I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Fresh, Summery, Delicious

What’s the best thing to do with those fresh tomatoes from the garden? Pair them with fresh mozzarella cheese. When I was a kid, every summer my mom would grow her garden in the backyard with tons of tomato plants. And we’d make platters of tomato and fresh mozerella all the time. I miss those days of fresh vegetables right in your own backyard, but this is just another reason I love my weekend trips to the farmers market.  A lot of supermarkets are now even sectioning off a part of their produce departments for local farms, which is where I got this beefsteak tomato.  Today I paired it with a gorgeous buratta mozzerella. A little salt and pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Fresh, summery, delicious. Enjoy 🙂 

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Who Says Appetizers Can’t Be For Dinner?

Sometimes I just feel like appetizers for dinner. Especially on a Friday after a long, long, exhausting week. There isn’t a rule that says you can’t do this! So just do it! 🙂 Go to the supermarket and pick out your favorite meats and cheeses, some olives and a nice, fresh loaf of bread. Tonight, I also added some grilled shrimp (which I marinated with oil, red pepper, salt and pepper) and some marinated artichokes (these I made by marinated artichokes in oil, salt and pepper). Slice everything up, including an apple which pairs perfectly with cheese, and make an oil dipping sauce for the bread with salt, pepper, salt, red pepper and rosemary. Pour a glass of wine, pop in a movie, and enjoy your appetizer filled Friday night!

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Fried Keftedhes (meatballs)

I found another childhood favorite while combing through my Greek cookbook – fried Greek meatballs. My yaya (grandma) used to make these all the time and she taught my mom. I really must ask my mom if she has this recipe as I’m sure my yaya doesn’t remember any more. But this recipe looked amazing, and was! Totally brought back memories of when she would make them.

recipe from Nosthimia! The Greek American Family Cookbook by Georgia Sarianides copyright 2004

ingredients

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 large onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 egg slightly beaten
2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbs finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper
3/4 to 1 cup flour
1/2 cup olive oil, for frying

directions

Mix meat, bread crumbs, grated onion, garlic, egg, parsley, mint, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Knead all of the ingredients very well, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Shape 1 tablespoon of meat into a small meatball. Dredge meatballs on flour, then add oil to a large heavy skillet and heat it until it’s almost smoking. Fry meatballs a few at a time, turning them constantly until brown. Serve hot or cold.
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Serve with a salad of tomato, feta and kalamata olives dressed with oregano, salt, pepper and oil. Enjoy!

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Girls weekend treats

I headed to my girlfriend’s lake house this weekend for a girls weekend with her family and friends. Now, while what happens at girls weekend stays at girls weekend, I will share there was tons of food and quite a bit of adult beverages. 🙂 A weekend of appetizers, desserts and a yummy Italian dinner hosted by their neighbors (who also have girls weekend!). As soon as my friend told me appetizers and desserts were on the menu for the weekend, I knew what I had to make to bring… My all famous olive dip and mom’s sugar cookies.

My great aunt was an amazing amazing amazing cook. Yes three amazings! She was born in Greece and I learned how to cook quite a few Greek dishes from her, many of which I will share with you one day. Her house always smelled of amazing food. I think she always smelled of amazing food! This olive dip I am about to share with all of you, (yes, I am going to share my secret all famous olive dip recipe!), I learned and adapted from her. It is 100 times better than any jar of olive tapenade you will get at the store. And it is so easy, you’ll never buy the jarred stuff again. I am quite picky about my olives and when I can’t get to the Greek grocery store, I will get my kalamata olives from Trader Joes. That is the only store I will buy them from. Seriously. Again, I am picky, but I think it alters the taste. Feel free to get olives from your local stores, but if you can get to Trader Joes, please try it! Okay, here is my secret recipe….

Olive Dip

ingredients

1 6.5 oz jar pitted kalamata olives
1 glove of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I use Greek oil, but not necessary for the recipe)

directions

Slice olives to ensure no pits remain. Throw all ingredients in a food processor. Grind/pulse until completely ground and almost smooth.

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That’s it… I know. Hard to believe, right? I’m telling you, you’ll never buy the jarred stuff again! All the ladies loved it…. But as soon as I walked in the door, the ladies opened the cookies.

These cookies were my childhood favorite for Christmas.  I’ll sit at the kitchen table and help my mom make these year after year.  Red and Green sprinkles were all the existed in my mom’s cupboard and they were only made at Christmas.  As I got older, I thought.  These cookies are seriously just way too good for a once a year appearance.  So, I bought more color sprinkles and I started making them at easter, for bridal or baby showers, and now for girls weekend…

Let me preface this recipe by saying… I have copied this recipe off an index card from my mom’s recipe box.  It could be adapted from  someone’s recipe, it could be a direct copy.  If I ever find it, I will most definitely edit this and give that baker credit.

Sugar Cookies

ingredients

2 1/4 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
colored sugar sprinkles

directions

Preheat oven to 375º.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Cream oil and suagr together, add eggs and vanilla.

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Then add sifted ingredients and milk.  Put in refridgerator for half and hour. With a cookie scoop, scoop out cookies, Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles of your color choice.

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Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

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Cooking with Sister…

Oh how I love sister days!  Despite the rain in my area today, my sister traveled the hour and 10 minutes from her house to mine to have a girls night in.  And what better way to spend a rainy girls night in than with 2 movies and some comfort food cooking on the stove… and of course some wine! My sister also loves to cook and worked for a number of years in a restaurant as a chef.  I learned quite a few tips from her over the years. So get the two of us in the kitchen and it’s so much fun! After a trip to Trader Joes (love this place!) where we bought some snacks and ingredients for dinner and a whole bunch of wine, we both changed into sweatpants and got to chatting.  My sister opened a bottle of wine, and put together a beautiful platter of cheese, hummus, olives, pepperocino peppers and crackers while I got out the ingredients for one of the best slow cooking meals on a rainy day… beef stew. 🙂

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ingredients

1 lb stew beef
1 small onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup good red wine
1 14 oz can low sodium beef broth
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp thyme
red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
1 lb egg noodles

In a dutch oven, season meat with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.  Once browned, add the onion, carrots, garlic and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.

Add red wine to the pan and deglaze.  Reduce the wine and add in the beef broth, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook on low heat partially covered for 1 1/2 hours.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the egg noodle to al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Layer the noodles into a bowl and ladle the beef stew over top.  Enjoy!

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