Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Farm Fresh Tomatoes Pesto Pasta

Summertime's farm fresh tomatoes are my favorite ingredient to use for everything from salads to pastas. With a bountiful crop of basil I made an easy pesto sauce, roasted farm fresh colorful cherry tomatoes and tossed with cooked pasta. A wonderfully easy, quick summer time dinner that everyone will enjoy!

Farm Fresh Tomatoes Pesto Pasta

1 pint tricolor cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 sea salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

1 pound thin spaghetti, cooked according to directions.

Preheat oven to 350. Toss tomatoes, oil, salt and crushed pepper. Place in baking dish roasting for 20 minutes or until tomatoes start to burst. 
In a food processor combine remaining ingredients except for spaghetti. Processor until smooth. 
Toss pesto with hot spaghetti, top with tomatoes. Serve 4 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grilled Portobella Mushroom Sandwich

Portobella Mushroom Sandwich 

Portobella mushrooms are so versatile and delicious along with being a filling alternative to meat. Grilling Portabella mushrooms marinated enhances the rich flavor.  Grilling the mushrooms on a barbecue makes a wonderfully flavorful sandwich. Quick, easy, delicious and simple to prepare. 

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped onion

8 ounces Brie, slice thick

 Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Place caps on a plate with the gills up. In a small bowl, combine the oil, onion, garlic and vinegar. Pour mixture evenly over the mushroom caps and let stand for 1 hour.
Brush bread with oil. Grill mushrooms over hot grill for 10 minutes. Grill bread for the last two minutes. Remove mushrooms and bread. Place mushroom on bottom slice of bread. Layer on top of mushroom tomato, basil then brie. Place sandwich back on grill for 2-3 minutes until Brie starts to melt. Slice into four sandwiches and serve immediately.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Summer to me means fresh juicy blueberries- just fresh picked, ripped to perfection! My problem with blueberries is I can eat a whole pint before I even bake a cake or a pie.  What I love about my blueberry coffee cake is that it fits my requirements for summer, simple, easy, delicious and make ahead. This cake is short on time and long on taste.

    ¾ cup all purpose flour
    1 cup pecans, chopped
    ½ cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
    ¼ cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    1 ½ cups all purpose flour
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 egg
    4 T unsalted butter, melted
    3/4 cup cream
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish

    Prepare the Pecan Streusel: Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together chopped pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup cold butter pieces, and, using your fingers or a pastry blender, combine until a sandy texture is achieved.
    Prepare the Cake: Sift together baking powder, 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom. Beat cream, vanilla, egg, and 4 tablespoons melted butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula until blended. Do not overmix.
Arrange the blueberries  evenly over the batter, pressing them into the batter just a bit. Cover the top evenly with the Pecan Streusel, pressing lightly.
    Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 1 hour. Remove sides of pan before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw 

Make ahead Summertime salads easy, tasty completing every meal are such a favorite of mine. I love to combine different ingredients always adding fruit and nuts for sweetness and crunch. For the crunchy, tangy, sweet and sour taste of this Coleslaw I added pineapple, almonds, soy, and a touch of Chinese five spices with a hint of garlic. Amazingly I can always find a different fusion of spices creating a new outstanding addition to my summertime salad repertoire.


    1/4 cup pineapple juice
    3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
    1 teaspoon Chinese five spices
    clove garlic, crushed
    freshly ground black pepper to taste
    salt to taste

    1 (12 ounce) package Dole Classic Coleslaw
    1 cup diced fresh pineapple
    1/2 cup slivered almonds
    3 green onions, chopped


    Combine pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, oil, soy sauce, Chinese five spices, garlic, pepper and salt in a lidded jar or cruet. Cover and shake well.
    Toss coleslaw, pineapple, almonds, and green onions together in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with pineapple and almonds. Chill and serve cold.


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).

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.


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.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Vegetable Soup with Israeli Couscous

I love this flavorful vegetable soup that is filling yet very healthy. Make and freeze in individual serving sizes for a deliciously easy soup. I added a Parmesan cheese rind for added flavor that is your option. If you want a strictly vegan soup omit the cheese. Serve with freshly baked bread along with a big salad for a fabulous easy quick dinner.   

Vegetable Soup with Israeli Couscous

2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon Penzeys Mural of Flavor
64 oz.( 8 cups) vegetable broth
1cup dry red wine
1 can (14.5 oz) Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes without salt.
12 oz French green beans cut into 2 inch pieces
6 celery stalks thinly sliced
1 package (16 oz)  baby carrots sliced
1 can (15.5 oz) small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 4 inch piece Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1 cup Israeli Couscous

In a large stock pot heat oil then add garlic and shallots cooking just until translucent. Don’t over cook the garlic it will become bitter. Add red pepper and Mural of Favor to garlic/onion mixture just heated. Pour vegetable broth, wine and tomatoes into pot heating to a boil. Add bean, celery, carrots and white bean. Once the soup begins to boil add couscous lower heat simmering for 60 minutes. If cheese rind isn't dissolve remove. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.