A day in the life of a cook in her kitchen

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Sometimes the simplest dinners are the best dinners. I made this macaroni and cheese dish last week. It was a huge hit with all of us…SCORE!! It is perfect for our new Fall daylight savings. It comes together very quickly. … Continue reading

Pittsburgh Steak Salad


Pittsburgh Steak Salad
In honor of today being the first day of Summer I wanted to post my favorite summertime salad. Growing up very close to Pittsburgh this salad was on most restaurant menus. Every time we would head east to Pittsburgh we would eat at Primanti Bros. Restaurant and I would order this salad! I love to serve this with Poppy Seed or Sweet and Sour dressing, but you can use our favorite.

Ingredients:
5 rib eye steaks

1 large bag of steak fries deep-fried or baked

½ lb. mild cheddar shredded

1 head lettuce rough chop

1 large stalk celery diced small

2 carrot peeled and julienned

3 large tomatoes wedged

½ large seedless cucumber sliced thin

1 red pepper, julienned

bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 Bottle favorite dressing (I use Poppy Seed or Sweet and Sour)

In a large bowl mix together lettuce, carrots, red pepper and celery. Then in 5 separate salad bowls add you salad mixture. Then arrange your tomatoes and cucumbers around the salad and put them in the refrigerator until ready for use. Season steaks and grill. While steaks are cooking deep fry you French fries.  Add French fries and bacon to top of salads.  Cut steaks into 1 inch strips place on top of fries. Top the hot steak with cheddar cheese. Serve with favorite dressing.
Yield: serves 5

Slow Cooker Beef and Pepper Sandwiches


Peppery Beef SandwichesI was shocked when I was reading a recent article about the advantages of using a Slow Cooker and read many people around the world simply haven’t heard of a slow cooker, yet alone have they had the pleasure of cooking in one. Think about it, for decades now, we’ve all been brought up that most of our mom’s kitchens and now ours have at least one slow cooker ( I have three). But the slow cooker still remains widely unknown. The slow cooker, also called a Crockpot is an appliance which takes longer to cook your food. But, as a wise person once said, “those who wait and are patient, always win the race”.
Now yes, slow cooking your food may take up to 8+ hours in length, but the process is well worth it. You can set up your slow cooker and leave it cooking for hours without looking at it once. In fact, that’s the main selling point. You can leave it cooking away while you’re at work. And when you walk in the door, Dinner is Served (well…almost!!)
You can adapt many conventional recipes for the slow cooker. Any oven or stove top recipe that has some moisture in it–whether from water, broth, wine, sauce, or canned soup–should work beautifully in your favorite appliance, just keep these things in mind:
•Cut all liquid amounts in half when adjusting for the slow cooker.
•The low heat setting is approximately 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and high heat is about 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
•For every hour you’d cook something in the oven or on the stove, allow 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
This sandwich recipe is to die for! The slow-cooked beef becomes so tender that it shreds easily with a fork. And the banana peppers add so much flavor. Top it with a slice of Swiss cheese and it becomes indescribable!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie

Ingredients:

3 pound boneless beef chuck or eye of round roast
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP. instant beef bouillon granules
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-16 ounce jar Banana peppers (mild or hot), drained. Reserve a bit of the juice
Swiss Cheese slices (optional)
Buns

Directions:
In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker and combine meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic.
Cover; cook on low setting for 10 hours or on high setting for 5-6 hours. Shred meat with fork/s. Stir in drained banana peppers and a little of the juice.
If adding cheese, spoon meat on buns and top with cheese. Broil sandwiches until cheese melts.
Servings: 8 large sandwiches

Grandma Taylor’s Cabbage Rolls


an·tic·i·pa·tion

noun

1.the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
2.realization in advance; foretaste.
3.expectation or hope.
4.previous notion; slight previous impression.
5.intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.
Origin:  1540–50; (< Middle French ) < Latin anticipātiōn- (stem of anticipātiō ), equivalent to anticipāt ( us ) (past participle; see anticipate) + -iōn- -ion
Why did I start my blog off with the definition of anticipation?
To enrich my readings vocabulary?
Sure…but I am confident you already frequent this word in your daily life.
To educate you in the origin?
Ok….I do love finding the derivation from a source.
To make my readers wait just a few more seconds for my most requested recipe?
YES!!
                                                                                                       
SO…..here it is the most requested recipe.  When I make these or my mother makes these for parties everyone asks “Can I PLEASE have the recipe?”
BUT…before I divulge the secret,  I have to tell you how this recipe started in my family.
Here goes….
As you have read in my other posts, I had the most wonderful Grandma in the world.  She was smart, and funny, and beautiful.  I loved her with all my heart and I wanted to grow up to be just like her.  She worked in the Trumbull County Recorders office. Anything that when through the courts, crossed my Grandmother’s desk and she recorded it in huge ledger books. I used to love to go to her office. Anyhow…
She was friends with the”local” celebrity Norma Antenucci.  Norma had a local cooking show back in the 60’s, and she published a cookbook called “Norma presents….. a collection of her favorite recipes. (I have my Grandma’s signed copy)
My Grandma would make these cabbage rolls when I was growing up and it was always a big family favorite.  My mother carried on the family tradition after my Grandma passed. And now it is my turn.
My family isn’t one of those richly ethnic families with great traditions passed down generation to generation. I always dreamed of being in a family that was so lucky .  But I do have some stories and recipes that come close. We were a very close family and I always loved my Sunday’s with my Grandma and Grandpa Taylor.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do and my family does.  And I would be honored if it became one of your traditions and much-anticipated recipes in your repertoire.
Hope you enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie
Grandma Taylor’s Cabbage Rolls
Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound pork sausage or ground pork
3/4 cup raw rice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. celery salt
1 large head cabbage
1 large can sauerkraut, drained
1 can tomato paste diluted with 3 cans of water.
Directions:
Cook head of cabbage, core side up, in saucepan with about 2 inches of water.  Cover.  Steam just long enough for the leaves to become pliable and easily removed.  Cut off tough core at bottom of leaf.
Combine meat, raw rice, slightly beaten eggs and seasonings.
Place a large spoonful of meat mixture on cabbage leaf and roll leaf starting at the bottom end of leaf.  Tuck under the sides to give packaged look.  Make as many rolls until you’ve used all the meat mixture.
Make a layer of sauerkraut in bottom of roasting pan.  Place a layer of cabbage rolls on top of kraut.  Repeat until all cabbage rolls are used and end with sauerkraut on the top.  Pour tomato sauce over all.  Cover tightly.  Bake in a moderate oven 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.
My Grandma and my mother always serve these with Mashed potatoes.
*I have also done this recipe in the crockpot and it comes out perfectly.

Seven Layer Meatless Tortilla Pie


I love this recipe! It’s a great dinner for your busy summer evenings.  It’s also super quick to assemble and so versatile. If you want you can add meat ground beef or turkey seasoned with some taco or fajita seasoning.  Grilled chicken, turkey, pork also seasoned and sliced thin works great. If you are going to add a meat layer, do so after spreading the beans on the tortilla. Top with cheese and continue with standard directions.  

This is a dinner that will please everyone in your family. I like to serve mine with shredded  lettuce and diced tomatoes. If you don’t want to use sour cream, for a dip or dressing to drizzle on top of the pie,  I mix some picante sauce and Ranch dressing together.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,
Vonnie                                                                                                

 

 

 
Ingredients:
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained
1 cup picante sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 small tomato, chopped
7 (8 inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Optional toppings:

sour cream
green onions, chopped
black olives, sliced
jalapeno, sliced

Directions:
Mash pinto beans. Stir in 3/4 cup picante sauce and garlic powder.
Mix remaining picante sauce, cilantro, black beans and tomatoes.
Place 1 tortilla on baking sheet. Spread 3/4 cup pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2-inch of edge. (Add meat layer)  Top with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with 1 tortilla and 2/3 cup black bean mixture. Top with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice more. Top with remaining tortilla and spread with remaining pinto bean mixture. Cover with foil.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes or until hot. Uncover. Top with remaining cheese. Cut into wedges. Serve with additional picante sauce, sprinkle with additional cilantro if desired, and optional toppings

Ambrosia


Are you looking for a side dish that is easy to make and your family or guests will love?  Look no further! Ambrosia is a great salad you can serve with just about any main dish.

When I was growing up in Northeast Ohio,  Sunday dinner was always Roast Beef with carrots, and potatoes, salad and dessert. My mother would make this salad occasionally and it was always a big hit! Tonight I am making my Slower Cooker Chicken Stew for dinner and thought I would make this as my salad. It seemed like the perfect side/salad to round out my dinner and since it is spring here in Michigan I thought it would be a better choice than the baked apples. You can find the Slower cooker Chicken stew recipe on my blog too!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                         

Vonnie

 

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

1 (3 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix

1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 large bananas, sliced

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 (15.25 ounce) can fruit cocktail, drained

1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

 

 

Dump instant pudding into a large mixing bowl. Add pineapple, and mix well. Mix in non-dairy whipped topping. Stir in bananas, marshmallows, fruit cocktail, and mandarin oranges. Cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Photo: Taken by Kraft foods

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad


This is a delicious and tangy cold pasta salad with grilled vegetables that is so satisfying it’s perfect for Meatless Monday! I serve mine with warm cornbread muffins, and green grapes.  This is a great way to beat the heat and have a great, satisfying dinner. What a great way to end very busy day. Add a glass of your favorite wine or iced cold beer!

PS…for the meat-eaters, just add 1 pound of  your favorite grilled meat or seafood.  I love this with grilled shrimp, chicken or steak thinly sliced.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie


Ingredients:
1 pound penne pasta, cooked and rinsed in cold water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves washed, dried, and thinly sliced
2 TBSP. lemon juice
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 large onion, thickly sliced in rounds
2 medium zucchini, peeled,thickly sliced in rounds
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper thickly sliced and cut into chunks
1 cup of grape tomatoes
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Combine mayonnaise, basil, lemon juice and red pepper flake in a large bowl. Add cooked pasta and toss.
Heat grill on high heat. Place onions and zucchini on grill. Turn heat down to medium. Grill for 2 minutes and turn. Add the rest of the vegetables except tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are tender. About 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook for 2-4 minutes. Remove vegetables from grill and add to pasta.  Add Italian dressing to pasta and vegetables.  Toss mixture and mix well.  Add lemon rest and parmesan cheese. Stir and serve. Can be served warm or cold.
Serves: 6

Italian Sausage with Mussels and Pasta


Whenever I vacation to the East Coast, I eat as much seafood as I can.  It just seem like the right dinner to have when I am so close to the ocean.  Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a time in Belmar, NJ with my best friend Kerry and her children John and Claire,  parents Buz and Maureen,  cousin Cathy and Uncle Dan Sullivan(who made me an honorary Irishwoman and was the highlight of my stay)!  Their family heritage is so rich, and I loved hearing Dan tell wonderful stories of the past,  sharing coffee with Cathy every morning,  playing on the beach with the kids and meeting and loving all of Kerry’s friends. We had so many laughs.   One thing I enjoyed with every meal was fresh mussels.  So I dug out this recipe to make here in good old Plymouth and continue my love affair with seafood.

What I love about this recipe, there are no real set ingredients. You can adjust the vegetables to your liking and the flavors of the sausage. If you don’t like mussels, you can use clams.  The possibilities are endless.  I use homemade Italian hot sausage from my local market.  They have wonderful favors and they are made fresh everyday. They also have a wonderful seafood department.  When you are buying mussels have the seafood specialists rinse them.  Sometimes they open up and rinsing them closes them and that’s what you want.  Any that stay open, toss them.  When you bring them home, refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  They should have a salty ocean air smell.

Now to share my Irish heritage:  “May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night”.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                     

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

1# Italian sausage, grilled and sliced or cases removed and crumbled
1 bag of mussels
1 28 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, any color and diced
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
olive oil

Pasta
1# angel hair pasta, cooked el dente
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Coat a large deep skillet with olive oil and heat to medium. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, Stir. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Add mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Keep lid on the whole 5 minutes without peeking! Stir and cover. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Mussels should be opened . Any that don’t open, discard. Stir in Italian sausage and parmesan cheese. Serve on top of pasta.

Pasta:
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Watch closely and stir. When garlic get to a golden color, add to cooked pasta. Toss and add pepper, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.