Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grilled Zucchini

I went to the grocery store today, what a job! I can't seem to get out of the store without a full cart of food and spending way too much money!!
Before I go off on a tangent about the cost of food these days, let's get to that grilled zucchini that I promised last night.
Grilled Zucchini
You will need:

--2 fresh zucchini
--3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
--1/2 cups italian bread crumbs
--1/4 cups grated cheese (I prefer asiago)
--1 tablespoon of your favorite spices mixed together
(I like to use a pinch of this and a pinch of that with the following spices):
Basil, Parsley, Crushed Red Pepper, Cumin, Nutmeg, All Spice, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dry Mustard, Paprika,Cayenne Pepper, Adobo All Pupose Seasoning, and Ancho ChilePepper.
Pre-heat grill to 500 degrees

1. Wash and dry the zucchini
2. Slice the zucchini in half then slice halves into fours and set on baking sheet
3. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp of the spice mix into the olive oil with a whisk, mix well
4. In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with grated cheese
5. Brush zucchini with seasoned olive oil mixture
6. Sprinkle breadcrumbs onto the zucchini
Place the zucchini on the grill, turn each piece after a few minutes and cook till they become tender. This should take about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Busy Day!

Ok, so today was very busy, as most days are for me anymore. I remember looking forward to turning 40, at which point my youngest child would be 5-years old. Surely THEN I could lie on the couch and watch a movie at my leisure. Oh life would be so wonderful and relaxing...I am now 53 and somehow--to my dismay--busier than ever!!! I wish I was joking! It seems that the older I get, the more I have demanded of me. I do try to find time for myself though, time to cook and time to head out for a bike ride with my husband (more about that in later posts).

There are many culprits thieving away my lack of couch-based enjoyment, the first being my father. He just finished his chemotherapy today, so congratulations to him! He had stomach cancer and, as most people die from it, he is very lucky to be alive! However, he did have to endure rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as countless hospital visits and doctors appointments over the past year. He and my mother moved in with us for a few months during his recovery. As if that weren't enough, my mother-in-law is not doing particularly well either, which means more doctor visits--plus I do her hair for her every Saturday. And I'm not sure if it's me or what, but I also seem to have lots of friends who are sick, or in need of surgeries. I try to make a point of preparing food to take to them and their family members. I've dubbed myself an honorary branch of "Meals on Wheels." Call me crazy, but I really think food just makes people feel better.

Ok, I don't want this post to sound completely depressing, but I love taking care of people and it HAS been a hectic past year. All of this while trying to cook for a huge extended family!! I just want people to know that it is possible to cook delicious and healthy meals in spite of running around like a chicken with its head cut off!! Hopefully this blog will be a place where you can come to learn some recipes and tricks to help make that happen in your own home.

When I got married at 19, I couldn't even boil water!!! Luckily, I was surrounded by great cooks. I was even luckier because I paid attention and asked lots of questions. Aunt Giovanna was one of the first to teach me how to cook. I also have to give credit to my mother-in-law, her mother, "Granny," and my husband's paternal grandmother, "Nonna Sadie." They were all amazing cooks in their own right, and I learned so much from all of them.

When I started this post I had every intention of giving you the second recipe from the 4th of July menu, but as you can see I went off on a few tangents. Come back tomorrow for the recipe for my grilled zucchini!

Foolproof Steak

Well...this whole finding time to blog when I am already swamped and pulled in seventeen different directions combined with my budding blogging skills should keep this whole process most interesting. Being the Nonna (Italian for grandmother) of one keeps me hopping. Luci was here today, and trying to find time to blog while having her here from time to time is really proving to be harder than I thought. That being said, I wouldn't change a thing!!!
Our family is almost all grown up!! It's so hard to believe, but our three daughters are married and starting their own families and our 4th child, Joe, leaves for college in three weeks. Where does all the time go???? I can't believe that my last one is already getting ready to leave for college!

I don't have any time to be sad though, as you know we have one granddaughter and by Christmas we will be welcoming a set of triplets! And as if that wasn't enough, I am thrilled to announce that my other daughter is expecting her second child!!!!!! That makes a total of 4 grandchildren on the way all at once. We can hardly believe it, so many blessings!!! So, I'd better get to blogging and sharing recipes while I still have the time!

I believe in my last posting, I promised to share the "foolproof steak" recipe!!! This was adapted from an Ina Garten recipe, I believe you can it find in her "Parties" cookbook. My daughter told me about this recipe after she made it for one of her Ina Garten dinner parties. The only real difference between my version and Ina's is the amount of butter I use. I sort of go with a Paula Deen approach to butter--the more the merrier! This is so EASY and SO delicious!!! It is always a major hit. People go crazy over this and ask how I make it! So, here you go:

Foolproof Filet of Beef
Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe

You will need:
-1 3lbs Beef Tenderloin, or Filet
-1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
-Kosher salt
-Kitchen Twine
-Clean Oven!

The first thing you will need to do is make sure your oven is very clean. You will be cooking this at 500 and if the oven isn't clean (I mean SPOTLESS), whatever is in there WILL smoke up the house.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Make sure the fat is trimmed off the meat (your butcher can do it for you). Tie the meat with twine in 3 or 4 spots--this helps keep the filet together. This next step works better if your butter is at room temperature: spread the butter all over the filet (you can use your hands). Make sure the top, bottom and sides are completely covered with butter. Generously season the filet by sprinkling all sides evenly with salt and pepper. Place the filet on a cookie sheet (probably best to coat the sheet with foil--it makes cleanup a cinch) and place in the oven on the middle rack. Cook for 22 to 23 minutes. Remove from the oven cover tightly with foil (the meat will continue to cook and the juices will redistribute throughout the filet making for VERY tender and juicy deliciousness!!). Let rest while covered for 10-20 minutes, then unwrap, slice and enjoy!!

I realize this can be an expensive meal, but you might be able to find this cut of meat cheaper at wholesale clubs like Costco or Sam's club, and sometimes grocery stores will put it on special (probably a good idea to befriend your butcher and stay in touch to find out about deals). Also, if you have your butcher trim it for you, that will help keep the weight down, and thus, the price, as well! There's no sense in paying for fat that's just going to go down the garbage disposal, right??

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kitchen Open!

I thought it would be nice to start off with a treat and share our 4Th of July menu. My family has been growing by leaps and bounds and so has the number of Strawberry Yogurt pies I make only for the 4Th. We added some new things to our menu this year.. so let's begin.

4th of July Menu


Italian Sausage

Hot dogs

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled steak fries

Mac and Cheese

Tomato Avocado Salad

The Famous (at my house only) Yogurt Pie

First recipe I want to share it the yogurt pie.

Strawberry Yogurt Pie

This recipe makes 6 pies (I know but I am cooking in bulk!!!)

-10 60z containers of strawberry banana yogurt
-3 lbs cool whip
-4 lbs Fresh Strawberry's chopped
-6 ready made Graham Cracker Crusts

Begin by removing and cleaning lids of pies shell's. Then clean and cut your strawberries. You can cut them however you like, I slice them. Next, in a large bowl combine the yogurt and cool whip. Whip together in your kitchen-aid or with a hand held mixer.

Now fold in your strawberries. Last but not least spoon your mixture into the pie shells, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or over night. If you want to make one pie, you would use 1 container of yogurt with 1 container of the cool whip and about a cup of chopped strawberries.

One of my favorite thing about cooking is how I get to change a recipe and make it my own. I encourage you to do the the same. I usually like to cook from scratch but when I got this recipe I had 3 growning kids and didn't have time. Now number 4 is leaving for college so it's time to step it up. The next time I make this pie I will have to make my own graham cracker crust and my own whip cream, I know it will be better. Well enough for now. Everyday this week I will try and give another recipe to our 4th of July dinner. Next will be the wonderful steak!!! It's the best "fool proof" steak ever !!! It will melt in your mouth like butter.