Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My First Harvest.

It wasn't too long ago when I shared the picture with you of our first siting of a zucchini. We had a lot of rain the other night so I went out in the morning to check on the garden. I was up a little bit worrying about it getting flooded again. To my surprise there it was full grown and ready to be picked. I was so excited and couldn't wait to tell everyone. I wasn't going to pick it yesterday but then realized I didn't have a good veggie to make for dinner...it was so nice to go out to the garden and realize that I did in fact have a veggie to make for dinner.

Zucchini still on the plant.

Fresh picked and sitting on my front step (I wanted to get a picture of it with my son but he almost tossed it down the steps)

Cut up and being sauteed in the pan.

There really isn't anything like the taste of a fresh picked vegetable and I can't wait for everything else to start popping up. I know we will soon have a bunch of yellow squash ready to be picked...which of course I will keep everyone updated on that.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My niece, Emelia

So totally un-food related, although she is so cute I could eat her up! On my latest babysitting gig with my adorable niece, I noticed that she likes to make noises with her mouth. I had to record it and put it on here to share with all (it is 71MB, so emailing it was not a possibility! =)...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Michelle's July Recipe - Blueberry Heaven Smoothie

I think one of my favorite summer fruits has to be the blueberry. I just can't get enough of them when it is this time of year. They aren't usually around long enough in my house to make it into any type of recipe...except for maybe blueberry pancakes on a Saturday morning. So when they were on sale this past week at the supermarket I bought a couple of pints.

After seeing that Heidi took care of making something unique (BBQ sauce) with them and something standard with them (blueberry muffins). I didn't really know what I wanted to make using the perfectly blue little guys. I found a website totally dedicated to Blueberry recipes and new I would find something there.

From Blueberry-recipes.com

1 package (12-ounce size) frozen thawed blueberries OR 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cup apple juice
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions: In blender combine blueberries, apple juice, ice cream, milk and cinnamon until smooth. Serve immediately. Serves/makes 4

All ingredients in blender (top view) before being mixed together

Blueberry Heaven Smoothie

Review: Overall I really thought the taste of this recipe was Super Yummy! To me it tasted like a liquid form of a blueberry pie or a blueberry crisp which is probably because of the cinnamon added to it. The only negative thing Mike and I both thought about this smoothie was that it wasn't cold enough for us. That is partly my fault because the apple juice was at room temperature since I just bought it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

May Recipe: High Plains Steak with Peas and Pods

Wow, so it has been a busy week! We are in process of renting out our condo and I am still finding some time to make some new recipes! Yay me!

I was thumbing through Cooking Light July 2008 and ran across two different recipes: High Plains Steaks & Peas and Pods. They were noted as recipes for the July 4th holiday. So, it's a few days past, but I am also over a month past due on my May "Beef" recipe. Luckily I had a piece of London Broil in the fridge and some snap peas my dad had gotten me Upstate (as I love these peas - you can eat the outside and inside!).

High Plains Steak(s)
Cooking Light - July 2008

1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 (8-ounce) sirloin strip steaks or 1 lb. London Broil
Cooking spray

1. Prepare grill.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub mustard mixture over both sides of steaks. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 30 minutes.
3. Place steaks on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

Nutritional Information:
CALORIES 155 (30% from fat); FAT 5.2g (sat 2g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.2g); IRON 2.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CALCIUM 10mg; CARBOHYDRATE 0.7g; SODIUM 427mg; PROTEIN 24.6g; FIBER 0.2g

Weight Watchers Points: 4

Peas and Pods
Cooking Light - July 2008

3/4 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 cups fresh or frozen petite green peas, thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped
fresh mint (or basil)

1. Steam snap peas, covered, 2 minutes. Add green peas to pan; steam 2 minutes.
2. Combine peas, butter, and salt in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with mint (or basil).

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

Nutritional Information: CALORIES 87 (29% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat 1.8g,mono 0.7g,poly 0.1g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 7.5mg; CALCIUM 42mg; CARBOHYDRATE 10.7g; SODIUM 105mg; PROTEIN 3.4g; FIBER 3.4g

Weight Watchers Points: 1

Review: I cooked a 1" thick steak for 5 minutes on each side and it came out perfectly medium. The steak was very good with just a hint of mustard. Next time I think I will try the horseradish mustard or maybe even just horseradish to kick the taste up a notch. The peas were soooo good - I think that's partially due to the fact that they were straight from the farm stand, but even the frozen peas that I defrosted were tasty. Very quick and easy meal! Yum!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July. I had a great time at my family summer house in upstate Ny. Its an annual tradition to head to Shinhopple each 4th and I look forward to it each year. This year was no different. We had a great group of people this year, a bunch of my cousins and of course Heidi and Mike. I thought I'd post our wonderful BBQ we had. It would have been delicious if the chicken was cooked just a little more, but what can I say, theres not talking to guys when it comes to grilling & bbq'ing ( right Heidi!! )

I think the charcoal grill was way too hot to put the chicken on, but everyone was hungy and the guys figured it would cook. Most was ok, but some of the pieces needed to be cooked a little more. Overall it wasnt too bad. Maybe next year the guys will leave cooking to chicken to Heidi and I =)

Zucchini, Onion, & Basil Pizza

The inspiration for this recipe came from William Sonoma's June 2008 catalog. One of their featured items is the Beehive Pizza Oven. It's way over my price limit, but now that I have my Pampered Chef Bar Pan, who needs a pizza oven?! =)

Anyhow, the farm stands have also opened upstate and although I have a ton of veggies growing in my garden, they aren't quite ready for the picking. Well, not entirely true, the lettuce is ready and we have a few cukes that are small but very edible! We made our first salad the other night!

Zucchini & Basil Pizza - my modified version below

1 green zucchini, sliced 3/16 inch thick
1 Vadalia Onion
1 Tbs. EVOO
Olive Oil Spray
4 tsp. Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
One store bought pizza dough
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
6 large fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, stir together the zucchini, 1 Tbs. oil, salt (1 Tbl) and fresh ground pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes, then drain off the excess liquid. Place pizza dough round on a sprayed Large Bar Pan from Pampered Chef. Lightly spray the dough with olive oil and sprinkle parmesan cheese over the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella on the dough and top with the zucchini and onions. Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake for 18 minutes and then low broil for about 5 minutes (to ensure top of crust is cooked through). Place torn pieces of basil on top. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Review: Another wow! I really enjoyed this and kept saying it over and over to Rocco. A perfect summer pizza with just the right amount of flavoring. The zucchini and onions were sweet and just a delight. My only downer is that I used store bought (fresh) pizza dough and the last time I made pizza I got it down on Arthur Ave. at Madonia Brothers Bakery and you can actually taste the difference in the dough!

It is So CUTE!!

A little while back I posted about our vegetable garden that we are growing with my neighbors. It is very exciting stuff to grow something from a tiny little seed. We even had a little scare of it all washing away after a really really heavy rain storm. Thankfully we built the mounds/hills and the plants weren't hurt. After the same storm I spotted two little bunnies eating around our garden. It was a good thing we put up the fence because otherwise I think they would have eaten our plants.

Yesterday I went out to check on the garden and see if everything was ok. We were getting a little concerned about our zucchini plants because a bunch of the blossoms were falling off. After a little Internet research I found out that it was the male blossoms that tend to just fall off after they pollinated the female blossoms...hmmmm. Then I found our first little zucchini growing under those giant leaves. I am happy that we will get at least one zucchini out of all this and hopefully I will be posting later this summer that I am totally sick of the green stuff.

The garden just after it was planted (sorry for the fuzzy picture)

Picture of the garden from a couple of days ago.

My two little bunny friends

The great flood of 2008

Our first Zucchini spotting.

June Recipe: Strawberry Cream Pie

Every year in June, I LOVE to go strawberry picking at Bohringer's in Middleburgh, NY. It is this tucked away fruit farm in the valley. I don't always get there, but when I do, the strawberries are like candy. So sweet, super juicy and just perfect.

From the strawberry fields you also get an amazing view of the valley. This year, I wisened up. Kneeling on the hay and ground for an hour while picking does a number on my knees. So, I brought a chair pad, you know, the kind that you sit on at the dining room table and covered it in a plastic bag, so the strawberry juices didn't change the color. It may have looked silly, but it was the best strawberry picking experience ever! haha

So, after heading toward the field to pick (by myself may I add as the elders sat in the car and watched - hehe), the first several rows of strawberries were extremely slim pickings and I thought, well, I must have missed the season this year. As I walked further down the rows where no one was, well, let's just say GOLD MINE!
So I get them home and it's like, hmm, what do I do with all of these strawberries?! Originally I thought that I was going to make jam. Nothing like homemade jam, but when I read the recipe and it first said 2 cups of sugar, I thought, that' isn't sooo bad, but then kept reading and it says add another 6 (yes 6!!) cups of sugar, I just couldn't do it. The berries are so sweet, why the heck do you need 6 cups of sugar?!

My grandmother had suggested Strawberry Cream Pie and although it sounded good, while watching my calories, I thought "can't do it." Until I opened up the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and saw that the "cream" is actually made with milk! So, I was very exciting as figured well, I can use skim milk! I was also worried about the crust, because my crust is usually made with a large amount of shortening, so I looked for an alternate and made it with Vanilla Wafers instead - Graham Crackers was another option, but the crust recipe called for more butter, so I skipped that one too. So, here is the recipe I made with my substitutions. I tell you the pie was amazing (more on my review below)!

Strawberry Cream Pie
BH&G 1965

1 9-inch baked pastry shell
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted (optional)
1 recipe Cream Filling (below)
2.5 cups fresh strawberries
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Few drops red food coloring (optional)

Cream Filling:
Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gradually stir in 2 cups of (skim) milk.
Stirring constantly, bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook and stir till thick (consistancy of warm pudding). Stir a little of hot mixture into 1 slightly beaten egg; return to remaining hot mixture. Bring just to boiling, stirring constantly. Cool, then chill mixture.
Beat well; fold in 1/2 cup (Fat Free Cool Whip) whipping cream, whipped, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Cover bottom of cooled pastry shell with nuts. (I opted not to do the nuts, but think it would have been better to keep the crust less moist.) Fill with Cream Filling. Halve 2 cups of the strawberries (reserve 1/2 cup remaining). Pile atop filling.
Crush remaining 1/2 cup berries; add water; cook 2 minutes; sieve (strain strawberry juice, keeping the juice and squeezing everything out of the crushed berries). Mix sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in berry juice. Cook and stir till thick and clear (mine never got clear, which was fine by me! =). Tint to desired color with food coloring (didn't need this step since it never was clear). Cool slightly; pour over halved strawberries. Keep refridgerated till serving time. Pass (Fat Free) whipped cream, if desired.

Vanilla-wafer Pie Crust:
Combine 1 1/4 cups fine vanilla-wafer crumbs (about 38 wafers) with 1/3 cup melted butter. Press firmly against bottom and sides of buttered 9-inch pie plate. Chill in refridgerator till set.

Review: Like I said, this pie was delicious! So, I made a few mistakes, like I didn't butter the pie plate and it was hard to scrape the crust off the bottom of the pan. I didn't add the almonds (didn't have any), but I think that would have kept the crust more firm. The cream filling was delicious (and I am not the Boston Creme kind of girl). The "gelatin" like topping that went over it was good - sometimes in the bakery, this is kind of jello-ish, was happy that this one stayed softer and just brought the whole pie together. I absolutely loved it and would definitely make it again. I'm not sure if I would serve it for company as it kind of fell apart - maybe because of the skim milk and fat free Cool Whip?! Or maybe I just need a stronger crust. Either way, so good! Enjoy! (All items in italics are what I changed in the recipe.)

Side note: A cousin, Gene Yazzetti, of mine passed away on Monday unexpectedly. May he rest in peace and look over dear Celeste and his kids and grandkids. Gene was a great person and I am thankful to have know him.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Heidi's July Recipe(s)

Mike had an aunt that use to live up in Buffalo that would buy a bushel of corn when they would have family parties. He would say she would make every and any kind of corn dish there was possible. That's how I felt when I bought 3 pints of blueberries. Blueberries were on sale a few weeks ago and I needed 2 cups of blueberries for my July recipe. I didn't realize that 2 cups of blueberries is about 1 pint. So I had 2 pints left. I guess I could have frozen them but I decide to make a few addition things. My intended July recipe was Blueberry BBQ Sauce. Then I knew we were going away for the 4th so I decided to make some Blueberry Muffins to bring for breakfast and the last thing I decide to make was Banana Blueberry Pancakes.

Blueberry BBQ Sauce on Chicken

Blueberry Muffins

Banana Blueberry Pancakes

My Review: All the recipes were easy to make. The bbq sauce was different, but good. I don't know if I would make it again, but it was fun try something out of the ordinary. The blueberry muffins have been on my baking wish list for a while. I was excited that I finally got to make them and the came out great. I received rave reviews. Kathleen's boyfriend told me he couldn't stop eating them. As for the pancakes. I took the banana recipe I make often and just added blueberries to the batter. It was a nice touch. I forgot how much I love blueberry pancakes. The warm gooey blueberries are soooooo good. I'm now keeping an eye out for another sale.


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