Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quadrucci - Making Pasta

Pasta is such a diverse and widely consumed product that many people have no idea how easy it is to make your own. Pasta is also so cheap that many people wonder why one would make their own. For myself it's a feeling of accomplishment. I've always enjoyed making something that most people think can only be store-bought: cream puffs, wonton soup, fortune cookies.

The first time I ever made pasta with a machine rather than rolling it out myself was in school. Every pasta dish that was served at the school restaurant was made from fresh pasta. Making pound after pound was a bit tedious, but worth it.

Making your own pasta is like making anything else homemade; you get to be in control of what goes into it. Whole egg or egg white, salt or no salt, semolina flour or all-purpose flour. Water or not, oil or not.

Most store-bought pastas are made from semolina flour - a flour made most often from durum wheat. It's usually more coarse than standard all-purpose flour, so many people mix the two for pasta making. I've made pasta from all semolina and from half and half and I prefer the latter. All semolina makes a very stiff dough.

Here's the recipe based on what I made last week.

Basic Pasta Dough
Printable Recipe

1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

I don't usually add salt to my pasta, but I was making quadrucci, which are rather large, and wanted a little more flavor because they were being served simply, in broth.

Combine flours and salt and make a well in the center. Drop 3 eggs into the well and start mixing them into the flour until a stiff dough forms. If you are making pasta on a very dry day you may want to add a tablespoon or so of water to the eggs. Cover the dough and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Roll out or run through a pasta machine and cut as desired.

Fresh pasta cooks faster than its dry counterpart, so you need to keep an eye on it as it cooks. As with dry pasta, timing depends on the size and shape of the pasta.

I made quadrucci with herbs encased in the center of each. It makes for a very pretty presentation and isn't very difficult to do. The photo above is the finished quadrucci in broth.

The making of pasta:

Stirring together egg and flour.
Dough at the proper consistency and ready to rest.
Run dough through each setting twice starting with the widest first - number 1.
Turn the dial to the next number and run the dough through again - twice. Do this until you reach the desired setting. I like number 7.
Lay very dry flat-leaf herbs on half of the sheet of pasta. Make sure to space them well, they will expand in size once run through the machine again.
Fold the other half of the pasta sheet over the herbs and press down lightly so they don't move when transferring the sheet to the machine.
Run the pasta sheet through the machine on the number just before the one you decide on. Run it through one more time on the correct setting. For example, I wanted a number 7 thickness, so I ran the dough through 6 first and then through 7. This is the way the sheet should look when finished. Cut into squares with an herb in the center of each square. Cook in boiling stock until done.

This is an example of quadrucci with herbs done the wrong way. Any moisture on the herb at all will cause the pasta to tear, resulting in exposed herb. All is not lost, however!

Run the damaged dough through the machine several more times so the herbs distribute themselves throughout and then cut it to a desired shape. I made fettuccine with mine.

That 'damaged' pasta looks pretty good! These are ravioli made with a full sheet of pasta.

This is thin spaghetti the kids helped to make.

All-in-all, not difficult! It helps to have a machine to get the dough to the right thickness, but you can roll and cut pasta by hand, as well.

Veggie Wednesday: Two Books

I have two great books along green-living lines that I think you should check into. The first is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett of and Ray Sammartano.

This is one of those essential books for vegan living. With 240 delicious recipes and tips galore, you may not need another book about vegan cooking. I absolutely love the formatting of the book. There are 6 parts, each prefaced with a cute little cartoon (one of my daughters kept leaving the book open to Part 6 because she thought the cartoon was so funny) and 22 chapters in total. That's a lot of information and a lot of great recipes.

The 'extra information' boxes are so helpful; broken down into Thyme-ly Tips, Soy What?, def-i-ni-tion, and Sour Grapes, they're placed just where needed to add that little extra bit of info necessary to that particular recipe. I've learned quite a bit from those little boxes!

This is geared toward the beginner, but the recipes are so terrific that I would recommend this for even the seasoned vegan.

The second book is Eco-Friendly Families by Helen Coronato. I love this book! I've learned more about green-living and recycling than I ever thought possible. It's written in a very approachable way and full of family-friendly ideas for living as ecologically responsible as possible.

My favorite part are the Five-Minute Makeover boxes throughout the book. They are the small ideas that help you to make a big impact without taking much time at all. I also think the first chapter, "Taking Inventory: Getting Ready to Go Green" is brilliant. Helen helps you to figure out where you are, where you want to be and just how to get there in the most painless and simple way you can.

She causes you to think and re-think about your family's impact on our earth and how you can help to keep your footprint small. It really is for all ages. The crafts at the end of the book are wonderful and the resources listed are all you'll need to send you and your family on your way to greener living.

You can purchase both of these books at

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I found these perfect, juicy, tender and delicious little Seckel pears at my favorite farm stand. If only they lasted longer.

Monday, October 27, 2008


This past week I was lucky enough to be the recipient of four days' worth of Freshology meals. I was sent a sampling of the Get Slim meals offered by Freshology, Inc. and now I'll share my thoughts on it all.

When the box arrived, my first thought was that I would never fit it all into my refrigerator. I was wrong, it was just very good packaging surrounding the meals. The top of the box was filled with water bottles that were still frozen and everything underneath was intact and ice-cold. Once it was all unpacked, it actually fit onto one shelf in the fridge.

The contents were: 10 bottles of water, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners and 4 desserts. My first impression of the meals was that they looked a bit small. Coming from the Get Slim program, I thought that was about right. Usually the idea is to cut back on portions and control calories that way. I was wrong about this, too!

Not only was the food delicious and perfectly prepared, it really was filling. Really. My family is one of those 'heaping plates' families and I couldn't wrap my brain around those smaller portions having the ability to be fulfilling. I can easily see how a person could lose weight - in a healthy and delicious way - with Freshology meals.

Here is the menu from one of those 4 days:

Breakfast: Spinach & Mozzarella Frittata with Fresh Fruit & Grilled Ham Steak
Lunch: Mediterranean Salad with Cucumbers & Kalamata Olives
Dinner: Grilled Salmon with Grilled Asparagus & Carrots
Dessert: Blueberry Coffee Cake

This was all fresh, PRESERVATIVE FREE and cooked to perfection.

Freshology offers 6 different meal plans from Freshmommy to Wholefamily, each with a fantastic array of menus that rival anything you'll find at your finest neighborhood restaurant. You can find Freshology meals online at or you can call 1-877-89-FRESH and speak with a representative who will help you choose the right program for you. It's a revolutionary way of thinking about eating; fresh, healthy, delicious and convenient.

Don't take my word for it, though, JLo and Ricki Lake are just two of the celebrities featured on the Press page at Freshology. You can watch clips about their success with the programs and check out other celebs as well.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Week Off

Before I fall asleep in my coffee, I've decided to take a week off blogging and get some things done here at home.

Don't worry, though - there's plenty here to read; three years' worth, actually! Check the recipe archives and if you don't see everything there that you want (I'm a little behind in the listings) you can use the handy dandy SEARCH option. I also have product and book reviews you can peruse. Don't forget my other great blog at Disney's - Short Order Mom.

When I get back I'll have some great reviews including, Eco-Friendly Families by Helen Coronato , The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett and Ray Sammartano and a review of Freshhology's home delivered meals. Of course, I'll be back with delicious recipes and fabulous photos for things I'm cooking up.

Stay tuned, I'll return next Monday, October 27.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Breakfast - Royal Foodie Joust Entry

This month's RFJ ingredients seemed to throw several of us for a loop. They are: acorn squash, sage and orange. My first attempt at a submission was truly horrid. I made a dessert acorn squash stuffed ravioli with an orange/sage relish. I actually gagged at first bite. Something about the flavors put together that way just didn't work, but I refused to give up.

This morning I made an excellent breakfast of acorn squash pancakes and chicken sausage with a maple-orange glaze. It was truly delicious!

Acorn Squash Pancakes
Printable Recipe

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each powdered ginger and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed or pureed acorn squash
2 eggs
1/2 to 1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine squash, eggs, and vanilla and blend well. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Add flour mixture to squash mixture alternately with milk until a loose batter forms. Drop by 1/4 cup onto a hot griddle and cook until bubbles form on the top and the edges are dry. Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Chicken Sausage with Maple-Orange Glaze
Printable Recipe

1 pound ground chicken
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all and blend well. Form into small balls or patties and fry until golden. Add the juice of one orange, 1/2 teaspoon orange zest and 1/3 cup maple syrup. Simmer for several minutes and make sure all sausages are coated well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Easy Eggplant Parmigiana

I love eggplant in any form - especially parmigiana. I don't like the time it can take to make it, though - all that breading and frying, especially with all the people I have to feed each day (remember, it's 8 during the week and 9 on weekends), that can get really tedious. I also don't like the extra calories added with breading and frying, so I came up with this simpler method - much like the one I used for the Eggplant Mozzarella I posted at Short Order Mom. This one still uses breadcrumbs, but no egg and no oil.

The "secret" - eggplant diced small instead of sliced.

Sauté the diced eggplant in a small amount of olive oil until softened.

Layered into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with oil.

Topped with breadcrumbs.

A layer of marinara.

Shredded Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Sliced mozzarella on top of it all.

30 minutes in the oven and the result is perfection!
Easy Eggplant Parmigiana
Makes 1 9x13 pan

8 cups diced eggplant
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups marinara
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded Parmesan and Romano cheeses
1/2 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
Place eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to stand for 15 minutes so excess water can drip off of the eggplant. Squeeze between paper towels and sauté with olive oil until tender - about 10 minutes. Spray a 9x13 pan with oil and spread eggplant evenly over the bottom. Top with breadcrumbs, marinara, Parmesan and Romano cheeses and mozzarella. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Spice Depot

If you haven't come across The Spice Depot products yet, please allow me to introduce you. The Spice Depot offers three main products; The World's Best Grinders, Organic Dried Herbs and Signature Spice Blends. All of their products are always all natural and in many cases, organic as well. There's nothing added, no fillers, no preservatives, no nothing; just real herbs and spices.

I've tried (so far) two of The World's Best Grinders - Garlic Pepper and Spicy Chicken. Both were excellent; the Garlic Pepper paired perfectly with beef, and the Spicy Chicken was fantastic on both grilled and roasted chicken. I love the built-in grinder in the top of each jar - it was easy to use, never clogged and delivered super-fresh seasoning exactly where I wanted it.

Their comprehensive website takes you through spice notes, recipes (you can also submit one of your own) and even wine pairings by ethnicity! There is a sustainability statement and they support The Zajac Ranch for Children.

Best of all, you can purchase these herb and spice blends across the United States and Canada at your local Wal-Mart stores and many other vendors. Check out the full list HERE.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

I recently wrote about Foodbuzz and how much I love this community of foodies. Today is the official launch of Foodbuzz. Check out this press release for more info:


San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.

“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”

Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors.

“Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.

The Foodbuzz blogger community is growing at a rate of 40 percent per month driven by strong growth in existing partner blogs and the addition of over 100 new blogs per month. “The Web site is like the stock of a great soup. The Web site provides the base or backbone for bloggers to interact as a community, contribute content, and have that content buzzed by their peers,” said Mr. Dehan.

Global Blogging Event Demonstrating the talent and scope of the Foodbuzz community, 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs offered online food enthusiasts an international, virtual street festival of food and diversity. The new feature showcased blog posts from 24 Foodbuzz partner bloggers chronicling events occurring around the globe during a 24 hour period and included:

Mid-Autumn Festival Banquet (New York, NY)
The "Found on Foodbuzz" 24-Item Tasting Menu (San Francisco, CA)
Aussie BBQ Bonanza – Celebrating Diversity (Sydney, Australia)
The Four Corners of Carolina BBQ Road Trip (Charleston, SC)
Criminal Tastes – An Illegal Supper (Crested Butte, CO)
From Matambre to Empanadas: An Argentine Dinner (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
A Sweet Trompe l’oeil (Seattle, WA)

24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” captures the quality and unique local perspective of our food bloggers and shared it with the world,” said Ryan Stern, Director of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. “It illustrates exactly what the future of food publishing is all about – real food, experienced by real people, shared real-time.”

About Foodbuzz, Inc.

Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz, Inc., launched its beta Web site,, in 2007. In less than a year, and its community of over 1,000 exclusive partner food blogs have grown into an extended online property that reaches more than three million users.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A 'Junking' Day

Today I went 'junking'. That's a family word for heading off to yard sales. I come from a long line of yard sale and antiques lovers, starting with my dad. I haven't been in quite some time, but there was one just up the street and it set me off on a full-out run.

I love meeting the previous owners of my new finds. Sometimes there are stories there, sometimes not. Today the story that went with several items was of an aunt who had gone off to assisted living and had no need for her things. She took very good care of her belongings and I'm glad to be the recipient of them.

I came away with some fun, and super cheap, things for my kitchen and beyond. Everything I bought today happened to be vintage. I don't have photos of the non-kitchen things, but they were: a hand-made bright orange 1970's wheelchair bag that looked really cool and was never used which I bought for my 16 year-old; a record player and 5 vinyl albums including Cole Porter, Henry Mancini and Broadway show tunes and 2 costume jewelry bracelets and a silver teapot charm in a Hess's department store box (the box is probably worth more than the jewelry!).

Here are the kitchen items I picked up:

Vintage Tupperware.

A complete fondue set, unopened.

Some vintage cookie cutters, including:

Charlie Brown and Lucy,

A cute ghost,

Gingerbread woman and man, both big and little,

Various older shapes,

Very old Ball jars which read: Ball Ideal Pat'd July 14, 1906. Very cool.

Friday, October 10, 2008


The Great Gray Lump

Scrapple is made from exactly what one would expect: scraps. Its name is quite fitting then, no? It's one of those foods made from offal meats - the extras like innards and scraps left over from meat processing; something done quite often in leaner times and then carried over as tradition. Who knows, with the way things are going these days, we may be back to using every last piece of everything to make ends meet.

Mixed with seasonings and cornmeal, it's a type of meat pudding that is very commonly eaten here in Pennsylvania - especially for breakfast.

This is a very traditional recipe and not the way store bought scrapple is made any longer. If you want authentic, though - this is the way to go ... if you dare.

Printable Recipe

1 hog's head
Salt & pepper
Corn meal, yellow
1 teaspoon sage, powdered

Separate one hog's head into halves. Take out the eyes and brains.
Scrape and thoroughly clean the head.

Put into a large kettle and cover with 4 or 5 quarts of cold water.

Simmer gently for 2 or 3 hours, or until the meat falls from the bones.

Skim off grease carefully from the surface; remove meat, chop fine and return to the liquor.

Season with salt & pepper to taste and 1 tsp sage.

Sift in granulated yellow corn meal, stirring constantly, until the mixture
is thickened to the consistency of soft mush.

Cook slowly for 1 hour, watching carefully as it scorches easily.

When sufficiently cooked, pour into greased oblong tins and store in a cool place until ready
to use.

Cut in thin slices and fry in hot fat until crisp and brown.

Source: Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book - Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, 1936.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Which Pumpkin?

Not all pumpkins were created the same. The big guys are great for carving and roasted seeds, but did you know that they aren't the best for cooking? Take a look:

Making Pumpkin Puree
The little guys are sugar pumpkins. These are the ones you want to get the best pies. They are more dense, less stringy and smoother than larger pumpkins.

Making Pumpkin Puree

It's very simple to do. Cut the pumpkins in half and remove the seeds and extra "gunk".

Making Pumpkin PureeOnce the gunk is gone, set them, cut side down, on a parchment lined tray and pop into the oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Those really little guys were for the Pecan Pies in Pumpkin Shells that I did for Short Order Mom.

Roasted Pumpkins for Puree The softened pumpkins.

Making Pumpkin Puree Once they are cool enough to handle, start scooping the meat out with a spoon. Make sure to get it all!

Making Pumpkin Puree

Mere shells of their former selves.

Making Pumpkin Puree Pulp ready for the blender. Just pop it into the blender and puree until smooth.

Pumpkin Puree
Perfect Pumpkin Puree!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Copy Number Four

I didn't really need another, not at all. The fact that I have three already should have been enough to keep me from purchasing a fourth, but I had to. The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook was the first cookbook I ever used; the one I still turn to, and the one for which I am relentlessly seeking a specific edition.

My mom had this cookbook, of course, just like every other 60's/70's mom in the United States. When I wanted to make sugar cookies (which was quite often) it was the book I opened. When I baked my first loaf of bread, it was the recipe contained in those food-stained pages that I was drawn to.

When I taught in-home cooking lessons, it was the book I recommended to anyone just starting out. I still think it's the best book for beginning cooks. Every edition is different, updated, modernized, revamped. Each edition has a section or recipe or tip that I find I can't live without, so I keep them all.

My mom's copy is gone and I don't have any idea what edition it was, but I will keep searching until I find it, and until then, amassing as many editions as possible is just fine with me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Here are the winners of last month's two giveaways:

For the Weight Watchers Golden Sponge Cakes - Adopted Son and Jess!

For the La Cucina Italiana Magazine subscription - Mattbott of Italian Cooking!

Congratulations to all of you and thanks to everyone else for entering.

The KFC $10 Challenge? I'll Take That.

Have you seen the newest add campaign from KFC? It portrays a mother and two kids at a grocery store trying to rustle up the ingredients for a fried chicken meal without going over $10. They can't seem to clear this hurdle, so they head off to KFC for dinner, instead. You can watch the ad HERE.

I think with the recent financial woes this country is facing that this is just a bad idea. I can take that same $10 and make that meal twice. When was the last time you were at KFC? The so-called sides are pitifully small and the belief that you could really feed your family of 4 on a meal like that is even more pitiful.

Here's what they are pitching: 7 pieces of chicken (please note that they count wings as a full piece), one side and 4 biscuits. I know complete incompetents that could make that meal for less than $10.

Just in case you're wondering about the ability to accomplish this, check out the LOK/CWA Challenge from May/June, which was to feed your family for a dollar or less per person, and the submissions HERE. I'll be writing more on budget cooking soon, especially since we're all so in need of ideas lately, but for now, please don't be fooled by KFC and their claim.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Accidental Soup

If you cook like I do, you know exactly what "Accidental Soup" is. If not, let me enlighten you. Accidental Soup is one of those perfect soup moments created by 'throwing things together' from whatever is on-hand. The soup you wish you'd written a recipe for so you can re-create it.

I made one of those soups yesterday and, as usual, I didn't write anything down. I'll try to pass on what transpired, though and maybe you can make this for yourself.

I had quite a few potatoes sitting around that I cooked at the same time I cooked potatoes for the Sausage Pasty I posted. It's gotten so chilly here that it seemed the perfect time to use them up in potato soup. The combination of sausage and potato in the pasties was so good that I wanted to carry it on, so I made this potato/cheddar/sausage soup and everyone, even the pickiest eaters, loved it. I have to say, it was really good - I even had some for lunch today.

Potato, Sausage and Cheddar Soup
Printable Recipe

1 pound bulk sausage
5 large potatoes - cooked and diced
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage

Break up sausage and brown well in a large and heavy soup pot.
Add potatoes, stock, milk, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 - 45 minutes; use the longer time for a thicker soup. Mash slightly with a potato masher if you like and add cheddar cheese. Remove from heat, stir well and serve.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sausage Pasty

Sausage Pasty

Non-traditional, but oh-so-good, these pasties go together easily and bake quickly for a warm and delicious handheld Autumn dinner.

Delicious Insides!

Sausage Pasty
Printable Recipe

3 large potatoes, boiled and crushed (between a dice and a mash)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 country-style sausages, cooked and diced small
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together well and set aside to make dough.

Pasty Dough:

2 sticks butter
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
flour, as needed - (anywhere from 3 to 4 cups)

Melt butter in a saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add salt and flour, a cup at a time, stirring constantly until a smooth dough forms. Remove from heat. The dough is correct when it pulls away from the sides of the pan and is pliable. Let cool to room temperature, covered.

Separate dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a circle, about 8 inches in diameter. Drop 1/8 of the sausage and potato mixture into the center of each circle. Fold dough over sausage mixture and seal edges well. Vent each pasty by making a small cut into the top of dough. Bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in a 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What's in the Bag?

That's a big bag.

That's a LOT of apples!

One of the perfect pies that were made.

Anne's Apple Pie
Not Mom's, but still good.
Printable Recipe

1 recipe double crust pie dough
5-6 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced

Mix together:

1/2 c sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I really prefer freshly grated)

1-2 Tablespoons flour

Place bottom pie crust into a 9" pie pan and sprinkle evenly with the flour. Put half of the apples in the pan and sprinkle with half of the sugar and spice mixture. Top with remaining apples and sugar. Top with crust, crimp edges and vent-I like to use a small star shaped cookie cutter and then replace the cut out dough offset slightly on top of the opening

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes until apples are soft and crust is golden brown.

Double Crust Pie Dough

3 c flour
1 c shortening
salt-I use about 1/2 teaspoon
6-7 Tablespoons ice water
Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse meal or small peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time until dough forms well. Let stand 10 minutes under an overturned bowl before rolling to desired thickness.