April 29, 2009

Big Black Dog's "Fall Back" Linguine with Red Sauce

I haven't participated in Presto Pasta Nights in quite awhile. Which is kind of strange because pasta is something I serve on a regular basis. So, tonight's dinner is going to be submitted to Tigerfish of Teczcape. You'll want to check out Tigerfish's blog on Friday for the full round-up of pasta dishes from the food blogging world!

Sometime last week I was on Twitter chatting and mentioned that I needed a quick and simple meal idea. Of course, I got several suggestions but one struck me as something I just knew I had to try. Michelle who writes Big Black Dog, has a great blog and while they were in the midst of construction they were cooking on just one or two hot plates - for over 1 year! No oven and no dishwasher, but let me tell you that she came up with a fantastic red sauce during that year without a proper stove.

Michelle came up with this sauce during construction and says that she made it quite often. The simplicity of the dish does not begin to tell you what flavor you'll find in each bite. The combination of the of herbs and spices made this a meal that my whole family loved. My Youngest could do without the tomatoes, but one day I'll convince him that they really are good! The sauce is very easy to prepare, a bit of chopping to be done but not too much. I made the Fall Back Linguine with Red Sauce according to the recipe, but did add some sliced mushrooms since they were calling from the fridge to be used.

From Family, Friends and Food
I actually had to make more pasta to go with the leftovers so that My Husband could have some for his lunch tomorrow. Overall, everyone enjoyed the sauce with My Oldest going back for additional servings 2 times! It was quick and easy to make, and I still have 1/2 a can of those tomatoes in the fridge so I'm sure I'll be returning to this one next week!
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April 28, 2009

Milk & Cookie's Double Chocolate Cookies & Lynda's Recipe Box

We had another day of unusually warm weather today, I think we hit 90 again! No humidity, but still hot. When we got home today, both boys went right outside after homework was done and started up with the super soakers and the sprinkler. Only one more day of this and we'll be back to more normal temperatures for this time of year.

Since it was going to be nice enough to eat outside again, I had decided to pick up some fish for dinner. While it was good, it wasn't really "blog-worthy". So, after we got the boys into bed, I pulled out the Milk & Cookies' Double Chocolate Cookie mix I purchased back when we were on the Greenwich Village Food Tour. The mix only requires a stick of butter and one egg. Can't get much easier than that for some quick and easy cookies. I made them significantly smaller than they do at the bakery, so I ended up with about 3-4 dozen cookies. I like my cookies a bit smaller. Now, the package says to bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are firm. Well, mine took closer to 18 minutes to reach that stage, and I think it would be better to slightly underbake these cookies. If you don't, I would recommend removing them from the baking sheet immediately so that that do not continue to cook. I think these cookies will need to be kept in a really tightly sealed container to prevent them from getting hard.

From Family, Friends and Food

April 27, 2009

Smoking Chicken

We had a huge taste of summer this weekend with some record-breaking temperatures. Sunday we hit the low 90's, which is extremely unusual this early in the year. There was no humidity, so even though it was hot it wasn't that hard to take. Especially since I have been completely OVER winter for some time now and I enjoy the warm months so much more.

We spent a lot of time outside with the kids running around and even turned on the sprinkler to keep them cool. The super soakers were the favorite on Sunday though. Imagine that! Since we enjoyed the time outside so much we ate as many meals outside as possible. Saturday we grilled some burgers for lunch, then made grilled chicken which we shared with My Husband's parents who came up to visit for the day. It was all very relaxed and a nice visit.

Sunday we had a few things going on later in the day, so while I was out grocery shopping My Husband called me and asked me to pick up another whole chicken. He was ready to try using the smoker again. Last year, we tried it and our results were a bit unusual. If you missed that post, go check it out HERE. We never did get to the bottom of what caused the chicken to turn that odd color.
This time, we decided it would be better to cut the chicken into pieces for a couple of reasons. One is that we figured that would reduce the smoking/cooking time. Two is because he's gotten really good at taking apart a chicken and seems to enjoy doing it. Who am I to disagree with that reason? After he put the chicken on the grill, he sprinkled it with the O & Co. salt and herb blend for meat.
From Family, Friends and Food
Looks pretty nice, doesn't it? The flavor was incredible and the seasoning really added just the right amount of flavor and worked well with the smokiness of the chicken. It took about 4 hours, and that was largely due to the fact that I had to purchase a chicken that was still partially frozen. Not my first choice, but there seemed to have been a run on chicken at the grocery store this weekend.

Next time, I'd like to try smoking fish and some other types of meats. I think we are finally starting to figure this contraption out!
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April 24, 2009

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

Happy Friday, Everyone! We are looking forward to a beautiful weekend here in New Jersey! Some warmth will be hitting us like it's a taste of summer, and I can't wait!

As a Featured Publisher for Foodbuzz, I recently had the opportunity to sample one of their new Riserva pastas by Buitoni. You know Buitoni, they have those fresh pastas in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. They also have coupons in almost every Sunday paper which makes keeping them on hand for a quick and easy dinner so easy!

I received a package of their new Wild Mushroom Agnolotti, and to add a bit of a challenge to sampling the pasta Foodbuzz is running a contest for the best sauce to compliment their new pastas. I did my best to get creative and made a Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce (recipe can be found HERE at Foodbuzz- I've already entered it in the contest since I really would love a new set of All-Clad cookware!).
From Family, Friends and Food
This was a really flavorful and simple meal to prepare. The most time consuming part was waiting for the tomatoes to roast. But, it is worth it to combine the sweetness of the tomatoes with the earthiness of the mushrooms in the ravioli. I couldn't have hoped for a better result when I combined these flavors together. I'll be keeping some of this ravioli on hand for those nights when I'm without any inspiration. So much flavor and not a lot of effort required to make a fantastic meal.
Have a fantastic weekend, and I'll be back on Monday with something delicious to share!
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April 23, 2009

Panko and Penzey's Old World Spice

There are just some days that you get home and a bit of chaos ensues which then leads to not being very inspired to make dinner. Let's just say that the chaos was a result of a very tired young man who collapsed before 7 p.m. tonight. After everything had quieted down, I had to come up with something for dinner.
I asked my twitter friends and they came up with some great ideas... chicken and cauliflower in parchment, Mediterranean chicken, as well as an amazing sauce for linguine. All have been marked for a later time because I ended up throwing together something rather simple, yet delicious.
From Family, Friends and Food
Yes, you are seeing breaded chicken strips again! This time I seasoned them with Penzey's Old World Seasoning. They say this is their answer to Lawry's Seasoned Salt as it's a lower salt seasoning. The combination of spices mean that this blend can be used on just about anything. I plan to try a few other ideas over the weekend - perhaps sprinkled over popcorn tomorrow night! I combined about 2 cups of Panko bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of the Old World Seasoning and it was just the right blend for a seasoned chicken strip. Nicely done as My Oldest managed to eat 5 or 6 strips on his own. I like preparing the chicken in strips because they cook so much faster and they seem to stay nice and crispy when they are smaller pieces. It also makes for a simple dinner that I can put on the table within 30 minutes - Rachael Ray would be proud!

I also pulled out a package of Trader Joe's Spinach and Chive Linguine to serve with it. I had purchased it awhile ago, and tonight I wanted something more interesting that the usual pasta with dinner. I really liked the flavor of the pasta, although it did make me think of baked potato flavors. Not a bad thing, but that was what popped into my head as I was eating it. My Oldest did not like it at all. So, I guess I'll have to get creative with the leftovers to see if I can convince him to eat it in another form.
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April 22, 2009

Best in Class Sandwich Challenge from Arnold Breads

I recently found out that there is a "cooking" contest for kids! My Oldest loves sandwiches and is the process of brainstorming ideas for the contest below. Arnold Breads is looking for the Best in Class Sandwich from any child ages 6 to 18. The prizes are something worth winning: a $5,000 check to their school which can be used for computers, playground additions, or anything to improve your school. The winner will also win a $1,500 savings bond that can be used for future educational pursuits. Sounds like a great idea to me!

Here's some more information that the folks at Arnold sent to me:
Until May 4th, kids living in the designated contest area (noted in the rules below) can enter the Arnold Best in Class Sandwich Challenge, a contest to make a creative and well-balanced sandwich recipe using Arnold 100% Natural Soft Breads. Four winners from separate age groups will receive a $5,000 donation to their school and a $1,500 savings bond. Recipes should be submitted at www.ArnoldSandwichChallenge.com.

In addition to entering the contest, kids and parents can play together on the Arnold “Best in Class” Web site, a fun and interactive resource for visitors to learn how to make well-balanced lunch choices in record time.

So, go find out if you live in the designated area (NJ and NY are definitely part of the area!), and get to work! The prizes are something that would be welcome in the current economy!
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April 20, 2009

Clementine Yogurt Muffins

A week or so back, I was food shopping and picked up a bag of clementines. The season is pretty much at the end and it was a good deal. When I got home, I realized I already had a bag of them that hadn't been touched yet! I hate when that happens. So, with an abundance of clementines on my hands, I had to come up with something to do with them as everyone was getting tired of just eating them.
While chatting with my Twitter friends, I mentioned my dilemma. Wouldn't you know it, @goodlifeeats came back with a recipe that I just had to try! She pointed me to a blog I hadn't visited before, Where in DC (which, is no longer updated and the last post was just last month!). The recipe for Clementine Yogurt Muffins appealed to me right away. The recipe uses not only diced bits of the clementines but also the zest from the peel - which means tons of flavor!
From Family, Friends and Food
Do you see those wonderful chunks of clementine? Well they each burst with juicy goodness in each bite! My Oldest and My Husband both gave these a thumb's up... still can't get My Youngest to even touch a muffin. Just leaves more for the rest of us.
If you are on Twitter, you will find me @famfriendsfood. I've found a lot of great foodie friends there, and they are a great resource for my crazy cooking questions.

Clementine Yogurt Muffins
Source: Where in DC

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tbs. grated clementine peel
1 cup diced clementine

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, melted butter, egg, grated clementine peel, and diced clementine. Pour clementine mixture into flour mixture and stir just until combined.
Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tins, filling two-thirds full. Bake in 400°F. oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.
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April 19, 2009

London Broil and O & Co.'s Salt & Herb Blend

It's been a busy few days, which is why I haven't posted since last week. What have I been up to? Well, these 2 guys are both in baseball this spring!

From Family, Friends and Food

So, as I get my bearings with getting dinner on the table much later than usual my postings may be a little more sporadic. I hope that my plan this week works a bit better, especially since we only have games on one night. Any ideas on how I can split myself into 2 people so I can watch both games at the same time? Thankfully, this is the only conflict we have with games this season, so I do consider myself quite lucky.

I did manage to make a nice dinner tonight. London Broil was on sale for $1.99 a pound for a twin pack, not too bad at all! Of course, then I needed to decide on how to prepare it. After an afternoon at a kid's birthday party my ambition was a bit dimmed, so I pulled out a seasoning mix I purchased from O & Co. Their Salt & Herb Seasoning for Meat is full of flavor and adds plenty of flavor to London Broil. The seasoning can be used with beef or poultry with equally delicious results.

From Family, Friends and Food

I enjoyed my serving over simple greens with a drizzle of the aged balsamic vinegar I picked up from O & Co. The meat was nicely seasoned, and not overwhelming as both of my boys still devoured their portions. We are looking forward to enjoying the leftovers this week!

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April 14, 2009

Almond Crusted Chicken

After several days of having matzah in every form you can imagine, I needed to come up with something different for dinner. Anyone who has eaten any amount of matzah can tell you what havoc it can wreak on your body if you don't mix it it up a bit.
So, last night I had actually remembered to pull out some chicken breasts to defrost in the fridge ahead of time. Yes, it's true! For a change they were ready to go when I was ready to start dinner. I tossed some sweet potatoes into the oven to bake while I put together a mixture to coat the chicken.
From Family, Friends and Food
The chicken came out tasty, and there was a nice crunch to the coating. My only complaint is that some of the coating didn't stick to the chicken as much as I would have liked. That may be due to not using the flour-egg-breading formula, but as it's Passover I do my best to avoid using flour for this week. I'll be making it again trying it the "usual" way and will report back on that.
In the meantime, I'll share the recipe as I made it this time.

Almond Crusted Chicken
Source: Patsyk

1 cup slivered almonds, crushed (I used the food processor, pulsed until they were pretty small pieces
1 teaspoon half-sharp paprika (Penzey's)
2 teaspoons shallot salt (Penzey's)
2 eggs
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine almonds through shallot salt in a shallow dish.

Wisk together eggs and buttermilk until well blended. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then completely coat in the almond mixture. Press the almond mixture onto the chicken to help it adhere to it.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

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April 12, 2009

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

I love getting inspired when I am on the treadmill and watching Food Network! Yesterday, I got going and tuned in to find a new show that I hadn't watched before, 5 Ingredient Fix. The concept is pretty simple, all recipes on the show are 5 ingredients or less, which means I will probably remember them later without having to pull the recipe from the internet.

As I was watching yesterday the host, Claire Robinson, was making a steakhouse dinner. My Yongest has requested the White Chocolate Mousse, which I will happily make for him later in the week. Today, I opted to try my hand at roasting grape tomatoes. I have fallen in love with this technique lately and I must say that tomatoes really lend themselves to roasting. The sweetness is intensified. They were so good, I couldn't stop eating them!

I'm sharing the basic technique as I can see this being a spur-of-the-moment kind of preparation. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I used 1 pint of grape tomatoes, but if you are having company over you'll definitely need to increase the amount. I put the tomatoes into a glass baking dish, then added about 2-3 tablepoons extra virgin olive oil (I was planning to use any leftover liquid as a dressing for salad), a pinch or 2 of Kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper. Then, I added about 1-2 teaspoons of aged balsamic vinegar. The vinegar was something I purchased on our first food tour in Greenwich Village at O & Co. I HIGHLY recommend using a really good quaility balsamic vinegar - the flavor really can not be beat.
From Family, Friends and Food
For such a simple salad, I couldn't stop eating it! The tomatoes burst in your mouth with a sweetness that is like candy. The extra virgin olive oil and vinegar mixed well in the baking dish and made a wonderful dressing for my salad. I had some tomatoes leftover and enjoyed them on some matzah - it is still Passover - but, could totally see serving them warm with some sliced baguettes as an appetizer. You could also use them in tomato sauce or even as a very simple topping to pasta.

Below are some recipes that stood out to me as I have been working on catching up with my blog reading this weekend. I've got them marked, and hope to try them sooner rather than later - let's hope I get to them before the official start of Summer.

Kristen at Dine & Dish served up a Chicken and Broccoli soup that she describes as a "hug in a bowl". Some days you just need that kind of meal.
Over at Love & Olive Oil, Lindsay made a Mongolian Beef that reminds me of what we would enjoy at a Chinese restaurant back in Kansas City before we were married. They served it over the fried cellophane noodles and it was so good. This one looks like it could bring back those memories easily.
If you are looking for something with a bit of spice to it, perhaps Eating Out Loud's Mexican Jicama-Pineapple Salad will do the trick. No worries if you don't like it spicy, you can adjust it to your own taste, and he's going to be sharing more South of the Border recipes this week. YUM!
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April 10, 2009

Passover Brownies

Several years back, before we had kids, my mother-in-law shared her recipe for Passover Brownies. It's a very simple recipe that will be in the oven baking within minutes. It is made using matzah cake meal, and they are dense and very moist.

It's always a hit and the kids will eat them like they are going out of style. Both of My Boys LOVED them and I'm sure they'll be asking for more tomorrow whenever food is mentioned.

We've had a full day with play dates and what-not, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet so I can kick back and relax.

From Family, Friends and Food
Looking for some other Passover recipes? Check out these ideas:
Stacey Snacks shared her Grandma's Chopped Liver

Mom K's Passover Brownies

  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix together cocoa, matzo cake meal and salt. In another bowl, blend (with a hand mixer) eggs and sugar. Add canola oil and vanill ato the egg mixture and blend well. Then add the cocoa mixture and mix well.
  3. Pour into an 8-inch pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE!
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April 9, 2009

ZestyCook Giveaway and a Good Cause

My friend, Cory, the creator of Zestycook.com has undertaken an amazing venture. He not only has a fantastic food blog filled with great recipes, but now he's launched the Zesty Clothing Line! How cool is this shirt?

This is just one of several that are available. But, the shirt isn't the coolest part of his new venture. The best part is that the profits from the sale of his shirts and aprons will go directly to the Food Bank!

If you'd like to win a shirt or apron, head on over to Zestycook and read the details there, let's join together and help the Food Bank!

Be sure to check back here on Friday, as I'll be sharing those Passover Brownies I promised!

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April 8, 2009

Mandel Bread for Passover

Happy Passover! Tonight is the first night and we'll be enjoying a wonderful Seder dinner at our Aunt & Uncle's place with the whole NJ part of our family there. It's always a nice time, and quite a feast.
I'm bringing Spinach Pie, which is a frequent dish at our holiday meals. I'm also bringing Matzah Buttercrunch to serve with the other desserts. I've already made Mandel Bread for us to enjoy throughout the holiday.
From Family, Friends and Food
Mandel Bread is similar to the Italian cookie, Biscotti - in that they are both "twice baked". With both you take your dough and place it in the form of a long loaf on your baking sheet. After the initial baking time, you slice them and then bake them for an additional period of time to finish the process. Mandel Bread is made with Matzah Cake Meal rather than flour since we do not use any leavening agents during Passover.

I don't make mine with nuts, which if you've been reading my blog for awhile you know this already. The recipe does call for nuts, and if you are a fan you should include them. These are really tasty "cookies" and are a nice treat during the week of Passover.

Over the next few days I'll be sharing some other family favorites, such as Passover Brownies - you won't want to miss that one for sure!

Mandel Bread
Source: Sis-in-Law


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 pound margarine
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups matzah cake meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 12 oz. mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (if using)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


  1. Cream sugar and margarine; add eggs one at a time.
  2. Sift together the cake mea through cinnamon; fold into creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon with the 2 teaspoons sugar.
  4. Grease cookie sheet (I used parchment paper, and eliminated that step). Spread batter out as loaves, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, slice and turn the pieces on their sides. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes to brown. You can turn them over again, but they do crisp up nicely without doing it.
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