Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Foodblogger's Guide to the Globe

Guide to the Globe

Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox has come up with a terrific idea of asking food bloggers from around the world what are the top five foods that you would recommend to anyone to try before you die.

I love this idea and after seeing a few other blogs joining in I knew I had to participate as well. It's very interesting to see what everyone's top five list is.. some list items will excite you and make you drool in anticipation of trying the dish. Other list items will fascinate you and kind of gross you out at the same time, hehehee! Regardless of your reaction to someone's list of top five's.. the one thing you'll take away from Melissa's Global survey is a new appreciation for the foods that people eat and enjoy from all over the world!

And without further ado.. my list of top five foods that I sincerely hope you try (if you haven't already) before you die!

1: Raw Oysters - Look beyond the slightly slimey appearance and texture. The taste of a fresh raw oyster is beyond mind blowing. There is nothing better than a fresh oyster with a dab of a spicey cocktail sauce and a saltine cracker. My absolute number one favorite food of all time. Not only because of the taste but it was the one food love that my father and I shared alone.

2: Funnnel Cake - They scream summer fun to me. I can not wait for the bevy of festivals that pop up in my local area during the summmer. The first kiosk we head to are where the Funnel Cakes are made. (It's also the last kiosk we hit - you just have to take one to go, yes?) When you receive a well made, not too doughy with the right crispiness and a thick layer of powdered sugar on top, all your worries and stress seem to drain.

3: Fried Zucchini - Fresh from the garden zucchini sliced thin and lightly coated with flour, salt & pepper then fried golden brown. Eaten the very instant they cool off enough to pop them in your mouth. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Yum!

4: Lobster tail from Silvestro's Depot Restaurant in Painesville, Ohio - Never in my life have I had a more tender, flavorful lobster tail. I'm not sure exactly where they get their tails from, but the preparation of them is always excellent. Now let's talk size, okay? You will never get a lobster tail that doesn't weight at least 1 full pound. At Least. And we're just talking the tail here, people! Holy crustaceans!

5: Chicken Dinner, Family Style, from the Bavarian Inn at Frankenmuth, Michigan - Come hungry, that's all I've got to say. Not only is their fried chicken excellent, but you are served a multi-course meal, family style. I'm talking different breads and rolls with just as many different jams, jellies and even an out of this world goose liver pate along with different salads and appetizers. Followed by the main course of freshly fried chicken, smashed potatoes, corn on the cob and all the rest of the fixin's. Room for dessert? Not usually, but that doesn't stop them from bringing several different delectables right to your table to pick at and wonder which fork/spoonful will, seriously, cause you to explode.

It was hard picking just 5 and I've probably forgotten a few.. but dems the rules! ;)

Check out everyone else's lists at The Traveler's Lunchbox and see what the world is recommending!


Sunday, August 27, 2006

La Festa al Fresco is just around the corner...


A friendly reminder that the party is coming upon us soon! I can not wait for the festivities to begin. I can say this even if I were not throwing this party with the sweet Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice because it really seems as if a lot of people are very excited about this event. From what I've seen as the first "party dishes" have rolled in, my God! The variety and creativity and sheer excellence of food!! I can't wait to see the final table - laden with just about every food imaginable from all corners of the world using the freshest of ingredients.. am so hungry! :D

We've got 9 days left before Ivonne and I welcome all of you to what promises to be one helluva party! So if you haven't yet.. don your chef's hats and fire up those ovens, mixers, processors and whatever kitchen gadget you'll need to join us in an end of summer's La Festa al Fresco!

Bring your appetites!


Friday, August 25, 2006


Who hasn't received the forwarded jokes regarding what women go through in their lives? I'll usually scan through them and maybe smile if they are well written or just end up closing it before I've read it through because blah blah blah I've seen a million of 'em.. yanno?

This one was written so well that I actually laughed out loud - and I thought it'd be cute to share with ya'll =)

Why Women Are Crabby

We started to "bud" in our blouses at 9 or 10 years old only to find that anything that came in contact with those tender, blooming buds hurt so bad it brought us to tears. So came the ridiculously uncomfortable training bra contraption that the boys in school would snap until we had calluses on our backs.

Next, we get our periods in our early to mid-teens (or sooner). Along with those budding boobs, we bloated, we cramped, we got the hormone crankies, had to wear little mattresses between our legs or insert tubular, packed cotton rods in places we didn't even know we had.

Our next little rite of passage (premarital or not) was having sex for the first time which was about as much fun as having a ramrod push your uterus through your nostrils (IF he did it right and didn't end up with his little cart before his horse), leaving us to wonder what all the fuss was about.

Then it was off to Motherhood where we learned to live on dry crackers and water for a few months so we didn't spend the entire day leaning over Brother John. Of course, amazing creatures that we are (and we are), we learned to live with the growing little angels inside us steadily kicking our innards night and day making us wonder if we were preparing to have Rosemary's Baby.

Our once flat bellies looked like we swallowed a watermelon whole and we pee'd our pants every time we sneezed. When the big moment arrived, the dam in our blessed Nether Regions invariably burst right in the middle of the mall and we had to waddle, with our big cartoon feet, moaning in pain all the way to the ER.

Then it was huff and puff and beg to die while the OB says, "Please stop screaming, Mrs. Hearmeroar. Calm down and push. Just one more good push (more like 10)," warranting a strong, well-deserved impulse to punch the %*#!* (and hubby) square in the nose for making us cram a wiggling, mushroom-headed 10 lb. bowling ball through a keyhole.

After that, it was time to raise those angels only to find that when all that "cute" wears off, the beautiful little darlings morphed into walking, jabbering, wet, gooey, snot-blowing, life-sucking little poop machines.

Then come their "Teen Years." Need I say more?

When the kids are almost grown, we women hit our voracious sexual prime in our early 40's - while hubby had his somewhere around his 18th birthday.

So we progress into the grand finale: "The Menopause," the Grandmother of all womanhood. It's either take HRT and chance cancer in those now seasoned "buds" or the aforementioned Nether Regions, or, sweat like a hog in July, wash your sheets and pillowcases daily and bite the head off anything that moves.

Now, you ask WHY women seem to be more spiteful than men, when men get off so easy, INCLUDING the icing on life's cake: Being able to pee in the woods without soaking their socks...

So, while I love being a woman, "Womanhood" would make the Great Gandhi a tad crabby. Women are the "weaker sex"? Yeah right. Bite me.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Monthly Mingle #4

I'm so thrilled to have been invited by the delightful, Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey to participate in this month's Monthly Mingle. The theme for this month's event is Holiday Cuisine. Thanks to Meeta's Blogger Postcards from the World event, I've got to meet this fabulous lady and I have enjoyed exploring her blog, which was new to me. Not only that, I've been fortunate enough to chat a little with her through e-mail, and I've discovered such a nice gal and a new friend. =)

What's holiday cuisine for me? Well Hubbs and I don't get to take many vacations as our work schedule is something of a nightmare. We both work at the same commercial roofing company, but his schedule is seasonal. Which means, he works hard during the spring, summer and fall months - the perfect time for vacations. He gets winter off, but I'm still working in the office. We could still take a vacation during the winter, but we both love to go fishing so much that taking time off in the winter just doesn't appeal to us. Therefore we're kind of stuck at home most years. But there was a time.. so very long ago.. that we did vacation.. a time before becoming homeowners when we had money to spare and no commitments to a lovely little house that we've fallen in love with.

So yesterday Hubbs was invited by his brother to go out on the boat and do some much needed perch fishing. They had a great day on Lake Erie and caught many.. many.. many delectable yellow perch. When he got home and showed me his cooler full of fish, the first thing we both said to each other was, "Remember catching this many fish on Lake Nipissing in Canada?" Lake Nipissing, located in Callandar, Ontario is our most favorite spot to take a holiday. The lake is simply gorgeous, surrounded by wooded areas and lots of fishing lodges. We always stay at Sunset Cove on the North Bay, where the small cottages are rustic and cozy, the owners are especially accomodating and friendly and the fishing is out of this world! It truly is a special place for us and we agree that one of these summers we are going to say the hell with work and get our butts back up there!

Our friend, Larry, stopped by again and while the boys cleaned fish I thought that I'd make a commemorative dinner in honor of our last vacation to Lake Nipissing. As I was preparing fresh cut french fries and a salad of orange bell peppers, garden tomatoes and onions dressed lightly in a balsamic vinaigrette I realized that this special dinner would be a perfect submission to Meeta's Monthly Mingle - perfect!

It took the boys a couple hours to clean and fillet the fish, but they did a great job as not one bite was ruined by the annoyance of a small bone. The fish was delicate and so flavorful, the way only fish caught merely hours ago can taste. We ate out on our deck with Jimmy Buffet crooning to us in the background - yanno, a lil island atmosphere to really make us pine for the patio outside our cabin, just a few feet from the lake. *sigh* One day we'll come back to you, Nipissing.. one day!

Lake Erie Perch
Wayne's Fresh Lake Erie Perch Fry

2 pounds of fresh perch, cleaned and filleted
1.5 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Enough vegetable or canola oil to shallow fry the fish

Place all ingredients except the fish in a paper sack. Shake ingredients to mix.

Heat a large skillet filled with about a 1/4 inch of oil over medium-high heat until the end of a wooden spoon produces bubbles all around it when dipped into the oil.

Working in small batches, place a 6-8 fillets of perch in the sack of flour and shake to coat well. Removing one fillet at a time, shaking off extra flour, carefully place into hot oil. Fry each batch until golden - say 3-4 minutes, flipping once. Repeat, in small batches, until all of the fish is fried.

*Note: Thank you so much for bringing this great event to my attention, Meeta.. we had a fabulous evening reminscing about one of our favorite holiday destinations!

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mama Cream Puff's Lasagna

It's been 12 hours and I'm still swimming in the afterglow of the best lasagna I've ever had. Yes.. I made Ivonne's Mom's lasagna last night and whooo baby! I can't wait for lunch time!

After much deliberation, I decided to nix the braciole idea and use pork shoulder in lieu of the veal for Ivonne's sauce. I know that pork is more flavorful than most cuts of beef when simmering in a sauce and the fattier cut of the shoulder along with the bone would definitely impart good flavor, yes? Oh Hell Yes. And then much to my delight, I checked e-mail a couple hours after the sauce was still simmering on the stove to find that Ivonne had wrote back with that same suggestion. I was more than happy to know that my gut feeling was right on track!

I made just a couple changes.. the pork, obviously, and I had a good hunk of creamy Fontina cheese that needed used, so I added that in with the mozarella and parmigiano. Lastly, I had to use store-bought lasagna noodles. I'd give anything to try this with fresh noodles, but I don't have a pasta making machine and I'm kind of afraid of making my own pasta. One day I shall conquer that fear! But right now, I'm still chicken. This lasagna was so good with store bought noodles that I can't even comprehend how much more wonderful it is with fresh! Holy comoly! :D

In her e-mail, Ivonne suggested that if I wanted meat in the lasagna I should shred the pork and add it to the layers. I think that is a fabulous idea, but for my first try at this dish, I decided to keep it as close to Ivonne's as possible. I served the pork on the side and that worked really well. Hubbs got his meat and enjoyed it.. but only had seconds of the lasagna, so that - again - should tell you how damn good it was! ha!

So in a nutshell, all I can say is this.. Mama Cream Puff ROCKS! Thanks so much for sharing such a fabulous family treasured recipe, Ivonne.. I'll be making this lasagna for many, many more years to come!

Mama Cream Puff's Lasagna Whole
Mama Cream Puff's Lasagna
Courtesy of Ivonne and her Mom!

I'm going to direct you straight to Ivonne's post for directions on how to make this lasagna. Not only can you get a look at her fabulous pictures, but she explains how to make this much better than I ever could. =)

Mama Cream Puff's Lasagna

How does one loving daughter tell her mother that her lasagna recipe is out and someone else's mama's recipe is in? Pray for me people. Pray. For. Me.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lasagna Rolls

So yesterday morning, I'm at work.. enjoying my Tropicana Coolata and a croissant while reading my blogroll (hey, they can't expect me to work until I'm fully awake, right??). I clicked on Cream Puffs in Venice, with the hope that Ivonne had posted yet another fabulous recipe, and the first thing I see is this drool inspiring picture of a slice of lasagna. Holy crap. I quickly read through her post, beautifully written as always, and then cursed my luck (or lack thereof) for not having an oven and the ingredients to make this lasagna right then and there.

Drooling while reading Ivonne's site is nothing new for me. She's amazing. Simply amazing. But.. to drool over lasagna is truly amazing for me. Not a huge fan. Nope. Well let's see.. I guess that isn't entirely true. I love lasagna, but the only lasagna I've ever ate is my mom's lasagna. It's wonderful, do not get me wrong, but it's rich.. ohhhh so rich. She piles on the ricotta and thick slabs of provolone cheese between the layers, along with ground beef and my family's marinara sauce and MY GOD it's good, but I can't eat much more than a small slice of it. And then I'm good for like.. months.

Ivonne's lasagna is different for me as there is no meat - which is fine with me. Also, her sauce.. she makes it by cooking veal in the sauce. I can just wrap my mind and taste buds around the concept of how much flavor that would infuse in a rich tomato sauce. Unfortunately, I don't eat veal. So I've e-mailed her with the question of what other kind of meat I could use. You see, this has turned into a lasagna emergency for me. I need NEED to make this tonight - tomorrow at the very latest. I have a flank steak in the freezer.. I'm playing with the idea of making a braciole and using that to cook in the sauce.. but I wonder if the flank steak is too lean to really impart any flavor? I'm new to the flank steak.. so if anyone has any advice, I'd sure appreciate it!

So as I wait for Ivonne's reply.. I remembered that I haven't posted the lasagna rolls I made a few weeks ago. I saw this recipe on Everyday Italian, staring Giada DeLaurentiis, or as I like to call her.. The Head. I've been making these rolls for well over a year now and they are truly terrific for a quick and light lasagna fix. I make up at least a dozen at a time and freeze the extra rolls for those nights when I just don't have much time.

My recipe is a little different from The Head's. I substitute ground round or italian sweet sausage (or both sometimes!) for the proscuitto in the filling mixture and I omit the bechamel sauce - since it didn't do much for us the first time I made this recipe.

Lasagna Rolls
Lasagna Rolls

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 lb. ground round or sweet italian sausage (Or 1/2 lb. each)
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
4 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat brown the meat. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, cooled meat, eggs, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour about 1.5 cups of marinara sauce on bottom of dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the marinara in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Lasagna Roll

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

For Ellie..

As promised.. here's that close up of my Leezard.. she's pretty cool, eh? Beth, my friend that is the talented painter who done up my house for me, did an outstanding job. When we were discussing the mural, I asked if she'd include the lizard (and I really don't know why?) then we started joking around about it and I joked that it'd be funny if he had a lil sombrero.. so she stuck that in too.. hehe

My Leezard

Okay I'm off to bed!



Paprika Pork Chops

Here's another example of what a dork I am. I've always liked pork.. mostly. About the only cut I really am not fond of is your basic pork roast - and that's because I've never had one that wasn't dry. But give me a good chop or tenderloin and I'm pretty happy. Until. Until Hubbs and I hit the local wholesale club back in February, and found they had these giant pork loins on sale. He immediately grabbed one and said it was too good to pass up. After we got home, I cut it up into, Oh.. I dunno.. maybe a gazillion chops? Seriously, this fakkin thing was HUGE! So I've had this mountain of pork in my freezer for many, many months and every time I look at the bags and bags of pork chops, I turn my nose up at them. I have no freakin' idea why. Maybe because there is so much of it?? I dunno..

As I was leaving for work yesterday morning I realized I hadn't taken anything out for dinner. "F*ck!" I'm really starting to hate figuring out what the hell to make for dinner these days. So I ran back into the house and opened up our chest freezer and just grabbed the first thing I saw.. pork chops. I wasn't thrilled, but I was also late for work, so pork chops it hadda be.

I never thought about them again all day, until we were sitting on the deck enjoying the beautiful weather after work. I had no idea how to prepare them.. I didn't want to just grill or pan fry them (I really just didn't want them) and I didn't feel like making this awesome pork chop bake recipe I have because that would mean I'd have to grate potatoes and that was just too much work. hehe So I left the deck, came back to the office and checked out my go-to website, All Recipes. After perusing quite a few recipes that didn't really thrill me, I came upon this recipe for Paprika Pork Chops and thought I'd give it a go as I had all the ingredients on hand and what goes better with pork than sauerkraut?

A friend of ours, Larry, happened to stop by so I invited him to stay for dinner with the warning that I was making an unknown recipe so he'd be taking his chances on how good it'd be. As if that would deter him.. free dinner? Meat? He was all over it. hehe When I started to prepare the chops, I doubled the kraut mixture because the boys love their kraut, and found this recipe very easy and quick to make. I baked a few Yukon Gold potatoes and made a quick salad of garden fresh tomatoes, onions and cucumbers (that I couldn't have *sob*) to go with the chops.

I gotta tell ya kids.. there are many good recipe resources out there, but damn, when ya find a 5 star recipe on All Recipes you can pretty much assure yourself of a tasty dinner. These chops were fanfarkintastic! The ingredients really didn't sound like they'd be good together, but in the description of the recipe, the author said to over look that. I'm glad I did.. because Wow. Seriously. Wow.

The kraut, carmelized onions, paprika and sour cream topping was out of this world. Not too heavy with just the right amount of zing to go with the perfectly seasoned chops. The recipe calls for broiling of the chops, but since I had the potatoes baking, I decided to pan fry them and I'm glad I did because of the carmelization of the chops.. so tasty!

Hubbs is part Polish and part German and he gave me the biggest compliment I think I've ever heard from him concering my cooking (And seriously? He lays the compliments thick when I cook.. cooking for him is a major component of the pleasure I receive from my time in the kitchen, just knowing that he'll be so appreciative once he tastes.) which was how this dish reminded him of a dish his mother use to make. He's never said that before.. I was really pleased. Thanks DRLMCOBB! =)

Paprika Pork Chops
Paprika Pork Chops
Courtesy of DRLMCOBB and All Recipes

4 teaspoons butter
1 onion, thinly sliced (I only had 1/2 onion so I added 3 shallots)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/3 cup sauerkraut, drained (I doubled this and the sour cream)
1/3 cup sour cream
4 boneless pork chops
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Melt 2 tsp. of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in onions, and cook until soft and golden.

In a bowl, stir together 1/2 teaspoon paprika, sauerkraut, onions, and sour cream.

Season pork chops with pepper, garlic salt, and 1 teaspoon paprika.

Once onions are carmelized, add them to the sauerkraut mixture.

Pre-heat the broiler.

In the same skillet add the other 2 tsp. of butter and the pork chops. Fry for 5-6 minutes on each side until pork is just about done.

Transfer the chops to a broiling pan or cookie rack placed inside a jelly-roll pan. *Spread sauerkraut and onion mixture over pork chops, and broil 1 or 2 minutes or until the topping is goldeny brown.

*Note: Since I doubled the kraut mixture, there was no "spreading", I heaped a large amount of the stuff on the chops so after the topping browned, I turned off the broiler and let them sit in the hot oven for another minute or two to assure the topping was heated through.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Homemade Fried Shrimp

I've put Hubbs in charge of figuring out what's for dinner since I still can't quite find anything that sounds good. Normally if I were to ask him to tell me in the morning what he wants for dinner that night I'll get the, "I don't know.. I haven't even had my 2nd cup of coffee yet." answer.. but because (I think) he's sick of carry-out and delivery pizza he was cooperative yesterday morning and told me he wanted shrimp. I was just left to figure out the way to prepare it.

Now I'm not a big fried shrimp fan.. I prefer my shrimp to be "cocktail" style, grilled or sauteed, but he's a big fried fan and I saw this recipe on All Recipes a while back and jotted it down. The following recipe is slightly different than the original one posted because after reading all of the reviews, I took advice of a lot of people and cut the breading part in half, used Panko and seasoned the crumbs quite a bit. I must say, these were better than any restaurant fried shrimp I've ever had. Very crispy and quite flavorful. I served them, simply, with Israeli couscous and sauteed swiss chard - it was a nice quick dinner that hit the spot!

Homemade Fried Shrimp
Homemade Fried Shrimp

1 lb. medium-large raw, cleaned & deveined shrimp
3/4 c. cornstarch
2 c. water
1 egg
2 c. Panko or regular bread crumbs
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
Oil for frying

Set the deep fryer or heat a skillet with oil to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, water and egg. In another bowl, combine Panko, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt.

Dip the shrimp in the cornstarch mixture and then dredge through the bread crumbs. Then dip the shrimp once again in the cornstarch mixture and dredge again through the bread crumbs. Fry in small batches of 5-7 shrimp until goldeny brown and delicious.

Raw homemade fried shrimp

*Note: Hubbs looked at these raw shrimp and thought they had coconut on them.. I thought he was going to have a stroke.. it was kinda funny. *grin*

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Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm so excited!

Yes.. so very much so that I couldn't even wait until my normal posting time (the crack of dawn each morning) and had to post right this instant - much to Hubbs chagrin that dinner is going to be late.. hehee!

Lookie! Lookie! Lookie!

Blogger Postcards from the World!

I received my postcard today from Joey of 80 Breakfasts! I couldn't have received a better card.. not only is this a gorgeous Boracay Island photo, but it's also the island where Joey was married - how romantic! =) And wait! There's more! I'm thinking Joey might be a tad bit psychic as she sent me a card that looks an awful lot like the mural I had painted on a wall in my guest bedroom right after we bought this house 3 years ago.. don't believe me? Look!

My Guest Bedroom

Pretty awesome, eh?? They match.. kinda! 'cept mine has a lil leezard wearin' a sombrero soakin' up the sun on mine. :D

I had a lot of fun with Postcards from the World and I just want to thank Meeta so very much for coming up with the idea and executing it perfectly. And I want to thank Joey for such a beautiful card and such nice words written on the back.. *Big Hugs* back to you, Joey!

I got a cool card in the mail today and I discovered another new blog that I can spend time reading, drooling over and getting to know a nice gal from a place so far away.. How great is that? =)


Stephen's Peach Cobbler - The Pastry Variation

Well I managed to get off my bum and into the kitchen before we left for the birthday party yesterday! It felt good and WOW did my kitchen smell wonderful during the baking of this "cobbler".. so good, in fact, that the scent still lingered 5 hours later when we got home. Gawd, I spend hundreds of dollars a year on Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works when all I really need to do is bake this cobbler every day! hehee

I've never in my life had cobbler. Can you believe it? My mother never made it and when we'd go out to dinner, if we ever had room for dessert, I always choose something chocolate. Imagine that. But when reading Stephen Cooks - What's for Dinner? one day, I came upon his post about his pastry version of a peach cobbler. The description and picture had me drooling (as all his posts do) and thinking to myself that when peach season arrives, I really need to try this.

Not ever having cobbler I didn't really have anything to compare Stephen's recipe to, but Hubbs has had traditional cobbler before so I knew he could let me know how this recipe compared. So after we got home and relaxed for a while, I cut into this heavenly smelling dessert, warmed up the slices and added a scoop of Haagen Dazs' Dulce de leche ice cream on top. Hubbs devoured his generous slice in mere minutes and said that although it didn't have the traditional crumb topping that he was use to, it was so good that he wanted a 2nd slice. He never goes for a 2nd slice. =) I thought it tasted as good, if not better, than what it smelled like. The seasonings really came through and the peaches with the added sugar were both tart and sweet - the perfect combination of both. The pastry inside was delicate and rich and the crunchy latticed pastry on top was just as delicate and added the perfect texture balance to the soft fruit below. I only made one change, an addition of a tsp. of freshly grated ginger to the mix.. I couldn't really taste it though. Next time I'll up that measurement as one of my most favorite flavor combos is ginger-peach.

It is with a great big THANK YOU! to Stephen for a delectable recipe that I will make again and again.. I can't wait to try it with apples this fall! Yum!

Stephen's Peach Cobbler
Stephen's Peach Cobbler - The Pastry Variation
Courtesy of Stephen Smith of Stephen Cooks - What's for Dinner?

The following recipe is written verbatim from Stephen's website.

6 - 8 modest servings

1-1/2 C flour
6 T butter
3 T shortening
1/2 tsp salt
3 T ice water
1/4 C sugar

4 C peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 C sugar
2 T flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 T melted butter

To make the pastry, place the flour, butter, shortening, salt and sugar in the processor bowl with the steel blade. Pulse a few times until the mixture is like cornmeal. Add the ice water and pulse a few times, just enough to mix the water into the other ingredients. Turn the mixture out into a plastic food storage bag (it will be crumbly, not yet like dough) and quickly knead it through the bag a few strokes, till it just starts to hold together. Refrigerate for an hour or more.

Meanwhile, combine the peaches, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a cold saucepan. Stir well and then heat slowly to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer about five minutes. Remove from heat. Taste and correct seasoning and sugar content. Stir in the melted butter.

Reserve and keep cold 1/3 of the dough. Roll out the rest to the approximate shape of your dish. (I used a 5" x 9" oval baking dish about an inch and a half deep; a 6" square dish or 7" round would also work). Butter the baking dish and spoon in half of the fruit mixture. Lay the pastry sheet over the fruit.

Bake about 12 minutes in a preheated 475º oven, until the pastry is just starting to brown. Spoon in the rest of the fruit mixture. Roll out the reserved dough, cut in strips and lay in a lattice pattern over the fruit. Sprinkle with sugar and bake about 15 minutes more, until the fruit is bubbling and the lattice is browned.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.

Stephen's Peach Cobbler

*Note: I did not include any changes or differences in the way the recipe was originally written from the way I made Stephen's cobbler, as I do not want to take any credit in any way, shape or form from Stephen for such a beautiful dessert. =)

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Just a lil fyi..

Firstly, I really want to try to express how wonderful you've all made me feel with your get well wishes and your concerned e-mails.. there really aren't words to show you how blessed I am to have met such wonderful friends by way of this blogging hobby of mine. Had I known I'd meet such beautiful people like yourselves, I would have started this blogging thing up YEARS ago. It will never cease to amaze me how you can feel so close to people that you, most likely, will never get to meet in person. You all are very special people and I thank my good fortune to have met you. You really do mean as much to me as the friends I get to see and talk to on a daily basis. Truly. Thank you for that =)

Secondly, I just want to let you all know that I'm fine. The pain is completely gone and although I'm going to miss a few things in my diet, I can guarantee that unless a wayward kernal of corn or small seed of some sort gets past my inspection of what passes these lips from now on, I will NOT ever go through that again. hehee Diverticulitis is a nasty lil ailment that I do NOT wish to experience again.

This past Wednesday I had an ultrasound of my ovaries and the cysts have gone away. I finally got up the courage to ask if they can lead to the C word and I was told they would not.. YAY!!! Unfortunately, I will continue to get the bleeding cysts - but it's not known if it will happen monthly.. semi-annually.. annually.. you get the picture. So if I'm lucky, they will not appear much and I won't have to go through that pain very often. If they do appear on a regular basis, I'll have to consider losing the ovaries - but that's something to think about only when I absolutely have to.. not going to worry about it now.

And finally.. if anyone has wondered why the lack of posts since I've been feeling so much better.. I seemed to have lost my appetite somewhere these past few weeks and I can't find it for the life of me. Believe me, I've checked under the sofa cushions, the guest bedroom closet, out back near the pond.. EVERYWHERE. It's no where to be found.. YET. I'm confident it will show up again one day, as I've never lost it for very long in my close to 40 (ugh) years. And since this is the closest I'll probably ever get to a diet, I'm not complaining tooooooo much. ;)

Today we are off to my niece's (one of many!) 4th birthday party. Before we go, I really want to make this peach cobbler that Stephen of Stephen Cooks - What's for Dinner made recently. I've got some beautiful peaches just begging to be worked with and if I can get the gumption to get my arse into my kitchen this morning, I'll post about it soon!

Thank you again for being.. well.. you! Much love and hugs!

PS to Kevin - Sending huge hugs your way. My thoughts and prayers that you, Ed and Janet are doing okay have been foremost in my heart.


Drying Herbs

Remember my strawberry pot filled with herb plants?

parsley/lemon verbena/cilantro

'kay well.. since that first picture back in June, the basil, sage, thyme, chives and lemon verbena went wild crazy and I couldn't use it fast enough.. I did end up losing my cilantro and dill - much to my disappointment. The parsley was the only plant that I used just as quickly as it would grow - so I ended up planting 3 more plants that we hung from the new fence. Something to remember? Squirrels (lil fakkers) like parsley. Ugh.

Anyhoo.. the nice weather is leaving soon *sob* and I wanted to see if I could refresh my lil loverlies so I decided to chop them all down and see if I could dry them in my dehydrator. It seemed to work pretty damn well, although I was shocked (silly me!) at how teensy, tiny everything got! I had a mountain of lemon verbena and basil and after it dried.. well.. yeah I might have a TBS of basil and 1/2 c. of lemon verbena. Sheesh! That's okay though.. at least these plants will not have gone to waste and I'll be able to use them this winter, which makes me happy =)

Here are the before and after pics.. I let them dry for about 6 hours in the machine and they kept their glorious color and scent. I'm going to crush them this afternoon and store them in airtight containers - and maybe, just maybe, all the plants will produce enough so that I can dry them again before winter hits.

Fresh Lemon Verbena
Fresh Lemon Verbena

Dried Lemon Verbena
Dried Lemon Verbena

Fresh Basil
Fresh Basil

Dried Basil
Dried Basil

Fresh Sage
Fresh Sage

Dried Sage
Dried Sage

Dried Chives, Parsley & Thyme
Dried Parsley, Chives and Thyme

I kinda forgot to take a picture of the fresh parsley, chives and thyme. Oops! ;)

Question for yous guys.. if I were to bring the strawberry pot inside this winter, do you think the plants would continue to grow?


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

La Festa al Fresco


Aiuto! Aiuto!

Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and I are in desperate need of a little “aiuto” from our blogger friends. You see Ivonne and I would like to celebrate the final days of another glorious summer with an outdoor feast.

There’s just one problem. We seem to have forgotten the food.

I know what you’re thinking … how could we forget the food? Well what can I say … between blogging, work, gardening, summer parties, etc. etc. we just plain forgot!

So here’s what we need: we need you to show up for the feast with a dish to contribute to the table. You can make anything you like as long as it features one fresh ingredient. Consider it a way to celebrate summer’s bounty! The party is scheduled for September 5th so e-mail me or Ivonne with the link to your post featuring the dish you are sending over.

Please join us in this end-of-summer celebration! And help us fill our table with some incredible food!


OMG She Cooked!

Hello? Anyone out there? Remember me? Lisa from the suburbs? I'm baaackkkk! It feels like forever since I've cooked a meal! These last few weeks have kicked me in the arse, to say the very least. Gawd. As I now refer to this painful episode of my life, "Painapalooza 2006", I can't get over how it effected me. I am so incredibly exhausted that I haven't felt like doing jack shite since it all began. I do not even remember being this tired after the hysterectomy. And my God, the total lack of appetite has blown me away! Don't get me wrong.. I'm not complaining.. it's kind of refreshing as I've always had me a good appetite! ;) These thunder thighs and chunks O'hips certainly needed the break from the power noshing spell I'd been under the past few months! teee heeee!

Hubbs has been wonderful during all of this.. but I could tell he was getting a lil nervous that I'd never get back in the kitchen. Poor man has survived on carry-out and frozen pizza for the past 3 weeks. Oh the shame! So against my so very tired body's wishes, I forced myself to get me arse back in my lovely little kitchen and make my man a home cooked meal. I'm glad I did.. I rocked this dish! I chose to make an Alfredo sauce. I don't really know why I did that, as Hubbs isn't particularly fond of cheese sauces. Way to go, eh? Finally cook him a decent meal and chose one of his least favorites to go with! Well you'll have that.. I added shrimp to offset his dislike of Alfredo, so I'm not all that bad, right? ;) When he asked what I was going to cook, I simply told him a pasta and shrimp dish, which made him happy. As I was cutting the cheese (no pun intended) into cubes, he asked to try 3 of the 4 varieties I was using and gave a thumbs up - so far so good! The sauce came together quickly and beautifully. It was incredibly silky and scrumptious.. a mild cheesy flavor with a nutty hit in the background - I assume due to the Gruyere. I chose papparadelle pasta, which I'd never had before, and I really liked it. The other highlight of this dish, aside from the outstanding sauce, was that FINALLY my grocery store is carrying wild AMERICAN shrimp. What a difference! My God, they were creamy and so tender without that too salty taste. Fabulous and about time, dammit!

I think the key to this sauce being so damn good was the cream cheese. I'd never heard of using it in an Alfredo but it definitely makes a difference. Seriously, kids, try this the next time you feel like Alfredo and/or are feeling naughty.. because this is not a figure flattering dish :D

Shrimp Alfredo
Shrimp Alfredo

1/2 c. butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 c. heavy cream (or milk)
6 to 8 oz. grated Italian Fontina cheese
6 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmiagiano Reggiano
1/4 tsp. white pepper
pinch of salt
1 lb. Pappardelle or Fettucini pasta, cooked al dente
1 lb. medium to large raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

In a medium sized, heavy sauce pan melt butter. Add cream cheese and whisk with melted butter until melted and smooth (it will be hard to incorporate the cheese with the butter at this point and that's okay). Slowly add the heavy cream whisking to combine. Add the garlic powder, Fontina, Gruyere and Parmigiano stirring often until melted and incorporated. Add the pepper and salt. This sauce will thicken quickly, so keep an eye on it and stir often.

After my pasta had been boiling in salted water for about 5 minutes, I simply dumped the raw shrimp in with it. They took about 4 minutes to cook perfectly, which was just enough time for the pasta to be al dente. I drained the pasta and shrimp, placed it back in the pan and added 1/2 of the sauce to coat it. Served it family style, in a large bowl, with the remaining sauce on the side. Yum!

*Note: Hubbs not only gave this a thumbs up but said he'd eat this whenever I felt like making it again! Now that's a sign of a good Alfredo sauce ;)

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Blogger Postcards from the World pt. II

Sadly, the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio suck the Big Red One (BRO) when it comes to providing easy access to faboo picturesque postcards featuring our fine city. Gah. Not even two chamber of commerces that I contacted could tell me where the hell I might find a postcard featuring a photo of Cleveland.. unless I made the 30 minute trek into the city. Which, well.. yeah that didn't happen.

So here is my dorkie lil card.. fantastically photographed with the "blurry macro" option because I hear blurry is the new black.

Blogger Postcards from the World

Anyhoo.. it was sent yesterday to my fabulous partner who shall remain nameless as I've already broken the "on time" rule and couldn't possibly break another rule. =)

I'd just like to thank Meeta for creating this terrific event and all the other participants for joining in! Although I stressed over finding (and then not finding) the perfect card, I enjoyed this very much and I can't wait to open my mailbox and find a pretty postcard waiting for me amongst all my bills and junk mail! heheeee!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blogger Postcards from the World or simply: EEK!

Holy comoly! It was just yesterday that I realized, after reading Ivonne's post, that I did not get a postcard for Meeta's Blogger Postcards from the World event!

Granted, I've been a lil under the weather (as well as a pain-med induced haze) but that's still not a good excuse! I just wanted to apologize to Meeta, my partner and all the rest of the participants for my tardiness in meeting my postcard duties!

After reading Ivonne's post yesterday, I freaked and made a mad dash to the closest post office after work hoping and praying I'd get there before they closed. I made it just in time, but only to find that they had THREE whole postcards and NONE of them were city related. Ugh. So I bought one that I'm less than pleased about, just in case I can't find anything today. Nice lil postman dude suggested local pharmacies or dollar stores. So on my way home from said post office I called a couple pharmacies to see if they carried them, figuring I'd stop on my way home.. Nada. No one carries freaking postcards! Who the hell knew?? So I'm on a mission today in search of a decent Cleveland related postcard that my partner will Ohhh and Awww over when she receives it. I'm such a dork! Leave it to me to be completely postcard-less two days after I should have sent it!

Again, my apologies! Either way.. tonight a post card will be sent and a blog will be posted by tomorrow morning.

Let's all sing together.. "Lisa's a dork! Lisa's a dork! Lisa is a ginormous dooorrrrkk! Lisa's a dork!"


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What a strange morning

Twice now I've been bound and determined to go to work since all this nastiness has started and twice now I've ended up not going. Once I started moving around after posting yesterday morning, the pains started flairing up enough that I was bent over in agony again after my bath. Tears of frustration ensued and Hubbs called right in the middle of my breakdown. He screamed at me to get off my feet, take a pain pill and call off, for crissakes! Ugh. He was pretty shook up and felt miserable because he was so far away. I had to listen to him motherf*ck our boss for "making" him leave while I'm sick and how frustrated he was because he wasn't close by. Listening to him got my mind off my tantrum over the pain I've got no control over and I calmed down. It was my turn to console him and talk him down from his tantrum. We work well that way. We are good at getting each other's mind off what's ailing us (physically and mentally) by listening to the other bitch. hehe

So this work thing.. if it weren't for being so damn dependent on a pay check I wouldn't give a damn about what my boss thought. Well, I take that back, kind of.. I would care about what my boss thinks of me because I like my boss, probably too much. For all of his prima donna temper tantrums and his constant paranoia about how everyone is out to screw him, he's a nice guy. Good looking too. =) There are many days I feel that I can talk to him about anything.. we joke about a lot of things and he usually always gives me a good giggle or two throughout the day. So it's not him, it's my actual job and the atmosphere I work in that I despise and couldn't give two shits about if, again, I didn't need that freakin' paycheck so badly. I've mentioned it before but I'll mention it again. My job is beyond boring. I'm sick of working with computers, I'm sick of working in an office all day doing repetitive, mind-numbing work. Why don't I leave? I'll tell ya why.. I'm partly scared to death because I know I've got it good and am afraid that anywhere else will be just as mind-numbingly boring without the perks I have now. I am also lazy and a downright creature of habit. My life would probably be much more rewarding to me if I'd just bite the bullet and find something (anything) that would help pay my bills while I went to cooking school.. but my lazy ass won't do it. Well that and cooking school is too expensive for us to budget in anytime soon. I tried again two months ago to see if I could get a student loan and swing both the job and school, but when it came down to payments.. gah.. we just can't do it right now.

Anyhoo.. what's with this post? Okay.. so this morning, I woke up feeling REFRESHED people! I almost skipped to the bathroom when I got outta bed. If it weren't for the usual mad dash to the potty to relieve a night's worth of bladder fill up, I would have thought I was still dreaming! No pain.. no pain in the least! Joy! Joy! Annndddd I had slept for over 5 hours - FIVE! That's the most I've slept (in consecutive hours) since two Thursdays ago! Straight, restful, uninterrupted, beauteous sleep. *Squeee!*

I was fully dressed and ready for work with a smile on my face 30 minutes early! I kissed the kids goodbye, got in my car and the 50 kajillion degrees of Africa hot didn't even bother me.. it's gonna be a good day, my friends, a good day. And then I got to work.

Bossman came out into the parking lot to meet me at my car and his first words were an incredulous, "What the hell are you doing here?" I looked around to make sure there was no one else nearby that he could be talking to and realized it was just me. I replied with, "Uhh.. reporting for duty, sir?" while looking at him as if I had just discovered a nubbin peaking out of his shirt. What the hell did he think I was doing there? Donating blood? And he says to me, "You're pushing yourself.. just like you always do.. you come back from work from major surgery early because you think you have to, you come in when your sick because you think you have to.. you always do this!" 'kay.. never heard him complain before about coming back early from medical leave, so wtf? So I told him to explain himself because he wasn't making sense and that I was feeling F.I.N.E. Fine. Well, apparently, the last conversation he had with Hubbs alarmed him. Firstly, he knew how bad the pain was, just by hearing it in my voice - especially yesterday morning when I called in and secondly he got his ass chewed out by one of his supervisors because he was over 800 miles away from his sick wife! tee! Wayne never told me he actually said something to our boss. He left that lil gem out of our conversations both last night and this morning. In essence, he put the fear of God into bossman.

I was kinda shocked to hear that Wayne had said anything to him.. it's not really his style. And it was kind of wrong for him to say anything to bossman, because bossman really didn't "make" Wayne do anything he didn't want to do. We discussed this last trip to Arkansas at length a few nights ago and we both agreed that I had my mom, along with many friends, close by should anything go wrong while he was gone. The job in Arkansas is his roof and he had to take responsbility for getting the repairs done. Granted, the roof system manufacturer should have inspected the roof before our guys came home and it's their fault that they didn't, forcing our company to send a couple guys back during our peak season. But that's just the way it panned out and really, what can ya do?

Regardless, I explained to bossman that I really was feeling great.. the pain was gone - it left as unexpectedly as it had came. I felt good and was ready to get back to work, but he wouldn't hear any of it. He actually told me to get my ass back in my car and if I felt so damn good then take the day to go do something fun with my mother. Hello? Bossman, you're nice and I like working for you.. but whatcha been smoking this morning, dude? But he was serious. So guess what? I'm STILL at home! He would rather me take an extra day off than deal with the wrath of hubbs. hahahhaa! I'm so confuzzled. But isn't there some saying about looking at a gift horse in the mouth? I don't really know what that means or if it even pertains to my very long-winded story or not.. but here I am. At home, bored. It's Africa hot outside so there's no way I'm venturing into the swelter. Well, maybe I'll run up to Blockbuster and see if maybe there is a lone movie somewhere that I haven't seen yet.. but that's about all the action I'm up for. Now wait a minute? Don't I run this here cooking blog?? I've got A/C - it's a balmy 72º in my house.. I'll go cook! Party on!

See yas.. ;)