Thursday, May 29, 2014

Banana Split Ice Cream Pie

Okay so it is ice cream, pie, and a beloved sundae in one dessert…..

You’re very welcome!

Oh and while you’re smitten with me, let me tell you how long it takes to make…….15 minutes J

I know, I really should wear a cape sometimes!

            Needless to say, but I’ll tell you anyway….this pie was inspired by this month’s Food Network Magazine. The original recipe had about 3- too- many steps for me to handle this past Memorial Day. I’m sure their version was divine, it was a thing a beauty to look at! But my here version, is kind of like a CliffsNotes one. All the good stuff, minus the time to conquer the real thing.

            I can’t say I got any complaints about taking a shortcut. Each slice was received with a welcoming smile, aiming spoon, and a quick turn goodbye! My only blunder was forgetting the maraschino cherries. Oh well, it remains to me be true- Food Network continues to outshine me! Enjoy….

Banana Split Ice Cream Pie
Servings: 8-10

OBJ: TCW be able to take a play on a Banana Split Sundae

1 graham cracker shell
1 gallon, strawberry/vanilla/ chocolate combo ice cream
½ C chocolate syrup, divided
2 bananas, sliced into ¼ inch slices, divided
½ C coarsely chopped walnuts, divided
Whipped topping and maraschino cherries, for garnish

1. Drizzle and spread ¼ C chocolate syrup over side and bottom of graham cracker shell
2. Use the slices from 1 of the bananas to cover the bottom of chocolate-covered graham cracker
3. Spooning one heap at a time, fill shell with about ¾ of gallon of ice cream. Try to smooth out as much as possible, it will be like a mound- no worries!
4. Spread the remaining slices of the other banana on top of ice cream
5. Sprinkle remaining ¼ C walnuts over top of ice cream
6. Drizzle, in any pattern you like, the remaining  ¼ C of chocolate syrup
7. Immediately transfer to freezer and let set for at least 3-4 hours
8. Serve with a decent dollop of whipped topping and another quick drizzle of syrup



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Apple Pie

            Can you believe Memorial Day Weekend is here? I feel like the Polar Vortex just left. Oh well, I’ll take a good BBQ and some summer sun any day over blizzards and snow boots.

            So with MDW officially here, I felt it necessary to deliver you an all-American classic: apple pie. Although not exactly a BBQ food, it definitely deserves a spot on your table this weekend. Lucky for you, the recipe below isn’t too time consuming nor will have you cranking your oven all day. I combined two tried and true recipes to come up with this version. The results were excellent, with only specks of flaky crust left on everyone’s plate.

            I hope your weekend turns out yummy and grand, with good friends, family and food all abound. Enjoy…


Apple Pie
Servings: 8
Adapted from: Pillsbury and Betty Crocker

OBJ: TCW be able to create an American classic

 1 box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
6 C thinly sliced, peeled apples (6 medium)
3/4 C sugar
2 TBS all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBS lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
2 TBS unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Extra sugar and cinnamon (mixed), for topping

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Place 1 pie crust in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly against side and bottom

2. In large bowl, gently mix apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and lemon juice
3. Spoon into crust-lined pie plate. Sprinkle butter pieces over filling:
4. Top with second crust. Wrap excess top crust under bottom crust edge, pressing edges together to seal; flute. Cut slits or shapes in several places in top crust
5. Brush top of pie with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with cinnamon/sugar mixture:
6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cover edge of crust with 2- to 3-inch wide strips of foil after first 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning
7. Cool on cooling rack at least 2 hours before serving


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Simple Fettuccini Bolognese

             I think if given the chance to meet anyone from the culinary world, it would be Giada for me. Mrs. De Laurentiis has always been an idol in my eyes and one who I continuously go to for recipes. I own almost all of her cookbooks and can proudly tell you what time all her shows are on. I’ve even pictured myself on her show, cooking alongside……because for one- I’m allowed to dream and two- it would undoubtedly be a great episode! J

            But anyway, I’ll spare you my soliloquy and get to the point. This here recipe was only tweaked by changing the meat part. I took what my Mom raised me on when it came to Bolognese and so therefore went with a meatloaf mix. Rather than just beef, it contains both pork and veal as well. In the end, it came out bread-sopping great and yielded a ton of sauce. Hubby and I chose to freeze the remaining and have since used it on pizzas and manicotti. So unless you are a family of 5, you will be the happy owners of a few vats of Bolognese after making this.

            I hope you try this recipe and enjoy a hearty and comforting meal from one of my faves. Here’s to you, Giada!

Simple Fettuccini Bolognese
Slightly adapted from: Food Network- Giada De Laurentiis

OBJ: TCW be able to quickly prepare a warm and comforting dish

1/4 C olive oil  
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 lb ground meatloaf mix- veal, pork and beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 C flat-leaf parsley, chopped, or about 1 TBS dried parsley
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
1 lb fettuccini, cooked according to package directions

1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes
2. Add the celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the meatloaf mix. Sauté, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes
3. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens
4. Season with salt and pepper
**This will take approximately 1/2 hour. Finish Bolognese with Pecorino Romano**
5. Plate your pasta and top with sauce, add more grated cheese!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Herbilicious Crab Cakes

Herbilicious Crab Cakes

            Crab cakes- my entry into the seafood world. I think I’m like most people who resist all under-the-sea selections until one day, someone makes them try something on the surf-side.  For me, it was a mix of both calamari and crab cakes that brought me over to this side. They both were fried and served with tasty sauce, there wasn’t much for me to dislike. I would venture to say that this is how most people get into seafood- first something mild and fried, then they take baby steps from there.  I can’t imagine going from fried calamari to roasted salmon, can you? Eesh, that sounds like going from a beach walk to a mountain climb!

            Well anyway, the point is we all came to enjoy seafood at some point whether it be from a fryer or perhaps a dare.  As I was born into the seafood world via crab cakes and calamari, I now hold them dearly to my stomach heart.  I will save the calamari talk for another post and continue on good ol’ Mr. CC.

            I love crab cakes, really I do. I’ve been lucky enough to even judge a few crab cake contests during the past few years. I’ve probably had crab cakes from about 30 different chefs and I always go back to enjoying the lumpiest the best. Lumpiness, as in full of chunks and crabbiness.  So therefore, when I go to make them at home I tend to go for recipes that have minimal ingredients and require little mixing.  

            That being said, I recently came across this recipe and gave it a whirl. It looked tasty and fresh and pretty easy. I had the Fios guy coming, risotto to make, and a few zillion loads of laundry to do so for this day, I was cruisin’ for no time losin’. It came together great, the key was letting it set in the fridge. Hubby loved the fresh herbs, he couldn’t get over how “fragrant” they were. The cakes did have fresh cilantro, dill and tarragon so yeah, I guess they did have that going for them. I enjoyed them too and was happy to even save a few to serve on Easter. The family loved them and were all victim to the “name that herb” game. I wasn’t the one prodding here but let’s just say my other half has his questioning down pat. Enjoy…

Crab Cakes
Makes: about 8-10 cakes
Source: adapted from Epicurious  

OBJ: TCW be able to continue on her crab cake making quest

1/4 C mayonnaise
1/4 C minced green onions
2 large egg yolks
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
4 tsp minced fresh dill
4 tsp minced fresh tarragon
4 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 TBS spicy brown mustard
1 TBS finely grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
2 C panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
2 TBS (or more) butter
2 TBS (or more) canola oil
Lemon slices
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
1. Line baking sheet with waxed paper
2.  Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl
3. Mix in crabmeat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crabmeat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes
4.  Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly
5. Form crab mixture into about 8-10 even sized patties (heaping ¼ C)
6. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet.
7. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day
8. Melt 2 tablespoon butter with 2 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat
9. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total
10. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate or brown paper bag to drain and salt
11. Place pan-fried cakes on baking sheet and cook in oven for about 8-10 minutes or until bubbly and heated through
12. Serve with lemon slices



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Learning from Traditions

Learning from Traditions: Holupki

            A few months back, I was lucky enough to spend an entire Saturday with my grandparents learning what they call “soul food”. Holupki, to be more precise, was what I was in charge of watching, doing and reciting by day’s end. Now this was no 2 hour meal, not even close to anything Mrs. Rachael Ray would advertise and definitely not something I would have ready for Hubby on a weeknight. Oh no, it was a meal worthy of an entire day worth of chopping, stirring, mixing, simmering, layering and then of course cleaning. What I thought was going to be nothing more than rolling some cabbage with beef turned out to be more like an “ok thank goodness I wore yoga pants” kind of day. But beyond the 8 hour cooking, I came to realize the symbolic nature of food- the way it trickles down generations and captures you in its steamy warmth….
            It is funny how recipes get passed down, ya know. Every family has one or maybe a few recipes that make their appearance at every holiday table. Even if the day doesn’t warrant the dish, it will be there, no questions asked. For our family, it is Holupki and Kielbasa with sour kraut. Now the ladder there, I adore and have no problem with it showing up every few months or so. Yes it is odd to be eating kielbasa with hot dogs and hamburgers at a pool party but it is what this here family does. The former though, holupki ,is one dish that I have stared down for years and halted when being offered. Yes it has been at each event and my brother can attest to eating one to many of those cabbage pockets at probably every hour of the day. Heck, my family even has a Lazy Holupki recipe for the days when you want the flavor but don’t have the 20 hours to make it. Regardless though, I have never been one to jump and high five at the site of it. But then, about 6 months ago, I was watching the Food Network and saw Ina making it and thought that it looked pretty good. So, I did what any eastern European granddaughter would do- I  called my Mama and told her that I have to learn how to make this stuff.
Me & my Mama
            Long story short (ha), I planned a day where I could watch the pro do it. She warned me it would take some time so I happily wore comfy clothes and got to working. I really don’t know the exact recipe but I do know that it involved cutting the cabbage a certain way, mixing the beef and pork with certain seasonings and layering with just enough tomato juice. To be completely honest, I actually do have the recipe but have signed off on my life that I will not disclose here……family ruleJ
My Papa....the cleaner-upper!
           But beyond the cooking, this day was really so much more than the yummy goodness that I had refused for quite some time. It was about watching my Mama make what her elders had taught her and how my Papa grew up on it. I heard stories about my great grandparents who, from what I heard, worked damn hard and lived on both holupki and kielbasa. Honestly, it sounds better than Wendy’s anytime to me! I noticed how my Papa made sure my Mama was telling me each and every detail so that I could continue the recipe with my children’s children. Eventually, he made sure she decoded her hand-written recipe to me because her writing is basically illegible. Needless to say, she wasn’t too keen on all his reminders throughout the day. But anyway, it became clear to me that they were in fact handing down an heirloom to me. A story, if you will, of how our family dug its roots and prospered here. It might have taken a lot of cabbage, beef and kielbasa, but the recipe symbolizes a tie that has brought us all together. A constant that has been at all my family’s gatherings and one that I was more than happy to be witness to.
My great grandparents....Julia & George

            So in the end, did it really take 8 hours to make this stuff you might ask. And I’d gladly reply, no- it took many lifetimes.