For my mother, with love and hugs

My name is Gina and I am the daughter of the ever so famous Spicegirlfla!  For a special treat for my mom I decided to create my own post in dedication to her.  Since she is in the process of moving our  family to Atlanta she has not been able to post for quite awhile.  I know how much she is missing her blog, riding her bike and being away from those she was close to in Florida.  My mom needs to feel settled and right now her whole world has changed.  She’s been looking and looking for a place to live that will feel just right for her.  In the meantime, as she commented already, she is in temporary housing and all her belongings are in storage.  I just can’t imagine her living without her cookbooks and food processor! Continue reading “For my mother, with love and hugs”

Italian Edamame

Edamame is one of those fun to eat appetizers.   Grabbing a pod and squeeze biting it to release the little bean in your mouth.  It becomes one of those mindless snacking foods; chatting and snacking away.   It’s also a great stress reliever which I for one can attest to right now as I eat a bowl of these for my dinner. Continue reading “Italian Edamame”

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Flatbread

I thought I’d share with you how I use some of the prepped foods I had previously posted.  As I mentioned before, each week I like to prepare different mixes of ingredients that I can use to compliment recipes or meals I’ll make through the week.  Some of these can be purchased, as in marinated artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes.  But to me, the flavor cannot ever compare to homemade nor do they have the personal touches that I like to add.  Continue reading “Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Flatbread”

Easy Food Ideas for Weekend Guests and Saucy Mama Giveaway Winner!!

This post is all about happy, good news!  I’m announcing today my Saucy Mama Giveaway Winner!!!  And the winner is…..

Geni at Sweet and Crumbly!!

Congrats Geni!  Thank you for your support, your tweets and votes for my entre into the Saucy Mama Cooking with Mustard Contest.

Saucy Mama will be contacting you directly to ship you your prize!

I love having family and friends visit.  My little villa, as it is referred to, truly is little!  I have a beautiful view of a lake in the back that opens my patio and home to a bit more spaciousness, but inside we are all comfy and close!  So with that, it’s difficult to invite as many family and friends as I’d like.  Though sometimes I think if I did have more room, I’d be hosting a bed and breakfast every weekend!! Continue reading “Easy Food Ideas for Weekend Guests and Saucy Mama Giveaway Winner!!”

Greenslove: Kale and Caramelized Onion Tart

This month’s Bloghop is Greenslove!  And I’m excited that I am finally able to display the linky tools pictures from everyone’s post!  Whoohoo!!  I feel like a big girl now!

Italians do eat alot of greens and I’m always buying some leafy green, such as kale, spinach, chard or collard.   What I’ve not tried is dandelion which is common for many Italians though as a child I had always thought to be strangely odd.  Any green will work well in this tart,  Kale has become one of my favorites to use.  It is, however, a chewier green.  The stem is very fibrous and should be removed.  The leaf of the curly kale has a pungent, almost bittery taste that does mellow when cooked.  For raw salads and for a sweeter and delicate taste, I prefer the Lacinato kale.  In this tart, I found a deep red kale, which was new to me.   A quick taste test at the market of both green and this red had the same taste. Continue reading “Greenslove: Kale and Caramelized Onion Tart”

Limoncello Risotto

Creamy, warm risotto is snuggly, comfort food to me.  In fact the entire process is soothing, almost tranquil and serene.  Yes, really.  I know I’ve heard from many who fear the process of making risotto.  As a matter of fact, and complete surprise to me as I was just about to post this, Katherine at Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide posted her risotto recipe and first attempt at making it.  A successful attempt, I might add and very well done Katherine!! Continue reading “Limoncello Risotto”

3 Easy Leftover Turkey Ideas

As soon as the whirlwind of cooking and feasting is over, what do you do with the leftovers?  I actually love to have leftovers, especially at Thanksgiving.  I always have an abundance of food prepared, being able to send some home with my guests and having enough for a few leftover meals to carry us over for a few days.  Especially since immediately following Thanksgiving, I’m gearing up for the Christmas holidays.  No black Friday shopping for me as I’m busy putting away my fall decorations and bringing on Christmas!

So, while I’m focusing on the decorating part of the holidays, I’m thrilled to have a frig full of leftovers to create my three favorite and very easy leftover dishes; Nachos, Open Faced ‘Bruschettas’ (Sandwich) and Frittatas.  These three quick recipes really work well with any leftovers.  There are no real recipes to follow.  It will all depend on the amount of servings, follow a basic method and have on hand a few pantry items such as your favorite quality tortilla chips, bread, and organic eggs.

In addition, don’t throw out that turkey carcass!  Immediately after the Thanksgiving meal, remove all the meat from the carcass to store safely.  That evening or the next day, drop the carcass, carrots, celery and onion in a large stockpot.  Add enough water to cover and simmer away for about 2-3 hours, strain and you have homemade turkey stock!

Turkey Nachos:  Great football game food!  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Evenly layer the chips on a wide shallow baking pan.  Lightly top with leftovers of your choice: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, cranberry sauce, etc.  Top with another layer of chips and leftovers.  Sprinkle some cheese on top.  Heat in oven for about 15-18 minutes or until cheese is melted.  I like to drizzle warmed gravy on top, srirachi sauce, sour cream and chopped fresh sage or cilantro.

Open Faced ‘Bruschettas’ (Hot Browns!):  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grill or toast thick slices of bread, about ½  to 1 inch thick.  I like Costco’s Rosemary Olive Oil bread.  Whenever I’m there I purchase a loaf or two, immediately slice and freeze (to avoid all temptation).   Place the grilled bread on a baking sheet and top with leftover chopped turkey, stuffing, veggies, finishing with potatoes and a drizzle of gravy.  Heat until warmed through, about 15-18 minutes.  Serve warm with additional gravy.  Best eaten with fork and knife!!

Fritattas:  Following along with my Fun with Frittatas post, heat a large skillet with olive oil, toss in about 2 1/2 cups of leftovers and heat.  Beat together 4-5 eggs (or mix of whole eggs/egg whites) with 1/4 cup of milk.  Pour the egg mixture over the turkey and veggies and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes to set the bottom.  Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and place under the broiler to complete cooking, approximately 5 minutes or until the top has set and the cheese is lightly browned.  Serve hot or room temperature.

Drunken Figs, appetizer and dessert

A couple of months ago I prepared a big batch of drunken figs.  The figs have been happily soaking away in Brandy and are now ready to come out and play!  And if you recall, a walnut was inserted into each fig.  Make no mistake, these are strong!  And truthfully speaking, I cannot just pop one of these tipsy figs in my mouth as is!  But when paired with cheese or dried fruits, the balance is perfect.  These figs will probably last me through the holiday season as I will incorporate them into various appetizers and desserts…a little at a time!!

As an appetizer, I like to add them to a cheese and nut tray.  I enjoy the taste of dried apricots with figs.  The texture is soft, the flavor is intense.  Spread with a strong blue cheese on a cracker or crostini and they taste wickedly good. 

For a dessert, I’ve incorporated them into one of my favorite quick dessert treats.  Fresh ricotta is pretty much always in my frig, along with organic cream.  To make an elegant and easy dessert, beat 1 pound of ricotta until very smooth.  Ricotta can taste grainy if not whipped really well.  To add sweetness to the ricotta, blend in about ¼ cup of fig preserves (or more to your preferred sweetness).  I also added a few tablespoon of the brandy from the jar.  Stir in chopped dried apricots, nuts or any other dried fruit.  Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight. 

Separately, beat 1 cup of whipping cream with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar.  Store separately, combining with the ricotta mixture about 2 hours ahead of serving time.   For a sweet syrup topping, I reduced about ¼ cup of the brandy to half, allowing to cool and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, I placed the combined ricotta and whipped cream mixture in a large serving bowl.  Topped with a few cut figs and a drizzle of the syrup.  Scoop into individual dessert cups and serve.

If you do not have drunken figs, dried figs can be used on a cheese plate as well as using chopped dried figs in the dessert.  The dried figs will soften nicely in the ricotta.

Cranberry Salsa

I’m always thankful for simple, easy dishes that please everyone!  Several years back I made this salsa on a whim to add another appetizer for Thanksgiving.  I thought I’d throw in one more little something that didn’t require a lot of time or effort to prepare.  And imagine that, the most simple of the appetizers became the hit!  Over and over again I was asked for the recipe and requested to bring it for holiday parties. Continue reading “Cranberry Salsa”

Skillet Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Here’s a quickie tip for those of you that forget you placed your seeds in the oven to roast and find out they are burnt little seeds…..I like to skillet toast my pumpkin seeds.  Right in front of me, where I’m stirring and sniffing till perfection!

After cleaning your seeds from all the slimmy fibers of the pumpkin, rinse well and allow to somewhat dry out on a towel lined baking sheet for at least an hour.  When ready to toast, heat up a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Use the hand test to feel the heat; hold your hand about 6 inches from the skillet to feel the heat (1-2 seconds is high heat, 4-5 seconds is medium).  Meanwhile, drizzle the pumpkin seeds with a bit of olive oil and season to taste.  My son prefers a simple kosher salt and a creole-type mix of cayenne, garlic, black pepper, oregano and paprika.

Toss the seeds with the olive oil and seasoning and pour into the skillet.  Toast the seeds by stirring often about 5 minutes or until golden toasty brown.  As I love to eat them hot from the skillet, I prepare these right before serving.  Leftovers, if any, are great tossed into salads!