Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harvest Ratatouille

Yummy, yummy, yummy...warm food in my tummy...

I made ratatouille tonight...but a simpler version than the Thomas Keller recipe I posted earlier. I thought perhaps that some people might be a copying a famous chef's recipe (although it is PAINFULLY simple) I am making a simpler version with a happy autumn name.

Don't bother doubling...just serve with French bread. It is VERY hearty. Enjoy!!

Harvest Ratatouille

1 medium onion, chopped

2 TBS oil

1 medium unpeeled eggplant, cubed

1 medium zucchini, cubed

1/2 of a medium red pepper, chopped

1/2 of a medium yellow pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced (I always add more)

1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes, drained, cut up

1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomato salad dressing

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp salt

grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook onion in hot oil in a large skillet on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add eggplant, cook and stir 5 minutes. Add zucchini, peppers, and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, dressing, thyme, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

courtesy Kraft foods

Pumpkin Tea Bread and Apple Cider Punch

Okay, this post has possibly the lamest picture EVER in the history of food blogging.

It's because I am just as busy as a slightly unbalanced bumble bee. See...on Tuesday, I had a Girl Scout Halloween Party at my house, and I spent all day cleaning and running errands. And then at the party...we made caramel apples, and there was caramel EVERYWHERE!! Then we played games like the one where you eat the donut off the string without your hands. And all those crumbs, combined with more crumbs and sugar from various other cupcakes, cookies, and candies all stuck to the caramel...and...well, you get the picture. Walking across my floor was like crossing a sticky mine field.

So I had to get up super early to clean AGAIN, and then bake because I had a recipe group to attend. The theme was "Autumn", and I wanted to make my Pumpkin Tea Bread and Apple Cider Punch, since I'm not using either recipe for November's Iron Chef competition.

Anyway - of COURSE I ran out of time, and had to be all crazy...and that is why, my friends, I know hold the title for taking the crappiest food blogging photo ever...which is really saying something if you look through this blog and see how crappy most of my other pictures are...

You need to forgive the yellow tint to most of the was around 5:30am, and the fluorescent lights in my kitchen are not attractive lighting.

Pumpkin Tea Bread

this is a recipe from the Fraley Family archives

2/3 cup shortening
2-2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 pound can pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3-1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour bundt pan.

2. Mix shortening and sugar until fluffy.

3. Add all liquid ingredients - mix until blended. Sift dry ingredients together and add to pumpkin mixture. Mix well.

4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

5. Remove from oven. Let cool, then flip onto serving platter. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing.
and now I humbly present the WORST food picture EVER...taken as I'm about to drive away and remember that I never took a picture of the finished bread...(drum roll, please...)

recipe courtesy Fraley Family Archives
Apple Cider Punch
6 cups apple cider
2 cups cranberry-raspberry juice OR orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 bottle sparkling white grape juice
1. Combine all juices EXCEPT sparkling white grape juice.
2. SLOWLY add sparkling white grape juice.
3. Serve immediately.
courtesy Fraley Family Archives

Giant Italian-Style Meatballs

My kids LOVE meatballs...all kinds, and all shapes. But they especially love GIANT meatballs. And this recipe is just SO DARN EASY...I cannot resist...
I don't double...but you can make the meatballs much smaller and get more, or use less meat and stuffing and make less. We served these with fettuccine and tomato sauce, store-bought garlic bread, and green beans.
Giant Italian-Style Meatballs
1 pkg. Stove Top stuffing mix for Chicken
2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/4 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 400.
2. Mix all ingredients until well-blended.
3. Shape into 7-8 LARGE meatballs. Put in a single layer in a foil-lined 13x9 in. pan.
4. Bake 30 minutes or until done.
courtesy Kraft foods

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

Have you noticed how expensive bell peppers are lately? Am I the only one to notice? Did they just suddenly leap in price, or was it a gradual ascent that I didn't notice until it was so high I had to say: "DAMN!! Those there are some expensive peppers!"

I don't know the answer, but I do know that when my local grocery store had peppers on sale for .99 a pound, I had to buy 'em (we'll discuss the fact that .99 a pound is a sale price at a latter date...when my heart stops palpitating at the sight of an empty bank account).

One of my FAVORITE autumn/winter recipes is Skillet Stuffed Peppers. I don't really know why...they are not especially autumn or fall dishes...that's just when I like to cook them.

This recipe is really uses copious amounts of A-1 sauce, which my children love. I always double the filling, because my kids are less for the peppers and more for the meat/rice mixture. I also only cook 4 peppers, instead of the recommended 6, because my kids can't eat a whole pepper (although they eat TWICE the suggested meat/rice filling) I cut the peppers in half and give them extra insides. And you steam buttered carrots right along with the peppers, which are a huge hit for veggie choices at my this is an all-around family friendly recipe.

We served it with those pop-from-a-can Pillsbury very gourmet!!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

1/2 cup cooked rice
3/4 lb ground beef
1/4 minced fresh onion
3 TBS A-1 sauce (I use more...but it's a personal preference thing)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 12-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
6 large green peppers
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (or you can use the pre-peeled, ready-to-eat baby carrots like I do)
3 TBS butter
1/2 cup water

1. While rice is cooking, in medium skillet brown beef until crumbly (I add extra several dashes of A-1 to cook into the meat...we like it a bit spicy). Add onion. Cook until onion is soft. Remove from heat. Mix in A-1, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, corn, and rice.

2. Cut tops, seeds, and membranes from peppers. Discard. Fill peppers with meat and rice mixture.
3. In a 10-inch skillet (I use my stock pot), place peppers and carrots. Add butter and water. Simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
courtesy Best Recipes from the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Can and Jars by Ceil Dyer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009 - Capellini Caprese

The winning submission into our Iron Chef challenge was Tina Fabiano's Capellini Caprese. My favorite part about this dish was the addition of capers. It REALLY made a difference...

Capellini Caprese

or, as Tina calls it..."Fresh Tomato Sauce"

2 Ibs Roma tomatoes dice
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of garlic not heads chopped
Basil as many as you like chopped
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp Capers

1. Heat oil in pan, add garlic and stir until lightly brown. Add tomatoes and let it simmer.

2. Add basil, salt, pepper and capers and let it simmer again for 5 minutes.

3. Serve over pasta. I prefer Angel Hair pasta. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese.

You can also serve over chicken, meatballs or fish.

So easy and simple...but what a culinary delight!! Yummy, Yummy, Yum. Congratulations, Tina!!

courtesy Tina Fabiano

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009 - Fresh Herb-Tomato Crostini

This is another amazing entry from our Iron Chef Miami competition for October, submitted by Heidi Tyler. Its a GREAT appetizer (I ate, like 4 of make lots!! And then invite me over!!)
Fresh Herb-Tomato Crostini
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 large tomato, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 TBS chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomato, onion, parsley, and mint; gently toss to coat.
2. Top each crostini with about 2 rounded teaspoonfuls of tomato mixture. Sprinkle with feta. Serve.
Note: This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead; just cover and store in the refrigerator.
To make crostini:
Preheat oven to 350. Stir 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves, pressed. Brush 1 side of a sliced French bread baguette (slices should be about 1 inch thick). Bake, garlic side up, 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted.
courtesy Heidi Tyler

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009 - Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

We had some really yummy dishes this month for our first-ever Iron Chef Miami competition. Our featured ingredient was "tomatoes"...and this entry was great because it was fairly simple, you could make it with items found in your pantry, and it is a Weight Watchers recipe!!! It was entered by Melodee Cooper.

Crock pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1-1/2 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded (or two cans canned chicken)
15 oz. whole tomatoes
10 oz. enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz. chopped green chilies
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water
14-1/2 oz. fat-free chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 whole bay leaf
6 whole corn tortillas
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS chopped cilantro

optional: 1 can of whole kernel corn, 1-1/2 cups of cooked white rice

optional additional garnish: shredded pepper-jack cheese, torn fresh cilantro

1. In a Crock pot, combine chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies, and garlic. Add water, broth, and seasonings. Add can of corn, if using. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil; cut into 2-1/2 by 1/2-inch strips. Place on baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes until crisp, turning occasionally.

3. Prepare rice separately and add to soup just before serving...heat through.

4. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with tortilla strips, cilantro, and cheese.

courtesy Melodee Cooper

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009

So, a couple weeks ago, three of my girlfriends and myself were lounging around a pool...

...isn't that a GREAT way to start a story?

Don't you wish you were lounging around a pool?

I suppose I shouldn't admit that that was our occupation for the day..."pool loungers".

After all...I work very hard to dispel the "housewife" myth of lazy ladies who hang out in yoga pants all day and play on Facebook and have housekeepers and nanny's that do any actual "housewife" stuff. That's why I prefer terms like "homemaker"...or better yet..."domestic goddess"...

...of course, there isn't another activity that is more "goddess-like" than lounging around a pool with your girlfriends, sipping lemonade and eating fresh-cut fruit...

...but still...

ANYWAY...we were lounging and chatting and LAUGHING (which is my favorite part)...and talking about how we needed more stuff to do (yah right)...and we came up with this GREAT idea to host our own Iron Chef competition...

...we'd invite a few other choice ladies and have a monthly mini cook-off on the second Monday of every month, and choose a secret ingredient to "star" ...something easy and accessible to make great...

So today was our FIRST EVER Iron Chef Miami competition...and the secret ingredient was "tomatoes". We had GREAT entries...and after tasting some delicious entries, we voted, and crowned Tina Fabiano as our Iron Chef for October!! She won with her Capellini Caprese!! It was AWESOME!!

Doesn't everything look delicious?

This is Crock pot Chicken Tortilla Soup by Melodee Cooper. We topped it with tortilla strips, fresh cilantro, and pepper jack cheese. Best of was a Weight Watchers recipe!!

This is Tina Fabiano's WINNING entry, Capellini Caprese. She puts capers in it...which makes it amazing.

Heidi Tyler made Fresh Herb-Tomato Crostini. So good...I ate four...

This is my entry...Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons...which I got from a recipe I found in Family Fun magazine a few months ago. It is WAY delish!!

We had a GREAT time...we tried everyone's dish and graded on presentation, originality, and taste. Then we tallied the points and named an Iron Chef!!
I'm posting all the recipes here on my blog!! So dig in!! Enjoy!! And we'll see you next month when I host our next Iron Chef competition...featuring "pumpkin"...