Monday, January 19, 2015

Stuffed Mushrooms

One of my favorite appetizers is stuffed mushrooms.  I am including two different recipes - one for sausage stuffed mushrooms, and one for crab stuffed mushrooms.  Here are the ingredients for the sausage stuffed mushrooms:

1 pound sausage
1 cup shredded or roped Provel/Provolone cheese
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 package of large button mushrooms, washed and stems removed
Drizzle of olive oil

Beer Stuffed Mushrooms

Mix all ingredients together and roll a small amount into a ball.  Place each ball inside a mushroom cap.  Drizzle olive oil over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until sausage is thoroughly cooked.
Here are the ingredients for crab stuffed mushrooms:

2 cans of crab meat, drained
1 cups of breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 stick of melted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large package of mushrooms, washed and stems removed
Drizzle of olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and place a small ball of the mixture in each mushroom cap.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms cooked through.

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've always heard about making your own laundry soap.  After a little research, I discovered it wasn't only easy to make, it was VERY inexpensive!  This is right up my alley!

Here are the ingredients for the laundry soap:

1/3 bar of Fels Naptha (or Zote or Ivory)
1/2 cup of washing soda (not baking soda)
1/2 cup Borax
10 drops of Lemon essential oil (you can use whatever essential oil you would like for fragrance)

I found the ingredients in the laundry soap aisle in my local Walmart store.  Here is the process to make the soap:

Grate the soap and put it in a large sauce pan.  Add 6 cups of water and heat it until the soap dissolves.  Add the washing soda and Borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups of hot water into the pan and stir.  Add 1 gallon plus 5 cups of water and stir.  Let this sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  After 24 hours, put it into a large bucket.  This recipe makes about 2.5 gallons of laundry soap - a cost of about .03 per load!

This recipe does not make a lot of suds but that is OK because suds are not what cleans your clothes!
Use about 1/2 cup per load of laundry.  Very easy and cost effective!

Cherry Bars

I came across an interesting recipe on Pinterest and just had to try it:  Caramel Bars (  It was a great recipe, but a little too sweet for me.  I decided to adapt the recipe and try cherries, instead of caramel.  The result is amazing!

Here are the ingredients:

4 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
4 sticks of butter
1 large can of cherry pie filling

In your mixer, mix together butter, brown sugar and white granulated sugar.  Slowly add powdered sugar.  Add vanilla and flour.

My little helper!  Trevor LOVES to help Grandma in the kitchen!

Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with PAM or cooking spray.  Press 1/2 of the dough at the bottom of the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown.  While that is baking refrigerate the remaining dough.  You want the dough to be cold so that you can crumble it on top.

Remove from the oven.  Open the cherry pie filling and spread over the bottom crust.  Take the remaining dough and crumble over the top.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top crust has some golden on it. 

Enjoy!  If you don't enjoy cherries, you can add any filling that you want!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chicken Bowl

I have been obsessed with the Chicken Cantina Bowl from Taco Bell.  The ingredients are easy enough so I decided to make my own version!

Here are the ingredients I used-enough for 4 salads:

2 cups rice
1 can black beans drained but not rinsed
1 bag of lettuce
Spice - chipotle or another Mexican blend
2 chicken breast, grilled and sliced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can corn, drained
1/2 cup pico
Salsa ranch dressing

Options:  Sour cream and Guacamole

To begin, make the rice and let it cool completely.  Sprinkle the chipotle rub on the chicken.  If you do not have a blended spice like this you can make your own:  salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, chili powder, cumin.  Cook the chicken breast and let it rest while you assemble the salad.

To assemble the salad, put the rice on the bottom of the bowl, and cover with beans and corn.

Add a handful of lettuce, cheese, pico and sliced chicken.  Top with salsa ranch dressing and guacamole or sour cream if you like!

This dish is very versatile.  You can grill a steak and make a steak bowl.  You can make this with taco meat. You can add crumbled taco chips for a little crunch.  Add the ingredients that you like - the possibilities are endless!


Polenta Cakes with Meat Sauce

Sugu...............simply means meat sauce in Italian.  Better yet, it is even simple to make!  For this recipe I wanted to try something unusual, daring, different.  I decided to make polenta cakes and top it with a sausage meat sauce!

If you have never tried polenta I encourage you to do so!  Polenta is cornmeal cooked into a porridge, or fried, in this case.  If you like grits you will love polenta!

Make your polenta according to package directions.  I add butter, cream and Parmesan cheese to mine.  For this recipe you can either make it into a porridge or refrigerate it so that you can fry it later.  A few days ago I made beef short ribs over polenta.  Instead of throwing away the leftover polenta,  I decided to wrap it up and use for this meal!

Before frying your polenta cakes you need to start the sugu.  Here are the ingredients I used:

1 pound Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 can tomato sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons parsley, basil and oregano
2 tablespoons Olive oil for saute

To begin the sauce, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil.  Cook until translucent.

Add the sausage and brown.

Add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.  I was able to open a jar of tomato sauce that I canned this summer!

Add the spices and let it simmer until it thickens.  I let mine simmer for an hour.

As that simmers, it is time to fry the polenta cakes.  Take the log of polenta and cut it up.  Heat up a skillet with a little olive oil and pry your cakes.  That's it!

Assemble your polenta cakes on a plate and top with the meat sauce.  I added fresh parsley and Parmesan on the top.

Here you go:  simple, impressive and cheap! 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pignolatas - Honey Clusters

Visiting Nonna at Christmas time meant pignolatas (pin-u-la-tas).  I loved seeing the honey "tree" with the sprinkled candies on the top.  These holiday treats are easy to make.

Here are the ingredients:

2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
Candy sprinkles
Oil for frying

Measure your flour in a bowl and make a depression in the middle.  Crack your eggs in a separate bowl and whisk until blended.  Pour the eggs into the depression in the flour.

Gently incorporate the flour into the eggs until a dough ball forms.  Take the dough ball and break apart into smaller sections, rolling each section out, like a snake.

In the meantime, heat the honey and sugar.

Cut the dough into 1/2 inch pieces and fry until golden brown.

When the balls are golden brown, remove from the oil and place in a bowl.  Gently toss the honey mixture with the fried balls.

When they are cool enough to handle, stack them on a plate and sprinkle with the candy.

This is an Italian classic.  It is easy to make and super cheap as well!  Just like Nonna used to make!


Steak - Sicilian Style!

I love going to Italian restaurants and ordering a steak (bistecca), smothered with a wonderful sauce.  The problem with this is that it can get expensive!  If you want a restaurant quality steak you can do it yourself for half the cost!

Here are the ingredients:

4 strip steaks (or whatever steak you like)
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
The juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet.  I like to use my cast iron skillet for steak!  While that is heating up, salt and pepper your steak and dredge it in bread crumbs.

 Make sure your skillet is very hot.  Sear the steak, cooking to the temperature you desire.  I like a nice medium rare steak so I seared my steak for 3 minute on each side.  Be careful not to burn the bread crumbs.

When the steak is cooked to your liking remove it from the pan and let it rest.  Add the mushrooms to the same skillet and cook until softened.  Add salt, pepper and flour.  Stir the flour into the mushrooms. 

Slowly add the wine.  At this point the flour should bind with the liquid, making a thick roux.  Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring as you go.  When the sauce it to the desired thickness, add the lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the steak.  I sprinkled mine with a little fresh parsley and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  I served this with a simple pasta with butter, oil and garlic.  Here is the recipe for the pasta: