Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ribollita (Tuscan Soup)

How about some soup? Since our weather can't seem to make up it's mind, I'm getting completely thrown off on my cooking! One day I fire up the grill, the next day we are hunkering inside to stay out of the rain! Craziness!!!
This soup is traditionally a leftover Minestrone type soup that is served with grilled bread rubbed with garlic. I chose to leave the bread out of the soup because I made homemade Wheat Rolls, but go ahead, slice up some Ciabatta, toast it then rub with a clove of garlic and put at the bottom of the soup bowl. When you ladle the soup over the bread it will soak up the goodness and become a hearty meal! This recipe came from a combination of Giada De Laurentiis and fortheloveofcooking.com.

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 Cup red wine
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes with juice
  • 2 Cups baby spinach, torn
  • 1 Cup Savoy Cabbage, shredded (I had this so I threw some in)
  • 6 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 in. piece of Parmesan Rind
  • 1 Cup whole wheat thin spaghetti (broken in 1 in. pieces)
  • grated parmesan for garnish

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add onion & carrots and saute for 5 min. Add garlic and saute 1 min longer. Add tomato paste and stir until combined, then pour in red wine. Cook until wine has somewhat reduced, then add basil, oregano, bay leaf, parmesan rind, tomatoes, beans, spinach, cabbage and chicken stock. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Heat to simmer 20 minutes. Add in the pasta and bring to slight boil for 10 more minutes.
*Serve with lot's of freshly grated parmesan cheese and some french bread or rolls.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Banana Nut Bread

This recipe comes from one of the most sweetest lady I will ever know! She was part of my inspiration to start this blog! Last month she left this earth, but will forever be in my heart...my Aunt Cetta. Italian, beautiful, funny, a great cook & baker...she had it ALL!!! Some of my most favorite recipes came from her and this is one that I love!

Banana Nut Bread
  • 1/2 Cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 Cup buttermilk (or sour cream, but I like buttermilk!)
  • 3 Cup flour (you could use half whole wheat flour too)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Cup chopped nuts (we've always used Walnuts)
*Cream butter and sugar in mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and mashed bananas-mix well. Add buttermilk-mix well. Beat in flour gradually, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Lastly, fold in nuts.
Spray 2 loaf pans. Divided the batter between the 2 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 min. or until brown and toothpick comes out dry.
Cool in pans for 15 min., then turn out onto wire rack.
***I can never wait till this bread cools...the minute it's out of the oven, I'll cut myself a sliver!
Also, we have always eaten our bread like this: Cut a thick slice, pop it in the toaster till it's lightly golden, then spread some butter on it...OH soooo good!!!
Keep a loaf for yourself and give one to a neighbor or wrap in foil and put in the freezer for when you have company!

Sweet Aunt "C"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vanilla-Scented Granola

This has got to be one of the best granola's around! It's simple, makes the house smell AMAZING and is frightfully addicting! Which means, it doesn't last more than a day or so in this house!! I usually only make this a couple times a year and mostly around Christmas time because it's a great gift idea and like I said, super easy to make! But, who says I have to wait till Christmas to have the best granola ever?! Eat it alone or with a little plain yogurt & berries...YUMMMM and I think you'll agree!!

Vanilla-Scented Granola
(Bon Appetite Mar. 02)
  • Non-stick Spray
  • 4 Cups old-fashioned Oats
  • 1 Cup sliced Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup (packed) Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/3 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 4 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
*Position rack in middle of oven & pre-heat to 300 degrees. Lightly spray large jelly roll pan with nonstick spray. Mix next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
*Combine oil, honey and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over med. heat. Remove and stir in Vanilla. Pour hot liquid over oat mix; stir well.
*Using hands, toss mix thoroughly. Spread granola on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown stirring occasionally; about 30 min.
Transfer sheet to rack, cool completely.

My little helper
No Ella, not that big of a bite!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Verde Casserole

Yesterday was a blistery, cold, rainy day and all I could think about was this casserole for some reason! My family isn't big on casseroles, but I love a good casserole every now and then! This particular recipe has been in the family for years and I won't repeat what my dad "nicknamed" it, but it's one of my all-time faves! I tweaked the recipe this time because I had been trying to figure out a way to get rid of the canned soups it called for..well this time I tried it without, made my own sauce and it was REALLY successful! Hope you give it a try & let me know what you think!

Chicken Enchilada Verde Casserole {family recipe}

INGREDIENTS: {Serves 10-12}
  • 3 half chicken breasts w/bone & skinned (or 4 boneless, skinless)
  • 1 dozen Corn Tortillas...cut in quarters
  • 8 oz Sharp Cheddar, shredded
  • 8 oz. Jack Cheese, shredded
  • (seems like a lot, you don't have to use all of it)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 Cup flour
  • 1 Cup chicken broth, reserved from cooked chicken
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 26oz. jar Salsa Verde (I use Herdez brand, but it does have a kick, so if the kiddos don't like that, make sure you try to find a mild salsa)
*I bake my chicken in a baking dish, seasoned with salt & pepper, covered with foil in a 350 degree oven for 1 hr. 10 min. I turn the oven off & let it sit in oven for close to an hour. The chicken will just fall apart that way, so tender...try it! Shred chicken and reserve 1 Cup broth for sauce. Cut up tortillas into fourths and set aside, then shred cheese, set aside.
*For the sauce, melt butter on med-low heat in large saucepan. Whisk in flour to make a paste. Slowly add in chicken broth, while whisking to avoid clumps. Next whisk in milk & sour cream. Once sauce has come together, turn off heat, then add chiles & Salsa. Mix completely.
Now your ready to assemble. Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish. Layer half of tortillas, half Chicken, half Cheese, half Sauce. Repeat layers, ending with Sauce.
Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 hrs. or until golden & bubbly!
***This is a great dish for company or large gatherings & perfect to make ahead then pop in oven! *Serve with beans & salad

Just out of oven
Ingredients, ready to assemble

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Steak Nachos

Who doesn't love a heaping plate of loaded Nachos? We had a ton of Tri-Tip leftovers the other day and I decided I was going to make a quick and easy dinner with it. I just raided the pantry & fridge to find what I needed to make these yummy, cheesy nachos...the kids went crazy for them! The great thing is that you could use any leftover meat: ground beef, turkey, cooked chicken, shredded pork. The possibilities are endless...

Steak Nachos
  • 2 Cups leftover Tri-Tip, diced & quickly heated in frying pan (or any other cooked meat)
  • White Corn Tortilla Chips
  • 1 Can Black Beans, drained (or) 1 can refried beans
  • 2-3 Cups shredded cheddar & jack cheese ( I like lot's of cheese)
  • 1 small can sliced olives
  • 1 tomato, seeded & diced
  • sour cream
Recipe for Guacamole:
  • 2-3 ripe Avocados
  • 1/2 jalepeno, seeded & finely diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
*(If I have time, I will add fresh cilantro (to taste) & 1 small tomato (diced) to the guacamole)
PRE-HEAT oven to 375 degrees. Arrange chips on a large oven proof platter. I used 2 large, deep pie plates (one plate for us & one for the kids). Top chips with black beans, some of the cheese, steak, rest of cheese & olives. Place in oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and chips are starting to turn golden. Once the nachos are out of oven, top with tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro for garnish.
Super easy & super yummy...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Epic Cinnamon Rolls

EPIC CINNAMON ROLLS (*Taken from Gold Medal Flour Recipe)

*This recipe is for Bread Machine...I really hope you have one so you can give it a try! These may seem difficult, but if you have time to do them the day before, then once they have doubled in size, you can pop them (covered) in the fridge overnight. Next morning just throw them in the oven!!

  • 1 Cup warm Milk (105-115 degrees)
  • 2 eggs (room temp.)
  • 1/3 Cup butter, melted
  • 4 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 pkgs. quick active dry yeast
  • 1 Cup packed brown sugar (I used Organic)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/3 Cup butter, softened
  • 3 oz. Cream Cheese, softenend
  • 1/4 Cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar (I used Organic)
  • 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

*Select Dough cycle on your bread machine. Once the breadmachine is done, remove dough onto lightly floured surface. Cover & let rest 10 min. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon.

*Grease bottom and sides of 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Roll dough into 20 by 16-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 Cup butter over dough; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough, beginning at 20-inch side; pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Cut into 12 slices. Place in pan. Cover and let rise in warm place 35-45 min. or until almost doubled in size.

*Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in med. bowl, beat all frosting ingredients with electric mixer until smooth and spreadable. Let rolls stand 5 minutes before frosting. Spread frosting over warm rolls.

Ingredients for Rolls
Dough, rolled out with butter & brown sugar mixture
Rolls just sliced (Once they have doubled, they will fit tightly in pan)

Weekend Eats: Greek Chicken

The sweetest thing....
This morning I turn over, still very much asleep, barely able to open one eye and see my sweet son holding a tray with breakfast for ME! He wanted to bring me breakfast in bed! I had to reward his efforts, but then politely asked him to take it back to the kitchen so mommy could get just a little more sleep. He's gonna make one good husband someday...

Well, I've been so excited to share a couple of my favorite recipes with you! We were able to get some bbq'ing in this weekend, despite the cold weather. I then decided to get out my breadmaker on Sat. night so we could have fresh-baked Cinnamon Rolls for Easter morning breakfast. It was a beautiful, blessed weekend....full of great friends, family & food of course!

I always use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but with this recipe I have used boneless, skinless chicken thighs twice and they are WAY better. Go ahead, give em' a try...i think you'll like!

4-6 chicken breats (boneless, skinless) OR 6-8 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
Combine the following:
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh Oregano (chopped)
  • 2 Tsp. fresh Thyme (chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar (I was all out & used white wine vinegar...still delish!)
  • 1/4 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest, from fresh lemons
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Place chicken in large Ziploc bag then add marinade. Seal & marinate chicken in fridge for 4-6 hrs. Grill 25-30 min., basting with leftover marinade. ***Be sure to bring leftover marinade to a boil on stove top before you baste.
I served with grilled Artichokes & homemade Rice Pilaf.

Artichokes, steamed then sliced in half, drizzled with olive oil, sea salt & pepper

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Good Friday! Shortbread Cookies

I can't even believe it's April 2nd already! I think what I'm most excited about is that today is the start of EASTER BREAK for my kids!!! Woo Hoo...just what I think we've all been waiting for in this house. This morning the boys got to go to work with daddy, so I took the opportunity to take Ella & Marley (our dog) for a walk on the beach. Everything was beautiful...coffee, bagel, warm sunshine and a happy little girl & dog. That is, all until we come walking up to the car and, in horror, walk up to find Ella's car door was left open for an HOUR...along with my purse & keys right inside for anyone to take! I couldn't BELIEVE that we were spared the devastation of having to walk home with no car, but also had a glimmer of hope that the little community & tourists of Pismo Beach aren't all that bad after all. WHEW!

Ok, so now on to some business....COOKIES!
I baked up some Easter Cookies for the kids to enjoy this weekend & wanted to share the recipe with you all. May you take some time this weekend to consider all of the blessings in your life!
Oh, and check back this weekend...I've got some good recipes planned!

p.s. The pictures i've been taking are coming from my iPhone, so that's why they aren't that true to color. I'll be using a "real" camera to take pictures of upcoming recipes!


  • 2 sticks Butter (good quality & softenend)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour
In electric mixer, combine butter & sugar.
Add vanilla, salt & flour. Stir until just combined.
Turn out onto Floured surface.
Roll out to 1/4 in thickness.
Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 min. (or until very lightly browned)
Allow to cool fully on rack & frost if desired...

Here's the icing that I used.

Powdered Sugar Icing
  • 1 Cup SIFTED powedered sugar (I used organic & it turned out just as great!)
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1-2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Use more powered sugar for thicker consistency or more water for thinner.
Whisk all ing. together then seperate into smaller bowls for different colored icing.
I used Wilton's liquid food coloring...it really is the best!

Here's the dough...I wrapped in plastic & put in fridge for a couple hrs.
My little helper & the shapes she chose
The pink looks red in the picture, but it really was a pretty color!
Found some really cute spring colored sprinkles!


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