thanx my Jeanie!

1 cup sugar
2 tbs corn starch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbs butter

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, corn starch, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in blueberries. Reduce heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Stir in butter until melted. Serve either warm or chilled over your favorite dessert.

I like to add a little squeeze of lemon, just at the very end. The sour balances with the sweet and it wakes up the flavor of the blueberries.
You can easily substitute other berries or fruits to make different kinds of fruit sauces. Try doing combinations of fruit too. Sliced peaches and raspberries would be fabulous or sliced strawberries and kiwi fruit.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Simply Sauteed Broccoli Rabe or Broccoli "I was Rabed"

Trish and I were talking about broccoli rabe and how we love it sauteed with a little garlic and olive oil. I suggested that maybe we could add something to it to counter its slightly bitter taste. I thought maybe nutmeg, she thought maybe cinnamon. So we added both! It turned out to be a really nice flavor combination! It literally took less than 10 minutes to cook and it became the perfect little side dish!

1 bunch broccoli rabe
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
a few glugs of olive oil
sprinkle of nutmeg
sprinkle of cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar

Cut broccoli rabe into small pieces, about an inch long. In a large skillet, add olive oil ang garlic. When it starts to sizzle add broccoli rabe. Cover. Saute until it's tender, stirring often. Sprinkle with spices and sugar. Give it another good stir. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

You can easily substitute spinach leaves or your favorite other leafy green for the broccoli rabe.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Eggplant Parmigiana

Can I just tell you how much I love eggplant parm? Well, lets be honest, I love anything parm, but eggplant is at the top of the list! I'd seriously order eggplant before ordering chicken or veal. If we were to take a trip in the way back machine....when I used to house sit for my brother from time to time... I'd always make a huge pan of eggplant parm and then have it for dinner every night for the week. My Mom used to tease me and say "lemme guess, you made eggplant parm again, right?" True story!!! It's absolutely one of my all time favorite dishes.

2 large eggplants
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
oil for frying
my Favorite Marinara Sauce or any jarred sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Peel eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let stand a minimum of 30 minutes so that the bitter liquid drains out of the eggplant. Give it super quick rinse under running water (to get rid of the excess salt) and pat dry with paper towels. Mix egg with a little water. Set aside. In a separate small bowl combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, then into bread crumbs. Saute a few slices at a time quickly in hot oil until lightly golden. Drain on paper towels.
In a 9x13 casserole dish, layer one-third of the eggplant, top with one third of the marinara sauce and one-third of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat two more times to make three layers. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

The key to this recipe is salting the eggplant. It really makes all the difference. Usually when people say they don't like eggplant, it's likely that they're referring to the bitter flavor of the liquid that is removed by the salt. A simple alternative is to use zucchini instead of eggplant. You don't have to salt anything because there's no bitter juice to remove. Just bread it and fry as you would with the eggplant. It's AMAZINGLY good!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Best Deviled Eggs

This recipe is from Southern Living, but it just happens to be exactly how I make mine too. Who knew? Do you think they've been spying on me????
Feel free to put your own personal spin on them. Go crazy with toppings! Try adding crumbled or shredded cheeses, diced ham, chopped scallions, a little drizzle of pesto or salsa, or even a little sliver of smoked salmon.
They'll be gone before you know it! Great then!

6 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbs sweet pickle relish
1 tsp mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Slice eggs in half lengthwise, and carefully remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise. Add relish, mustard, salt, and pepper; stir well. Spoon yolk mixture into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika or add any of your favorite toppings.

For extra fancy eggs, use a piping bag with a decorative tip to fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. They'll look beautiful when you sprinkle the paprika on top.
To learn how to make perfectly hard boiled eggs, read the recipe for Classic Egg Salad

Friday, July 4, 2008

Raspberry Pretzel Delight

Here's an email conversation that I had with my sister, Cathy. Yes, my fabulous, gorgeous, talented, youthful, vibrant, funny, caring and all-around wonderful sister, Cathy.

Joey: Remember 'Raspberry Pretzel Delight'? Where did that recipe come from? I'm doing 4th of July recipes and that's one that you can add blueberries and do red white and blue. I already have the recipe. It's in your handwriting. Just wondered where it came from.

Cathy: I absolutely remember it - it was really yummy! I think it came from a magazine, like Good Housekeeping or something like that, but I also remember some connection to Mrs. Iannacone & Terri. I'm not sure if I gave them the recipe, or if they gave me the recipe. Anyway, I made it once or twice and then promptly lost the recipe, so I'm looking forward to having it again. (I love the contrast of the salty pretzels and the sweetness of the raspberries & cream.)

Joey: Aren't you glad I kept all those old recipe cards?

Cathy: Yessiree, mister.

I think that says it all. You should definitely try it!

1 1/2 c. crushed pretzels
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. margarine or butter, melted

1 (12 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. water
1 pk (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
1 3/4 c. frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (21 oz) can raspberry pie filling

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients;
mix well. Press into ungreased 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8
minutes; cool.

In same large bowl, combine condensed milk and water; blend well. Beat in
pudding mix for 2 minutes. Refrigerate 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping.
Spread on cooled crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 1 hour.

Spoon fruit topping over filling. Cover; refrigerate until serving time.
Garnish with whipped topping, fresh raspberries and mint leaves, if
desired. Store in refrigerator.

You can use any combination of pie filling or fresh fruit. If your grocery store doesn't have raspberry pie filling, you can easily use seedless raspberry jam instead. Just thin it down with one or two tablespoons of water. To give it a Patriotic theme, do stripes of raspberry or strawberry alternately with stripes of blueberry, making sure to leave a little of the white filling showing between stripes. You could also do it as I did; make a square area of blueberries in just the upper left corner of the pan, and then do horizontal red and white stripes over the rest of the pan, making a flag design. Clever, huh?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rum Swizzle

This is another fancy, fun, and fabulous summer drink that you should make the next time you're lounging by the pool. Trish was nice enough to share the recipe with me after getting it from her cousin in Bermuda. It's REALLY good! Actually, you should make it ahead of time and put it in the freezer. It makes a great frozen slushy! Perfect for a hot summer night!
Thanx Trish!

1 64 oz can pineapple juice
1 64 oz can Hawaiian punch
1/2 gallon orange juice
1 bottle Goslings Black Seal dark rum (750ml)
juice of 3 lemons
splash of grenadine

Simply stir all ingredients together and serve over ice.
Store in the freezer.

It can stay for months in the freezer. Just be careful when you drink it because this is another one of those "you can't taste the alcohol so it'll knock you on your butt" sort of drinks.
Trish said she likes to add other flavors like Malibu Rum or Amaretto. Her cousins always add an entire bottle of white rum in addition to the dark rum. Now THAT's a Swizzle with a kick!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Joey's Favorite Macaroni Salad

This is another family favorite for you to serve at your next barbecue. It's everything you want a recipe to be. It's quick and easy, it doesn't take a lot of ingredients, it's inexpensive, it feeds a crowd, and everyone loves it! Some people don't add tuna to their macaroni salad, but just like many of my favorite recipes, it's how my Mom always made it. If you've never tried it, you need to stop what you're doing right now and make this. You can thank me later.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 can albacore white tuna (packed in water)
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbs sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the elbows until they're tender, but not mushy. Drain them and then plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain them again and put them into a large mixing bowl. Drain the can of tuna, and use a fork, a spoon or even your fingers to break it up as you add it to the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve immediately or store (covered) in the fridge until your guests arrive.

As I always say, this is a recipe from the Cass Quaile School of Cooking. In this case, she'd say "If you like a lot of celery, add a lot of celery. If you like a lot of onions, add a lot of onions."
The relish and the tuna are key to this recipe. If you left out the elbow macaroni, you'd be left with a fabulous tuna salad which would be amazing on your favorite lightly toasted bread.
You can add a little pickle juice or water if it needs to be thinned down a little.
If you're cooking for a huge gang, you can easily double this recipe. Save time and make it a day in advance!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Easy Homemade Hamburgers

I know it's easiest to just buy frozen hamburgers that come in a box with the little sheets of paper between them, but think of how juicy and delicious home made burgers would be? There's absolutely no comparison. Top them with anything from a slice of cheese, onion, or tomato, to lettuce, some ketchup, mustard or a little pickle relish. Clearly, summer would not be summer without them!

Basic recipe:
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 c onion, finely minced
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper

1 tbs horseradish
1 tbs ketchup
1 tbs mustard
1 tbs chives
2 tbs blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbs sesame seeds
1/4 c ripe olives, chopped
1/4 c chopped dill pickle or pickle relish
1/4 c chopped nuts

Using your impeccably clean hands, mix all ingredients together (including any variations that you choose). Shape mixture into 6 patties, each about 3/4-inch thick. Broil or grill patties 4-inches from the heat, turning once, to desired doneness, 10 to 15 minutes.

Clearly, this is one of those things whose variations are only limited to those of your imagination. You can add any number of crumbled cheeses, fresh or dried herbs, and spices.
It's better to purchase ground beef that is not frozen because then you can make your hamburgers in advance and freeze them. Just form the patties as usual and place them on a tray in layers with parchment or waxed paper between the layers to separate them.
It's actually ok to refreeze ground beef that has been previously frozen and thawed, as long as it has been thawed in the refrigerator. Doing this, however, will result in the meat drying out when you eventually cook it.