Saturday, September 28, 2013

First Day of Autumn + Sunday Football =

The first pot of Sauce for the season!! (though I'm posting this a tad bit late)

Hello Friends!

There is nothing like the smell of a pot of simmering goodness on the stove as the air turns cool and crisp...any pot of goodness is fine, but on the first day of autumn (last Sunday), my pot of choice was tomato sauce.  I was lucky enough to get a mess of fresh tomatoes from my brothers garden and decided to toss them in as well.  So - let me share with you this version of sauce.  I say 'this version' because I don't have a real written down recipe for sauce so I never make it the same way twice! 

So, Lets begin.  I started off with browning up my meatballs, sausage and pork ribs.  I brown everything but do not cook it through... it will finish up in the sauce.

While the meat is browning, I chop up one onion, a mess of carrots, a bunch of stalks of celery, all those luscious tomatoes and 5 large cloves of garlic.

When the meat is done and out of the pan, add a bit more olive oil to the pot and toss in those veggies.
Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flake and Italian seasoning and let them cook down...add in some tomato paste at this point as well.
De glaze the pan with about a cup of red wine and some chicken broth...and a can of whole tomatoes and their juices...(I crush up the tomatoes by hand before adding them in).
Let this cook down for at least 30 minutes, until all of the veggies are tender. 
At this point, I'll use the immersion blender to break down the vegetables a bit and then add in two (or three, depending on how much I'm making!) of crushed tomatoes. I season with salt and pepper, dried oregano and three heaping tablespoons of pesto (I use classico).  I then will add all the meat back to the pot and let this simmer on the stove for ... oh.... three or four hours.  The longer the better!
A bowl of pasta, some meatballs, this rich and delicious sauce... and a win for the Jets.  A perfect start to this autumn season!

The colder it gets...the more I cook - I see soups in my future!! Have a good soup recipe? A Favorite soup?  Let me know!

Until Next Time...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

CheeseCake Catastrophe

Hello Friends,

So a few weeks ago, I was watching the Create channel and Martha Stewart Bakes.  I was never really a fan of Martha's...but I do have to say her cooking shows I find very intriguing.  Anyway - She was making all sorts of cheesecakes... Ricotta Cheesecake and NY Style Cheesecake and even one with a fruit Jelly kind of thing. 

I was curious about her NY cheesecake as her recipe called for some flour.  Any cheesecake I've ever made didn't have any flour in it... and hers looked so good...
Martha Stewart's NY Style Cheesecake

I decided to make it!  Now, I'm sure I've said in the past... but I'm a terrible baker.  I hardly bake anything because it is too precise for me when I'm a 'handful of this' kind of a girl. So even though I've decided to bake this took me about three weeks to work up the gumption to actually do it. is the recipe...

12 Graham Crackers
6 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of sugar
a pinch of salt

7  eight ounce packages of Cream Cheese - room temperature
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of room temperature sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
5 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take a bit of extra butter and butter your spring form pan and then wrap the pan with aluminum foil (this goes in a water bath to cook, so this will protect the cake from getting water in it).

Put into your food processor the graham crackers, melted butter, salt and sugar...process until a fine crumb.  Press the crumb into the bottom of the pan and compact it down.  Put the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes to set.  Then bake the crust for 15 minutes until golden.  Let it cool.

Beat the cream cheese for about 3 to 4 minutes to combine it and make it creamy.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour.  Slowly add a bit of the dry mixture into the bowl and a bit of the sour cream and then let it beat for about a minute.  Repeat until all the dry mix and the sour cream is incorporated.  Add in the vanilla...and then one at a time add the eggs.

Take the mixture and pour it into the cooled pan.  Place that pan into a large roasting pan and fill with hot water so it goes up half the side of the cake pan. Place the cake into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Then - reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes are up...shut off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside for one hour.  Remove and let cool.

This is what mine looked like when finished:
Not as pretty as Martha's ... but a good first time effort!
I cut a piece and I will have to say - it was delicious!!  Very moist and creamy, very light and fluffy.  I really do recommend making this cheesecake.  I was so excited - and looked forward to sharing it with Dave and even bring some to my brothers house as they all love cheesecake.

This is what happens when you don't take the bottom of the spring form pan off the cake and then try to wrap it up to put it into the fridge:


'Nuff Said.

Until Next Time...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Lazy Dinner turned into a Great Breakfast...

Hello Friends!

Well - I said vacation was over, didn't I??  So surprise, surprise... another post!  I really meant it when I said I'm in a cooking mood - the weather cooled just enough... (I mean like 5 degrees???) for me to feel like making something for dinner.

(Honestly - it was either I cook so Dave had something to eat when he gets home from work other than a Pb&J sandwich - or...I order Chinese, which Dave loves and is my least favorite food.)

So - I cook! Plus...who knows how long I'll be inspired for - I have to jump on these things while I feel them!

Tonight's dinner - Crust less Vegetable Quiche!

What is an easy dish to make... I'm horrible at baking - so crusts are so beyond me... and I know I can do store bought, but it still seems so soggy to me.  When Dave was doing Atkins - I discovered using Ham for a crust, or going crust less...and for my lazy at heart self - crust less is perfect!

To start - preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

First, rough chop into bite size pieces:
1/2 a medium onion
1 medium zucchini
a bunch of asparagus (ends removed)

Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and a good splash of Olive Oil into the pan and lightly sautee the vegetables with some salt and pepper to taste.  You'll cook this for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender.

Place into a greased baking pan (no crust!) to cool for a bit.

Then crack into a bowl:
6 eggs
add 1/4 cup (about... I eyeball it) of milk (any type)
and about 1/2 a cup of heavy cream...  (don't don't have a crust, you can afford the cream!)
Mix well with salt and pepper to taste and some fresh ground nutmeg (I do about a 6 count when grating it).

about 3 oz of Gruyere cheese
and 4 oz of Sharp Cheddar Cheese...
and about 3 oz of Crumbled Goat Cheese...
*Yes, its alot of cheese...<um...have you met me??> but again, not having a crust gives you a little leeway to not feel guilty into using the heavy cream and cheeses...  and if you do feel guilty - please feel welcome to join me in the Emily-verse - no guilt here!

(Or, get your own Emily-verse where you cut down on the portions until you feel comfortable...but you can't call it an has to be a You-Verse ... but admit - it doesn't sound as awesome as an Emily-Verse, does it??   I told you so. )

But I digress... Lets continue...

Sprinkle the goat cheese over the vegetables and add a little over a half of the Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses on top.

Pour the egg mixture over the pan and allow the liquid to settle in. 

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and put into the oven.

You'll bake this for about 30 minutes until the mixture is just set (it may have a bit of give to it, that's OK) and the cheesey top is golden brown. 

Let the quiche sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

I admit...I didn't wait 10 minutes...
Best thing about this quiche (or any quiche, really) is it can be served hot, warm, room temperature and yes... I'll eat it cold too.  Its great to have hanging around the house for Breakfast, Dinner or a snack.  You can even bake it in muffin tins to have a quick 'grab and go' breakfast or snack that is already proportioned.  (Yes, its a great idea.  It's not mine...someone else thought of it...but I use it often!)

I'll also make quiche with just about anything.  You can use the base mix and put in any veggie or meat or cheese that you like.  Its a perfect go to for me when I have extra veggies from the night before - I just throw it in some eggs and poof... a great quiche!

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer Vacation is OVER!

Hello Friends!

As you might have guessed, since my last post was in June ... I took the summer off from Blogging...from cooking...from rating restaurants... from a lot!  Reminds me of the good old days, when I could be less responsible and would quit my jobs for the summer!  I did that for about three or four years straight - right around my birthday at the end of June, put in my notice and then bum around for the summer ... on the the the back yard in the pool or on my hammock ... and not look for a job until after Labor Day.  Oh I Wish!

Of course I can't do that any more...(but of course when we win the Mega or PowerBall - I will!) but with getting a third week of vacation and some lovely summer Fridays...I didn't work a full week all summer - so that's just about the peaches for me!

Dave and I spent many a Sunday or (but mostly and!) Monday at Overlook Beach - having a ball in the water and sitting in the sun... people watching and of course commenting on all the idiots ..I mean people... who don't have an ounce of Beach Etiquette and feel the need to sit right on top of you with three of their screaming kids when there is a whole empty beach to sit on.

A calm day at Overlook Beach - a few hours before the crowds!
Dave and I spent a gorgeous week upstate with my Mom, my sister and some of my nieces and nephews... There is nothing like relaxing at Keuka Lake!
 A Day shot...
A grainy night shot

Sam and Lilah with their little cousin Dottie

Waiting at Bully Hill for lunch...
The Bully Hill View
Rachel, Julia and Andrew at Lunch
On our last night of our stay at the Cozy Cottage - my sister Kris got Chinese lanterns for us to light...let fill up with the heat...make a wish and let it go - we all got one to set free and made our wishes... How Beautiful!
Lighting and filling Dave and my lantern
Our wish...set free

Ah...No... I will not be telling you our wish... I want this one to come true!! 

But as it does when I have to leave the Emily-verse and get back into real life...Vacations come to an end... as slowly does Summer, as Labor Day has come and gone and while the heat and humidity are still around - they will slowly ebb into the cool, crisp days of Autumn ... and as my mind goes - to cooking soups and stews and Sunday sauce... Going out east to the farmers markets and pumpkin picking...and eventually cutting down a tree (Oh My!).

So - for the first time in just about forever - I decided to cook a new dish for Dave for dinner.  We'd just had a large red meat meal the night before ... and fish for lunch - so we decided on pork.  I searched the net for a fun, different, interesting meal to make for us - and decided to share it here with you!  Your Welcome. :)

I found a recipe on the food network - so of course I couldn't just follow it, I had to add my own touch and flavors to it... so here goes:

Pork Chops Stuffed with Spinach, Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1 container of sliced crimini mushrooms, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
  • 1 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white whine
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Whole Ground mustard
Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.
Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Carefully move the knife around to create the pouch then use your finger to widen it ( least favorite part!).
Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach, mushroom and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing.  Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.
Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork.
Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the chop - mine took about six minutes).
Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. If you overstuffed your pork chops like I did mine - you'll have lovely bits of flavor and chunks from the stuffing, which just adds a great dimension to the broth.
Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Nestle the Pork Chops back into the broth and simmer for about 2 minutes, spooning some sauce over the pork before serving.
We served over pasta - but any rice or potato would work too - you want something to sop up that fabulous sauce!
It felt good to cook again - and I'm scouring the net, my cook books and even Pinterest for some fabulous recipes to share with you.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things on this blog ... I hope you are too!
Until Next Time...