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Recipe: Pot Roast



Updated 03-11-13


This recipe for pot roast is the absolute easiest and best. In fact, I was so excited about finding the recipe from Campbell Kitchen’s, I made this recipe the very first post of this blog… it is now long buried deep in the archives….. I made it again last night and decided to re-post it.

Originally I found the recipe on the back of the recipe book was a Campbell’s Slow Cooker Savory Pot Roast Recipe from the Campbell’s Kitchens. Frankly, I was skeptical when I read the ingredients but the picture looked good and I figured I would give it a try. Boy, am I glad I did.

It came out perfect. I wasn’t so sure about the Cream of Mushroom soup… but it made perfect gravy. What else I liked about it was that I didn’t have to use any oil to brown the roast… I’m always looking for ways to cut the fat.

TIPS

I updated the recipe .. the change was to add a cut-up onion.. it isn't entirely necessary.. but I like onion so I added it.

I also changed when to add the vegetables... I now add them an hour before the pot roast is done.  They cook perfectly and aren't mushy.

I used small, very small red potatoes, cut in half.....

You can leave out the vegetables entirely if you prefer you vegetables made separately and prefer mashed potatoes over ones made with the pot roast.

If you need to make it before you leave for work... leave the vegetables out... cook the roast on low... when you get home remove the roast and cook the vegetables in the gravy...

By the way, I used two cans of soup instead of one… I feel it made just the right amount of gravy. If I make a bigger roast for company I will use three cans of soup and 2 pouches of dry onion soup and just increase the amount of veggies… you always have to have enough gravy!







Recipe:  Easy CrockPot Pot Roast

You will Need:

2 cans (10 3/4 oz) Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup – Regular, 9 Fat Free, 25 Less Sodium or Healthy Request – (I used 98% Fat Free...the Campbell's Kitchen recipe uses 1 can ..I like using 2 cans better, the flavor is better)

1 pouch (2 oz) dry onion soup and recipe mix

6 small red potatoes, halved

6 medium carrots, cut into 2” pieces – (I used about half a bag of small Belgian Carrots you find in the produce section of the supermarket)

1 medium onion, cut up

3 to 3 ½ lb boneless beef bottom round roast or chuck roast (I always use boneless beef bottom round)

All you have to do:

Stir soup, onion soup mix,  in a 4 ½ qt slow cooker. Add beef and turn to coat. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 9 hrs or on HIGH 4 to 5 hrs until beef is tender.

An hour before serving, add the vegetables. 

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Recipe: Creamed Spinach II


This is a delicious and easy creamed spinach recipe. I have several recipes for creamed spinach in my file. This one relies mostly on the spinach and butter for its flavor and cream for its texture. I make it every once in a while for a change from the other vegetables I make a little more often. There is nothing low fat about this recipe… its rich and creamy… a special occasion dish.

It reminds me of the creamed spinach I used to get at a little restaurant in New York when I was growing up…. I don’t remember much about the restaurant except that I looked forward to going because I loved the creamed spinach.

The directions in my file are old and they go into detail about cleaning and trimming fresh spinach… the soaking of spinach in several different water baths and the wringing of the spinach to get all the excess water out is still needed when you purchase from a farm stand or grow spinach yourself. Most of us today… when we buy it fresh in packages, it already is cleaned and trimmed… although it’s still a good idea to rinse it…. and make sure you wring all the excess water out of it.

You can use frozen chopped spinach for this recipe… the problem with frozen is that it’s nearly impossible to get all the water out of it… and the “spinach” water tends to make the sauce runny. When I use frozen I drain it with a fine mesh strainer and press it with a cooking spoon to get out as much water as possible.

I love spinach…. Popeye has nothing over me…. and if you really like spinach … you will like this dish.







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Creamed Spinach II Recipe:

All you need:

2 pounds of fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup fat free chicken broth
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt to taste

All you need to do:

Finely chop the spinach, you can use your processor but make sure you just chop it. Do not puree it.

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.

Add the spinach.

Cook for about 5 minutes until the butter has been absorbed by the spinach.

Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Sprinkle the flour over the spinach, tossing it to make sure that there are no lumps.

Add the cream, broth and nutmeg.

Salt to taste.

Put the saucepan over medium heat and cook until the spinach bubbles, stirring constantly.

Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the spinach is the correct consistency.

Add the remaining butter just before serving.

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When Using Frozen Spinach Always Drain It Well

Tip of the Day

When using frozen spinach in a recipe, always drain the spinach well. If you don’t drain the spinach very well, you will find a very soupy, watery mess. I put the spinach (thawed or cooked, depending on the recipe) in a strainer and I take the back of a cooking spoon and press the spinach hard to squeeze out every drop of excess liquid I can. I do the straining over a bowl… so I have the liquid in case I need it…. but honestly, I never do.

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Ethnic Foods

I grew up eating ethnic foods…. I think parent’s attitudes toward foods greatly influences a child. When I was growing up we celebrated food… all kinds… and we tried different things…. I think I’m a little more adventuresome than my Mother… but then again she will remind you that she has tried Turtle Soup and Rattlesnake… mind you … she had no idea what she was eating until after…. I have tried sweetbreads…and yes… I knew what it was as I was eating them… first swallow was a little tough…. but they were actually very good.

Where was I going with this… ah … yes…. German food… My family background is German Hungarian… not German and Hungarian… but German Hungarian… there is a difference.

You see when it was Austria Hungary… the government wanted to encourage their land to be settled so they gave land grants to people willing to move there and live…. the deal was…. they could keep their language, customs and religion. So from different parts of Germany, many men and women came to Austria Hungary to settle and live and raise families.

I’m not sure if you know about German foods… but the tastes and customs can vary from some parts of Germany to other parts… much like you find in the US. So my family came from different parts of Germany and with that came more foods…. My one Grandmother’s family came from Alsace Lorraine so there was a definite French influence in their foods.

Well… after years … things tend to assimilate… and the language developed a dialect and the regional foods crept into their diets…. and….

As a descendant of this heritage… I reaped the benefits… in foods, that is… so you will find through the course of time.. you will see some decidedly German dishes…. some Hungarian dishes… and some somewhere in between…. and then you have to factor in the American twist to it all…. I am an All-American girl, after all…. and I have been influenced by the regions of the US I have lived in and people I grew up with…. I do love all things Italian and Mexican and French and Asian and…well you get the idea…

And we must remember that it is the new millennium … we just can’t eat things like we used to… we’d have an average life expectancy below 50….. so many recipes have been trimmed down…. and I do believe they haven’t lost their flavor….

My son was born into this melting pot heritage…. and he's a foodie too… he tries virtually anything… he tries stuff… I’m not so sure I would go near…. well that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but believe me… he eats weird…. errrr… I mean different things.

And this, my friends, is what my blog is all about…. food … food… and more food…. with its different backgrounds and influences…

Trust me… it’s all good.

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Celebrate National Margarita Day!


Now this is a National Food Day that is fun to celebrate. Tonight is also Oscar Night… so what better way to celebrate than with some friends watching the red carpet and bad acceptance speeches than with Margaritas and some yummy appetizers.

I’ve previously posted several great Margarita recipes…. (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)….so just click on the hyperlink and it will take you to the recipe…..

Enjoy!

Cuervo Frozen Margarita
Classic Margarita
Non-Frozen and Frozen Raspberry Margarita
Non-Frozen and Frozen Peach Margarita
Non-Alcoholic Margarita Punch
Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Margarita

You may also find my tips for using flavored syrups in non-alcoholic drinks helpful also.

And finally…. I did post a great little recipe for a bar cookie that would make a great little finish to the evening….see my Margarita Ole Bar recipe.

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Recipe: Beef Stroganoff for a Crowd

This Beef Stroganoff recipe was in my file from Taste of Home…. they credited the recipe to Ada Lower. It serves 70…. I’ve written the directions exactly as they have it….. they indicate you are to use “several large stockpots”….. I would recommend you look at your available cookware… decide how many batches you will need to do…. and divide the beef mixture evenly between the batches…. and the soup mixture evenly between the batches.

The recipe is delicious and a church supper favorite…. I’ve used recipes for smaller quantities from other sources that use the same basic ingredients… and it is always a hit.

Enjoy!

Beef Stroganoff for a Crowd Recipe:

All you need:

20 pounds ground beef
5 large onions, chopped
7 cans of (26 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3 quarts of milk
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
5 pints sour cream
Hot buttered noodles

All you need to do:

In several large stockpots, cook the beef and onions over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain.

In a very large bowl, combine the soup, milk, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika.

Add the soup mixture to the beef.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and keep warm.

Just before serving, stir in the sour cream.

Heat through but do not boil.

Serve with noodles.

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Cooking for a Crowd Can Be Challenging but Not Impossible

Tip of the Day

I firmly believe cooking for a crowd can be challenging but not impossible. With a little planning and forethought, you can develop a strategy that not only works…. AND won’t drive you nuts in the process.

The first task is obvious… you need to decide what the entrée will be. You need to think about your resources when thinking about various entrée possibilities….. size cookware that you have available…. the number and size of ovens…. size and number of microwave ovens(s)….. size and number of burners on your cook top….. can crockpots be utilized? …… any neighbors willing to let you reheat a tray in their oven?......

You not only have to figure out the logistics of cooking the large amount…. You also have to be able to reheat it efficiently so everyone is served at the same time.

Some foods lend themselves well to feeding large crowds. Baked ziti is one such food…. If you have a large oven… you may be able reheat 4 trays ….. which should give you enough to start…. and then if you have more trays to reheat…. Heat the first 4 trays to bubbling along the sides….. remove the trays from the oven and cover with foil…. immediately put the next batch in…. when they come out…. the original 4 still should be hot.

If you decide to serve meatballs….. they can be baked ahead and frozen…. the day of the party… place the meatballs and your sauce in a crockpot…. they take care of themselves. You may need multiple crockpots… so if you only have one…. ask friends or neighbors if you can borrow one.

Adapting recipes for large crowds can be intimidating….. there really are two approaches to this….. you can make your entrée in batches…. baked ziti and meatballs would probably be the best example of that…. or you can have a “large quantity” recipe for an entry…. an example of that would be the beef stroganoff recipe I will publish.

I have been asked fairly often for a stroganoff recipe for a crowd…. I will publish one today….. it’s made with ground beef instead of sliced beef….. it’s very tasty…. a true crowd pleaser.

While it’s nice to have a “large quantity” recipe…. you have to have a pot or skillet big enough to handle the recipe…. which would be doubtful…. so that brings us back to cooking in batches…. you look at your ingredient quantities and not everything is easily divisible…… what I recommend is that you obtain all your ingredients…. chop the onions…. get all your ingredients ready…. decide how much your pot can hold….. and then decide on the number of batches you will be making…. then divide the ingredients evenly among the batches.

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Romantic Breakfast Ideas


Crepes!

Crepes are wonderful for breakfast. They’re easy to make and you can make them ahead… what could be better.

A lot of people are intimidated by making crepes… they really are easy…. if you don’t have a crepe pan … you can use a sauté pan.

For fillings…. That all depends on what you’re in the mood for…. I like using jams and preserves for fillings….. sliced fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream are divine too.

Quick Tip: If you use powdered sugar on top of crepes... be sure to add the sugar just before serving.... the sugar gets absorbed fairly quickly.

You could fill them with scrambled eggs made with diced ham or cooked sausage…. peppers and onions…. make an easy cheese sauce to drizzle over it…. yummmm….

You can go south of the border…. make the eggs Mexican style…. with peppers, green onion, jalapenas… roll it up…. Top it with salsa… sour cream … or guacamole…..

Your options are limitless!

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Crepe Making Tips


Tip of the Day

Several things are important to making great crepes…. a good crepe pan helps. I have one I bought a number of years ago from Williams Sonoma…. I think I paid about $30- $40 (US) for it. Mine is non-stick…. the non-stick seems to be a commercial grade…. I’m lucky… they never stick. If you don’t have a crepe pan…. you can use a saute or omelet pan …. My grandmothers and my mother used whatever they had available…. their crepes came out perfect. The key is knowing your pan and your batter.

You may have a few “throw-aways” before you get the hang of it…. but believe me…. you will get the hang of it and then you will be able to do them time and time again.

Know your batter….. the consistency of the batter should be like heavy cream. If your batter seems a little runny after resting the required ½ hour… then add a tablespoon of flour and whisk it in…. repeat until you have something like heavy cream. If the batter is a little thick… and a tablespoon or two of milk.

Your pan needs to be greased… I use butter flavored cooking oil spray…. You can use melted butter or margarine … and brush it on in between crepes…. if you have a non-stick…. use the spray… now you might ask me why I use cooking spray when I have a good non-stick pan…. one for taste…. and two I think the crepe slides out even easier…. and you definitely want that.

Your pan needs to be hot…. we have a gas stove…. and I use the high setting…. I spray the pan away from the flame… and set the pan on the heat for about a minute…. you want it to sizzle slightly. DO NOT BURN THE BUTTER…. that will definitely ruin the taste… if that happens… just whip it out and start over…. no big deal.

Then I remove the pan from the heat…. and using a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measuring cup not quite filled ( depending on the size of your pan), holding the pan slightly vertically, I pour the batter into the pan…. turning the pan in a rolling motion to cover the bottom of the pan evenly.

The pan should be hot enough to have the batter cling to the pan. If you use a sauté or omelet pan… your edges are rounded ….so be careful not to coat the sides up too far.

Set the pan back on the heat. Allow plenty of time for the batter to set. You can carefully peek underneath lifting an edge with a spatula… but be careful the crepe is delicate. When the bottom is lightly brown… flip it over for about 10 seconds…. Then slide the crepe out of the pan onto a work surface or platter.

If you stack them… I place them between pieces of waxed paper. They can be refrigerated and then quickly microwaved before serving, if you are making them ahead.

I have learned just how much batter will evenly cover the bottom of my pan…. I use measuring cups to measure out my batter… so that the amounts will be consistent…. every pan will vary a bit…. it takes a little practice to figure out what works best for your pan…. hence the throwaways….. believe me, if I were to change pans…. I would have throwaways too.

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Recipe: Crepes


This is my basic crepe recipe I have used for years. You can revise it in a number of ways to suit what you plan to fill it with. For one thing…. if the crepe will be a crepe with a sweet filling…. I add one teaspoon vanilla to the batter…. if the filling is savory…. I usually leave the batter plain. You can add subtle spice to the crepe too…. personally… I’d rather the filling be the star of the event…. The crepe just makes it that much better.

You may also want to read my Tips on Making Crepes.







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Crepes Recipe:

All you need:

1 cup sifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

All you need to do:

Sift together the 1 cup sifted flour and sugar.

Beat 4 eggs.

Add the dry ingredients to the eggs.

Beat the mixture until smooth.

Add gradually the 1 cup milk and the 1 cup of water, beating after each addition.

The batter will have the consistency of heavy cream.

Let the batter stand for 30 minutes.

Follow my tips on making crepes for the instructions on how to cook crepes.

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Pastas!


Pasta meals are a perfect answer to special occasion meals. They can be dressed up by the sauce you choose. With Valentine’s day fast approaching…. I wanted to do a few pasta meals as recipes.

The beauty of these recipes is that they’re so versatile. You can choose the type of pasta… fresh or dried… just a quick note here…. a plate of ravioli with a luscious sauce is very easy …. and I’m sure will be well appreciated….. pick a sauce….. if you’re choosing something like Penne…. you may want to consider cooked chicken or shrimp as an add-in.

And just a reminder… I published a number of other pasta recipes previously…. earlier in the week… I published a classic Fettuccini Alfredo, a Slimmed Down version and an even more Slimmed Down version…. So scroll down to them…. there are also some recipes in our archives… see the “Pasta” label.

Above all have fun and enjoy!

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Recipe: Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce


This recipe for creamy roasted red pepper sauce is very easy…. I adapted this recipe a long time ago…. The beauty of it is that you can slimmed it down with Philadelphia Brand Free Fat Free Cream Cheese and skim milk…. for this recipe … I cut back on the fat in the milk…. but I used the regular Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese… either way … this sauce is very tasty.

This sauce goes well with grilled chicken cut into strips and served on a bed of cooked fettuccini or toss it with Orecchiette and garnish with some chopped parsley.

I cooked the chicken by seasoning it with a little garlic powder and Italian Seasoning and sauteing it in a little garlic olive oil.







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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce Recipe:

All you need:


1 package Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
1 ½ cups skim milk
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Pepper to taste
Parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
Cooked chicken (optional)

All you need to do:

Cook the cream cheese and milk in a medium saucepan over low heat, whisking until smooth.

Add the Parmesan cheese, roasted red peppers, Italian seasoning and pepper. Stir until well blended.

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Recipe: Slimmed Down Pasta Carbonara

This recipe for Slimmed Down Pasta Carbonara is very flavorful and certainly a delicious alternative to the classic recipe.

I feel an obligation to try to include slimmed down versions so you have a choice in what you make….. delicious food does not have to be unhealthy. I’ve had this recipe for years and I can attest to the fact it is very, very tasty.

I’ve used linguini here… but you certainly could use spaghetti for the pasta.

Enjoy!



Slimmed Down Pasta Carbonara Recipe:

All you need:

1 pound package of linguini, cooked according to package directions
2 teaspoons margarine or butter
1 ¼ cups finely chopped Canadian bacon
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup refrigerated or frozen fat free egg product, thawed
½ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

All you need to do:

Cook the linguini according to package directions.

While the linguini is cooking, start the sauce.

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter or margarine over medium heat.

Add the bacon, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes or until onions are tender.

Drain the linguini.

Add the linguini to the bacon mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg substitute.

Add the egg mixture to the pot and add the ground pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Cook for only a minute.

Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Toss gently to coat evenly.

Serve immediately.

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Recipe: Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

This classic recipe for Carbonara is from Emeril from the food network. It’s his… all his and nothing but his…. I can only add one thing…. YUMMMM….

If you want to click back to the food network for their recipe …. here you go….. I didn’t change anything… and for any kudos be sure to go to the food network and leave a comment.

Enjoy!



Classic Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe:

All you need:

1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh spaghetti, cooked al dente
4 large eggs, beaten
Salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

All you need to do:

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 6 minutes.

Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all of the oil except for 3 tablespoons.

Add the garlic. Season with black pepper. Saute for 30 seconds.

Add the crispy bacon and the pasta. Saute for 1 minute.

Season the eggs with salt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble.

Add the cheese and re-season with salt and pepper. Mound into serving bowls and garnish with parsley.

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How Much Water to Cook Pasta In?


Tip of the Day

For best results, pasta should be cooked in enough water so that it can move freely as it boils. The rule of thumb is 4 to 6 quarts of water for one pound of dry pasta.

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Keep Frozen Fruit on Hand in Your Freezer for Last Minute Substitutions


Tip of the Day:

It's a good idea to keep a small bag of frozen fruit on hand in your freezer for inpromto meals and desserts. I like to keep berries in the freezer.... but peaches are also a good idea. I like frozen fruit better than canned.... canned peaches tend to be too syrupy for some recipes. Certain fruit can be difficult to get out of season.... or if you find them.. they're not the best... so frozen is really a perfect answer.

In the case of today's recipe.... Cornmeal Chicken with Fresh Peach Salsa.... frozen peaches, thawed would be an acceptable substitution in the salsa recipe.

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Recipe: Cornmeal Chicken with Fresh Peach Salsa

I came across this recipe for chicken with peach salsa in a Betty Crocker Chicken Cookbook…. it’s very simple and so flavorful….. I make a lot of chicken… especially boneless chicken breasts… so I’m always in the market for something new. I liked this recipe because of the peaches…. it gives such a fresh taste to the meal.

This might be something you would be interested in making for a romantic dinner for …. Serve with rice pilaf and maybe asparagus…. a nice white wine…. hmmmm… very nice.







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Cornmeal Chicken with Fresh Peach Salsa Recipe:

All you need:

For the Peach Salsa:

3 cups of peaches, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato (about 1 cup), chopped
¼ cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Chicken:

½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons oil

All you have to do:

Mix all the ingredients for the salsa together in a bowl and set aside.

Mix the cornmeal, salt and pepper together in a plastic bag.

Coat the chicken pieces with the cornmeal mixture.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat.

Add the chicken. Cook the chicken about 15 to 20 minutes or until done (juices run clear), turning once.

When chicken is cooked, remove from the skillet to a serving platter.

Put some of the peach salsa over the chicken.

Put the rest of the peach salsa on the table for quests to help themselves to more.

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Recipe: Black Forest Cherry Ice Cream Dessert

This recipe for Black Forest Cherry Ice Cream Dessert is very easy and oh so delicious. As we discussed earlier… Valentine’s Day sometimes means including kid’s in the celebration. This dessert is sure to please both the kids and the adults.

I’ve had this recipe for years…. it’s so yummy!

Enjoy!

Black Forest Cherry Ice Cream Dessert Recipe:

All you need:

30 chocolate Oreo cookies, finely crushed
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
½ gallon chocolate ice cream, slightly softened
21 oz. can cherry pie filling
Small container of Cool Whip

All you need to do:

In your food processor finely crush the Oreos.

Measure out ¼ cup of Oreo crumbs and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining Oreo crumbs with melted butter or margarine, mixing well.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9 pan.

Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes.

Spread half the ice cream over the crust.

Spoon the pie filling over the ice cream.

Spoon the other ½ of the ice cream over the pie filling.

Spoon a layer of Cool Whip on top of the ice cream.

Sprinkle the reserved ¼ cup crumbs over the Cool Whip.

Cover and freeze until firm.

If frozen overnight, remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving.

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Monday is National Bagel and Lox Day!


I was born and bred in New York…. and yes… I know New Yorkers think they invented just about everything…. but I’m thinking we’re right about the bagel….. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of mail about this one….

Today there are many wonderful bagel bakeries around the country…. but the closest I’ve come outside of the New York City area to the bagel of my childhood……. is Bruegger’s Bagels. They are a franchise chain…. and according to Wikipedia the second largest of its kind in the US. They are in 23 states and the District of Columbia….. so if you have one by you and you have never tried their bagels…. you must.

I love bagels….. well …. I guess I’m a true New Yorker…. and you simply cannot be a New Yorker and not love bagels. I can wax poetic about the attributes of the perfect bagel…. but I don’t want to bore you to death…. however I will say that a slightly crisp exterior and a doughy inside are among the most important.

The bagels of my childhood were from the local “bagel place”…. A tiny store front…. with a long counter….. along the back wall behind the counter were these baskets filled with different kinds of bagels. I don’t remember having as many choices as we have today… but I do remember these bagels…salt, poppy seed, onion, garlic, sesame seed (my favorite as a kid), pumpernickel, and of course, plain ones…. not sure if there were any others back then.

You took a number and when it was called you had your order ready…. and they were put into brown paper bags….. you paid and off you went. The bagel place by my house didn’t sell cream cheeses or anything else with it. Bagels were cheap…. I remember we did fundraisers in high school selling bagels in the morning for 25 cents a piece….. hey it was the 70’s….(I think I just gave away my age :(…. just kidding).

On Long Island where I lived… there was one bagel place called “Bagel Nosh” and it was ahead of its time…. it was a cafeteria style restaurant ….. you ordered your bagel sandwiches and any side salads… paid and off you went to find your table. I’m not sure they are still in business… but they were great.

Back then…. I never met a bagel I didn’t like…. then I moved out of the New York City area…. Bagels weren’t the same…. until I found Bruegger’s Bagels….. all I can say is… I love them… my new favorite is the “Everything Bagel”…. Their sandwiches and soups are fantastic…. I really miss them. Whenever we go back to the house in upstate NY…. we have to go to Bruegger’s….

As for the “lox” part of the National Holiday…. I’m not a fan of lox…. Lox is a salmon fillet that has been cured. It is cut very thinly and served on a bagel with cream cheese…. some people swear by it…. personally I’ll take the bagel and a schmear (cream cheese)…

Soooo…. If you have bagels readily available… and want to be a hit at work tomorrow morning… stop by the bagel shop and bring some in to work!

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Today is National Fettuccini Alfredo Day!

Did you know..... that an Italian restauranteur Alfredo di Lello is credited with creating Fettuccini Alfredo?..... see ....you can amaze your friends with this tidbit….

To celebrate National Fettuccini Alfredo Day I will post several versions of this delicious Italian classic.

There will be the classic Fettuccini Alfredo…. very rich.. velvety smooth classic made with cream and butter…. be forewarned this is a heavy dish and can hold its own as an entrée …. or as a side dish…. you will definitely need small portions.

I will also post a slimmed down version…. And another slimmed down version that verges on healthy. By substituting non-fat milk or a lower fat milk… and cutting back on the butter or margarine… this dish can go from heavy and artery clogging to actually pretty light and healthy.

Make no mistake … I fell in love with this dish years ago… and it was the real deal….I think it was for my 9th birthday my folks took me into Manhattan to an ice show and then to a famous Italian restaurant for supper. It was then that I tasted Fettuccini Alfredo for the first time…. it was so rich and creamy… I love cheese and pasta…. It was a wonderful experience.

Over the years…. as I learned more about cooking and nutrition… I found ways to make this meal more healthy…. Nowadays you can even get Fettuccini Alfredo in diet meals such as Lean Cuisine. Slimming favorite recipes can be challenging…. But if you think about why you like the meal… for example … the taste (butter, cheese, cream) and find ways of replicating it with lower fat options… you will love the slimmed versions just as much. If texture is your thing… then find ways of making a thicker sauce without piling on the calories and fat.

With all that said…. There is something to be said for a special occasion meal made with the real thing…. just limit the portion and serve other things with it…. a large salad is a perfect accompaniment… and start out with a plate of appetizers…. stuffed mushrooms…. and maybe a plate of sliced tomatoes and sliced fresh mozzarella…. chop fresh basil and sprinkle it on top… drizzle a little balsamic vinegar…. Hmmm …just delicious.

So as you start to think about your Valentine’s Day menu…. Fettuccini Alfredo is definitely a dish that can make the short list of possibilities.

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Recipe: Classic Fettuccini Alfredo


Well… here it is… in all its glory…. The classic Fettuccini Alfredo recipe…. it’s so easy… the key to its success lies in the quality of the Parmesan cheese… use a good quality fresh Parmesan…. The best option is to buy a chunk of it and grate it yourself… an inferior Parmesan cheese will not melt properly and the consistency of the sauce will be compromised.







Classic Fettuccini Alfredo Recipe:

All you need:

1 pound fettuccini pasta, cooked according to package directions
½ cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
Additional grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top

All you need to do:

Prepare the fettuccini according to package directions and drain.

In the pot you made the fettuccini , melt the butter.

Add the cream, salt and pepper and bring to a boil… reduce heat.

Stirring constantly, cook for a few minutes until sauce begins to thicken.

Remove from the heat and add the fettuccini and the 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, toss to evely coat the pasta.

Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top.

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Recipe: Slimmed Down Fettuccini Alfredo

I adapted this recipe from a Cooking Light recipe. The Cooking Light recipe calls for 2 garlic cloves, minced and chopped parsley…. While I love garlic and parsley….. and I agree that they would be great additions to the recipe…. garlic and parsley are not in the classic Fettuccini Alfredo… and since my goal here is to slim down the original version … I didn’t include it.

Keep in mind…. I like additions to the recipe…. these, as well as, cooked chicken or shrimp…. I leave those decisions up to you.

Enjoy!

Slimmed Down Fettuccini Alfredo Recipe:

All you need:

Fettuccini, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup fat free milk
1 1/3 cups 1% low-fat cream cheese
1 ¼ cups grated fresh Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

All you need to do:

Cook fettuccini according to package directions. Drain.

In the same pot you cooked the fettuccini in, melt the margarine.

Stir in the flour.

Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Cook until thickened, about 5-6 minutes.

Add 1 cup Parmesan, cream cheese and salt, stirring constantly with a whisk until cheese melt.

Add the pasta and toss. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese.

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Recipe: An Even More Slimmed Down Fettuccini Alfredo

This Fettuccini Alfredo recipe is even lighter than the last recipe… I’m not so sure it’s as flavorful and close to the original but the taste is very good. You have to remember a lot of what slimming down recipes is about is personal taste.

I remember when I was a little girl my Grandfather developed high blood pressure and my Grandmother had to stop cooking with salt….. back then we didn’t have the luxury of a lot of the substitutes we have today… and I do give my Grandmother a lot of credit… she figured out early on about adding other spices to try and make up for the lack of salt. Her food was good… actually very good….but it was clearly different than what it once had been. … and that is my point…. it was quite an adjustment to go from how she had been cooking to a new way…. at first we all wrinkled our noses…. but over time…. the new way became what we were used to…

If you’ve been used to eating foods made with butter and cream…. Going to the most slimmed down versions could be culture shock…. take baby steps…. go to a lower percentage milk… say 2%... and work your way down….

For those of you that want to cut as much fat as possible…. here is another slimmed down version. I still use real Parmesan cheese in this recipe… the non-fat grated topping that’s available could be used…. But I just don’t think it tastes like Parmesan…. and Fettuccini Alfredo needs a Parmesan flavor…. but by all means substitute it with the non-fat variety if you want.

Enjoy!

Recipe:

All you need:

Fettuccini, cooked according to package directions
1 package (8 oz) Philadelphia Brand Free Fat Free Cream cheese, cubed
1 ½ cups fat free milk (skim milk)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Butter Buds (optional)

All you need to do:

Cook fettuccini according to package directions. Drain.

In the same pot you made the fettuccini, heat the milk.

Add the cream cheese. Heat the mixture until the cheese melts, stirring constantly.

Add the Parmesan cheese.

Add Butter Buds (I like to include the taste of butter in this recipe…. but it’s up to you if you want to include it or not)

Add the fettuccini and toss to coat evenly.

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Recipe: Baked Stuffed Potatoes


I love Baked Stuffed Potatoes and bowl of soup or a salad for supper. It’s a comfort food that’s so easy to make…. and you can stuff baked potatoes a million ways…. so it doesn’t ever have to get boring…. Even the pickiest eater can find a way to like them…. a hearty soup or a large salad and a stuffed potato… it’s filling, tasty, healthy and economical…. what could be better?

The recipe I’m going to give you is a basic one…. a classic…. I didn’t use bacon… a lot of people use bacon…. But I used bacon when I made the potato skins last week so I changed it up a bit…. I prefer to use cubed ham anyway… I also used a mix of Monterey jack cheese and cheddar cheese…. it was from one of those blended shredded cheese packages in the supermarket… you can use either or substitute any cheese you prefer. I used scallions in this recipe… but I have used snipped chives in the past…. I wanted more of an oniony flavor this time.

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to whip the potatoes… however…. I like mine a little lumpy… I like texture with this recipe…. I prepared the filling… then folded in the ham and onions by hand at the last minute. If you prefer yours to be smooth and creamy… use cream instead of milk and make them as you would creamy mashed potatoes.

I hope you enjoy it…. and be inventive…. try different things….

Baked Stuffed Potato Recipe:

All you need:

4 potatoes (I prefer Russet potatoes for this)
Extra potato (insides) – optional
Olive oil
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper or to taste
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I used butter)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Monterey Jack cheese and cheddar blend)
½ cup sour cream
1 cup ham, cubed
1/8 teaspoon paprika (plus a little more to sprinkle on top)
¼ cup chopped green onions (scallions)

All you have to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub and dry potatoes.

Rub the potatoes lightly with olive oil.

Bake the potatoes for approximately 1 hour or until potatoes are cooked (they should give a little when pressed).

Allow to cool enough to handle.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

Slice the potatoes in half…. (you can also just slice off the top third of the potato …see Tip of the Day).

Scoop out the insides of the potato leaving a shell with about a ¼ inch wall). If the scooped out potato is no longer hot, microwave for a minute or two until hot.

In a large mixing bowl combine the potato, butter, milk, sour cream, salt, pepper and paprika… beat until fairly smooth but with some small lumps.

Add the shredded cheese, ham and scallions (reserve some chopped scallions for garnish).

Spoon the mixture into the potato shells.

Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or heated through.

Remove from oven to serving plates.... garnish with reserved chopped scallions.

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Tips on Preparing Baked Stuffed Potatoes

Tips of the Day

My first tip for preparing baked stuffed potato is…. have extra potato insides available…. I like my baked stuffed potatoes to be heaping full….. so either have leftover mashed potatoes from another meal…. Or do like I did…. last weekend I made potato skins and kept the scooped out potato in an air tight container for use when I made the stuffed potatoes today. Another option is to make a small serving of instant mashed potatoes and add them in (I’d consider that a last resort option).

My second tip is that do as I say not as I did….. I scooped too much out and the skin left wasn’t strong enough to hold the shape and the filling in…. I only did that on one of them… thank goodness…. it wasn’t the end of the world…. but I’m into presentation…. so it was a big deal to me… the lesson here is leave about ¼ inch “wall” … especially if you cut your potatoes in half… like I usually do.

My third tip is… decide ahead of time if you’re going to cut the potatoes in half… so you have two halves per person or cut the top 1/3 off and only serve the one potato per person….. most people say that if you cut them in half… you need more filling…. I’m not so sure I agree with that…. but as I said before…. I like to make mine ultra full…. so I always plan to have extra potatoes for the filling….

And finally….. be inventive…. you can change up my recipe in a million different ways…. find what you and your family like best…. And sometimes it’s just good to be different otherwise meals can be boring…

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Sunday Breakfast Idea V - Pancakes


This week’s special Sunday breakfast idea will be pancakes. Pancakes are almost always a favorite for everyone. You can make them countless ways…. make them plain… put fruit in them… mini chocolate chips are always a kid favorite….be inventive!

Awhile ago I published a wonderful recipe for pancakes….. so here it is again! Just click on the highlighted link and it will take you to my pancake recipe.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Pan-Seared Veal Chops

Veal chops are very tender and flavorful…. they are absolutely delicious….. but buyer beware… veal chops from the loin can be expensive… but in my opinion… worth every penny for a special dinner.

To make them is very easy…. a perfect meat for a special occasion dinner. Serve this with a vegetable and creamy mashed potatoes…. you may want to consider my recipe for baked tomatoes....that would go well...

This is so easy it frees you up to concentrate on a possible appetizer and dessert.

This recipe serves two.

Enjoy!

Pan-Seared Veal Chops Recipe:

All you need:

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or thyme or marjoram (your preference… I prefer thyme)
Olive oil
2 veal loin chops, 1 inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

All you need to do:

Make the herbed butter by creaming the butter and the dijon mustard and the herb of choice together in a small bowl.

Lightly oil a heavy cast iron skillet and set it over high heat until very hot. Do not allow it to smoke.

Brush both sides of the veal chops with a little olive oil and season with salt.

Place the chops in the skillet and reduce the heat to medium.

Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip them over and cook for another 3-4 minutes until desired doneness.

I prefer my veal a little pink (medium rare)… use a thermometer to gauge doneness.

When done… remove meat to plates…. And top each chop with half the herbed butter.

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Recipe: Easy Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms


Remember tomorrow is National Stuffed Mushroom Day!

I love stuffed mushrooms….period….. I have many different recipes …. all are really easy…. this one should be called ridiculously easy stuffed mushrooms.

I want to include in this blog, a number of appetizers or hors’dourves before Valentine’s Day…. not everyone wants a meal on that day…. sometimes appetizers… champagne…. a sinful dessert…is really all you need…. so with that in mind… I will be including a number of appetizers in the next two weeks.

For those of you that don’t know… Boursin cheese is widely available… in supermarkets in the US,,, it is a creamy French cheese flavored with garlic and herbs, and black pepper. It is also produced in the US.

Enjoy!

Easy Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe:

All you need:

Stuffing Mushrooms (large caps), cleaned and stems removed
1 container Boursin cheese
Finely chopped parsley

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the outside of the mushroom caps lightly with olive oil.

With a small spoon or knife, fill each mushroom cap to heaping with Boursin cheese.

Place the stuffed mushrooms in an oven safe dish or 9x13 pan.

Bake until hot and mushrooms have lost some of their liquid…. about 10 minutes.

Arrange mushrooms on serving plate and garnish with chopped parsley.

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Recipe: Coquille of Lobster Savannah

I adapted this lobster recipe from a recipe in a charity book I bought in the 70’s…. the cover has long fallen off…. some pages are speckled with so many splatters from over the years you can hardly read some of the recipes….This recipe was credited to Charlene Bentien…. I have no idea who she is… but she has one heck of a great recipe for lobster meat.

The first part of the recipe makes 1 pint of a béchamel sauce. You only use 1 ¼ cups of it…. my suggestion is to refrigerate the leftovers and use it for a base for a cheese sauce to accompany a vegetable on another night…. it’s probably just enough for that….. I actually like recipes like that… this way I can get a jump start on another evening.

This can be made ahead…. a wonderful plus when serving this for a dinner party. This recipe can be doubled for a larger party.

Enjoy!

Coquille of Lobster Savannah Recipe:

All you need:

¼ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups hot milk
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 green pepper, diced
6-8 large mushrooms, quartered
½ cup sherry
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound lobster meat, diced
¼ cup cream
1 (4 oz) bottle pimentos, diced
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put the ¼ cup softened butter, salt, flour and hot milk in a blender. Cover, and turn the blender on low first and gradually to high for 30 seconds.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

This will make about 1 pint of béchamel sauce. Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the 1 ½ tablespoons butter. Add the green pepper and mushrooms. Toss lightly.

Cover and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes.

Add the sherry, paprika and cook uncovered over high heat until the sherry is reduced by half.

Add the lobster meat, cream and 1 ¼ cups of the reserved béchamel sauce. Stir to mix and heat to boiling. Take immediately off the heat.

Add the pimentos.

**If you are making this ahead…. stop at this point. When ready to serve…. reheat and pick-up the recipe here.

Divide the mixture into 6 scallop shells or ramekins.

Sprinkle each with a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

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Valentine’s Day is Just Around the Corner

Commentary:

The good news is…. Valentine’s Day lands on a Saturday this year…. So if you are dining in… it makes it much easier…. Now is the time to start thinking about what you are going to do for it…. try to think of things that can be prepped ahead…after all…. It’s your special day too.

For years after my husband passed away…. the special man in my life was my son…. and I always made something to celebrate the day. Obviously… when deciding on a menu… the menu options went from romantic to fun…. and there is absolutely nothing wrong with fun…. if that’s your style… go for it.

That brings me to another point…. parents with young children…. My husband and I rarely went out for Valentine’s Day… we found the restaurants crowded and noisy… we felt rushed…. the menus were abbreviated and expensive… so we always stayed in…. when Erik was very little… we had our little romantic dinner after he was put to bed. As he got older, he became part of our little celebration…. It was a meal that everyone enjoyed…… if that is your situation… a houseful of kids… or even 1 or 2…. it’s a celebration of love… and they are included…. just make it good for everyone.

So for the next two weeks…. we will have quite the mix of tips and recipes… some will be romantic “For Two” menus … some will be more casual….. and still others will be more family oriented…. I hope to give you a number of easy appetizers…. and desserts too….

And for you singles out there…. been there… done that…. honestly… I curled up with a book and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a spoon …. Hey… it was my day too!

Note: For you readers around the world… I’m not sure Ben & Jerry’s is international…. It’s an ice cream company here in the States that makes awesome ice cream…. They have nifty names like Chubby Hubby … and Cherry Garcia…. It’s a pretty cool company… click here for more info on them.

Newsflash!... I just checked out their site and they are in a number of countries around the world…. if you haven’t tried them…. definitely try a scoop soon!

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Recipe: Carrot Cake


Bet you didn’t know that February 3rd (Tuesday) is National Carrot Cake Day…. yep… it is…. So why don’t you surprise the people at work with some delicious carrot cake…

You can make cupcakes… a bundt cake… a layer cake… or a one layer (9x13 size cake)… I chose to make a bundt cake this time…. personally I’m partial to cupcakes… but it was Warren’s request… and I know he prefers cakes to cupcakes… probably because he thinks the pieces are bigger.

Carrot cake is a wonderful way to eat veggies… what could be better … well maybe if you slathered chocolate on broccoli… but I’m willing to bet George Bush (Sr.) still wouldn’t eat it…. all joking aside carrot cake is wonderful…. there are a number of really good recipes out there… and in my opinion… this is one of them.

So definitely try this… you will love it!

Carrot Cake Recipe:

All you need:

4 eggs
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Add in the flour mixture in small batches (about ¼ of the flour mixture) at a time, mixer should be on medium speed.

Stir in the carrots.

Stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour into the greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

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Recipe: Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese frosting goes great with carrot cake…… so here’s my recipe for the frosting…

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe:

All you need:

1 stick of butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) package of Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

All you need to do:

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

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How to Soften Hardened Brown Sugar

Tip of the Day

If your brown sugar has become hard…. Slip it in a plastic bag and microwave it for 45 seconds… check it… if still not softened… microwave for another 10-15 seconds….. time will vary based on microwave strength…. we have an old microwave at the house in Georgia…(trust me… it’s so old I think Noah’s wife used one like it)….. it took a full minute to get it soft… it will be much less for a newer microwave.

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Recipe: Veal Piccate

When I was growing up on Long Island there was this terrific restaurant called Lido Di Roma in New Hyde Park…. The food was out of this world… they had a great dish called Veal Piccate…. It’s very simple to make and would be excellent for a romantic dinner for two….serve it with a rice… or risotto… or a fettuccini ….. a vegetable… some crusty rolls… a nice wine…. some candles….hmmmm

What’s really nice about this recipe is that it is virtually foolproof… you can make it and keep it warm… and you won’t kill yourself slaving in the kitchen….

If you do make this ahead…. cook the veal and place on a warm platter, and put some of the wine-lemon liquid over it so it doesn’t dry out…. cover with foil… keep in a warm oven. When you go to serve it… heat the wine … add the veal….get to serving temperature again… and serve…. you may have to increase the wine to ¾ cup.

This can also be made with thin sliced boneless chicken breasts….

Enjoy!

Veal Piccate Recipe:

All you need:

2 large veal cutlets thinly sliced
Flour
4 tablespoons butter
1 lemon sliced
½ cup white wine
12-15 mushrooms sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

All you need to do:

Using your kitchen mallet, pound the veal between two sheets of waxed paper. If you don’t have a mallet, a sauté pan will work.

Dredge the veal in the flour.

In a hot skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter.

Add the veal and sauté until lightly browned.

Remove the veal and keep warm.

Wipe the skillet out.

Heat the wine, lemon, mushrooms, salt and pepper.

When hot, add the veal back and heat for 1-2 minutes and then serve.

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