Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Besto Dip

This dip recipe has been floating around my family for years. At my parents house, it's not a party without this among the appetizers. I think the original name was Parmesan Parsley Dip, but since it's kind of like pesto which is made with basil, I started calling it Besto since it's made with parsley... make sense?

Perhaps because it's served on crackers and it's an appetizer, my kids seem to really like it. No doubt it I offered it during dinner they'd turn up their noses since it's green.

2 bunches parsley, washed and spun dry
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 16 oz. package shredded parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
lemon juice

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor.
  2. Process until well blended. Add lemon juice to taste.
  3. Test on a cracker to confirm its deliciousness.
  4. The left-overs are wonderful on top of a baked potato.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gramma Mary's Meatballs

This is a fabulous meatball recipe. How I acquired the recipe is kind of funny. About 9 years ago I had to go to a black tie event with my husband. For whatever reason, I was seated next to this very italian Chicago lawyer. Back then I was teaching myself to cook and was always on the lookout for a good recipe. The lawyer and I started talking cooking. I discovered during the night that his gramma made unforgettable meatballs. I made a deal with him when I learned this, I'd swap my girlfriends cuban flan recipe for the meatball recipe. The next morning his secretary sent me an email with this recipe and I've made it at least monthly since then.

(can be multiplied with no changes, I always made a double batch)

1 lb ground beef (ground round 85%lean)
1/2 lb ground pork (not italian sausage)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 Cup grated romano cheese (use pecorino romano imported it's the best)
1 Cup saltine cracker crumbs (I used puffed rice or rice krispie cereal, gluten free)
3 eggs, slightly beaten (I never, ever beat them)
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup milk

Place meat in mixing bowl an dmix them together. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the eggs to the meat mixture. Fold the dry ingredients into the meat mixture. Add half the milk and mix. Add the rest of the milk.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cooking tips:
use an ice cream scoop to assure uniform size (occasionally dipping scooper in water helps meatballs roll in hand easier and with less sticking.)
The more hand pressure used the more dense the meatballs.
Place meatballs in a shallow roasting pan which has been sprayed with non stick spray or lined with parchment paper.
Place meatballs in pan (ensure enough space between meatballs so they may brown, cook 15 minutes per side.
Meatballs will flatten out a little while cooking.
Meatballs should be placed in sauce for at least 3/4 of an hour to affect the flavor of the sauce.
Meatballs may be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer to use at a later time.
Doubling or tripling the recipe and freezing the extras saves trouble for future.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stuffed Shells

When I've made stuffed shells in the past, Meriel usually complains if there's "TOO MUCH" cheese. In this version, I've reduced the amount of cheese and added some ground turkey. If you don't have time to stuff the shells, skip 'em and mix the filling with any shape of cooked pasta -- it'll taste just the same.

1 lb ground turkey
12 oz package of pasta shells
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. crushed red peppers
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz. cottage cheese
2 eggs
16 oz. grated mozzarella
26 oz jar pasta sauce (you probably won't use the whole thing)

  1. Brown the ground turkey over medium heat, breaking up into little pieces. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Cook shells (or other pasta shape) according to directions. Add a bit of oil to the water so they don't stick together. Drain.
  3. In a large bowl combine cottage cheese, eggs, herbs, salt & pepper, garlic, 1/2 of the mozzarella and the ground turkey.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" lasagna pan.
  5. Stuff each shell with the cottage cheese/turkey mixture and place in pan. (Or, mix the cooked pasta into the cottage cheese/turkey and spread around pan.) Spread sauce over top (don't feel like you need to use the whole jar) and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese starts to brown, about 10 more minutes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mexican Chili with Pasta

I cut this recipe out of the Tribune recently and we all really liked it. Meriel's initial reaction when she saw it was "GROSS!" But she went back for seconds, so I hope she's learning not to make assumptions based on how something looks. I modified the original recipe a bit by adding more pasta and making it less spicy.

1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can (15 1/2 oz) chili beans (don't drain)
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 cups pasta (rotini, shells, macaroni, etc.)
1 1/2 cups graded cheddar cheese

  1. Cook the ground beef or turkey in a medium sauce pan, stirring to crumble, until no longer pink and starting to brown. Drain. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Stir in chili beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Add pasta to mixture and stir so that the pasta gets covered with liquid. Cover. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until pasta is done, usually 8-10 minutes.
  4. Serve in bowls with grated cheese on top.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazing Apple Bread

I know, I know, this blog is filling up with apple recipes. But 'tis the season and this bread is SOOOO good, that I had to add it. My friend, Julie, found this on the internet, but I reduced the amount of sugar, substituted some whole wheat flour and increased the amount of cinnamon. You seriously will want to eat an entire loaf all by yourself.

1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups apples, peeled and diced
3 cups all-purpose flour (I substituted 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups white flour)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts, toasted (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Whisk gently to break up any lumps in the flour.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the oil mixture.
  5. Blend in apples and nuts.
  6. Pour into 4 mini loaf pans or 2 large loaf pans. Bake for approximately 1 hour. (It may take longer, so check them before taking out of the oven.) Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then cool on a rack.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Homemade Applesauce

Apple season is upon us and with the 2 bushels I picked with the kids I've been busy making some yummy stuff for us. This recipe is for the crockpot, but surely you could use a big old pot on the stove and achieve the same result, however, it would require more watching.

8-10 apples
1/3 C water
2 t. vanilla
2 T cinnamon
the juice of one lemon

Directions, peel and core the apples and cut into quarters, or smaller to fit more. Throw them into the crockpot and pour the water, vanilla, cinnamon and juice of lemon over them. Cook on low for about 3 or 4 hours. Check the apples at about three hours into cooking by taking a potato masher and mashing them down, they should practically fall apart. If there are still some hard chunks let it cook a little longer. When all soft just mash and serve warm. Place into containers and keep in refrigerator. Use in recipes like this one.

Apple Muffins

    1 c. whole wheat flour (I used 2 cups gluten free flour, recipe is in comments here)
    1 c. all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 c. milk
    1 tbsp cider vinegar
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    1/3 c. maple syrup
    1 c. applesauce ( I used homemade)
    1 c. chopped apples

makes 12 muffins (about the size of cupcakes)

-preheat oven to 375 degrees F

- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon . Set aside.(Don't have a sifter? instead of using a spoon to mix these ingredients, use a whisk. )

- in a seperate bowl, mix together the milk, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, applesauce, and apples.

- add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together gently until "just" mixed. DO NOT over mix, this will make your batter (and muffins) heavy and hard.

- spoon batter into well greased muffin tins. bake for 15-20 minutes. test with a toothpick to see if done.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lebanese Rice

1/2 cup very fine egg noodles
1/4 cup pineseeds (optional)
2 cups rice (best to use white rice)
1 can chicken broth (optional)
2 TBSP Olive oil
1/2 stick butter

Pour chicken broth and water in a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl so that you have enough liquid that it equals 4 cups and heat until it is boiling.

In a pan large enough to cook the rice, saute the egg noodles. pineseeds (if using them), olive oil and butter over medium heat until noodles are golden. Add the rice and stir the mixture and rice together. Once the liquid is boiling, pour it immediately into the rice mixture and stir until in comes to a boil. This should happen almost immediately. Once boiling, turn down heat until the mixture is just at a simmer and put lid on pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until you see that all of the liquid is gone. Turn off heat and keep lid on pan for another 10-20 minutes to keep the rice steaming. Serve when rest of the meal is ready. I have had the rice done 30 to 45 minutes proior to the rest of the meal and it remains hot and wonderful under the lid of the pan.

Vegetarian Chili

I received this recipe through one of those email recipe exchanges. I don't know the woman who sent it to me, but it's really good. We've now made it twice and it's on the menu again this week! The only things I changed from the original version were adding more spices and I got rid of the green pepper 'cause my kids don't like it. Feel free to add it back -- I'll bet it's good. This makes enough for two adults and two kids with enough left-over for one person's lunch the next day.

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 30 oz. can chili beans, drained
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use these because my kids don't like big chunks of tomato)
Optional toppings: grated cheddar cheese, Fritos, avacado

  1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan and saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue cooking over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add chili beans and tomatoes and heat thoroughly. (This is great reheated, so if you can, make it in the morning and then reheat it for dinner.)
  3. My kids love this with some grated cheddar and a big handful of Fritos on top. You can also serve it over pasta.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sauted Apples

We went apple picking last weekend and came home with a bountiful supply. Thus, I'm trying to come up with ways to use them. I made these tonight and wish I'd made more. There was a big argument about who got the last serving!

5-6 apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced (Use two-three more apples than you have eaters because they shrink)
1 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. lemon juice
  1. Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add apples, cinnamon and lemon juice. Saute, stirring periodically until the apples start to brown.
  3. Cover and continue cooking 2-3 minutes. Stir to move the apples that are getting soft from the bottom to the top. Repeat until all the apples are soft. Serve immediately.
  4. We ate these for dinner, but they would be really good served for dessert with a scoop of ice cream.