Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Slow Cooker Spicy Italian Beef Sandwiches

Well don't you sometimes just feel like a zesty drippy hot sandwich? Come on you know you do. Oh...and there needs to be some melty cheese and a crusty yet soft roll too now doesn't there?
Well here is an easy way to get just such a sandwich!

Slow Cooker Spicy Italian Beef Sandwich
1 boneless chuck roast (4lbs)
1 jar pepperoncini
1 can beef broth
1 bottle dark beer or ale
1 onion diced
3 tbl  Italian Herb Blend
 Your favorite bread or rolls
Slices of sharp provolone or Gouda

Trim Roast. Place in crockpot.  Drain (save juices) and chop pepperoncini . Add chopped pepperoncini and 3 tbl of juices to the crock pot. Add next 4 ingredients. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until you can "pull" or shred the meat. Remove meat from pot and shred..return to the cooker and let soak in juices until ready to serve. Serve on rolls with cheese and any other toppings( lettuce, tomato, ect) that you like. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peanut Butter & Apple Smoothie

Do you love dipping crisp slices of apple into creamy delicious peanut butter? I sure do. It is one of my favorite snacks. The flavor combination is wonderful and comforting. My boys were recently on a smoothies-for-breakfast kick and it got me thinking about making up some new smoothie flavors to try. My boys generally throw some 'must get used up because they are almost too ripe' bananas and strawberries into ziploc bags and toss the bags in the freezer. Then they don't need ice to make the smoothies...just milk, or yogurt, or cottage cheese(never used cottage cheese in a smoothie???? Oh dear you really MUST try it!) They might add peanut butter, or honey, or whatever might sound good at the time.  But I decided to try to make a smoothie that tasted like that yummy apple and peanut butter treat....and here is what I came up with.........

Peanut Butter & Apple Smoothie

In a blender combine:
1 apple (your favorite) peeled, cored and diced
3 1/2 tbl of creamy peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter you prefer)
1 2/3 cups ice cold milk
1/4 cup cottage cheese
honey to taste

Blend very well and serve in a tall glass...yummmmy!  Makes a great breakfast too!

Brie and Apricot Tartlets / Brie and Pear Tartlets

Here is a SUPER easy appetizer that looks fancy and 'uptown'. This is so easy it can hardly be called a recipe.

They are yummy and elegant and your guest will gobble then up!

Brie and Apricot Tartlets

1- 2  boxes frozen mini filo shells
1 small wheel of ripe brie
1 cup apricot preserves

simply place tart shells on a cookie sheet. slice Brie and put a piece in each shell to fill the shell 1/2 way. Top with a dollop of preserves and bake at 350 until brie is very melty (7-10 min) serve immediately.

Brie and Pear Tartlets

1- 2  boxes frozen mini filo shells
1 small wheel of ripe brie
1 ripe pear
simply place tart shells on a cookie sheet. slice Brie and put a piece in each shell to fill the shell 1/2 way...peel and finely dice the pear and sprinkle a fair amount onto each tartlet. Drizzle with honey. Bake at 350 until melted (7 - 10 minutes) serve immediately

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ratatouille or Vegetable Stew

Wow its summer and all of the veggies look and taste amazing. Those of you with GREEN thumbs instead of BLACK thumbs like mine probably have an abundance of veggies in your gardens...or like me you have small happy seizures every time you see the farm stands and produce sections busting with local goodies!! the zucchini alone could make me faint dead away from pleasure.   This is a basic French dish...with lots of leeway to add things you like or have on hand to make it new and exciting each time.  (See the end of the recipe for ideas)
Healthy and low cal...but so rich and hearty you won't believe it.   


1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, sliced thin
3 bell peppers, cut into one inch squares(try different colors I like red and yellow)
2 eggplants, peeled lightly salted and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped (or use fire roasted petite cut canned tomatoes)
2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pot on medium heat.Add onions to oil. Carmelize the onions until they are soft and golden in  color.

While the onions cook, chop the bell peppers and add them to the pot, stirring well.

Chop the eggplants and add to the pot, stirring well to coat the eggplant with oil. At this point all the olive oil will have soaked into the eggplant, so you need to stir often to keep things from burning.

Chop the zucchini and stir it in once the eggplant has softened a bit.
Chop the garlic and add to the vegetables, stirring well.
Chop the tomatoes and add them.

Mince the thyme leaves and add it along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook two minutes.
Turn down heat and cover the pot. Simmer until everything is soft and well blended - about 40 minutes.
Stir in basil and remove from heat.

Serve as a stew with a hunkof crusty bread, or over rice, or on a crostini, or over pasta, or in an omelet, or however the mood strikes you. Also feel free to add other veggies(yellow squash, pumpkin, turnip,various peppers ect) to mix it up a bit ... or add a bit of white wine or the rind from some parmesan cheese to add a new spin on this classic French dish.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Photo problems

Trying to upload is not working right now but will keep trying! Sorry!!!

Irish Coffee Trifle know by now that I am an Irish/Italian girl and my cooking often reflects that "Pasta&Potato" background.  So I wanted to come up with a wonderful combination of desserts for a recent dinner party...and I decided my Italian half of the dessert would be cannolis (recipe for my cannolis can be found HERE ) but what should I do for my Irish half?? I had a Whiskey cake that is a favorite in our house....I pondered and pondered. So I asked my husband's opinion...he is a big fan of dessert LOL.  His input was "I really like Trifles" sigh...not that helpful at all...who doesn't like a good trifle? But seriously he was missing the 'Irish' theme here and I  was no better off. Except......hmmmmmm.....what if....?  What IF I made the Whiskey cake into some sort of trifle? This had definite possibilities. What if I made it like Irish Coffee?  Layer Whiskey Cake with a coffee flavored custard perhaps and then a whipped cream layer...oh wait...there should be a chocolate layer in there somewhere now shouldn't there?  Hahaha you are picturing this masterpiece in your mind and drooling a little aren't you? So, this is what I came up with...There are several steps but it will be worth it...TRUST me.  Besides you can do several steps the day before and put it all together early the day of the party!

Looks like our guest is excited about the dessert!

Irish Coffee Trifle

Cake Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tea vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tea baking soda
1/2 tea salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
1 1/2 tea vanilla
preheat oven 350 degrees. Cake: In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. stir in eggs and buttermilk and vanilla. In another bowl sift together dry ingredients. Add to wet mixture and mix well. It will be thick. grease a 9x13 baking pan and spread dough evenly. bake about 35 minute or until golden brown and tests done with a tooth pick.
While the cake is baking make the a saucepan heat water and sugar..bring to a boil. Add butter and keep stirring until melted. Remove from heat and add whiskey and vanilla.
When Cake come out pour glaze over the cake while it is still hot. Let cake cool then on a wire rack. the hot glaze will soak into the cake. (this can all be done the day before)

Coffee Custard:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 oz of hot water mixed with 1 single serve packet of instant coffee granules
  • Scant 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • In a small saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, flour, vanilla, and coffee. Whisk until well combined. Add milk bit by bit and turn the heat to medium-high, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Be sure to keep stirring so eggs don't begin to cook at the bottom edges of the pan. Once all the milk has been added, bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring all the while. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and let the cream cool.
    In a separate bowl beat the cream until it forms thick whipped cream. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the egg custard mixture. Chill well in fridge. (Can be done the day before)

Chocolate Layer:
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 oz semisweet chocolate
3 plus 1 yolk eggs (or use the equivalent in pasteurized egg)
1/4 cup butter cut into 3 chunks

in saucepan heat water and sugar and bring to a boil..stirring well. Stir until dissolved and slightly thickened like syrup. In a bowl place all chocolate and microwave in short bursts until melted and smooth. Stirring often. Combine hot syrup and melted chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer. Begin beating mixer. add 1 chunk of butter will mixer is beating...then one egg...again do not turn off mixer. continue alternating until all eggs and butter is mixed in. mixture will be smooth and satiny. (do this the day of assembly)

Also need : 3 cups homemade whipped cream or cool whip for layering

Layer in a Trifle Bowl or clear glass punch bowl...

Cake cut or broken into bite sized pieces...1/2 the cake on the bottom of the bowl. top with 1/2 the coffee custard, 1/2 the whipped cream/cool whip, then the rest of the cake, all of the chocolate, the rest of the coffee custard and top with remaining whipped cream.

serve and enjoy.....I mean don't think about the richness, the calories..the sugar....just completely and utterly give in to the decadent yummy deliciousness!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Super S'mores cookie bars

So a friend of mine saw a picture of these cookies on Pinterest and she sent it to me and asked if I thought I could perhaps, maybe bake something similar and bring them to work.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh  she knows I love a baking challenge.  So I searched around a bit and discovered the blog The Girl Who Ate Everything where she had this wonderful version of this me being me...I took it, edited it a bit and am now sharing this yumminess with you all. These are easy and delish! By the way I did bake then for work an our small office managed to eat all 40 cookies in less than 15 minutes!!!!    I used my chocolate chip cookie recipe in this but feel free to use your favorite (or....if you are in a hurry...use a bagged chocolate chip cookie mix...I won't tell)

S'mores Cookie Bars

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey’s bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with graham tightly - break to fit if needed. 
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows by hand
Drop by rounded tablespoon full on top of the want the mounds of dough to be close enough that as they cook they will spread and blend together. flatten the mounds slightly. Bake for about 5 minutes until the just start to spread. remove from oven and pres hershey bar pieces into the semi-cooked dough  close enough that you will get at least one piece per cookie bar.  Return to oven and bake 6-8 more minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the chocolate chip cookie is almost set. let cool completely and cut into bars.

Super yummy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'The Tea Cookbook' circa 1966 recipes

So in my never ending or waning obsession with cookbooks, I came across an old "Tea" cookbook by William I. Kaufman. It contains, and I quote,"tea customs and recipes from around the world for a memorable tea party."  So what do you think of that? Now I want to have a tea party LOL!  I have read quite a bit from this cookbook but have not tried any of the recipes yet...But I thought I would share some of the very refreshing and interesting sounding recipes for Iced Tea or Chilled Tea drinks that the book provides....if any of you try one of these you MUST share your thoughts.  Promise...pinkie swear even!

Okay..I believe you.

Here are a few to try:

Orange Frostea
3 cups of very strog tea cooled
6 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
6 scoops orange sherbert

Blend well in blender and serve in tall glasses.

Lime Delight
4 cups very strong tea cooled
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
2 tablespoons of sugar
Combine all and pour over ive in a tall glass with a twist of lime

Plantation Punch
1  6oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
1  6oz can frozen grape juice concentrate
1  6oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
2 quarts of strong tea cooled
1 quart gingerale
stir frozen juices into cooled tea pour over a block of ice in a punch bowl.  Just before serving add ginger ale and garnish with orange and lemon slices

So don't they sound like they like they might have the potential to be delicious and wonderful on a hot day??
I plan on trying at least one this weekend...let me kow which one you try....remember you promised!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Ode to Philmont" Chocolate Chip and Bacon cookies

This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated Magazine recipe I clipped ages ago for chocolate chip cookies.  I have been reading online about bacon being added to alot of unexpected recipes...even chocolate dipped bacon! I found a few recipes that called for bacon cookies and decided why not give this a whirl??
The name I gave these cookies is in honor of my boys' Boy Scout Troop (38 Owego NY). A few years ago the scouts and leaders (including 2 of my boys and my husband) traveled to New Mexico to spend 2 weeks hiking in the mountains...2 weeks straight of trail food, 60+ miles of rough terrain with heavy was an amazing adventure for all of them. When they got to the airport in New Mexico and called to say they were boarding...all of the wives and moms back in New York asked what we should bring to the airport and the unanimous answer was Bacon and Cookies!!! So being superb wives and mothers we did just that...we met them at the airport with literally pounds of crispy bacon and dozens of homemade cookies!! It was quite a site to see as they DEVORED everything right there in the airport.

So Troop 38...these cookies are for you!!

Ode to Philmont Cookies

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup bittersweet (or dark choc) chocolate chips
3 tablespoons white chocolate, grated
4 slices bacon -crispy and diced into very small pieces

Put your oven rack in the middle and heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir 1 3/4 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, the white chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Set this aside.

 Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted.  Continue cooking until it turns a  golden brown and smells very strongly(and wonderfully) of butter.  Swirl and stir frequently.  Watch this carefully! This will go from perfection to burnt extremely fast.  As soon as it’s done, take off the heat and stir in remaining 4 tablespoons of butter so that they melt. Pour into mixing bowl.

Then in the mixing bowl add 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, and 2 teaspoon vanilla. Add egg and egg yolk and mix very well. Let mixture stand for a few minutes.  Then mix again for 30 seconds. You want to make sure that the sugar has “melted” into the liquid.  When ready, mixture will be smooth.

 Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and bacon pieces.  Don’t over mix but make sure no flour pockets remain.

Place a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes until crisp and golden on the edges and just set in the center.

 Cool on wire racks...and enjoy!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mixed Berry Compote

I love this....I really do. I serve it hot in a bowl with cream(just poured on or whipped), or over vanilla bean ice cream, or over angel food cake, or over pound cake, or or or get the idea. It is just plan yummy and soooooooo easy and quick to make. I like serving it hot but you could serve it cold if you prefer. Honestly hot yummy berries over DIE for.
You can also sprinkle a bit of cornstarch in to thicken it more and you can spread it on toast or muffins, or stir it into your oatmeal.

This is kind of a generalized recipe and you should feel free to alter the types/proportions of any and all berries.

Berry Compote

1 pint of strawberries cleaned, hulled and halved
1 pint of black berries
1 pint of raspberries
1/2 pint of blueberries
3 tbl (or to taste) of raw sugar (regular sugar will work too)
1/2 cup sherry

Add all to a saucepan and simmer on a low heat stirring often until the berries soften and breakdown into a sauce.

Optional additions: you can flavor this sauce with cinnamon, cloves, or similar spices to the compote. I prefer (for summertime at least) to leave out the spices and just leave the fresh berry taste.

Go get some berries right now and try this. It is so good you will be glad that you did.  I mean it, why are you still sitting there at the computer...go now.

Lemon Cream

Its hot...admit it.  So what do you do about a dessert...nothing heavy thats for sure. Around here it is blueberry time so go pick yourself a bunch of delicious blueberries(or go buy them at the store or farmers market) and serve them with a huge dollop of this yummy refreshing cream! You will be glad you will.

Lemon Cream

  • 4 ounces regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchatel)
  • 3/4 cup regular or low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2-3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

  • Beat cream cheese in a bowl, drain off any liquid from the yogurt; add yogurt to the bowl along with honey. Using an electric mixer, beat at high speed until light and creamy. Stir in lemon zest.
  • Serve with fresh blueberries (dress it up by serving it layered in a fancy wine glass!) also good with other berries....try this simple, quick and refreshingly light dessert.