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Friday, July 29, 2011

Broccoli and Cheese Frittata, Fresh Blueberry Pancakes, Linguica and Potatoes

Don't be afraid! Frittata is just another word for a big omelet. It's the perfect way to make eggs when you have to serve a lot of people; especially on an occasion like this one. There are many ways to make this dish and if you don't like broccoli, feel free to substitute items you and your family may like better (i.e. tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, peppers, etc). In any frittata recipe however, you cannot use a non-stick frying pan (due the fact that it will go in the oven). When it's done, the eggs are fluffy and you can either scoop them out with a spoon or cut them like you would a pie or cake in wedges; it's completely up to you. I also like to cut down on the cholesterol which is why I use eggs and egg whites, but you can use all whole eggs if you prefer. 

Broccoli and Cheese Frittata (Serves 6)
4 Large Eggs, whisked
4 Egg Whites
1 Cup Broccoli Florets;  cooked and chopped
3 Slices American Cheese, cut in pieces
Kosher Salt and Crushed Black Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large, stainless steel frying pan, generously spray bottom and sides with cooking spray.  Add eggs, egg whites, broccoli, and cheese. Using a spatula, draw the egg mixture away from the sides towards the middle until it is almost set but slightly runny in the center, about 4 minutes. Place the entire pan in the oven and cook through approximately 10-15 minutes or until all liquid has been evaporated and the mixture has 'puffed up'.
*Tip: Remove pan from the oven using a potholder, as the handle will be hot.

This next recipe came from my Canadian heritage. My Great, Great, Great Grandmother was an Iroquois Indian and married an English Soldier while stationed in Canada. After several generations of residing in Canada, my Great Grandmother lived on a farm that produced syrup and created this recipe. It's light, almost like a crepe, but thicker like a pancake. I've also substituted the all-purpose flour for wheat flour and 2% milk for the whole milk if you're looking for a healthier variation. 

Fresh Blueberry Pancakes (Serves 8)
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Cups Milk
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
½ Cup Fresh Blueberries

Mix the first 8 ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Gently fold in the blueberries. Heat your frying pan or griddle on medium heat. When you sprinkle a few flecks of water on your pan and the water 'dances' or jumps off the pan, then you know the pan is hot enough to cook on.  Spray the pan with cooking spray (or you can use butter) and pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan. Cook for approximately 2 minutes or until the pancake starts to bubble on the top and around the edges. Flip the pancake and cook the other side until it is golden and remove.  
*Tip: Heat your syrup in a pan or in the microwave in a microwave safe carafe or pitcher before pouring over your pancakes!

I had never cooked with Linguica until I met and married my husband, whose father happens to be Portuguese. Linguica is a form of Portuguese cured pork sausage, seasoned with garlic and paprika. When you're looking for a little 'heat' in your food, this will do the trick! However, it's a little difficult to find in the North Jersey area. The BEST Linguica we've found comes from Fall River, MA,  so when we head up there we always remember to bring a cooler to stock up on some to keep in the freezer. (When cooking with Linguica or Chorizo, which is the Spanish version, remember it is only partially cooked during the curing process, so you must cook it before eating it!)

Linguica and Potatoes (Serves 8)
3/4 lb. Linguica, remove casing and chop into 1/4" rounds
8 Russet Potatoes
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste

First, cook your potatoes. This process can be done up to 2 days beforehand.  In a large pot, add potatoes, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.(If the skins start to peel away from the potato, they are probably done.) Drain the hot water and add cold water to the pot to bring down the temperature of the cooked potatoes. You may need to do this 2-3 times. Once cooled enough that you can handle them, carefully peel away and discard the skin of the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into 1-2” chunks. 

In a large frying pan, add oil, linguica and onions over medium heat. Saute the until the onions start to become translucent and the linguica starts to get slightly browned. Add potatoes to the mixture and mix together. Cook for approximately 1/2 hour stirring occasionally until potatoes become slightly browned.
*Tip: If you prefer your potatoes a little more browned and well done, you may need to gradually add a little more oil.

Here is a slight twist on the regular Mimosa. I prefer pineapple juice to orange juice and this recipe gives a slight twist to the old favorite. I recommend making this recipe right before you're ready to serve it so that the bubbles don't dissipate. 

Island Mimosa (Serves 8)
3 Cups Chilled Champagne
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
1/2 Cup Cranberry Juice

In a pitcher, add champagne, pineapple and cranberry juices. Using a spoon, gently mix together. (You don't want to over mix and release all of the champagne bubbles). Serve in champagne flutes. 

*Tip:If you want your drink to be more frothy, blend the pineapple and cranberry juice with some ice in a blender before adding the champagne!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dilled Red Bliss Potato Salad

Everyone has their favorites and this is another one of mine. It's very simple to make with limited ingredients but adds another variety to this summertime favorite.  According to Produce Pete, the WNBC "Weekend Today in New York's" TV Correspondent, when purchasing potatoes, look for ones that don't have any sprouts from the eyes and have no wrinkles on the skin. There should be no cuts or dark spots and the potato should feel heavy.  You should avoid potatoes with a green tint to the skin because they have been exposed to the light for too long and will be bitter. All potatoes should be stored in a dark, dry place. 

Dilled Red Bliss Potato Salad
8 Medium Red Bliss Potatoes
1 Cup Hellmann's® Mayonnaise
1 tsp. Dill
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Distilled White Vinegar

In a large pot, add potatoes, completely cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.(If the skins start to peel away from the potato, they are probably done.) Drain the hot water and add cold water to the pot to bring down the temperature of the cooked potatoes. You may need to do this 2-3 times. Once cooled enough that you can handle them, carefully peel away and discard the skin of half of the potatoes; leaving the red skins on the other half for color. Cut the potatoes into 1-2” chunks and put in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, add mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper and dill. Whisk together until the mixture is creamy and add to the potatoes. Mix until all ingredients have been incorporated, place in a serving bowl and garnish with dill. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serves 6-8 


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese on a Hard Roll

According to Wikipedia, pork roll is a type of sausage-like meat product commonly available in and around New Jersey and Philadelphia. In North Jersey, where I'm from, it is usually called Taylor Ham. The product, as it is made today, was developed in 1856 by John Taylor of  Trenton, NJ, though several firms produce their own versions. A popular breakfast sandwich in the region made with pork roll is known as the Jersey Breakfast, a "Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese", or a "Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese." A Jersey Breakfast always contains pork roll, typically served with american cheese on a hard roll. It is a staple of many delis, diners, bakeries, and breakfast spots in NJ. In Philadelphia, the hard roll is commonly replaced with the local "long roll" used for hoagies and cheesesteaksIf you're not from the New Jersey or the Philly area, you can also buy some online and have it shipped directly to you from Jersey Pork Roll...isn't the internet a wonderful thing? 

So why all of this talk about Taylor Ham? (my preferred nomenclature). I was out with my youngest daughter the other day and she wasn't hungry for breakfast before we had to leave the house to take my older daughter to work. As we're driving down the highway, I asked her if she wanted to stop for a bagel since we haven't had those in a while. But she didn't want that. She specifically wanted, and I quote "a Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese from the convenience store located at the Lukoil gas station across from the Target..they make the best Mom!" Since I've never even filled my tank there, let alone got a sandwich there, I asked her how she knew about it. Apparently, it's a favorite weekend spot my husband takes her to when he's in the mood for one as well. So, we pull in. Park. Get out in the pouring rain. Go inside and there we find several iterations of the Taylor Ham sandwiches. One with just cheese. One with just egg. Then we see the one she wants..Taylor Ham with Egg and Cheese. I've never seen a 9-year old smile so big when she grabbed the last one and brought it to the counter to pay. As we got back into the car, she opened it up, took a bite and when I asked her how it was she replied "This is the best giant circle of goodness I've ever had!". Always a comedian my daughter.  

Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese on a Hard Roll
1 Hard Roll
2 Eggs, fried
2 Slices American Cheese
2 Slices Taylor Ham

On a flat grill pan, heat Taylor Ham over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from pan and keep on the side. Fry the eggs, breaking the yolk. Add cheese to the top of the eggs so that it melts. Place the eggs on the roll and top with cooked Taylor Ham. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fruits and Vegetables in Season in July

The State of NJ website has a great section on what fruits and vegetables are in season including a search engine to locate your favorite Pick-Your-Own farms.  Here are some tips for visiting a Pick-Your-Own Farm: 

1. Remember that when visiting the farm, you are a visitor. Please respect the property as it is usually both the family's home and business
2. Read and obey all signs. Follow directions about where and what to pick
3. Supervise children at all times
4. Wear shoes, shirts and other proper clothing at all times
5. Leave all pets at home
6. Be sure to place all litter in the proper trash receptacles
7. Keep head, arms, hands and legs inside when riding in farm wagons and remain seated until the wagon stops. 
8. Enjoy yourself and have fun!

Do Not:
1. Enter buildings that are not open to the public
2. Throw or damage produce
3. Climb on or touch farm tools and equipment. 
4. Climb trees or step on fruits and vegetables in the field
5. Frighten or hurt farm animals

Here is a list of the fruits and vegetables that are ready for the picking in July. So grab the family this weekend and support your local growers!

July 15 - July 30
July 5 - Aug. 10
Peaches, Nectarines
July 20 - Sept. 1
July 15 - Aug. 15
Red Raspberries
July 5 - July 21
July 1 - Oct. 31
July 1 - Oct. 31
June 10 - Oct. 31
July 5 - Aug. 15
July 20 - Sept. 30
June 25 - July 31
July 15 - Oct. 31
July 20 - Sept. 30
Snap Beans
June 20 - July 20
June 25 - Sept. 1
Sweet Corn
July 5 - Aug. 31
July 10 - Sept. 15

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Cheese Chicken Sausage

Ok so here's one of those items I just happened to find at my local store when I wasn't even looking for it, Casual Gourmet Chicken Sausage. They only had two types for me to choose from and I opted for the Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella version. But after looking online, I found several more varieties including Spicy Mango and  Jalapeño, Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach and Roasted Garlic and Gruyere Cheese.  What I like about them is that they are already fully cooked. So your prep/cooking time is next to nothing.  Just heat and eat! I also liked that there are no artificial ingredients, they are high in protein, they're gluten-free AND they contain no MSG or Nitrites (which I can't have or else I will get a severe migraine!). 

Since sports season is starting to pick back up again and my oldest daughter had cheering practice after a long day at camp watching a bunch of 9 year olds in the hot, humid weather, I wanted to make something that was quick and easy to give her a little carb boost for some extra energy. So I just sliced up some of these sausages and briefly sauteed them, mixed them with some Barilla Plus Farfalle Pasta and made a tossed salad. They were good, and surprisingly a little spicy. Everyone liked it, so I guess it's a keeper. 

Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Cheese Chicken Sausage
5 Links of Casual Gourmet Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Chicken Sausage, sliced
1 Lb. Pasta
1/2 Cup White Wine
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Grated Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large non-stick saute pan, add the sausage and heat through approximately 5-8 minutes. Add the wine, lemon juice and chicken broth and let simmer 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta directly to the pan and add the cheese. Mix together well. Serves 4-6. 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Gluten Free Baking Experience featuring Nutella Crepes and Apple "Crisp"

The other night, one of my old friends from high school was up visiting from the South and came over for dinner with her 4 year old daughter (who happens to be Gluten intolerant). Dinner was easy, as she wanted a cheeseburger. But the dessert part was going to be a little tricky as my little friend requested apple pie. So I did what any other person would do when  a cute 4 year old says "Aunt Carrie, can  you PLEASE make me apple pie?",  I went out and bought Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour. Then I looked online to see if I can find a recipe for pie crust, and found several, but they all required 3-4 different types of flours and Xanthan Gum; which I didn't have. So I tried my recipe for my own pie crust and just substituted the gluten free flour in place of the all purpose, added some vanilla and cinnamon to give it a little flavor and hoped for the best. Well, the best was horrible! It was so sticky, I couldn't even roll it out so that was the end of that experiment and into the trash it went. 

Next, Plan B. Since I had the apples anyway, I figured I'd make an Apple Crisp (see below), but I couldn't use oats. So, I mixed the gluten free flour with brown sugar and then crushed up some Special K® cereal; which I thought was gluten free until another friend told me to double check the box and good thing I did since the second ingredient was Wheat Gluten!  Well there went THAT idea and since it was already made, I just hid it in the back of the refrigerator and hoped my little friend forgot about the apple pie..and thank goodness she did. 

So that left Plan C. Her mom noticed I had some flour left and that I also had some Nutella®. According to the Ferrero website, Nutella® spread was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker. At the time, cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. So he used hazelnuts, which were in abundance in the Piedmont region of Italy, to extend the chocolate supply. All I know is that my kids LOVE it on toast for breakfast and we've even used one of the Food Network recipes by Giada to make her Chocolate-Strawberry Panini; which is made with poundcake, strawberries and Nutella®. Anyway, she suggested we go online to look for a crepe recipe on the flour's website. We found one but didn't have all of those ingredients either, so we adapted it, making some slight changes and it was a hit!

Gluten Free Nutella Crepes
1 Egg
1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp. Almond Extract
1/4 Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
2 Tbsp. 2% Milk
3 Tbsp. Nutella® Spread

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, milk and butter. Add in the flour and mix together until it is the consistency of heavy cream. Heat a small, non-stick saute pan over medium heat and lightly spray with cooking spray (or you can use butter). Add just enough mixture to thinly coat the bottom of the pan and swirl it around until it starts to go up the sides. When it starts to lightly brown, gently flip it over to the other side until that side is lightly browned. Add 1 Tbsp. Nutella Spread to the crepe and spread it evenly. Fold in half, then half again. Serve hot. Makes 3 crepes. 

Here is the recipe I used for the Apple "Crisp". I already noted the change in the cereal so that you can make it Gluten Free. When I usually make this in the fall, during apple picking season, I use all purpose flour, whole grain oats and light brown sugar (same measurements). 

Gluten Free Apple "Crisp"
1 Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Gluten Free Rice Krispies®, crushed
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
5 Tbsp. Butter, melted

In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, cereal and cinnamon and blend together. Add the melted butter and using a fork, blend it together until the mixture is crumbly. 

Apple Mixture
7 MacIntosh Apples, cored, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar

In a separate mixing bowl, add the apples, cinnamon and sugar and mix until well blended. Add the apples to a pie dish and evenly spread the crumbly mixture on top. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until the apples are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

Now, this came out a little too brown on the top (I got a little side tracked, I told you I wasn't a great baker!), but according to my husband, it was very good...especially when he topped it w/ French Vanilla ice cream!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quick Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Well, we have officially hit the halfway mark of 2011 and I can't believe it's July 4th weekend already. It's a time to celebrate our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and is our national holiday. In the U.S., we celebrate with fireworks, picnics, parades, political speeches, concerts, BBQ's and family gatherings. Last night, we started off the weekend at our local township fireworks and had a blast with great friends. They had a band playing, food vendors and local businesses, rides for the kids including rock climbing, bouncy houses and even a small version of a mechanical bull (and no, I didn't go on it, but I was tempted). It was so refreshing to see my kids gathering with their friends, experiencing these times together and creating memories that will last a lifetime. The best part for me was looking around to see all of the children watching in awe as the sky turned brilliant colors of white, red and blue. 

As a kid myself, I used to love the pre-packaged boxed Macaroni and Cheese. Until one day, when I purchased it as an adult, I realized how salty it was. (And orange?!). So I made up a healthier version for my own kids and they actually prefer it. This is typically not a picnic food (unless you were in my home and that was the only thing my child would eat when she was 2) but it does make a great addition and is quick to make if you happen to have a picky eater in your family.

You can use whatever shaped pasta you wish. For this recipe in particular, I happened to have shells. I've even browned some ground beef and onions, mixed them with this macaroni and cheese and you get a quick and easy Beef-A-Roni dinner that's perfect for those nights when you just don't have the time. And for all my little friends who can't eat the standard Macaroni and Cheese and feel like you're missing something...make this with Gluten-Free Pasta!

Macaroni and Cheese
1 lb. Pasta
5 Slices American Cheese
1/2 Cup Fat Free or 2% Milk
1 Tbsp. Butter
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and put back into the pot. Add the cheese, milk and butter. Stir until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-6.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Garlic and Cheese Crudité Dip

Crudités are traditional French appetizers. Basically it's raw vegetables served with a dipping sauce. This dip recipe came about many years ago when I was on a Caesar Salad kick. I love the salad with grilled chicken on it but I didn't particularly care for the dressing. Mainly because Caesar Salad Dressing contains anchovies and I could always taste the fish when I was eating my salad (Yuk...I hate the smell and taste of fish!). So I tried to recreate something similar to use on my own salads at home. This dressing makes a great Caesar Salad Dressing substitute as well as a great dip for raw vegetables. You can use whatever vegetables you and your family like. I opted for the basics but mushrooms, broccoli, and radishes make great alternatives. Just go for the color and have fun!

Garlic and Cheese Crudité  Dip 
1 Cup Hellmann’s® Real Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Grey Poupon® Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp. Water

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together until well incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve with fresh vegetables.