Mother’s Day Planning – Luncheon Ideas

 

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Thought I would post a few days early as Sunday I’ll be busy with my family and I thought I would share some Mother’s Day food ideas for anyone looking. I was always one to do lots of things for my mother throughout the year but I made sure I would do something a little extra special for Mother’s Day. Twice we took mom out to dinner and it was really a big mistake, restaurants are super busy, long wait times and they are looking to turn over tables as quick as possible, leaving you feeling rushed through a meal. So instead I would plan a nice day with an extra special dinner or Spring luncheon. Lunch was often a perfect choice, we would have the entire afternoon to enjoy being together and share some Springtime dishes.

The dining table would be nicely set and a floral centerpiece to pretty things up. Here are an assortment of the recipes I used over the years.

Sunshine Salad

I found this recipe years ago. When prepared for an evening meal, it’s called “Sunset Salad”.

8-10 Servings
Prep: 10 min. + chilling
Ingredients
•1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits
•1 can (11-15 ounces) mandarin oranges
•1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding
•1 cup quartered strawberries
•1 cup sliced ripe bananas

Directions

Drain pineapple and oranges, reserving juices. In a large bowl,
combine pudding mix with reserved fruit juices. Fold in pineapple,
oranges and strawberries; chill for at least 2 hours. Add bananas
just before serving. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

You can serve this salad on rolls, sandwiches cut in triangles or fill shells made from biscuits.

2 whole boneless chicken breasts
1 stalk celery
1 onions, quartered
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2-2 cups mayonnaise (depending on how wet you like your chicken salad)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dill (optional)
Directions
Place chicken, celery stalk and onion in saucepan with water to cover.
Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done.
Drain and discard onion and celery.
Let chicken cool.
In a food processor chop chicken.
In a medium sized bowl combine chicken with mayonnaise, salt& pepper, parsley, dill seed, chopped celery and lemon juice.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Orzo Salad

orzo salad 2

8 ounces orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, vinegar, red onion, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Salad Nicoise

Romaine Hearts
4 Hard-boiled eggs
1 can artichokes
Steamed Green Beans
3 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges
Nicoise olives (Greek pitted Olives)
Potatoes cooked and cut into quarters
1 sweet red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cans of white solid tuna
Anchovies
Dressing
1 garlic clove minced
Lemon Juice
olive oil
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Optional – Fresh chopped basil

Separate romaine heart leaves and arrange on a platter. Arrange hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters, green beans, artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, and olives decoratively over lettuce leaves. Add the anchovies and onion rings. Break up tuna and arrange over vegetables. Drizzle with dressing.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sliced cucumbers
1 small onion (sliced thinly)

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt. Add cucumbers and
onions; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Yield: 6-8
servings.

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Deli Style Tuna Salad

You can easily make as much as needed by doubling or tripling.

One 6 oz can albacore tuna
1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped onion
2 Tbsps drained sweet pickle relish
4 Tbsps mayonnaise
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor and process until consistency of pate.

Tomato & Onion Salad

3 large Tomatoes – sliced into wedges or slices if your prefer
1 small to medium sweet red onion – size depends how much onion you prefer
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaf (or ½ teaspoon dried basil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Directions:

Peel the onion and cut into thin rings. Add slice vegetables into a glass bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour over tomatoes and onions.
Cover and allow to stand 30 minutes at room temperature or longer, refrigerated.

Serve with a nice loaf of bread.
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Good Friday Recipes- Baked Scrod & Mahi Mahi

Good Friday is around the corner so I wanted to make sure I shared a few easy to prepare fish recipes. Here are two of my favorites, both are baked with a crumb topping. Easy to prepare after a busy day on Good Friday or any time. I use either of these toppings on any fish filet whether it be scrod, cod, flounder, catfish or Mahi Mahi, just remember to adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of the fish you are using. All you need is a few easy to prepare side dishes and you can save yourself from those crowded seafood restaurants this time of year, relax at home and feel very satisfied.

BAKED SCROD WITH LEMONY PANKO CRUMB TOPPING

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1 1/2-2 lbs scrod fillets (cod or haddock)
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large juicy lemon also grate the lemon peel from the lemon
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup white wine
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a skillet, sauté the onion in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter until soft but not browned.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the panko crumbs with the parsley, 1 teaspoon of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, half of the lemon juice, and half of the grated lemon peel.
Once the onions are soft, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, remaining grated lemon peel, salt and pepper, the remaining lemon juice and the white wine and continue to cook for another minute or so until heated through.
Put the onion and lemon mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Place the fish on top of the onions and season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.
Divide the crumb topping evenly over the fish and give a light spray of olive oil.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until fish is cooked through and the crumbs are golden brown. This can be served with spaghetti, even spaghetti squash or zucchini zoodles. Don’t forget to top with the lemon sauce from the baking dish.

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Pesto Crusted Mahi Mahi

Parmesan Baked Crusted Mahi Mahi

A simple and delicious Mahi Mahi recipe with a pesto crust 

• Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH:
• 4 six-ounce portions of mahi-mahi
• 1/2 cup of your favorite Pest – Basil Pesto or Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
• 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
FOR THE FISH:
1. In a medium bowl, mix pesto and breadcrumbs together until they form a coarse paste.
2. Place mahi-mahi portions on a large baking sheet, lightly season with salt and pepper.
3. Spread pesto mixture evenly across all four mahi-mahi portions. Use your fingers to pat the pesto mixture down into the fish to form an even crust.
4. Bake Mahi Mahi at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Fish should reach an internal temperature of approximately 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Memories of Italian Easter Pies

Spring has arrived and Easter is only two weeks away. When I was growing up I remember my mother just before Easter making Italian Grain Pie and on occasion, a meat and cheese filled pie which I never knew the name of back then, but both were so delicious.

Italian Grain Pie

The Italian Wheat Grain Pie is a tasty dessert of cooked wheat berries, sweetened ricotta, the delicate flavors of lemon and orange peel and a bit of candied citron fruit. I have never made the pie myself but thinking this might be the year to give it a try. My mother’s recipe is only a scribbling of pencil notes but I did manage to find a similar recipe that looked close to the one I have.

Easter Grain Pie

This fruity ricotta and wheat pie is dense and moist. A real Italian treat for Easter

Ingredients
• 5 cups water
• 1/2 cup whole wheat berries
• 6 eggs
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 (8 ounces) package mixed candied fruit
• 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
• 1 tablespoon shortening
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 pastries for 9-inch lattice-top pies
• 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions
1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Pour in wheat and allow to boil 40 minutes. As wheat is cooking, beat eggs in a large bowl while gradually adding 1 cup sugar to eggs. Mix in fruit, ricotta, vanilla extract, cinnamon, lemon rind, and orange rind.
2. When wheat is ready, drain in a colander and rinse with warm water. Place 3/4 cup of cooked wheat in a small bowl, and mix in shortening and salt. Stir until shortening is melted, then stir wheat mixture into ricotta mixture along with the rest of the cooked wheat berries.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. Line two 9 inch pie pans with pastry. Cut remaining pastry into strips for tops of pies. Spoon half of filling into each pan. Cover with pastry strips to form lattice tops. Crimp edges.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle each pie with 1 tablespoon sugar and allow to cool at room temperature. Chill overnight before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Pizza Rustica or Easter Pie

Over the years, I learned that delicious meat and cheese pie I remember eating was called Pizzagaina or Pizza Rustica. There are so many versions of this recipe to choose from. I have made several versions over the years from a simple easy to make quiche recipe to others that were much more labor intensive but so amazingly delicious. Easter Pie is traditionally served noon or later on Easter Saturday or as my mom would say “After the church bells ring” signaling the end of Lent.

This is the first version of Pizza Rustica I made:

Pizzagaina

pizzagaina

1/2 lb ham (sliced thick from deli-counter or cubed pieces of boiled ham)
• 1/4 lb prosciutto (regular prosciutto)
• 1/4 lb capicola (spiced-hot capicola )
• 1/4 lb genoa salami
• 1 lb mozzarella cheese (1 entire brick of whole milk mozzarella, shredded)
• 2 lbs ricotta cheese (whole milk)
• 1 stick pepperoni (sliced) about ¼ lb or so could be more
• 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
• 12 -14 eggs (start with 12 and if too dry add 1 or 2 more)
• 2 lbs pizza dough (homemade or store bought)

1. Cube ham meat. Cut sliced meat by rolling & slicing or cutting with scissors. Shred mozzarella. In a very large bowl, add ricotta. Add 12 – 14 eggs. Add 3 heaping tablespoons Grated cheese – then stir in the cubed meat and cheese.
2. Brush pan (Large deep lasagna pan about 9 x 13 or 9 x 15) with oil then melted butter. Roll out & lay dough. Add cheese/meat mixture. Add top layer of dough and pinch bottom & top dough seams together tightly.
3. Brush top with oil then egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Make Easter Cross with a large fork to vent. Bless.
4. Bake 375º x 10 min. Then 350º x 60 min. Then 325º x 30-45 minute.
5. Remove from oven. Brush top with melted butter. Cool 2-3 hours.
Turn upside down overnight on large board. Cover pizza tightly with paper towels, foil, & dish-towel. Refrigerate.

The Pizza Rustica I am most proud of was one filled with Spinach and Peppers. It was so beautiful when sliced.

Pizza Rustica with Spinach & Peppers

Easter Pizza Rustica

Pastry Dough
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, beaten
3 T ice water, or more as needed

Blend flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Blend in the eggs. With the machine running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, with 1 piece twice as large as the second piece. Flatten the dough pieces into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes (and up to 1 day).

Filling
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (or 2 300-gram boxes of frozen spinach)
2 T olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce/475 gram) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup plus 2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 large egg yolks
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
4 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
4 ounces thinly sliced salami
1 (10 to 12 ounce/300 ml) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 large egg, beaten

Position the rack on the bottom of the oven, and preheat oven to 375F. Squeeze the spinach to drain off as much liquid as possible. Heat oil in medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and sauté until heated through about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Blend the ricotta, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and the egg yolks in a food processor, until smooth.

Roll out the larger dough ball on a lightly floured surface to a 17-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture over the bottom of the dough. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese over the spinach. Spread half of the ricotta mixture (about 1 cup) over the mozzarella cheese. Arrange half of each of the prosciutto, pepperoni, and salami over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella over the meats. Arrange half the roasted red peppers in an even layer over the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining spinach mixture over the peppers. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the mozzarella over the spinach. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over the mozzarella cheese. Arrange the remaining prosciutto, pepperoni, and salami over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over the meats. Arrange the remaining roasted peppers over the cheese.

Roll out the second piece of dough into a 12-inch round. Place the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges of the doughs together to seal. Using scissors, trim the edge of the dough to 1/2 inch. Fold the dough edges in, creating a decorative rim atop the pizza. Brush some of the egg over the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the top. Bake on bottom rack until the crust is brown on top and around the sides (cover the top with foil if it begins to brown too quickly before the sides are brown), about 1 hour.

Let the pizza stand until just warm, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves: 8 – 10

Instant Pot Corned Beef – Homemade Magic!

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As I mentioned last week I was going to try making my corned beef in my Instant Pot for the first time. The recipes I posted last week are ones I had been making for years and the corned beef was a step above the traditional way of just simmering on the stove with the packet of spices. I did try it in the slow cooker once with a bottle of Guinness and found the corned beef to not be very tender at all. I also really didn’t care for the taste of the Guinness beer. I do use beer in some recipes but I am not a typical beer drinker so that may also have been a part of the problem. Guinness is an acquired taste in my book.

So here are the simple steps I used to cook my corned beef in the Instant Pot and I must say it did not disappoint at all. It was tender and flavorful and making it this way will certainly be in my rotation of recipes for making corned beef.

Corned Beef and Vegetables cooked in Beer

Instant Pot – 6 Qt. Duo

Corned Beef 4 lbs. plus the spice packet included with the corned beef

1 – 12 oz bottle of your favorite beer. (I used Blue Moon Belgian White Beer)

Instant Pot rack/trivet (I prefer using the one from OXO)

1 small head of Cabbage cut into about eight wedges

1 – 1 lb bag ready to use Carrots

About 2 lbs of small to medium Potatoes, peeled and all cut to about the same size whether it be quarters or halves if the potatoes are small. I used Yukon Golds this time.

Take the corned beef out of the package and rinse off the brine and place the rack/trivet into the Instant Pot

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Put the corned beef. fat side up on the rack/trivet, this will help to keep the meat moist and tender. Sprinkle the spice packet on top of the corned beef, you can push the spices down a bit so they stay on top.

Pour the beer along the sides of the pot but not on top of the meat.

Close up the Instant Pot and set on High Pressure for 90 minutes. When the 90 minutes are over let the pressure pin on the Instant Pot come down on its own with Natural Release for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the Corned beef and let it rest on a cutting board for about 10-15 minutes, you can cover with aluminum foil if you wish while you move on to the next step.

Return the rack/trivet back to the Instant Pot and get ready to add the prepared vegetables.

Add the Carrots first, then the Potatoes and lastly the cabbage arranged evenly on top.  Close, set to High Pressure for 4 minutes. When the 4 minutes are up, do a Quick Release. Open and remove the vegetables to a serving platter. (I used one of those Asian Wire Spider Skimmers to remove the veggies from the pot, works like a charm)

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Proceed to scrape any spices off the fat cap. If you prefer you can slice off the fat cap or leave it on if you prefer then slice it down for serving and remove the fat later.

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Our favorite is to use Stone Ground Mustard to go with our meat and Irish Soda Bread on the side

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If you give this a try I hope you enjoy! Remember you can enjoy Corned Beef any time of year, not just for St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day – Corned Beef Dinner

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Taking the day off as it’s been a fun birthday week for me so I thought I would repost last years St. Patrick’s Day meal. This year I am planning to make my corned beef in the Instant Pot so I will post how it turned out on next weeks blog. I love the recipe that I’ve made for years but thought it’s time to mix things up a bit. One year I did try a version made in the slow cooker and it was a bit of a disappointment, so let’s see how the pressure cooker does.

So just click the links below and enjoy!

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Honey Glazed Corned Beef and Colcannon

 

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Irish Soda Bread

Chinese New Year 2019 – Egg Foo Yung

Gung Hay Fat Choy! 2019  is the Chinese New Year of the Pig.

We love classic Chinese American dishes from our local Chinese take out place. Over the years I have learned how to make many of my own homemade versions of Chinese American meals from recipes I’ve collected. One of my favorite dishes is Egg Foo Yung. I thought I’d share my recipe for those who would like to make this dish at home.

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Egg Foo Yung

4 eggs
1/2 cup diced cooked pork or shrimp
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup small frozen peas
1 cup bean sprouts, cut to 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Crack eggs into large bowl.  Do not break yolks yet.  Add pork or shrimp,
onion, peas, sprouts, salt, and pepper  Coat a large nonstick skillet with
oil and heat over high heat.  While the skillet heats up, mix the following: Mix eggs and all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.  Ladle egg mixture into the hot skillet making 6 pancakes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until brown on bottom, about one minute.  Flip cakes over and brown the other side for two minutes longer.  Place on platter over white or brown rice. Cover with Egg Foo Yung Sauce.

Egg Foo Yung Sauce

3/4 cup chicken stock
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. oyster sauce

In a small saucepan, mix all ingredients. Stir until cornstarch is
dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and
cook, stirring until sauce is thick and smooth (about a minute).

 

egg foo yung

A Good Luck Meal for the New Year – Kahlua Piggie & Macaroni Salad

New-Year-2012-HeaderThere are many foods people like to eat to ensure good luck for the coming new year. My family always serves herring as the first food after the midnight toast. Some other traditional foods often served are Ham with Black-eyed Peas or Hoppin’ John, Pork, Cabbage, New Year’s cake that has a coin inside and who ever get the coin is ensured good luck, Lentils, grapes and the salted brine fish or herring to name just a few.

I know there are so many folks who got Instant Pots for this holiday season. I got mine several months back  and I am really loving it. I will use it to make our New Years day meal of pork and cabbage that I affectionately call Kalua Piggie. There are lots of version you can find on the web; what I am sharing here is my adaptation of several of those recipes.  I won’t be using the Hawaiian Red Salt that many traditional versions call for. I try to keep to a budget and I really don’t have any other use for a two-pound bag of red salt that you order online, but trust me it will still be a delicious meal.

So remember your favorite good luck food this New Year’s Day.

Wishing you a Happy New Year with the hope that you will have many blessings in the year to come.

 

My 6 Qt Duo

Instant Pot Kahlua Piggie

I make this in my 6 Qt Instant Pot Duo

Serves 8

3 slices of Bacon

4-5 lb Pork Shoulder roast (I cut the pork off the bone and the meat into about 4 pieces)

4-5 Garlic cloves peeled and sliced into quarters

1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt

1 Cup Water

1 Tablespoon of Liquid Smoke

1 Small-Medium head of Cabbage, cored, and cut into 8 wedges

 

1. Put the bacon in the Instant Pot. Press Sauté.

2. While the bacon is cooking (turning it with tongs occasionally), cut the pork roast into about 4 nice size pieces so they will nicely fit into the pot. Slice the garlic cloves into quarters then cut slits in the roast and press the garlic pieces into the slits. Sprinkle half of the salt over the pork pieces and rub it in a bit. Turn the pork pieces over and sprinkle the rest of the salt on the pork rubbing it in.

3. By this time the bacon should be nicely browned. Put the pork on top of the bacon slices. Stop the Sauté function by pressing the Cancel button.

4. Add the Liquid Smoke to the 1 cup of water, stir, then pour to the pot, put the lid on and lock it in place. Make sure the pressure release knob is in the seal position.

5. Select Pressure/Cook. Press the “+” button until it shows 90 minutes. It will come up to pressure and the pressure pin will rise up. In a few minutes the time will begin to decrease. 90 minutes is the time it cooks once it’s under pressure.

6. When the 90 minutes is up, press the Cancel button to turn it off. Let the pressure release naturally, this will take about 20 minutes. The pressure pin will drop down when the pressure is completely released and you can open the pot.

7. Remove the pork from the pot and put the cabbage wedges in the cooking liquid into the pot. Put on the lid, press Pressure/Cook and press the “-“ to change the time to 3 minutes. While the cabbage is cooking, shred the pork with two forks.

9. When the cabbage is done, do a Quick Release. Push the pressure knob over with tongs or oven mitt to protect your hand. The steam will release immediately.

10. When the pressure has released and the pressure pin has dropped, open the pot. Put the cabbage on a large platter and top with the shredded pork.

11. You can pour some of the cooking liquid into the pork if you want it a juicier.

Serve with your favorite rice whether plain white rice or a flavored yellow rice. I also like to serve it with some chilled diced Pineapple on the side or a chilled fruit cocktail.

One of my favorite side dishes is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Goes great with Kahlua Pork or any Pulled Pork or BBQ Ribs.

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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe

 Ingredients

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups Hellman’s Mayonnaise ONLY! Do not use Kraft Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

1 cup whole milk or can also use 2% but not 1% milk

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and grated

1/2 cup celery. chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring approximately 4 quarts of water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook through, you don’t want al dente.
  2. Drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Add the 1/4 cup vinegar and stir until the macaroni is well coated. Let cool.
  3. While the macaroni is cooling, combine the mayo, milk and brown sugar. Mix well. Add any desired salt and pepper.
  4. Pour this mixture over the cooled macaroni and mix until well blended.
  5. After mixing, add in the green onions, carrots and celery. Remember to save a little to add as a garnish on top.
  6. This salad is best if chilled for 2-4 hours before serving.

Seafood on Christmas Eve – Muscles & Clams

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We are a small family so our holiday traditions are a bit limited. Some years my menu is little more traditional and other years we tend to mix it up with a theme of some sort.

Even though I am part Italian I was never raised with the traditional Seven Fishes tradition for Christmas Eve but we would often have some sort of seafood. My mother would usually make a shrimp dish of some sort, maybe fried scallops or a breaded and fried flounder along with the other array of assorted dishes and desserts. Mom wasn’t a seafood lover so the selection was pretty limited.

My husband and I on the other hand have been enjoying seafood dishes we learned to make for over 40 years. One year we might do shrimp another year steak and lobster.

Here are several easy to prepare seafood dishes we enjoy with our family not just on a holiday but anytime throughout the year.

Homemade tagliatelle with muscles in garlic butter sauce

Muscles Over Linguine with a White Wine Garlic Sauce

Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 20 mins, Total Time: 35 mins Yield: 4-6

2-3 pounds mussels, rinsed

1 pound linguine

¾ to 1 cup white wine (I usually use something like a Pinot Grigio , Riesling or Chardonnay whatever white wine we happen to have in the house)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse the mussels and remove beards if necessary, discard any that do not fully close when rinsing (these are dead).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to the boiling water, and cook linguine until al dente.

Meanwhile, with linguine still boiling, combine all remaining ingredients (except for the cream and Parmesan cheese) in a large covered sauce pan on medium-high heat.

Cover and simmer mussels in the white wine sauce until fully cooked and shells open up, about 5-10 minutes. Stir sauce and mussels to coat in the sauce.

When linguine is finished, strain and stir into the mussels and white wine sauce. Now add cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5-7 minutes while covered, stirring occasionally until the sauce slightly thickens.

Serve topped with a pinch of fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. (Yes, it’s perfectly safe to have cheese with seafood if you enjoy it, LOL!)

For those who would prefer a red sauce with Muscles here is a red sauce version.

Mussels Marinara

2 lbs Mussels

1 cup white wine (use what you like to drink)

1 small onion

3-4 garlic cloves

1 quart your favorite marinara sauce

4 tbsp olive oil

Preparation:

Scrape mussels clean – Toss any that are not closed

Mince onion and garlic

Cooking:

In a tall pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are translucent (don’t burn the garlic).

Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, cover pot and cook until the  mussels are fully opened (toss unopened mussels).

In a separate pot bring the marinara sauce to a boil, then pour it over the mussels.

Turn heat off and serve over linguine or you favorite pasta.

Serve with garlic bread and some more of that white wine. Heaven!.

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Linguine with Clams

1 pound dried linguine

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds little neck clams, scrubbed clean and sand purged

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2-1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.

Add linguine, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking together.

Cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent,

about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the clams have opened.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water – this will remove the pasta’s natural starches.

Pour linguine into large serving bowl- arrange clams over linguine and pour sauce over all

Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

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Holiday Fruit Cake or Fruit Bread

Fruitcake (or fruit cake or fruit bread) is a cake made with candied or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and optionally soaked in brandy or rum. In the United Kingdom, certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are typically served in celebration of weddings and Christmas. Given their rich nature, fruitcakes are most often consumed on their own,  or sometimes served with butter or cream.

festive fruit cake

We enjoy simple fruit cake at our house. Some fruit cakes are loaded with so much fruit and nuts there is very little cake. Years ago I came across a super simple fruit cake on the back of a cake box that I have tweaked a bit and I have been making it every since. It is just the way we enjoy fruit cake. You may want to give it a try.

Easy Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

2 (16.6-oz.) pkgs. of a Date Nut Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

2 cups Pecans, chopped for the cake but save a few whole one for decorating the cake top

2 cups Raisins

2 cups Candied mixed fruit

1/2 cup Candied Cherries, halved

1/2 cup Candied pineapple, cut-up

Corn syrup, if desired

Preparation Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of 12-cup Bundt® pan or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine water, oil and eggs; beat well. Add all remaining ingredients except corn syrup; stir with spoon until combined. Pour into greased and floured pan. You way wish set aside some candied cherry halves and Pecans to decorate the top of the cake before baking.

2. Bake at 350°F. for 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

3. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in freezer for up to 3 months.

4. Just before serving, heat corn syrup until warm. Brush over fruitcake. If desired, decorate with additional candied fruits and nuts or as desired.

pannettone sliced 2017pannettone 2017

Another version of fruit cake we enjoy would be what sometimes is referred to as Fruit Bread but I call it Panettone. I make a very easy version in my bread machine. We enjoy it sliced; spread with some butter and a hot cup of tea.

Bread Machine Panettone

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package Instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Vital Wheat Gluten (optional – I find it helps bread machine breads rise beautifully. You can find it at King Arthur Flour website, store in a glass jar in your freezer it keeps much longer)
  • 1/2 cup candied fruit
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

 Directions

Add all ingredients in bread machine pan including the yeast.  Select white bread or sweet bread setting.

(I have use the Raisin Bake bread setting for 4 hours in my Panasonic SD-YD250, light crust, large loaf).

Dough will look wet but that is normal for this bread, don’t be tempted to add more flour.

Hit start and let it go!

A Different Twist on Christmas Cookies – Rosettes & Pizzelles

16 days until Christmas, planning goodies for family and friends.

rosettes

Rosette Cookies
So many wonderful Christmas cookie recipes out there this time of year, from sprinkled topped butter cookies to Snickerdoodles and Thumbprints. One of my old favorites at holiday time are not just the baked cookies but those lovely crispy cookies that remind me of winter and snowflakes, Pizzelle’s and Rosettes.
I can remember watching my mom make Rosettes when I was young. We would gather around the kitchen table while she would make a beautiful silky batter then attached the snowflake or star shape iron to the long handle; then stand it up in the hot oil in her electric frying pan. Once the iron was hot she would then dip it into the bowl of batter and it would make a sizzling sound then the batter seemed to magically stick to the outer edges of the iron. Mom would move the iron back to the hot oil and begin to make those beautiful crisp cookies of snowflakes and stars. Once the each cookie started to fry it would release from the iron. When the cookie became a light golden color it was done. Mom would lift the delicate cookie from the hot oil to a tray lined with brown paper bags for the oil to drain. This process went on until the silky batter was all gone. Mom would move the fried Rosette’s to a large platter and dust the beautiful cookies with powdered sugar. Our own plate of a winter wonderland of snowflakes and stars.
Owning my own set of Rosette Irons when I was a young bride was a must and I still enjoy making them to this very day and the reminders of those holidays long ago.

Rosette Cookies

Makes about 40
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted – measure and then, sift
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine eggs, sugar, and salt; beat well.
Add remaining ingredients; beat
until smooth.
Heat rosette iron in deep, hot oil (350 to 375 F) for two
minutes.
Drain excess oil from iron; dip in batter to 1/2 way, then
immediately into hot oil.
Fry rosette while counting to 10.
Jiggle iron so rosette falls off into the oil and continue to fry until golden brown.
Lift out with tongs. Drain on paper towels.
Reheat iron 1 minute; make next
rosette.
Sprinkle cooled rosettes with confectioner’s sugar.

 

pizzelles

Pizzelle’s
Mom on occasion would also make Pizzelle’s another crisp cookie that she would either sometimes dust with powdered sugar or dip the edges in chocolate.
The batter she made would go onto the hot cookie press that resembled a waffle iron. The press would make beautiful discs with a snowflake pattern. Sometimes my mom would remove the hot cookie that was still soft and pliable before it cooled and quickly wrap it around a cannoli form. The Pizzelle’s would crisp up when cooled and be ready for a filling of cannoli cream with chocolate chips, jam or pudding.
So if you are looking for a different twist on a holiday cookie why not give one of these a try.
Have a jolly holiday!