Thursday, August 30, 2018

White Bean Dip with Pita Toasts

White Bean Dip with Pita Toasts
The yin to my yang.  David is the morning person; I am better at night. It has worked out well so far.  He drives the kids to school most mornings; I pick them up from parties and late sporting events.  The kids groan when David has an early morning meeting or is out of town. As if they have ever been late to school; they are just not as early as when David drives.  If I had a custom license plate, it would read: 4EVR L8.  It is probably why friends don’t assign me “appetizer” when there is a get together.  Dessert is a better choice for me - - - until I started making Giada’s white bean dip.  Now my friends will ask me to make this appetizer (and that I drop it off earlier in the day so others can enjoy it even when I arrive late.)

PS - I have already been told that I am not letting go adequately.  Darn!  Reset.   

  1. 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 2 cloves garlic
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
  5. 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  6. Salt
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1 package of pita bread (you can also serve with bagged pita chips or veggies)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the pita with olive oil.  Cut each pita into wedges or strips. Arrange the pita pieces on a large baking sheet. Spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.  (Double this recipe if taking to a get together.)

Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

French Toast Waffles with a Mixed Berry Sauce

French Toast Waffles with Mixed Berry Sauce
Over the summer, Travis took a Wellness class.  One of the assignments was to interview a parent on topics such as curfew, alcohol, drugs, etc.  Travis asked me “what is the hardest part about parenting?”  <Is “everything” an appropriate response?  Think quick, Mom.  Impromptu is not my strong suit.>  The answer that kept swirling in my head and thus my response to him was “letting go.”  I like to be in control; uncertainty is unnerving; I am a fixer and a perfectionist. I have spent most of my time as a parent deciding, controlling, influencing, and guiding.  But I know that our job as parents is to develop self-sufficient, independent adults.  I try (and try and fail and try some more) to let go little by little.  And I watch them falter and do it differently and try to keep my mouth shut (because I know that I can prevent the failure and fix the issue).  As a new school year starts, it is time to let go even a little bit more.  

Andrew found this Bobby Flay recipe and was eager to try it. We’ve tested it with challah and brioche – Bobby calls for good white bread (like Mrs. Baird’s???) and peanut butter (Andrew deleted that ingredient).  Send your kids off to school with this for their breakfast and it’s destined to be a great day.

For the Waffles:
  1. 4 large eggs
  2. 3/4 cups whole milk (we used 2%)
  3. 2 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. Pinch of salt
  6. 8 slices brioche or challah, crusts removed
  7. Nonstick cooking spray or melted butter
  8. Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
  9. Fresh mixed berries, for garnish

For the Mixed Berry Sauce:
  1. 1 pint (2 cups) fresh strawberries
  2. 1/2 pint (1 cup) fresh blackberries
  3. 1/2 pint (1 cup) fresh raspberries
  4. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. 2 heaping tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
  7. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

To make the Mixed Berry Sauce:
Combine the strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan, bring to boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. 

Transfer the berry mixture to a blender or food processor, add the raspberry preserves and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator stored in a container with a tight fitting lid for 1 week.  (Note: this makes a lot of sauce; consider cutting the recipe in half.)

To make the French Toast Waffles:
Crack the eggs into a medium baking dish and whisk lightly. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth. 

Press down on bread slices to flatten slightly. Soak the bread in the egg mixture until completely soaked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. 

Spray the top and bottom grates liberally with nonstick spray or melted butter.  Heat a square 4 slot waffle maker (we used a Belgian waffle maker). Remove the French toast from the eggs using a slotted spatula, allowing excess egg mixture to drip off. Make 2 at a time on the diagonal of the grates. Press down gently at first, then add a little pressure to the cover and press until the cover is completely closed. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 6. Carefully remove each French toast waffle to a plate. 

Dust with confectioners' sugar and drizzle with some of the mixed berry syrup. Garnish with fresh mixed berries.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Baked Ziti

Hello my friends.  It’s been a while.  Since we’ve last spoken, David “ran a marathon” and our oldest turned 15, got his learner’s permit, had his wisdom teeth pulled, and grew as tall as me.
Baked Ziti
Also since we’ve spoken, I have made a variation of this ziti by Ree Drummond 3 times.  Everyone likes it, even Elizabeth.  That is not a misprint.  I will admit – there is a timing element, aka, pain in the butt factor, of this dish so allocate enough time for the cooking, simmering, cooling, and baking (right, Mom?).  Nothing says “happy end of summer” like a hot pasta casserole.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ½ large onion, diced 
  • 1 pound ground meat (i.e., ground beef, Italian sausage, ground turkey) 
  • 1 – 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce or marinara sauce 
  • 1 – 14.5-ounce can tomatoes with juice, like Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound ziti
  • 2 cups mozzarella, grated 
  • Half of a 15-ounce tub whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 egg

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute until starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground meat (beef, sausage, turkey or a combo of any 2) and cook until browned. Drain off almost all of the fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a simmer and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove 1 ½ - 2 cups of the cooked sauce to a bowl to cool down.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Cook the ziti until not quite al dente.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix 1 cup of the grated mozzarella, the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, eggs and some salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps). Add the cooled reserved meat sauce and toss to combine.

Add half the coated pasta to a 3-quart Pyrex dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta and the remaining sauce and another 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes; sprinkling with chopped parsley before serving, if desired.