Friday, December 30, 2011


I had one last piece of my Christmas eve rib roast left, and was trying to decide what to do with it. I then remembered I had some farro (also called emmer...a kind of wheat berry) that I wanted to try.

So I put a pot of salted water on to boil. Then I added a half cup farro and cooked it at a low boil. The biggest problem was I wasn't sure how long to cook the farro. One place I read online said 30 minutes, somewhere else said an hour. I went with 40 minutes. It was chewy, but ok. Next time I might cook it a tad longer.

In the mean time, I opened and drained a can of garbanzo beans and left them in the colander. I also cut up my piece of meat. When the farro was done, I poured it over the garbanzos and left it to drain. I then put my meat in the pot to warm up. When it was warm, I added the beans, farro, a little salt and pepper and some powdered rosemary (I got it in a bulk spice bin somewhere). I also had a little red wine vinaigrette left over from the night before. I added some balsamic to it to deepen the flavor (you could also use a bottled balsamic vinaigrette).

It was tasty, but I didn't care for the garbanzos in it, so I picked them out. Oh well. But it was a nice late lunch on an otherwise lazy day :)

Baked ziti

This is a yummy baked ziti recipe I found on Martha Stewart's website. I like the baked ziti at Sbarro's, but wanted something I could make at home for cheaper (and in case my local Sbarro's closed). It is really rather simple.

Boil 8 oz ziti (or other short tubular pasta...penne or rigatoni would work). While that is going, mix a cup of ricotta with 1/2 c shredded mozzarella, 1/4 c grated parmesan, an egg, and salt and pepper. When the pasta is done and drained, pour half a jar of spaghetti sauce of choice (I used Prego mushroom) in a 2 qt baking dish. Top with drained pasta, spread ricotta mixture over the pasta, and top with remaining sauce from the jar. Then sprinkle another 1/2 c each Parmesan and mozzarella on top, and bake at 450* for 20-25 min (I baked it at 400* cuz I baked a loaf of par-baked french bread first and forgot to change it) until melted and yummy.

The recipe from Martha gave instructions how to make a salad and garlic bread, but I'll let you figure that out yourself. the recipe made enough for me for dinner last night, and 2 baggies of leftovers, but is supposed to (and could) feed four. I just like food.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cardamom orange semolina cereal

Well, this post doesn't get a picture, cuz a bowl of white cereal isn't very photogenic :P I had a hankering to make some orange cardamom shortbread cookies, but am out of flour, butter, and money, so they will have to wait til later this week. However, since the cookies have semolina in them, I decided to make semolina "polenta" and flavor it with orange and cardamom.

For one serving (I am solo this week), I brought 1 1/2 cups milk to a simmer. To it I added 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom. Upon taste test, I might use 1/4 teaspoon next time, as the orange overpowered the cardamom. When the milk was barely simmering, I whisked in a heavy 1/4 cup semolina (it can be hard to find...I found it packaged by Bob's Red Mill at my regular grocery, and could probably find it at my local grocery coop as well). I whisked continuously until it had thickened, less than 5 minutes. I then stirred in about 1/2 teaspoon orange extract (might go lighter next time to not overpower the cardamom) and a tablespoon or so of sugar.

Overall, it is quite yummy. I may try it again in the next couple days and fidget with the orange and cardamom amounts. Happy Boxing Day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peanut butter nutella cookies!

I made some "magical peanut butter cookies" I found on for my mom (don't tell her...I haven't mailed them yet!)...they are sugar free and super easy. A cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar (as other similar recipes had) or splenda for baking, an egg, and a teaspoon of vanilla. When I tasted the finished cookies, they were a tad sweet for me. Some of the comments had mentioned that as well.

Today I was planning on making some with regular sugar to leave out for Santa. I measured out 2/3 cup peanut butter, and didn't have more! I looked in my cupboard and didn't have another jar, but found my jar of nutella...and inspiration hit! I measured out 1/3 cup nutella, and proceeded with the recipe, but only used 3/4 cup of sugar. I scooped them out with my scoop, and rather than smashing with a fork like regular peanut butter cookies, I flattened them with a glass. For the FN recipe, the cookies were sprinkled with sugar/splenda. A different recipe sprinkled with salt. I made the ones for mom half and half. Since the nutella is sweetened, I opted for salt with them.

They spread more than the regular peanut butter ones, I think because the nutella is softer than peanut butter. Next time I might try leaving them as little domes and see what happens. Also, I don't think I would use more nutella and less peanut butter. The nutella is too soft, and there is no flour in these to compensate.

When I took them out of the oven, I transferred the cookies, on the parchment paper, to a rack until the cookies firmed up a bit. Then I removed them from the parchment and left them to cool. They are really yummy...sweet, chocolatey, and a bit of salty. I am glad I ran out of peanut butter ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Panettone French toast

Last week I bought a loaf of panattone at the store. I opened it and cut the top off for breakfast on the way to church, and didn't wrap it back up. By the time we got home that afternoon, it had gotten quite dry. I decided to wrap it up and save it for French toast. Well, today was the day!

I cut it into rounds, and then cut the rounds in half. I mixed up some eggs and milk. Usually, I flavor my milk-dip liberally with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and a spoon of sugar. But that is for using with plain bread. Since this bread was flavorful, I left my dip plain. I soaked the sliced briefly (too long and they fell apart!) and cooked them on my greased griddle. When they were brown on both sides, I put them in a 200* oven on a rack to finish cooking all the way thru. When they were all done, I served them with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (I suppose to be truly Italian I could have used ricotta cheese if I had any).

It was quite yummy! I'll have to remember it for more mornings :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

This is my favorite soup at Olive Garden. And pretty easy to make at home.

I browned a pound of Italian sausage (hot, mild, sweet...whatever your preference). When it was done, I added a chopped onion. After it softened, I added about a pound of diced potatoes (I used frozen diced potatoes cuz I was feeling lazy) and 4 cups of chicken broth. I then simmered it until the potatoes were tender. Then I added about a half pound of torn up kale. After I stirred it in, I let it simmer another 20 minutes, until the kale was tender and some of the potatoes broke down to thicken the soup. If desired, you can add a bit of red pepper flakes.

I made some pilsbury bread sticks to go with the soup ala Olive Garden...when they were almost done I brushed them with melted butter with garlic powder mixed in. Yummy!