Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Greek Egg Salad




Egg salad doesn't have to boring. I love to combine different flavors to create innovative recipes that is how I came up with Greek Egg Salad. One of my favorite Greek dips is Tzatiki a luscious combination of yogurt, garlic and cucumbers which I used as the base for this egg salad. Adding Kalamati olives boast the flavor reminiscent of the Mediterranean where olive trees fill the country side with luscious plants bearing the beautiful bountiful olive fruits.

Greek Egg Salad  

4 hard boiled eggs
3/4 cup Tzatiki
1/4 cup plan Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Kalamati olives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups spring greens
1 cucumber, sliced 
1 large tomato sliced
kalamata olives


Combine first five ingredients. Place spring greens on plate. Top with egg salad. Arrange sliced tomatoes and cucumber around the egg salad. Decorate with olives. So simply delicious and easy for a wonderfully flavorful lunch or light dinner.

Servers two.

Enjoy!





Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Farm Fresh Tomatoes with Scallops

If you follow my blog you know that I love farm fresh tomatoes especially tricolor cherry tomatoes. These little rainbow color flavorful jewels add visual vistas to any meal. Fresh scallops combined with farm fresh tomatoes roasted to they are just ready to pop is one of my favorite combinations. Add some olive oil, garlic, seasonings and lemon juice, a simple, elegant, delicious, quick meal.

Farm Fresh Tomatoes with Scallops

1 lbs. Fresh Sea Scallops
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Tuscan Sunset from Penzey Spices
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Place Scallops in baking dish top with lemon juice. Combine in a small bowel oil, garlic, pepper, sea salt and Tuscan Sunset. Drizzle over scallops. Remove form over topping with cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes. Serves 4. I like to layer sliced fresh Italian on plates topping with the baked tomatoes and scallops.  

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Quinoa with Fresh tomatoes and Mozzarella



If you have followed my blog you know that I love tomatoes - big juicy heirloom tomatoes in rainbow colors, petite cherry tomatoes colored in bright hues by the sun. I never met a tomato I didn't just want to eat.  Inevitably all the bountiful tomatoes of summer find a place in my cooking either fresh or gently simmered bursting with flavor. Tomatoes and grains are a wonderful pairing to make a light lunch or a tasty side dish. You can use any gain as the base for this recipe, I used Quinoa but I have made this dish with farro or Israel couscous.

Quiona with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella  

1 cup Quiona, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon balsamic fig vinegar
1 minced clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup slice cucumbers
1/2 cup cubed fresh Mozzarella

Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard and herbs in bowl mixing with a whisk. Toss Quiona with half of oil mixture and place on plate. Top with tomatoes, cucumbers and mozzarella. Drill with remaining oil mixture. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Enjoy! 


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 

Enjoy!

www.gooddinnermrsmellen.com 
www.gooddinnermrsmellen@blogspot.com



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.

Enjoy!



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.

    PECAN STREUSEL
    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
    
    CAKE
    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.

Enjoy!


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.



Ingredients

    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
   

Directions

    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.




Enjoy!

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.


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.

Enjoy!

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



Monday, February 20, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower with Italian Tuna over Pasta



I love to create easy weekday meals that just burst with flavor. Being of Italian heritage I learned at an early age from my mother that you should only consume food that taste delicious. Meticulous preparation was so important to my mother who enjoyed the art of cooking instilling in me that food is love that your share with family and friends. I have continued her tradition preparing meals with the focus on flavor and taste. All you need to add as my mother is fond of saying is a pinch or this, a dash of that, just doctor it up! Still at ninety five she knows how to make food sing with flavor.

Roasted Cauliflower with Italian Tuna over Pasta

1 head cauliflower, chopped
six skin-on garlic cloves
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 salt
1/4 black pepper
1/4 red pepper flakes
1 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon butter
two tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, toasted
Italian yellow fin tuna in olive oil
1 tablespoon capers

1 pound pasta or spaghetti


On a sheet pan, drizzle a head of chopped cauliflower and six skin-on garlic cloves with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Roast at 425°, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is caramelized and crisp, about 30 minutes. Once cool, peel the roasted garlic cloves and chop.

In a large bowl, combine a cup of grated Parmesan, three tablespoons of butter, a pinch of salt, two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, and a quarter-cup of toasted breadcrumbs. (Toast stale bread until lightly golden, then use a food processor to pulse into crumbs.)

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook a pound of short pasta (like cavatelli) or thin spaghetti. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower, garlic cloves, Parmesan butter mixture, and enough pasta water to mix it all together. Add flaked tuna and mix. Garnish with capers.


www.gooddinnermrsmellen.com
www.gooddinnermrsmellen.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Christmas Morning Breakfast Casseroles

Christmas morning I find myself returning to memories of my Christmas mornings as a child where we would wake before the moon was tucked away for the day. So excited to see what Santa had left under the tree we would rush into our living room eyes filled with delight holding my breath as we got our first peek at our tree and gifts. Christmas still holds that child wonderment for me even now all these years later. After exchanging gifts our tradition includes a large Christmas morning breakfast before we ready for our company to arrive for Christmas dinner. I love to make these easy breakfast casseroles which conveniently can be readied the night before just baking in the morning for an easy, delicious Christmas morning.





Sausage, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray
1 pound chicken sausage links
6 slices soft hearty white bread
One 8-ounce package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13- by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, until browned, about 10 minutes; drain well on paper towels. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Cut and discard the crusts from the bread. Cut the slices in half, and arrange in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, cutting pieces to fit as necessary to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with the sausage and cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, seasoned salt and pepper; carefully pour the mixture over the cheese.

Bake casserole until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.



Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole

Ingredients

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked grits
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pound chicken sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Mix in 1/2 the butter and 2 cups cheese until melted.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Drain and slice into 1 inch slices. Mix into the grits. Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl,  then mix into the grits.
  4. Pour the grits mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining butter, and top with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. 





Christmas Morning French Toast

1 loaf Italian bread ( 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
crumb topping
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Maple Syrup ( if desired, I don't think it is needed as the topping takes the place of maple syrup)

Slice Italian bread into 20 1-inch slices.  Arrange slices on a 9 x13 baking dish( spray with cooking spray)  in two rows, overlapping the slices.  In a large bowl combine eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and beat with a mixer or whisk until blended. Pour egg mixture over the bread, slowly, making sure to evenly cover all the bread.   Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup of butter( 1 sick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

The next day preheat oven 350 F.  Spread topping over bread. (It will not cover all the bread)  Top with cranberries.  Bake covered for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.  Serve with maple syrup if desired.

Enjoy!



Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies






Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate, caramel and sea salt, a perfect combination for a Christmas cookie. Each year I make copious quantities of Christmas cookies to give to friends and family. Sharing my creations with those I love is my personal way to celebrate the season. This cookie has become one of my family's favorite since they all love chocolate and caramel dusted with sea salt then drizzled with chocolate glaze!

Ingredients

    COOKIES
    1 cup flour
    Generous 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg yolk
    1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup fine granulated sugar

    CARAMEL Filling
    
   1/2 package caramels, unwrapped
   2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
   1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus about 1/2 tsp. for sprinkling
   2 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar
   1 teaspoon shortening 

Preparation

1. Make cookies: Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

2. Scoop dough into rounded 1-tsp. portions and roll into balls, then roll balls in sparkling or powdered sugar to coat. Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. With end of a thick-handled wooden spoon, gently press an indentation into center of each cookie. Bake until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (The depressions tend to fill in a bit as they bake, so as soon as they're out of the oven, give them another press with the spoon if necessary.) Slide parchment with cookies onto cooling racks and let cool.

3. Make caramel: Place caramels in small heavy sauce pan with cream. Heat to boiling lower heat stirring until caramels are melted.

4. Assemble cookies: Spoon about 1/4 tsp. caramel into each cookie, then sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt.

5. Microwave chocolate and shortening on high for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is smooth. Drizzle over cookies.

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Cheesecake



My mother passed this recipe to me many years ago.  It is the richest cheesecake that you can make.  I save it for special occasions when I want to share a show stopping dessert that tops off a dinner or a party.  I have included a recipe for a pineapple glaze, or you can thickly spread sour cream on top. Or if you want to make this for Christmas as I did this year I put candied cranberries on top. Ether way this  cheesecake is the star of the show!

Crust:
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup butter, softened

Filling:
5 pkg(8-oz) cream cheese softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/2 grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Pineapple Glaze:
2 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cans(8 1/4-oz) crushed pineapple in heavy syrup, undrained
2 tablespoon lemon juice
        
Sugared cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water 



Crust:
Preheat over to 400F.  Grease the inside of 9-inch springform pan(3 inches high). Remove side.  Make crust:  In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon, peel, vanilla.  Make well in center; with fork, blend in yolk and butter.  Mix with fingertips until smooth. Form half of dough into a ball and place on bottom of springform pan. Place wax paper on top; roll pastry to edge of pan.  Remove paper. Bake 6 to ;8 minutes or until golden.  Cool.  Meanwhile divide rest of dough into three parts.  Between waxed paper roll each part 2 1/4 inch wide and 9 inch long. Assemble springform pan with the crust on the bottom. Line sides fo the pan with pastry strips, over lapping ends. Remove waxed paper.  Preheat oven 450F.

Filling: In large mixer bowl, blend cheese, sugar, flour, peels and vanilla at high speed.  Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time: beat until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with spatula.  Beat in cream.  Pour into pan.  Bake 10 minutes. Lower oven to 250F. Bake 1 hour longer.  Remove pan to rack to cool, 2 hours. Make glaze.

Glaze: In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in remaining ingredients. Over medium heat, bring to boiling, stirring; boil 1 minute, or until thickened and translucent.  Cool.
Spread surface of cheese cake with glaze; refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Sugared Cranberries: Bring 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour simple syrup into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add cranberries and stir to coat. Refrigerate cranberries in syrup overnight, stirred a couple times to coat with syrup. 

Remove cranberries from syrup and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. You'll need to roll them a few times to get a couple layers of sugar on them.

Set cranberries aside to dry for a hour or so.


To serve: Loosen pastry fro side of pan with spatula.  Remove sides of springform pan.  Top with either Pineapple glaze or sugared cranberries. Serves 16
 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Bars

 

Who doesn't love caramel and chocolate. These bars have both and are very easy to make. Cookies generally require time although worth all the effort to make homemade cookies. If you love cookies but thought you didn't have the patients or time to make try a bar cookie. So easy to make without having to roll out or decorate. And so delicious, need I say more. Once you master the bar cookie you will always find time to whip up a batch.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, soften 
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 14-oz package vanilla caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 14 ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk or low-fat sweetened condensed milk 
  •  1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or fine sea salt 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the butter. In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the rolled oats.
  2. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the reserved 2 tablespoons butter, caramels and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
  3. Press two-thirds (about 3-1/3 cups) of the rolled oats mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15X10X1-inch baking pan. Spread caramel filling evenly over the oats mixture. Sprinkle chocolate chips.Dot remaining rolled oats mixture on filling.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cool pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 60 bars.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beautiful Surroundings Soothing to the Soul!

Seeking beauty in surroundings seems frivolous,wasting time, energy, money, especially when measured against ‘real’ world issues. A throw back to a time that has long passed, is not relevant and doesn’t exist. I for one beg to differ for filling my life with beauty effortless elevates my soul. The beauty that makes me happy changes from moment to moment presenting unlimited opportunities to enjoy. From a beautiful bouquet of fresh picked flowers simply arranged in a white pitcher to aromatic soup gracing an artfully designed bowel, all add an element of joy to normal surroundings. Style, grace, elegance, manners, all old fashion ideas, words belonging not to our face paced technology driven world, extinct, irrelevant to life as we live today. I challenge that tenant; for living with simple beauty in all aspects of life colors the world with a unique hue of infectious positivity.

Filling my life with beauty, man made or natural invites repose, beckoning me to stop, slow down, even if only for a second, to see, feel, partake with awe all that I normally ignore in my hectic life: Needed nourishment for a thriving like as much as food is needed for a healthy body. Of late I have become acutely aware that that ugliness in all forms, even words, depresses not only the mind but the physical body as well. Through the mind body connection our thoughts, moods, travel on pathways reaching all areas of our body creating either positive or negative results. By simply increasing awareness of beauty impacts all aspects of life.

Adding beauty each day, a single flower in a vase, a good book with engaging writing, a walk in the park, a breathtaking photo, a few examples of my ideas, is easy. The old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” means the definition of beauty is wide range, uniquely individual, a bare canvas open for personal interpretation. Finding beauty, soaking in the feeling,  embracing the joy into one’s soul elevates even the downiest of days freeing you to be a light illuminating the world. Be the beacon for all sharing the rays of hope moving from darkness to light. Beauty lights up the bleakest moment allowing a smoother transition to the next. Fill each day with your personal definition of beauty  comforting  your path on life’s glorious journey.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Beef Bourguignon over Pasta




Beef Bourguignon over Pasta

2 tablespoon olive oil
2.5 lb boneless beef chuck, cut in 1.5 inch cubes
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 lb. small white onions, peeled (about 12)
12 whole cloves
8 ounces whole or sliced mushrooms
2.5 tablespoons flour
2.5 teaspoons meat-extract paste (not liquid)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine
3/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup ruby port
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pound of pasta

Recipe Instructions

Slowly heat 4 quart Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid. olive oil; heat, but do not burn.
In hot oil, over high heat, brown beef cubes well, using a fourth at a time, or just enough to cover bottom of Dutch oven.
Remove beef as it browns. Continue until beef is browned, adding more oil as needed. Return beef to Dutch oven.
In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons brandy just until vapor rises. Ignite, pour over beef. As flame dies, remove beef.
Add 2 olive oil to Dutch Oven; heat slightly. Stud each onion with a clove. Add onions; cook over low heat, covered, until onions brown slightly. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in flour, meat-extract paste and tomato paste until well blended. Stir in wine, sherry, port and stock.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring wine mixture just to boiling, stirring. Remove from heat. Add beef, pepper, and bay leaf; mix well.
Bake, covered, stirring occasionally, 1.5 hours, or until beef is tender, adding remaining brandy, remove bay leaf.  Can be served along, over rice or pasta.

Serves 6
Taste better if made day ahead. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can be reheated microwave or on stove top.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snowy Winter White Chocolate Cranberry Cake





 Snowy Winter White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

Looking at this cake makes me think of glistering fresh new snow illuminated by a bright lite full moon! Not only is this cake a beautiful show stopper it also taste wonderful. I love this tender white cake filled a heavenly white chocolate ganache. Sugared cranberries finish this storybook cake to perfection to be a glorious finish to any holiday meal or party!

Sugared cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water 

Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups all purposed flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cranberries

White Chocolate Icing

12 oz white chocolate chips

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
8-9 cups powdered sugar

Sugared Cranberries:


1. Bring 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Pour simple syrup into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
3. Add cranberries and stir to coat.
4. Refrigerate cranberries in syrup overnight, stirred a couple times to coat with syrup.
5. Remove cranberries from syrup and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. You'll need to roll them a few times to get a couple layers of sugar on them.
6. Set cranberries aside to dry for a hour or so. 
Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans. 
2. To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth
4.Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy. 
5.Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
6.Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat for 1 more minute. Add cranberries by hand.*
7.Divide the dough among the prepared pans. If you're using a scale, put 1 1/2 pounds of batter in each pan. 
8.Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and cool completely on a rack. 
White Chocolate Icing
1. Place white chocolate chips in a metal bowl.
2. Microwave heavy cream until it starts to boil. Remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips.
3. Cover bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes.
4. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth.
5. Allow ganache to sit until mostly cool. It should be thick.
6. Beat the ganache with a mixer for about 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.
7. Add butter and beat until it is fully combined.
8. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until it is fluffy and the right consistency. Add more cream if needed.

To assemble cake:

1. Remove cake domes from cakes with a large serrated knife.
2. Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Spread about icing on top in an even layer.
3. Add second layer of cake and add more icing on top in an even layer.
4. Add final layer of cake on top and ice the outside of the cake.
5. Top the cake with sparkling cranberries and add some around the edge, if desired. 
*Tip: Dust cranberries  with flour before adding to the batter to prevent their sinking to the bottom of the cake layers.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole



Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole

Ingredients

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked grits
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pound chicken sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Mix in 1/2 the butter and 2 cups cheese until melted.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Drain and slice into 1 inch slices. Mix into the grits. Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl,  then mix into the grits.
  4. Pour the grits mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining butter, and top with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned.

Shout out to Southern Living Magazine

Only by chance many years ago on a vacation in the South did I discover Southern Living Magazine. Originally from Pennsylvania now living in Massachusetts this publication was not available in my area. Drawn to a beautiful picture of a sky high layer cake on the cover my interest was so thoroughly peeked prompting  me to take the magazine off the rack to peek inside. Skimming through the pages I was so drawn to the magazine I bought my first issue on our summer vacation. Initially drawn to the cake on the cover as I read the articles I felt immediately a kinship with the classic decorating featured in the publication. Classic but not unapproachable, I could feel comfortable incorporating the decorating ideas into my home. I looked forward to the arrival of each the new month eager for more decorating inspiration along with recipes add to my growing favorites from Southern Living,  Increasingly I looked to this inspirational magazine for recipes that were beautifully presented that I could easily duplicate for my family and friends. Along with inspiration I developed a kinship to the gracious southern lifestyle shared in the magazine, genuine hospitality at it's finest which spoke to my soul.

All these years later Southern Living never fails me with the ever changing selection of fail proof recipes. Although I am an experienced cook creating  my own recipes with a blog, I still turn to Southern Living Magazine each month for inspiration combined with new recipes that I look forward to cooking for my family. I continue to subscribe to other magazines but I find that lately their recipes are not in tune with not only everyday cooking but even with entertaining for company and celebrating holidays.  Southern Living's recipes are not intimidating, using hard to find ingredients along with tools not found outside a professional chef's kitchen. I recommend Southern Living to everyone who wants to learn as well as improve their cooking skills without having to goggle all the ingredients or purchase expensive kitchen tools that might never be used again. Why intimidate a new cook before they even have a change to make their first meal. Even for a cook such as myself I've learned that difficult doesn't always translate to good or exceptional. Cooking for me is a zen like experience that flows freely, never feeling strained or forced. Not to mention pretentious or snotty. I've learned that I don't want to feel that I've expended more energy in the preparation of  a meal than in the actual enjoying, savoring with family and friends. 

Thank you Southern Living for never failing to enthrall, to engage, me each and every month, twelve times a year! Check out December 2016 Southern Living's, I was not disappointed in this outstanding beautiful Holiday Issue!

http://www.southernliving.com/

www.gooddinnermrsmellen.com