Category Archives: Cook’s Treat

I’ve always loved to cook! Learned it from my grandmother and mother. Can spend hours on a meal because I love seeing and tasting how it turns out, although lately, I haven’t had much time to cook! Join me here for some favorite recipes and some really simple recipes that I hope you will try out!

Spaghetti Squash #TuesdayTip

It’s not unusual for hubby and me to have a meatless meal during the week. We’ve always found it filling to load up on a lot of veggies, usually over pasta. We still do that fairly regularly, but try to make the pasta healthier by using whole grain versions of buckwheat soba noodles instead of traditional pasta. Another thing that we do when time allows is to use spaghetti squash instead of pasta or as a side dish instead of a carb like rice or potatoes.

Spaghetti squash is packed with folic acid, potassium, carotene, vitamin A, and fiber and is only 42 calories per 1 cup serving (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghetti_squash).

I usually start off my spaghetti squash by nuking it in the microwave and then roasting it in the oven. Once it’s cooked, you remove the seeds, shred the insides and top it with spaghetti sauce, pesto, or any other kind of sauce that you like! You can even be decadent and make a nice cheese or alfredo sauce since you are saving some calories by using the squash.

Here are some cooking suggestions and recipes for you to try:

    • http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/properly-prepared-spaghetti-squash-162765
    • https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-in-the-oven-178036
    • http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/spaghetti-squash-with-marinara-recipe-1950473
    • http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a52327/cheesy-baked-spaghetti-squash-recipe/
    • https://www.marthastewart.com/275670/spaghetti-squash-recipes

Overnight Oats #TuesdayTip

Like always I’m working on eating healthier and losing weight. One of the things I’ve been trying to focus on is eating a healthy breakfast since studies show that helps in balancing your blood sugar levels and recharges your metabolism.

One breakfast item I’ve always loved is oatmeal, but if you’re like me and running around in the morning, you oftentimes forget to get it ready to take to work, which is were I usually eat breakfast since I get into the office early. I resolved to do better by packing the oatmeal at night and for good measure, adding in my unsweetened vanilla almond milk (saving those animal fats for cheese!).

Making the overnight oats made sure I wasn’t forgetting them, but I got to wondering if there was any benefit to them versus hot oatmeal. Voila, apparently there is! Not cooking the oats allows for the absorption of more nutrients, the overnight oats can be creamier, and they swell more which means the same dry amount will be larger in volume. That will lead to feeling more full. All pluses. For more on the benefits of overnight oats, check out:

    • http://www.eatthis.com/health-benefits-overnight-oats/
    • https://drhealthbenefits.com/food-bevarages/food/health-benefits-of-overnight-oats
    • http://www.bistromd.com/articles/why-you-should-be-making-overnight-oats

Add some fruit or even some chia seeds for extra anti-oxidants and protein!

Christmas Cookie Recipes #TuesdayTip

I’ve never been a big baker, although I love making bread. Cookies, not so much, although I love eating them! So today I’ve rounded up some Christmas Cookie recipes that I plan on trying and maybe you’ll give them a shot as well. Not to mention that I’ve heard it from a good authority, namely the jolly old man himself, that Christmas Cookies have no calories since their only ingredient is love. (Yes, corny but what the heck!) So here are 12 recipes, one for each of the twelve days of Christmas!

    Oreo Coal Recipe: http://bit.ly/2kM7Ptx
    Creme Brûlée Sugar Cookies: http://bit.ly/2kKZExD
    Soft Christmas Cookies: http://armagazine.com/2kL0CKh
    Struffoli: http://bit.ly/2kLkCwd
    Walnut Snowball Cookies: http://bit.ly/2kL0LgN
    Gingerbread Cookies: http://bit.ly/2kM9sr9
    Classic Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts: http://bit.ly/2kO5ePE
    Snickerdoodles (one of my favs!): http://bit.ly/2kKiepG
    Italian Christmas Cookies: http://bit.ly/2kNdujh
    Cream Cheese Spritzes: http://bit.ly/2kIiZ2u
    Chocolate Crinkle Cookies: http://bit.ly/2kLGSGv
    Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies: http://bit.ly/2kMzF97

Hope you enjoy them!

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Stuffed Mushrooms – #Tuesday Tip

I think I mentioned that you’ll get to see more of Carlo, Emma’s caterer and Prince Charming, in What Happens in Summer. A Sea Kiss Christmas (tentative title) is Emma and Carlo’s story.

So you may be wondering, why make Carlo a caterer? Well, I love to cook and eat and food is sensual. I can picture some sexiness with Emma as Carlo feeds her something fabulous.

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe I made for Thanksgiving and which was a big hit! It’s also very versatile as you can change up the ingredients for lots of fun variations.

Stuffed Mushrooms

    12 Extra-large stuffing mushrooms
    3 cups cooked rice
    4 Italian Sausages
    1 cup diced onions
    1 stalk celery diced
    1/2 diced carrots
    1/2 cup parmesan
    2 cups ricotta cheese
    2 cups gruyere
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup red wine
    salt and pepper to taste
    olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Wash mushrooms and remove stems. Chop stems into small pieces. Cook diced mushroom stems in olive oil at high heat until almost golden. Add carrots, celery, onions and cook until onions are translucent. Remove skins from Italian sausage and add to onion/mushroom mix. Break up the sausage until it is in very small pieces. Drain off grease and cooking juices and cool.

In large bowl, mix cooked rice, 1 cup gruyere, 1/4 cup parmesan, ricotta, onion/mushroom/sausage until well-blended.

Grease 9×13 pan. Lay mushroom tops in pan. With a spoon, place about 1/4 cup of mixture on each mushroom. Make a nice little mound with the mix. When you are finished filling all the mushrooms, drizzle a little olive oil over each one, then some parmesan and finally the gruyere.

Cook for about 30 minutes and remove pan and add water/red wine to the bottom of the pan to deglaze juices that are already there. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. If gruyere on top is not yet brown, broil for about 2 minutes.

Remove mushrooms to serving dish. Take water/red wine/mushroom drippings from pan and place in a small saucepan. Reduce by half and then stop mushrooms with this sauce. If you want to make it decadent, finish the sauce with a tablespoon of butter.

Variations

  • Substitute hot Italian sausage or chorizo for some kick.
  • Replace rice with 3 cups stuffing. My fav is Stove Top Corn Bread Stuffing
  • Try goat cheese instead of ricotta for a sharper taste.
  • Use crab or chopped shrimp instead of the sausage. This is a little trickier since the crab and shrimp can dry out.
  • Of course if you’re not a fan of gruyere, try any good melting cheese, like asiago or fontina.

Caponata #TipTuesday #CooksTreat

It’s that time of year when there is a bounty of vegetables available to cook. One of my favorites is eggplant. Whether grilled, a la parmigiana or rollatini, it’s a tasty treat!

Today’s tip is how to make caponata which is a type of eggplant spread. It’s great over crostini or if you want, tossed with pasta.

Caponata

Ingredients:

    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 celery stalk finely chopped (I like the inner hearts with the leaves)
    2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
    1 1/2 pounds eggplant diced into half inch cubes (remove some of the skin to reduce bitterness)
    4-6 Roma tomatoes, diced (remove the seeds and skin if you wish. I normally don’t)
    1 8 oz can tomato sauce
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    2-4 tbsp sugar
    1/2 cup capers (rinsed clean of salt or squeezed to remove vinegar)

Directions:

    Put 1/4 cup olive oil in large skillet and heat.
    Add onion and celery and saute until you they are just starting to get a caramel color.
    Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and heat.
    Add the eggplant and stir until the eggplant is getting browned.
    Add the apple cider vinegar and deglaze the pan.
    Mix in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, capers and sugar.
    Cook until all the vegetables have melded together. About half an hour.
    Salt and pepper to taste. Also, caponata has a sweet/sour kind of taste to it. Add vinegar/sugar to taste.
    Place in a container or toss some with pasta!
    Caponata will keep for about a week in the fridge.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Tuesday Tip!

Turnip Redux Recipe #TuesdayTip #CooksTreat

My hubby and I love root vegetables, especially carrots, beets and turnips. It’s great to be able to go to the farm market near my office and pick up some locally grown veggies and the one vendor actually has them for really reasonable prices. Here’s a photo of what the green market looks like on a regular day!

Last weekend I picked up some lovely turnips whose greens were still fresh and vibrant. Perfect for making what I call Turnip Redux which was inspired by a recipe from A Chef’s Life on PBS. This recipe uses both the turnip and the greens hence the redux.

For those of you who have not tried turnips, please give them a shot. They are cruciferous veggies that have lots of health benefits. Cancer-fighting, bone and lung health, cardiovascular and digestive aid thanks to Vitamin K and fiber in the greens. Plus, low in calories!

Turnip Redux

2 pounds turnips, peeled and cubed
Turnip greens, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 tbsp butter (optional)
2 slices bacon chopped (optional)

Directions

Cook the turnips in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and coarsely mash.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the bacon (optional). Once the bacon is close to crispy, remove from the oil and add the chopped onion. Sweat it out until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute of two. Add the greens and cook until almost soft. Add the mashed turnips to the greens and cook for another five minutes or so. Add the butter and toss. Garnish with the crispy bacon. The last two steps, butter and bacon are optional.

That’s it! This makes a great side dish for any grilled meat and again, HEALTHY! Enjoy.

Jersey Shore Sangria #WineWednesday

With summer hopefully arriving in a few days, I love having a pitcher of sangria ready for when I come off one of the lovely Jersey Shore beaches. It’s a delightful way to cool off on hot summer days and nights. I’ve been playing with the recipe and have created this refreshing variation on the traditional mix! I hope you enjoy it. Why is it Jersey Shore Sangria? ‘Cuz that’s where I drink it the most. LOL!

Caridad’s Jersey Shore Sangria

Ingredients

    1 bottle red wine (a Malbec, Rioja, Cabernet or Pinot Noir will do. For those near a Wegman’s, their $6 Tempranillos, Malbecs and San Giovese will work great in this recipe!)
    1/2 bottle Chilled Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider (or any other sparkling cider)
    2 oranges
    1 cup frozen strawberries
    1/2 cup grapes

Directions

  • Peel oranges. Cut into eighths and then cut the eighths in half. Cut grapes in half. Cut frozen strawberries in half.
  • Place fruit into a pitcher and add wine. Let fruit and wine macerate for at least 10 minutes in the refridgerator. If you can wait longer, the flavors will be better.
  • Add chilled sparkling cider to fruit and wine mixture.
  • Remove some fruit from this mix and place in individual glasses. Pour wine/cider mixture into the glass and serve.

What I like about this mix is that you get the extra fruitiness and sweetness with the addition of the cider and don’t have to add sugar to get that.

Some recipes call for lemon in the mix and also don’t ask you to peel the citrus, but I find that the lemon and the peels make the mix too acidic. For a change of pace, cube some apples and toss them in or go even more tropical with some pineapple and mangop. Change up the recipe with a white wine which is just as tasty. A moscato would be perfect for a white sangria. You can also freeze a whole peeled orange and then toss that into the pitcher to keep the mixture cool, but not have it watered down. Thanks to my sister for that tip!

If you want an extra kick in your sangria, add a shot of either grenadine, creme de cassis, B&B, or Gran Marnier.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Wine Wednesday!