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Author: giligirl

New Year… Old Recipes…

New Year… Old Recipes…

Happy New Year everyone!   Hope you all enjoyed the holiday season.  We had a great Christmas holiday and not surprisingly, I learned more things from my mother that I will post in the weeks to come.  For this week’s post, I decided to try her basic pastry dough recipe.  Its a pretty simple dough recipe that she uses for so many things.  This is the same way her mother made it, so its extra special. I used it for empanadas rather than a traditional empanada dough.  When you think about it, almost every culture has their own version of a meat or cheese filled pastry dish.  Italians have Calzones, Asians have Samosas, Spanish have Empanadas, and well, you get the idea.  In Malta, we have Pastizzi (Pa-sti-ze) and Qassatat (ass-sa-tat).  This is the dough recipe we use for the Qassatat but I decided to make a beef filling for empanadas.

Last year, my sisters and niece tried to learn how to make Pastizzi from my mother and well, let me be the first to say, it’s not very easy and we enjoy eating them more than making them!  The Qassatat is much easier and I will share that recipe soon.  For today, I posted the basic dough recipe and my version of the beef empanada filling.  If you are thinking that making a dough is hard to do from scratch, I am telling you, this one is easy.  Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all!  I consider myself an organized person and people who know me would agree.  However, this time a year as organized as I plan to be, I send cards late and scramble to get the last minute gifts.  I finally get to take a breather today!  I am off from work and plan to make a cheesecake for tomorrow and help my mom get “organized” for Christmas Eve dinner as well as Christmas.  This holiday is somewhat low key for us, but she does have something on both days.  This year she is making Hot Antipasti (she has not done this since we lived in Brooklyn) and Cream Puffs!  Most of all, I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family.

The recipe I posted this week is for a Breakfast Strata – I make it with sausage and mushrooms with Gruyere cheese.  You can come up with your own combination of meat, vegetable and cheese.  I like this because you can prepare it the night before and bake before you want to serve it.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday filled with health and happiness!

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Christmas Cookie Exchange

Christmas Cookie Exchange

Hope everyone is doing well.  I missed my post last week because I was in St. Thomas with my parents.  This has become somewhat of a tradition for us as we have been going for a few years now.  This year, the weather wasn’t so nice, but we made the best of it and had a good time.  Talks, walks, eating and laughter!

Speaking of traditions… I belong to a Christmas Cookie Exchange.  My friend Denise has been doing this for a long time with her friends and when she invited me I of course said yes!  We have been making and eating cookies for over 10 years now and appreciate them all welcoming me to the group.  The way it works is that we make a dozen and a half of the same kind of cookies for each person.  We have about 7 people that participate, so each of us make about 10 dozen of the same cookies and then meet the weekend before Christmas to exchange.  Someone hosts a brunch and its lots of fun.  We end up with 10 dozen cookies, but now 7 different kinds.  Its a lot of fun and helps get into the Christmas spirit.

I have been making the same cookies since I started the exchange. Easy to make and they are delicious.

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Very ThankFULL!

Very ThankFULL!

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!  This week was a busy one.  I left to see my parents on Wednesday to help cook and prepare for our BIG Thanksgiving dinner.  I know people who live in the suburbs see wild turkeys in the road, but in Hoboken, our turkeys are a little different.  As I was leaving Hoboken on Wednesday, there was a bit of traffic getting out of town.  Yup, there were about 7 turkeys in the road – except, these were frozen and just fell out of a truck!

Wednesday was all about desserts, food prep and timeline.  I am not a big dessert person, so it was a chore to do them and I will be honest to say, they were also a little blah…  perhaps because I don’t care to make a lot of desserts and because my mother was standing over me making sure we cut sugar from the recipes!!  For Christmas, I will make the cake and cookies at home 🙂

The timeline is so important for us because we lay out everything – what time to turn the oven on, take things from the fridge, cook etc.  We work back from the time we want to eat and list everything out.  I put some buffer time to the timeline in case of certain mishaps – they ALWAYS occur.  It may seem crazy and overboard, but it does help take the stress away and we enjoy the cooking so much more.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (the other is Easter).  I love the change of season and the food this time of year.  Most of all, spending time with my family without the stress of gift giving, shopping, cards and because of all of that, this holiday is special to me.  We have an elaborate menu and it doesn’t change too much year to year.  My sisters all help and because everyone contributes to the meal, we all want to taste each others food.  Needless to say, I am still full!  I will share some of the recipes in the coming weeks but here is the menu:

Appetizers
Stuffed Olives
Melon with Prosciutto
Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella bruschetta
Meat and Cheese platter

Dinner
Stuffed Mushrooms
Lasagna
Turkey
Stuffed Filet Mignon

Sides
Stuffing
String Beans
Brussel Sprouts
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Pie
Fresh Cranberry Conserve

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Pot Luck!

Pot Luck!

Getting ready for Thanksgiving?  I am!  And, tomorrow, we have a pot luck at work.  This time of year I am usually extra busy at work and I never participate.  I do however, swipe food from the conference room as I am running from meeting to meeting :).  This year, I decided not only will I will participate, I would make my stuffed shells and a dessert.  The stuffed shells are delicious.  I use my mom’s basic recipe for the filling but take it up a notch by adding onions, garlic, spinach and sausage!  That’s right, these are no basic bland stuffed shells.  Hope you enjoy!

With just a few days before Thanksgiving, I am getting organized with my lists!  Yes, I have shopping lists, to-do lists and even a two-day timeline counting us down. This really helps execute a special day with my family. I’ll share some tips over the next couple of days.

Whoa, what a Braciole!

Whoa, what a Braciole!

This was a perfect weekend in New Jersey to make a braised meat dish.  It was foggy and and while not yet cold, it is the start of the right kind of weather to cook using the braising method, sit around and then enjoy a great meal.  Yesterday, we made Beef Braciole.  The Maltese make it different from our Italian cousins and no offense to my Italian friends, but I think we Maltese one up on this one!  We make a velvety, brown, red wine sauce and it is soooo good!  This is one of my top dishes to not only make, but also to eat.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I sit with my parents and we write out the menu for Thanksgiving dinner.  We create the shopping list and also timeline for day and a couple leading up to the holiday.  I started doing this about three years ago with my mother.  I can’t believe that she single handed (well, with the Sous Chef Tony) did all of the holiday preparing and cooking for so many years – and made it seem so simple.  We have fun preparing and it certainly helps her out a lot.  My three sisters and my niece also help out!  Suzanne, the oldest (LOL) makes the vegetable, Jacqueline makes her famous and delicious sweet potato pie, Jeannette does the mashed potatoes.  My niece Danielle usually creates a beautiful desert.  My next few posts will be about Thanksgiving and hope you enjoy.  Have a great week everyone!

Working Weekend

Working Weekend

I hope everyone had a good weekend!  Mine, eh, not so much.  I worked the entire weekend and finally I’m taking a break.  On days like this I would normally call for Chinese take-out or Sushi, but I decided to make this quick pasta dish and have a glass of wine.  This one is a staple for me.  Its quick and easy to make and on a busy day when you can’t think of what to eat or make, you can cook this in shorter time you would order out food.  The ingredients in the recipes are things I have all the time, so even easier.  Hope you enjoy – please send me your comments and questions.

Spaghetti Pie

1/2 pound spaghetti
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper

 

Bring lots of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti for 9 minutes.  You don’t want to cook the pasta all the way, so its fine that it is more than al dente.  Drain the pasta and cool for  a couple of minutes.  In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix the eggs, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Add the slightly cooled pasta to the mixture and blend together.  Be careful not to add the pasta when it’s too hot because it will cook the egg mixture.

 

Heat olive oil in a 10 inch non-stick plan, add the pasta mixture and cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes, carefully flip over and cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Cut like a pie into 6 or 8 pieces and serve.

 

Tony’s Marinara Sauce

Tony’s Marinara Sauce

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Tony's Marinara Sauce
Marinara sauce is an important component in a lot of the food we eat. While my mom owns her kitchen and controls everything that goes on in it, my Dad helps out a lot. They are a great team and its wonderful to watch them in action. My Dad, Tony - aka, Mary's Sous Chef makes the sauce. We make enough to freeze and the recipe below makes about 8-10 cups.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Then, add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes until slightly brown. Add tomato paste, then the crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, oregano, hot pepper and salt. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 1 hour, stirring every once in a while until the sauce is thick.