Simple advice for a better life.

Antipasto SquaresMy family and friends often share recipes of their newest creations, since they know that I absolutely love trying these out as well.

Today I will share  a recipe for Antipasto Squares , recommended by a friend.

It is a very simple dish to prepare, and quite tasty, but I would not consider it light in calories.

Antipasto Squares make an interesting addition to a brunch menu, or as a Super Bowl party appetizer.

The original recipe calls for Salami and Olives, but since I do not like either of these ingredients, I added green peppers and tomatoes instead.  These ingredients can easily be substituted with your other favorite meats, cheeses and vegetables, or even make it a vegetarian dish.

My version of this recipe is posted below, for you to try out, and please share your comments.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Crescent Rolls ready-made crust
  • 1/4 lb. boiled ham
  • 1/4 lb. Provolone Cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 lb. Pepperoni, sliced
  • 1/4 lb. Swiss Cheese, sliced
  • 1 large Red Pepper, roasted (I used 1 jar of Pimento, sliced to strips)
  • 1 large Green Pepper, roasted, cut to strips
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced
  • 5 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Basil Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, ground
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • Pam cooking spray, or Crisco shortening, to grease the pan

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with Pam cooking spray, or Crisco shortening, and set aside.
  2. Open one package of Crescent Rolls dough, and unroll onto the bottom of the greased pan.  Pinch dough together at perforations, to form a solid bottom layer.
  3. Layer ham evenly over the dough.
  4. Place Provolone cheese slices over ham.
  5. Layer Pepperoni over the Provolone cheese.
  6. Place Swiss cheese slices over Pepperoni.
  7. Top off with Red and Green Pepper strips.
  8. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning, Basil and Onion powder.
  9. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. of Parmesan grated cheese.
  10. Spread sliced tomatoes, then sprinkle with ground Black Pepper and Garlic Powder.
  11. Pour beaten eggs over the top of the casserole.
  12. Top off with 3 Tbs. Parmesan grated cheese.
  13. Cover with second sheet of Crescent Rolls dough (no need to pinch dough at perforations, to help the steam to escape during cooking)
  14. Cover with aluminium foil.
  15. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  F, and bake 25 minutes.
  16. Uncover, and bake 13 minutes longer, until the middle is set, and top is lightly browned,
  17. Cool to room temperature before serving.
  18. Also suitable to store in a refrigerator for a day or so, or wrap it well and freeze it for a later use.
  19. To reheat, use regular oven, toaster oven, or even a microwave.

Enjoy!

blueberry french toastIf you need a break from savory breakfast food, and wish to spoil your taste buds with something sweet, enjoy this cream cheese and blueberry stuffed french toast.

The Original recipe is pinned on my Pinterest board, however the one I am posting is improvised slightly, to suit my taste.

This breakfast dish is very moist, full of flavor, and simple to prepare.

It yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 loaf of french bread, sliced to 1/4 inch slices then cubed
  • 4 oz. 1/3 fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • zest of 1 orange (or lemon, if your prefer)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (split in two)

 Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter

Step one = blueberry french toastblueberry french toast  - step 2

Directions for French Toast casserole:

  1.  Prepare this recipe the night before. Cover and refrigerate.  Bake it next day.
  2. Grease (I used butter) 9 x 9 glass casserole dish.
  3. Spread 1/2 of the cubed french bread, over the bottom of the casserole.
  4. Sprinkle 1 cup of blueberries over the bread.
  5. Drop cream cheese cubes all over the blueberries (see photo above).
  6. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, syrup,vanilla, zest, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
  7. Pour 1/2 of the egg mixture over the first layer of french toast.
  8. Cover with remaining cubed bread.
  9. Pour remaining egg mixture over the top of the casserole and sprinkle with 1tsp. of cinnamon.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate over night.
  11. Next day, preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  12. Place the covered casserole dish in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Uncover, and bake 25 minutes longer.
  14. Serve with prepared blueberry topping, which may be prepared day before, or while the toast is baking.

Directions for Blueberry Topping:

  1. Mix sugar with cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add water.  Bring to boil, and cook until thickened (about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add blueberries and cook few more minutes, stirring continuously until blueberries burst and form a smooth sauce, with few whole blueberries still remaining.
  4. Remove from heat, mix in butter, and set aside until ready to serve.
  5. For best results, serve it warm.

Blueberry french toast - all baked

All baked, and ready to enjoy with blueberry topping, or maple syrup.

Enjoy!

Sausage and Herb Stuffing – Recipe

stuffing ready to serve 2Stuffing is a must Thanksgiving Dinner menu choice, alongside the roasted turkey.

In the past, most cooks baked the stuffing inside the turkey cavity, but now most of us prepare it separately, in the oven or on a stove top.

Every year I like to try different stuffing recipes, so this time I will share one with herbs and Sweet Italian Sausage.

Roasted turkey ready to serve

My latest favorite turkey roasting recipe is by Martha Stewart.

This recipe yields enough stuffing to accompany an 18 lbs. turkey.

Herbs and spices for stuffing

 Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter (or Canola oil)
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery (2 stalks), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and shredded
  • 1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, without casing
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Crasins
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white bread cubes
  • 3 3/4 cups wheat bread cubes

 Directions:

  1. In a medium frying pan, heat the butter, and saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot, and apple.
  2. Remove from pan into a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. Add the sausage into the same frying pan, and cook for about 15 minutes,  stirring often, to break it up.
  4. Mix in the Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat and add to the sautéed veggies.
  6. Preheat to oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Mix in the eggs, Crasins, and Parsley.
  8. Fold in the bread crumbs.
  9. Pour the broth over the mixture, and toss lightly, to incorporate evenly.
  10. Spoon the stuffing into a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish.
  11. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Uncover, and bake another 15 minutes.
  13. Serve hot. (see TIP below)

 

TIP: If you like your stuffing quite moist, you can use some of the broth/pan juices from the turkey roasting pan, or additional chicken broth, and drizzle over the top of the baked stuffing, before serving.

Stuffed Dumplings - Turkey stuffing 3These dumplings are almost a complete meal in itself, since you have the potatoes, the meat, plus add your favorite gravy, or a savory tomato sauce, and dinner is ready.

My sister shared a bunch of new recipes with me, so I will also share them with you, as soon as I test them out, and include some pictures to show them off.

These dumplings are very tasty, and the leftovers are great reheated in the microwave.

You may serve them with your favorite gravy, sauteed onions in butter, sauteed bread crumbs in butter, or a savory tomato sauce.

I made my own tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes from my garden.

This recipe yields 32 dumplings, slightly larger in size than a golf ball.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes (about 10 medium size potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Wondra flour
  • 2 Tbs. corn starch
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the stuffing:

  • 1 lbs. ground meat (I used turkey for this recipe, but chicken, beef or pork may also be used)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp. Sage
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Basil
  • 2 Tbs. Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 4 Tbs. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions for the stuffing:

  1. Add 1 Tbs. butter to a frying pan, and saute the chopped onions for 2 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute longer, stirring often.
  3. Add the ground meat and continue to saute, until fully cooked, stirring continuously to break it up.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley and sage.
  5. Remove to a medium bowl, and mix well with 1 egg and bread crumbs, to make stuffing.
  6. Set aside to cool, then form into 32 meatballs, about the size of a walnut.

Directions for the dough:

  1. Peel the potatoes, cut in chunks.
  2. Rinse and place in a pot of cold, salted water.
  3. Bring to boil and cook until done (about 20 minutes).
  4. Drain the water, and add 1 Tbs. butter.
  5. Mash well, until smooth, and not lumpy.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Place the mashed potatoes on a floured work area.
  8. Mix the all-purpose flour with the corn starch and Wondra.
  9. Make a well in the middle of the potatoes, and add the flour mixture.
  10. Add 1 egg, one egg yolk, salt and oil.
  11. Mix it all up, to create a soft and satiny dough.
  12. Let the dough rest 5 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  13. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a long rope, about 2 inches in diameter.
  14. Use a sharp knife, and cut the dough rope into 32 slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
  15. Using floured hands, and working on a floured surface, form each slice into a thin circle (less than 1/8 inch thick).
  16. Place one prepared meatball in the middle of the circle and bring edges together to seal, then roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball.
  17. Set aside on a floured surface and repeat the process until all the dough and filling are used up.
  18. Meanwhile, fill a pot with salted water, and bring to boil.
  19. Place several dumplings (no  more than one layer once they float up to the top) into the boiling water, and gently stir with a wooden spoon, or spatula.
  20. Bring to boil again, and once they float to the top, cook for at least 8 minutes.
  21. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl of cold water, and leave them in there for few minutes to cool off. Then pour out into a colander, to drip off.
  22. Repeat the cooking process for the remaining dumplings.

 

Stuffed gnocchi  - with sauteed breadcrumbsStuffed gnocchi  -  with sauteed onions and butter

Stuffed gnocchi  - seved with mushroom sauce

Serve warm with your favorite gravy (mine favorite is mushroom – center picture).  The above serving suggestions also include sautéed bread crumbs in butter, garnished with chopped parsley, or sautéed onions in butter, garnished with chopped dill weed.

 

 

 

Homemade Fresh Tomato SauceThe harvest season in my garden is slowly coming to an end.  All is left are few more tomatoes, Parsley, Green Peppers, Sorrel, Chives and few Red Beets.

Since the tomatoes decided to ripen all at once, my kitchen got busy with cooking homemade tomato sauce.  It’s a long process, since I hardly ever cook ONE thing for 4 hours, tending to it at least every 20 minutes….but it’s all worth it, once I get a taste of the finished product…delish!

What a difference between the flavor of the homemade sauce, and the store-bought one; but I wouldn’t want to always make my own sauce…way too much work, and it takes so many tomatoes to produce only few cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 10-15 medium tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Carrots, shredded
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/3 cup Burgundy Wine
  • 2 stalk Celery
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato Paste
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3 springs of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Tbs. of Butter
  • 1 medium onion, whole

Directions:

  1.  Bring to boil a large pot of water.
  2. Remove any blemishes and core from the tomatoes, and submerge them in the boiling water for 1 minute.
  3. Prepare a large bowl of ice-cold water, and remove the tomatoes into it (this hot/cold bath will crack and loosen the skin on the tomatoes for easy peeling).
  4. Peel off the skin, and remove seeds.
  5. Cut into chunks 3 tomatoes, and puree the remaining tomatoes in a food processor.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a sauce pan.
  8. Add chopped onions and garlic.
  9. Saute for 1 minute, or until translucent.
  10. Mix in peeled and shredded carrots, and green pepper.
  11. Saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Add tomato puree, seasonings, bay leaves, celery, and wine.
  13. Cover, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.
  14. Add tomato paste, butter,  whole onion, and parsley springs.
  15. Cover, and simmer another 2 hours, also stirring every 15-20 minutes.
  16. Discard Bay leaves, Parsley springs, whole onion, and Celery.

Serve hot with your favorite homemade pasta, meatballs, spaghetti meat sauce, or tomato sauce to bake with Eggplant Rollatini.    You can also cool it off and store it in the fridge for later use, or freeze it in freezer bags to use even later.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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