Friday, July 29, 2011

Mushroom and Basil Canapes

I have made these delicious little appetizers a few times for parties and everyone loves them. They are simple, but yet so yummy. You will need:
1 cup of mushrooms, chopped very small
1/4 cup of chopped red onion
3 Tbs. of extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup of chopped basil
1 pkg. of phyllo cups
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of cooked and crumbled bacon
Chopped scallions for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
In a skillet over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are tender. Add the basil and bacon and stir. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Fill each phyllo cup with a scant tablespoon of this mixture. Top with the parmesan cheese. Drizzle the tops of the cups with the olive oil. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Garnish with chopped scallions. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waste Not Want Not!!

I was always taught as a child by my parents to not waste anything. Love the old saying "Waste not want not". That saying holds so much truth. I am the leftover makeover queen. I love leftover roasted chicken. There are so many things that you can do with leftover chicken. I have made chicken casseroles, chicken soup, chicken croquettes, barbecue chicken pizza and chicken pot pie. Just to name a few. Leftover rice from last night? Don't throw it away. You can easily make rice pudding with that left over rice or even make a casserole with it or turn it into fried rice. The options are endless. You just need to get creative. I have had many weeks where the kids have not had many sandwiches which resulted in sliced bread that has gotten to almost the stale stage. No problem!!! Put that bread in a food processor and make bread crumbs. Why go to the store and buy bread crumbs out of a can? The best part is that you can flavor it with anything you want. Add your favorite dried herbs to them and a little extra virgin olive oil. Toss and put on a sheet pan that has been lined with foil. Put into a 375 degrees farenheit oven and toast them up. Remove from the oven and let cool. Then, put them into a freezer storage bag and store in the freezer. Another good tip is what to do with that yogurt that is sitting in the refrigerator that no one seems to want. This usually happens to me quite a bit. My kids will  beg me for a certain kind of yogurt and eat it twice and not want anymore. I take the yogurt containers and empty them into a blender add a splash of orange juice,frozen fruit and a touch of honey. Blend it up and now we've got a smoothie that the kids are happy to drink! I have plenty of ideas. If you need any tips, feel free to comment and I will be more than happy to help you. Hope I have given you some good ideas today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do you have an abundance of green beans from your garden?

Looking for something to do with all the green beans from your garden? I have got an easy and yummy recipe for you. My mom made this all the time when I was a kid. You will need:
6 cups of cut green beans
1 lb. of ground linguica
1 medium onion chopped
3 medium potatoes that have been cubed
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
3 Tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Place a 6-8 quart saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onion, ground linguica and paprika. Saute until onions are translucent and linguica is heated through. Add the green beans, potatoes, chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until desired tenderness of potatoes and green beans. I usually serve this with portuguese pops and my family loves it. I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it.

Money Saving Tips

Everyone asks me if I have any money saving tips for them when it comes to putting food on the table. In this economy, people are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. I definitely feel the squeeze. I usually go to the grocery store and go right to the mark down rack. The food that the grocer puts on this rack has not gone bad but, really need to be used that day.

I went to the grocery store the other day and found pears for 75% off and thought to myself, "what can I make with these?" because I knew that my family would not eat all six of those pears that day!

So I decided to make a nice pear crisp. I bought the pears for pennies and all the other ingredients were already in my pantry.

I then walked over to the meat department and found chicken drumsticks on manager's special. I paid $1.50 for six drumsticks. Yes, you read right $1.50 for six drumsticks.

If you find bananas on the rack, make banana bread for your family. It's a great after school snack for the kids too.
So, why not pop in the grocery store and see what's on that mark down rack and plan your meal around that and save lots of money. The other thing that can save you money is store brand versus brand name. I buy lots of things store brand rather than pay more for the brand name. I never buy brand names when it comes to things like cereals, cream cheese, butter sticks for baking and cooking, cream, milk, etc. Some things just don't taste the same when it's not brand name i.e. ice cream, soda, pasta sauce, etc. Try these things out and don't forget to let me know.

Strawberry and Basil Jam

I know what you are thinking when you hear the words making jam, "No way that takes too long and it's too complicated and I just don't have the time." I felt the same way until I finally tried it. The summer time is the best time to make these delightful jams because the berries, peaches and plums, etc. are at their peak and not only are they cheaper, but they taste great. It is so rewarding to make your own jam because first, THEY TASTE SO MUCH BETTER THAN STORE BOUGHT and second I know exactly what is in it. So do yourself a favor and go to the store and buy yourself some canning jars and pectin then head to the grocery store and pick out the best strawberries and fresh basil and let's get started. Trust me you will thank me later!

Now, you will need:
8 (8oz.) preserving jars with lids
1 packet of liquid pectin
5 lbs. of strawberries
7 cups of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of chopped basil
Prepare your boiling water canner according to your manufacturer's instructions.

Let's start off by washing and hulling the strawberries and then cutting them into small pieces and put them in a 6 or 8 quart pan. Take a potato masher and mash the strawberries. Bring to the stove. Add the lemon juice and gradually stir in the pectin. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add the entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Skim off foam if necessary. Add your chopped basil and stir.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim and apply lids and bands. Process in canner according to the manufacturer's instructions. Check lids for seals in 12 hours. Now you have tasty jam throughout the year or you can give them as gifts to your friends and family. They will be your friends for life!!! Let me know how you make out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Torta de Bacalhau

I made this torta the other day for my family and friends and we absolutely loved it. I am going to give you the recipe so you can all give it a try. You will not be disappointed. You will need:
450 grams or 1 lb. of salted, boneless codfish, boiled and shredded.
1 chopped large onion, yellow or vidalia is good
2 cloves of minced garlic
5 heaping tbs. of all purpose flour
6 egg whites
1 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of milk
1 to 2 Tbs. of portuguese red pepper paste
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder

Please note that you will have to place your salted cod in a bowl and cover with water before boiling it. You will need to remove the salt. You should do this for a day, changing the water a few times.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
First beat your egg whites until stiff peaks are formed and set to the side. In another large bowl combine the cod, onion, garlic, flour, olive oil, milk, pepper paste, and the parsley. Mix this well. Fold in the egg whites and the baking powder with a spatula until well combined. Be careful to not deflate your egg whites. Gently fold them in. Pour this mixture onto a 11x15x2 inch jell roll pan that has been greased and lined with parchment paper. Bake in the middle oven rack for about 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately roll starting on the short end, using the parchment paper to assist in rolling. Take two spatulas to help in placing on a serving platter and decorate with some lemon wedges and sprigs of parsley. Serve with rice and salad and you have got yourself a wonderful meal that your family will be asking for all the time.