Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Finally my mothers sauce and meatball!

 

I've said it before, my mother and my grandmother  were my inspiration for cooking. My fondest memories growing up are watching both these wonderful cooks in the kitchen, as well a savoring the delicious meals they prepared. So when I asked my 88 year old mother for her spaghetti sauce and meatball recipe, I thought I could just share it with you all. Not so, I needed to fill in the blanks because my mother just cooks from memory. I worked with her to get the full recipes down on paper. I still think that only my mother can make her recipes sing with the most harmonies flavors. I gave this my best. I cooked all kinds of variations of her recipe and now my freezer is filled with enough sauce and meatballs for months. I must admit I did have fun cooking like my mother and grandmother, making large pots of sauce simmering on the stove. And the funny thing is that I don't make that much traditional sauce because I have never felt that I can duplicate the flavor of my mother and grandmother's sauce. I feel the same way about traditional pasta and Lasagna dishes. I am always disappointed with the results when I make traditional Italian recipes from my childhood.
My meals never taste as wonderful as I remember.
Before I start the recipe let's talk tomatoes. My mother say you can use crushed tomatoes if you  want to go cut a step, such as Pastene ground peeled, kitchen ready tomatoes. Over the years she's used Red Pack, Tuttoroso,  just good Italian tomatoes. Now I know that many will say you can only make good sauce with San Mazrano DOP tomatoes, or others swear by Muir Glen, or Cento or Pom. I am not such a purist when it comes to the tomatoes because I was spoiled by my grandmother's home grown preserved tomatoes that she would only use.  Nothing compares to her plum tomatoes. Use what you want. If I use whole peeled tomatoes, I chop the tomatoes then add along with the with the juice to the recipe. Or you can put tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with a fine disk. Do what suits you.

My Mothers Spaghetti  Sauce and Meatballs
2 Cans of Tomatoes, 28 or 35 oz.
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
In large pot heat olive olive, add onions cook until lightly translucent for 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook for two more minutes. Add tomatoes(chopped if whole) with liquid and seasonings. Simmer for an hour.(Add a little water or white wine if the sauce gets too thick).

Meatballs
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 eggs
1 Tbs fine chopped parsley
1 cup stale bread, crust removed and break bread into small pieces
or you can use 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking
Moisten bread with milk. Combine the moistened bread with all the other ingredients except olive oil and mix meat mixture very well. Form into meatballs and fry in oil for only a few minutes on each side. Add meatballs and one tablespoon of oil that was cooked with the meatballs to sauce. Cook sauce and meatballs on low for another hour.
Or if you want to bake meatballs like my mother. Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Coat with olive oil and bake for 10-12 minutes. Add meatballs and one tablespoon of oil that meatballs were baked in to sauce. Cook sauce and meatballs on low for another hour.

Good cooks really put passion into what they make. Cooking is an art and skill that get better with practice and time. The best advice I can give is to have no fear just cook. Try all different recipes and add your own touches that will make the meal special. What I found out over the years is that making a recipe your own is what makes that recipe special to you and your family. I have tried so many different dishes from magazines and cook books that I thought were not very good. So I just started from scratch and made the recipe how I thought it would be better and it was.  So give it a try, just cook.

Enjoy!   

Monday, May 8, 2017

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce


Just in time for Cinco de Mayo this deliciously simple Enchiladas casserole. You add more heat to dish by adding more hot sauce and 2 not one jalapeno pepper. Have fun adding your own spin to the meal.

1 pound boneless chicken breast or use Purdue short cuts
2 tablespoon olive oi
1 bunch scallions
2 cloves garlic
1 fresh jalapeño chile pepper, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons Franks Hot sauce
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sour cream
10 soft flour tortilla 
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Jalapeño wheels

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Place chicken breast in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes. Shred chicken and place in bowl, set aside. Heat oil in skillet, add scallions, garlic, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes. Saute, stirring for 5 minutes then add cilantro and hot sauce continuing to cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside. Put tortilla between two paper towels and microwave for one minute. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup chicken mixture and roll up tortilla. Place tortillas, seam sides down, in baking dish.  Combine cream, sour cream and spoon sauce over tortillas. Top with cheese and Jalapeno wheels. Bake for 25- 30 minutes or until bubbly and starting to brown.  Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Asparagus and Egg Sandwich

When I was young I spent many hours at my grandparents home - memories that I cherished. My grandparents, Theresa and Vincent came to American in the great immigration waves at the beginning of the 1900's from Italy. Along with their desires for a better life here they brought their love of food and preparing food. My passion for cooking began with these two wonderful people sitting in their kitchen as they prepared feast after feast for our family. Their cooking was so simple with fresh ingredients lovingly prepared sharing with me the family traditions. As a young girl it appeared to me that my grandmother was always cooking - even before church on Sunday she would start her meal just having to add the finishing touches when we all descended on their home for Sunday dinner. I loved all her cooking although my favorite was her impromptu meals she make just for me when I would top by her home. One of my favorites was her Asparagus and Egg Sandwich, so good I couldn't stop eating.





Asparagus and Eggs Sandwich

2 tablespoon olive oil
one bunch of asparagus cut into 1 inch slices.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4 slices Italian bread
olive oil for brushing

Heat olive oil in saute pan adding asparagus, salt and pepper cooking until tender about 10 minutes. Don't brown. In a small bowl combine eggs and Parmesan cheese. Scramble egg mixture with asparagus cooking until eggs are set and not watery. Brush bread with oil. Toast just to golden.
Serve as a sandwich. Makes two sandwiches.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Springtime Lemon Pasta with Prosciutto and Asparagus


Springtime cooking for me always includes foods with asparagus and lemons. Add pasta, prosciutto and cream for an easy deliciously simple meal. My passion for good food leads me to create easy meals that are fresh and flavorful with simple ingredients. Eating food for nourishment doesn't mean that we need to sacrifice on taste. Food is meant to be savored, enjoyed with family and friends not to be rushed eating standing up or walking down the street. Make an easy beautiful meal, invite family and friends to relax while you all create lasting memories to cherish.    

Ingredients

        1 pound spaghetti or linguine
        Kosher salt
        3 tablespoons olive oil
        1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 large)
        4 ounces Prosciutto, cut into thin strips
        1 cup asparagus, lightly steamed
        1 cup heavy cream
        1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon)
        2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
        Freshly ground black pepper
        Freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)
        1/2 lemon thinly slice for garnish

Preparation

        Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. pasta cooking liquid.
        Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add shallots and 1/2 tsp. salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes (do not brown). Add Prosciutto , asparagus, and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lemon zest, 2 Tbsp. parsley, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
        Return pasta to pot. Toss with sauce and reserved pasta cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper. Place pasta on plate then top with parsley, Parmesan seasoning with more pepper. Garnish with lemon slices.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Baked Stuffed Quiona Artichokes





   

Ingredients

    4 large artichokes
    2 quarts of water
    1 lemon, halved
    2 bay leaves
    2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    1/8 cup salt
    1/2  cup Quinoa cooked according to package instructions.  I like Earthly Choice
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons assorted fresh chopped herbs (such as parsley, basil and oregano)
    2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, toasted
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    Salt and black pepper

Directions

    Cut off the stem, trim the tips from the leaves and cut off the top quarter of the artichoke. In a large pot bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add artichokes. Squeeze juice from the lemon halves into water, then add the bay leaves, garlic cloves and salt. Cover, reduce heat to simmering and cook until artichokes are tender, and base can be pierce with a knife,  about 25 minutes. Drain artichokes. Placing the artichokes on their base, spread apart the outer leaves and carefully remove and discard the center section and fuzzy choke, leaving outer leaves intact.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine Quinoa, cheese, herbs and oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Carefully spread apart leaves of artichoke, leaving them attached. Pack Quinoa  mixture into all available spaces. Place on a baking dish and bake 25 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy!

www.gooddinnermrsmellen.com


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Panko Baked Scallops for two




I love the french recipe Coques St. Jacques which I bake and serve in beautiful scallop shells. The traditional recipe has many steps and requires time to make. Loving Scallops cooked in a casserole but not always have the time to prepare I created this easy baked scallops for a delicious weekday meal.  Prepare the casserole in the morning to bake at night having a wonderful fresh dinner in 20 minutes.


Ingredients

1/2 lb sea scallops
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup Italian Panko bread crumbs, I used Roland
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon butter

Preheat over to 375F. Place scallops in a bowl. Squeeze lemon over scallops. Add olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt tossing to combine. Place scallops in over proof baking dish. Combine bread crumbs and cheese. Place bread crumbs on top of scallops. Dot butter over break crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until topping is brown. Serve over pasta tossed with butter and cheese or rice. 

Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blueberry Poppy Seed Scones





In my world of 24/7 where warp speed isn't fast enough, where quantity not quality is the norm, how luxuriating enjoying a cup of tea with all the accompaniments, so Downton Abbey -  tea hold a special place in my life.  Slowing time, if just a little, Afternoon Tea is a wonderful pleasure I thank the British for cultivating. My spirit fills with joy sipping a cup of tea from a beautifully crafted English china tea cup while eating dainty little tea sandwiches along with freshly baked Scones topped with a dollop of clotted cream. Over time I’ve amassed an extensive collection of English tea china and accoutrements to host my own teas which have marked special moments in my life. Christmas mother/daughter teas with my daughter’s friends and their mothers, Mother’s Day Teas to celebrate the women in my life and a Bridal Shower Tea for my daughter - afternoon tea shares many cherished memories throughout my life. When traveling I am not only on the hunt for an additions to my collection but for new venues to enjoy afternoon tea. I enviable find a uniquely special new place to enjoy afternoon tea; an elegant stately hotel , an Alice in Wonderland-Mad Hatter room, a Tea Houses among the roses, all sharing impeccable British style service, aromatic teas and delectable treats. Life doesn't get any better than this I’m reminded as I slowly savor life's pleasures one sip at a time!



Blueberry Poppy Scones:

    2 cups all-purpose flour - I use King Arthur Flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
    1 cup fresh blueberries
    1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

    Clotted Cream- Devon Cream Company
    Strawberry Preserves - Bonne Maman


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and poppy seeds. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Serve with Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserves.





Enjoy!

www.gooddinnermrsmellen.com