Archive for July, 2007



I was recently in an Italian bakery in the next town over buying some cookies and happened to notice they also sold pizza dough. I’ve actually never made pizza at home using real pizza dough. I’ve used Pillsbury pizza dough once or twice at it’s good for what it is, but never really tasted like your local pizza joint. So I bought a big ball of some pizza dough from the bakery and decided to try it out for the first time. I wanted to make a basic pizza and keep it simple so I bought a jar of Cento San Marzano crushed tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella from my local farmer’s market.


To start, I whipped up a quick sauce using the crushed tomatoes. I prefer to use San Marzano tomatoes any time I make a red sauce, a.k.a. gravy. I started with finely dicing up a 1/4 of an onion and one large garlic clove and sauteing in some good quality extra virgin olive oil. Once that was golden and fragrant, I added the tomatoes, sea salt, garlic powder, some sugar (to help the acidity), and some fresh basil from my garden.


Once the sauce had time to develop its flavors, I started rolling out the dough. That took about three times to get it right! I’ve never worked with pizza dough before so I had some difficulty rolling it out. Once I finally got the shape and size I desired I laid it on my pizza stone and added my sauce. Next I topped it with some of the wonderful fresh mozzarella. I then added some thinly sliced red onion to half of the pizza for my husband. I topped it off with some more basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


I baked it in the oven at about 375 degrees for a good 25 minutes. I think it stayed in about five minutes too long. Although it was tasty, the crust was extra crispy and the cheese was a little too hard. It was very quick to make and I actually prefer it to any pizzeria around us. I’d also not use my stone next time as I think that’s what caused it to overcook too quickly. One minute it didn’t looked nearly done, two minutes later, the cheese was browning. But overall it had nice flavors and we enjoyed it!

Overall rating – 4 stars



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Mangia Giambotta!


Every summer, somehow I manage to get my hands on some giant zucchini despite not having a vegetable garden of my own. This year, one of my mother’s co-workers was blessed with an overabundance of zucchini and decided to share the wealth with her. Lucky for me, I was able to share to as my mother handed over some squash (she also gave me some cubano/frying peppers from her own garden). 

My mother suggested making the same thing she was making every time we have a large amount of zucchini – giambotta. Giambotta is a hearty Italian vegetable stew chock full of fresh garden vegetables and herbs that stews over a long period of time until the flavors have developed. Everyone has their own recipes on what is thrown in. My mother, whom I’ve learned the recipe from, keeps hers simple (but still tasty) – zucchini, tomatos, onions, garlic, herbs. I throw in whatever I have around. I prefer to eat this as is, but sometimes my mom would serve it over marconi.

Because I had so much zucchini, I made two batches over the weekend. The first batch, was served as is. I topped my bowl off with some grated cheese and a drizzle of very good extra virgin olive oil. My husband ate his plain. For the second batch, I served it over macaroni. As much as I heart carbs, I actually prefer giambotta alone. You really get to appreciate the flavors melding together.

I think the key thing to making a flavorful giambotta is using as many fresh ingredients as you can. I used fresh zucchini, peppers, potatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs from my garden (basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme). I also threw in a can of sliced mushrooms, though I recommend fresh. The one ingredient both my mother and I prefer canned to fresh is diced tomatoes. I think the juice from canned tomatoes is more plentiful than fresh tomatoes and helpful to the dish.

Also, I think it helps to add something starchy. I would have added cannelini beans instead of potatoes, but the hubby dislikes them. The potatoes were a wonderful accompanient nonetheless.

This is a great way to use up your veggies during the summer. Either serve alone with some crusty bread or over some pasta. Be prepared for large batches of leftovers!

Overall rating – 5 stars



2-3 onions, diced

6 garlic cloves sliced thin (you may use more or less depending on your tastes)

1 extra large zucchini, diced

3-4 cubano/frying peppers, sliced thin

1 can sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained or 1 cup fresh, sliced mushrooms

2-3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed

fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme if you have)

garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil

Add a few teaspons of olive oil to large pot or dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium to low heat until almost clear. Add zucchini and peppers, cook 5-10 minutes until they begin to soften and carmelize. Add diced tomatoes and potatoes and all seasonings. Cover slight and let cook over slow, low heat for about 45 minutes. Add canned mushrooms in the last five minutes. If using fresh, add with zucchini and peppers. Also, adjust seasoning as you go along. Potatoes should be cooked through when done. Drizzle with cheese and olive oil if desired.


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Italian-Style Grilled Steak


Here’s the first of a few Cooking Light recipes that have turned into a treasure hunt using their online search engine… Summer is all about grilling for me (well, actually my husband, since I don’t know how to turn on the grill). As much as I love to cook, I cannot stand being in the kitchen with the oven on during the summer, even with the air conditioning on. Therefore, we do a ton of grilling over the hot months.

This recipe for Italian-Style Grilled Steak from the June 2007 issue of Cooking Light seemed like a nice way to use up some of the fresh herbs from my garden and a new way to marinate some meat. Instead of rib-eye, we used london broil and I did not serve it with spaghetti (low-carbing it, well at least trying). I served it with a tomato-basil tart (post to come soon), but it would also be nice with some fresh veggies and a salad. The steak grilled perfectly and the marinade was tasty and different. I have a lot of marinades I like to use with my steaks and this wasn’t my favorite, but still worth repeating, especially in the summer when I have an overabundance of lemon and thyme.

Overall rating – 3.5 stars


Italian-Style Grilled Steak

The family enjoyed a steak dish similar to this on a family trip to Italy. Drizzling the cooked steak with olive oil is a traditional finishing touch, so this dish calls for your best-quality oil. Freeze the beef for 10 to 15 minutes to make it easier to slice. Garnish with fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs.

1 (1-pound) beef rib-eye steak, trimmed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
4 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 4 ounces uncooked pasta)
4 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
Cut beef across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Combine beef, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate beef in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Prepare grill.Remove beef from bag, discarding marinade. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Place beef on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 1 minute on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with pasta. Drizzle oil over beef and pasta. Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak, 1 cup pasta, and 1 teaspoon oil)CALORIES 489 (41% from fat); FAT 22.2g (sat 7.3g,mono 10.5g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 36.6g; CHOLESTEROL 126mg; CALCIUM 37mg; SODIUM 300mg; FIBER 1.7g; IRON 3.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.8g Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

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Just checking in…

Dear readers,

I want to apologize for the delay in posts. I was away last weekend and had a busy week at work and am trying to catch up this weekend. I have several recipes to review, all of which, unfortunately, are from Cooking Light. I would have had a post  up earlier this week, but for some reason, Cooking Light’s search engine refuses to cooperate. I have been unable to find any of the recipes ready for review. They are all with the exception of one (from several years ago) from the July 2007 issue. I’ve emailed their customer service several days ago but have received NO response. I have begun trying to search again on their website and as soon as I can find the recipes to link up to, you’ll have some new posts.

Thanks for your patience.

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Zucchini Tart


Ok, I have to admit, I really changed this recipe around which could be way it came out so horrible, but then again, maybe not. I saw this recipe for a Zucchini-Gruyere Tart in Rachael Ray’s magazine that someone had given me a copy of. As I’ve mentioned in some other posts, I’m not a big fan of RR and have found her recipes to be inconsistent. I have about five or so that are quite good and the rest I’ve tried are horrible. I’d place this recipe in the latter, but again, is it because I deviated so far from the original recipe??

For starters, I did not use gruyere. I just don’t like it and it’s quite an expensive cheese at my grocery store. Instead I used a mixture of mozzerella and paremsean. Those two cheeses are awesome on their own!!! Secondly, I used Italian bread crumbs instead of plain. Why you ask even though I had plain bread crumbs? Because for some reason I purchased the value pack of 2 GIANT containers at Costco despite the fact that I rarely use bread crumbs soooo I’ve been trying to find ways to use them up. Plus I thought Italian bread crumbs + mozzarella + parmesean = TASTY. Thirdly, I probably only used 3-4 tablespoons of the butter instead of the 6 it called for in the recipe. I just thought it was too much butter fat & calorie-wise. I also admit to not using all of the salt for health-conscious reasons as well (to get some of the liquid out of the zucchini).

The result, well….it looked pretty. The taste was just blah. Despite using less salt, it was very salty. Maybe because of the cheeses? Maybe because of the already seasoned breadcrumbs? The crust fell apart. Again, maybe my own fault for not using all of the butter as noted? But the overall taste was just bland. This is probably one of the recipes I’ve deviated from the most, but honestly, I think even if I did follow it completely I can’t see how it would have tasted much better. It just did nothing for me. And to top it off, getting the zucchini prepared was a pain in the tush!

Do I recommend this recipe? Only if you make it according to directions, and then let me know how it turns out. But I am definitely not endorsing it. I promise to reveiw yummier recipes this week!!!!

Overall – 1 star

Zucchini-Gruyère Tart

From Every Day with Rachael Ray
May 2007



1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 4 ounces)

6 tablespoons butter, melted


1. Preheat the oven to 375º. In a colander, toss zucchini with the salt and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the thyme, rosemary, 1/4 cup Gruyère and the butter. Press the mixture evenly into a 10-inch springform pan and bake until set and golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400º.
3. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the zucchini. In a bowl, toss the zucchini and remaining 3/4 cup Gruyère. Season with pepper. Top the crust evenly with the zucchini mixture and bake until lightly golden, about 50 minutes. Run a knife around edge of the tart before removing the side of the pan.

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Tagged! New Meme!

The Home Cook from A Taste of Home blog tagged me for a meme!
INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so:

Vaguetarian Tea Room
Sugar and Lard
Kate in the Kitchen
A Byootaful Life
A Taste of Home
The Average Cook

Next, select five (I got three) people to tag:
Susan at The Well Seasoned Cook blog

Rebecca at Nothing But Crumbs blog

Jason at Newfound Blog

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago I was getting ready for the last Fall semester before graduating college. I was taking summer courses and spending my weekends at my rental house in Belmar, typical NJ thing for the young twenties set.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

One year ago I was just getting used to my new job (the one I got laid off from this year) and looking for a house to buy. In fact, it’s probably right about this time I found the house we bought.

Five snacks you enjoy:

Cheese, chocolate, peanut butter wheat cracker sandwiches, strawberries, Ralph’s Italian Ices

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:

Hmmm….Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel, Jump in the Line by Harry Belafonte, Paul Revere by the Beastie Boys, Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar, and It Had To Be You by Harry Connick Jr.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

Pay off my mortgage, pay off my student loans, move to Cape May and open a B&B, help the family out, and take everyone (family and close friends) on vacation to WDW.

Five bad habits:

Picking my cuticles, cursing, messy car, talking too much, holding a grudge

Five things you like doing:

cooking, writing, playing softball, reading, going to WDW!

Five things you would never wear again:

high waisted jeans, chunky heeled shoes, cuffed jeans, leggings, scrunchies (I stole some from The Home Cook, is it a Jersey thing?)

Five favorite toys:

Does this count? My ipod. That’s all I got.

That’s all folks.

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Red and Yellow Pepper Gratin


Happy Fourth of July everyone! Got to seem some fireworks last night and today have been listening to them go off ALL day in the neighborhood….

Here’s a nice vegetable side dish from the June 2007 issue of Cooking Light for a Red and Yellow Pepper Gratin, although I think they could have called it just Vegetable Gratin considering there are more than just peppers in it. Save this recipe for the weekend or when you have time to slave over the stove. It needs about an hour to cook and a good 25 minutes or so of prep time. And if you use sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil, add another 30 minutes on for hydrating them. I, on the other hand, use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil that I rinsed some oil off of. I had also forgotten to buy the Sourdough bread to make bread crumbs so I used pre-packaged Italian bread crumbs (plain would have been better though). I do think the bread crumbs overwhelmed the vegetables though, but they were so darn tasty.

I was surprised to see this in a June issue considering how long it had to bake and I really don’t like to have the oven going for that long in the heat of the summer. I would make this again but save it for a chilly wintry night. I served it with some baked chicken but would serve it with steak as well. Enjoy!

Overall rating – 3.5 stars

Red and Yellow Pepper Gratin

Fresh breadcrumbs enhance the texture of this dish. If you don’t have sourdough, any white bread will do.

1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 1/2 ounces sourdough bread
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Combine 1/2 cup boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch strips.Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine tomatoes and next 9 ingredients (through onion) in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil; toss gently. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil and cheese; pulse to combine. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over vegetables. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Yield: 6 servings

CALORIES 94 (34% from fat); FAT 3.5g (sat 0.7g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 3.4g; CHOLESTEROL 1mg; CALCIUM 57mg; SODIUM 327mg; FIBER 1.6g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.9g

Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

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