Hi and thank you for visiting my blog. My name is Tina, I am 42 years old and married to a wonderful man named Robert. I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area with my husband and our two pugs, Koko and Lucy and a special kitty, named Trixie.

I am of Italian decent and love to cook not just for my family but for everyone! I have a lot of weeknight dinner guest and try to keep it casual but delicious! My Mom passed away a few years ago and was my great teacher.

In 2012 I have changed the way I eat. A real lifestyle change to be healthier, eat a nutrient dense diet and remove all processed foods, refined flours and sugars from our diet. I do cook a lot healthier than my Mom did and do a lot more vegetarian meals, poultry and fish. I'm trying to find a way to keep the traditions of family, friends and good food in my house always.

I plan to post my weekly menus, update with new recipes, health information and articles and how to eat mostly organic in an economical way. I will also periodically post personal updates of my journey to regain health and hope.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ham Salad from Scratch

More ham left-overs! I enjoy ham salad on a few rare occassions. I enjoy it served either on small crustless breads at tea or on buttered crackers. I never made it myself...but I thought it was time to try. I looked online through several recipes and just decided to do wing it.

This is recipe is a breeze with a food processor! I have this Cuisinart Food Processor and love it!

Ham Salad
3 cups ham chopped fine
1/2 cup celery chopped fine
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish (I made my own from my homemade Bread & Butter Pickles).
1 cup mayonaise
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

Put all ingredients in food processor (seperately) and chop fine. Mix with mayo and dijon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wow..$6.00 Dinner and my first Quiche Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

Considering the economic times we are in, I am trying to use more left overs than ever and make more economical meals than ever. Also, I am trying to perfect my pie/tart making skills..so I thought a quiche would foot the bill. I was a little worried that my husband wouldn't think a quiche was a suitable dinner..but I was soo sooo wrong.

I had quite a bit of ham left over from a party earlier in the summer and it was taking up my much valuable freezer space. So I finally figured out what to do with it.
Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Quiche - Serves 4
1 Pie/Tart crust
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 medium onion chopped
1 cup of diced ham
1 cup of diced broccoli florettes
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 cup of milk ( I used skim)
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

1) For the crust I used the tart crust from the Zucchini, Bacon and Goat Cheese Tart I made last week. I made the crust the night before and refrigerated it overnight. I rolled it into a 14 inch circle and placed it in a 12" tart pan with a removable bottom. You could also use a store bought pie crust for convenience.

2) In a large skillet pour 2 Tbsp. of the butter (reserving 1 Tbsp.), onion, ham and broccoli and saute until they are just heated through. Fill crust with the ham, broccoli and onion mixture.

3) Sprinkle cheese over the top.

4) In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, reserved Tbsp. butter salt and pepper.

5) Pour egg mixture over cheese and filling.

6) Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife comes out clean from center.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

An Updated American Classic Appetizer - Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I was invited to a friend's party and knew there were going to be a lot of Brazillian's with a lot of Brazillian food. I wanted to make something classic american and decided on Sweet and Sour Meatballs. I updated the recipe (my mother in-laws) so I didn't have to go out shopping.

Updated Sweet and Sour Meatballs - Makes approximately 50 mini meatballs

2.4 lbs. package of ground turkey (85/15 lean)

4 slices of bread (I used chiabatta) coursely ground into breadcrumbs..approximately 2 cups

1 package lipton onion soup

2 eggs

2 jars heinz chili sauce

2 cups - mixed berry jam

2 tsp. lemon juice (approximately the juice of one lemon)

2 tsp. brown sugar


1) Mix ground turkey, breadcrumbs, onion soup mix and eggs in a mixing bowl..mixing until meat can hold together to form into balls.

2) Using a medium scoop dish out equal portions of the meat onto cookie sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with olive oil. Form each portion into a ball by rolling in your hands.

HINT: keep a bowl of warm water near you to make the rolling easier dip your hands in the water every two or three meatballs.

3) Bake in oven at 3:50 until cooked through (approximately 15 minutes)

4) In a mixing bowl combing chili sauce, jam, lemon juice and brown sugar and combine well with wisk.

5) Add meatballs to a slow cooker, pour sauce over and coat each meatball with the sauce. Cook on high for one hour and turn to low or warm. Serve warm.

(Traditionally the recipe calls for beef, bread crumbs, dry minced onion, a variety of spices, chili sauce, jellied cranberry sauce and the meatballs are fried in oil before going into the sauce..this version is slightly healthier and very tasty.) Feel free to write to me for the original recipe if you would like.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Zucchini, Bacon and Goat Cheese Tart

I was watching PBS on Sunday and saw the Huber Keller show. I only recognized him since he was one of the Top Chef Masters. This was a show from many years ago as he was a much younger man. He made an eggplant, zucchini, tomato tart with goat cheese and it looked soo delicious. I tried to find the recipe on-line without much luck but found a few similar recipes and decided to put a few of the recipes together to re-create this dish. This will be a work in progress as I did many things right (the crust was perfect)...but I want to improve the filling flavor and I want to perfect this dish.

Zucchini, Bacon and Goat Cheese Tart
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 stick of unsalted butted chilled and cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 Tbsp. ice water
Extra Ice water as needed (I used about 3 Tbsp)
1) Place flour, salt, butter in a food processor and pulse until dough resembles coarse meal, add egg mixture through the feed tube with the processor in the "on" position. Pour in extra ice water until dough is moist and almost lumping together (marbles).
2) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a moment with the heel of your hand. Form dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3) Roll dough into a 14 inch round. Carefully transfer to a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim overhanging dough to 1". Lightly press dough into the grooves and fold over the top for a double thick edge. Edge should be approximately 1/2" higher than the pan. Pierce dough with a fork. Wrap tart in plastic and freeze for 30 minutes.
4) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake until crust is golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375.
3 eggs lightly beaten
5 oz. creamy goat cheese (at room temp.)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 sour cream
5 slices of cooked bacon chopped fine
1 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
In a large bowl whisk eggs, goat cheese, heavy cream and sour cream together. Fold in bacon, zucchini and spices. Pour into prepared tart crust.
1 zucchini sliced thin (I used both zucchini and yellow squash for aesthetics)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. bread crumbs
Arrange zucchini and tomato slices in concentric circles until covered. Drizzle olive oil on top, sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until a knife comes out clean in the center. I put mine on broil for a few minutes to brown up the top, but I also over-cooked the crust edge slightly.
TIP - To save time and effort buy a pre-made pie crust (but I will say the crust was the best part!!) You can also make this vegetarian by leaving out the bacon....add onion for more flavor.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dessert Sliders!

These cookies were such a hit at the last BBQ we attended. Everyone thought they were too cute eat, but when they did bite into them, they were delicious as well! This is more of an assembly, than cooking and there is no baking required. I saw these on the news the other day and thought I could that! They used grasshopper mint cookies but I thought the flavor profile would be better with the carmel fudge cookies. They were so fun to make..and easy.

Dessert Sliders
Yields: 36 sliders. I made an assembly line and did 18 cookies at a time, it took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

1 package vanilla wafers (Nilla Brand)
2 packages Keebler Fudge Shop, Carmel filled
1 small package of sweetened shredded coconut (died with green food coloring)
1 each of Red and Yellow, Betty Crocker Icing Tubes (the spray can works better)
2 Tbsp. Sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. Caro Syrup ( I would rethink this part)

1) Brush tops of vanilla wafers with caro syrup and sprinkle sesame seeds.
2) Squeeze yellow frosting around edge of vanilla wafer (mustard) and place keebler cookie on top (burger) sprinkle the coconut (lettuce) on the burger, top with the red food coloring (ketchup) and place the vanilla wafer with the sesame seeds on top.

Note: The caro syrup never dried and was left sticky and hard to cover with plastic wrap for transortation. Someone online suggested just using water to get the sesame seeds to stick. I may try honey and bake the tops for a few minutes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cornbread Burger Bake

I don't recall where I picked up this recipe card, but the source states "Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program". This looked like something Robert would love as he loves cornbread and burgers and it was made with turkey..which was a great bonus. I made a few changes to the recipe, but here is the original recipe, I will explain my changes and suggestions below.

Cornbread Burger Bake
1 Cup of Flour
1 egg beaten
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1 Cup 1% milk
1 Cup Cornmeal
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 can cream style corn
1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup low fat cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, grease or use cooking spray to coat a 9 x9 casserole dish.
2. Combine first seven ingredients and set aside.
3. Brown the ground turkey, dran excess fat and add onion, green pepper and chili powder.
4. Pour half of the cornbread mixture in the casserole, cover with turkey mixture and the cheese; pour the remainder of the cornbread batter over the top.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

I made the following changes. It was good, but still needed something more. I used skim milk, instead of 1%. I used two ears of corn instead of a can of cream of corn...I am trying to eat only whole foods and I think I should have added something else for this substitute, maybe a Tbsp. of honey as creamed corn is sweet usually.
I also added a whole onion and bell pepper and I added the onion and green pepper to the turkey while browning it. I use very lean ground turkey and had to add olive oil to get it to brown. Next time, I'll add a little more chili powder too.
In the corn bread mixture I added a fresh jalepeno, chopped fine, for a little flavor and color. That was a great addition.
Overall, this was good...not great. I think tweaking the recipe a little more will make this a wonderful hearty dish to add to my repitore. Served with salad..but this is really a pretty complete meal in one. For time saving, you could use any corbread pre-mix that you like. I think Trader Joe's Cornbread mix is pretty darn good.
This is another one of those healthy, economical dishes. I would estimate it was less than $10 to make and you can get 6 nice sized servings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Back!!

Well, after a year of not blogging I've decided it something I miss and want to do again. I think the pressure of daily updates was too much and I realized I cook a lot of the same meals which is boring for my loyal blog readers. So, while I am not promising daily blog updates, I do plan to update it much more frequently than once a year!