Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cabbage Beet Coleslaw

I have been trying hard to make sure that I do not waste any of my lovely CSA vegetables.  At the end of the week, I was left with a couple of beets, some shredded cabbage, bell peppers, and a cucumber.  Well, who knew that cabbage and beets could be such a winning combination?!  I stumbled upon this recipe for cabbage beet coleslaw from the kitchn.  I loved the complexity of flavors - sweetness from the beets and honey, crunch of the cabbage, acidity from the vinegar, citrus from orange zest, zing of the dijon, and the distinctive taste of the caraway - delightful.  I enjoyed this salad even more for lunch the next day.  The perfect way to use the cabbage and the beets. 

The next day I made stuffed bell peppers ( stuffed with ground turkey, arborio rice, locatelli romano cheese, bread crumbs and eggs).  I topped the peppers with homemade marinara and fresh mozzarella- delicious!  I served the peppers with a side of cucumber salad.  Another successful CSA week.  Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jersey Fresh and the Honor System

It is the simple things that make me happy and restore my faith in humanity.  In my area, there are many roadside stands where people put out home grown vegetables and a can or box to collect the proceeds; all on the honor system.  I love this particular stand on Victory Rd. in Howell, NJ.  It makes me smile.  Fresh eggs, honey, and home grown vegetables all available on the honor system - I love that it works!     

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Visit to Black Eyed Susan's Kitchen and a Favorite Recipe

When I began blogging just over a year ago, I had no idea of what to expect.  Actually, I thought that it would be a good way to keep track of recipes and to be able to share them with my daughters who are quickly growing up.  I also hoped that maybe, just maybe, someone might be interested in my perspective of New Jersey and what it has to offer to the food world.  I didn't realize what a great and large community exists and that food bloggers are some of the nicest people that I had never met. 

Well, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger this past week.  I commented on this post on Black Eyed Susan's Kitchen.  I expressed that I would love to see Susan's fabulous vintage recipes find and she responded with the generous offer to stop by and take a look.  I happily took her up on the offer and had a nice visit in Black Eyed Susan's Kitchen.  She has a lovely home and beautiful garden.  I also had the pleasure of meeting her three wonderful children. I happily perused the recipe collection of the 91-year-old foodie that Susan stumbled upon.  It was just amazing; there were recipes from everywhere-newspapers, friends, church members- all meticulously filed with lots of notes for ways they could be improved, substitutions, etc.  Apparently, the perfection cake recipe still needed improvement!  The recipes are from the 1950's and forward.  I also looked over Susan's massive cookbook collection - amazing!  I left with copies of recipes from the 91-year-old foodie, a zucchini from Susan's garden, and the friendship of a fellow blogger- how great is that?! 

A favorite in the vast collection seemed to be the Choir Cookies which I will be making and posting as soon as the weather cools down.    In the meantime, I will share one of my most requested recipes for zucchini casserole. 

Below is my adaptation of a family favorite recipe that my mother acquired from an Italian neighbor when I was a child.  The garlic bread topping is so delicious!   Removing the bread crusts would make it prettier but I hate to waste.  I guarantee that you will love this simple, rustic casserole!  Every time I make this, the entire 9 X 12 pan is devoured.  I'm actually guilty of eating the leftovers (if any) for breakfast - it's that good!

Please don't let the fact that it looks kind of sloppy or the far-from-artisan bread cubes deter you from trying this! 

Zucchini Casserole
6-8 medium zucchini sliced crosswise 1/2" thick 
1 large onion diced
3 tbs. butter
3 tbs. olive oil
1  28 oz. can whole peeled San Marzano or plum tomatoes
1  28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3/4 - 1 cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese
Salt to taste
approx. 10 slices white bread - cubed (enough to cover the casserole)
garlic butter - melted butter with garlic salt

Steam the sliced zucchini until tender and drain well (I blot it with paper towels). Meanwhile, dice the onion and saute it in the butter and olive oil until the onion is tender and transluscent. Add the canned tomatoes, cheese and salt to taste to the onions. Crush the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon and simmer about 30 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add the tomato mixture to the zucchini in a large casserole dish (9X12). Top the dish with cubed white bread and drizzle with garlic butter. Place in the oven at 375 degrees until the casserole is heated through and the bread is lightly toasted and brown.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grimaldi's in Brooklyn

My daughters and a friend went to a concert on Governors Island (between Brooklyn and Manhattan) to celebrate my daughter Cailyn's birthday.  Still uncomfortable with the idea of them navigating their way into the City alone and returning late at night, the plan was to drive in and then my husband and I would continue on to knock two things off of my bucket list: 1. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and 2. Eat pizza at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn.   I chickened out about walking the bridge due to the forecast of scattered thunderstorms with potentially dangerous lightning.  I figured on top of the Brooklyn Bridge is most likely not the safest place to be in an electrical storm!  Luckily the weather held out and no storms materialized. 

Matt and I drove across the Bridge and got on line for the famous Grimaldi's pizza.  The shop next door even rents chairs for $3, and offers of $1 dollar water bottles came from strangers.  We waited outside for about 50 minutes before we got the much anticipated call to come in.  We were seated with six other couples at a table for eight.  They made use of every bit of floor space.  The tables were cute with checkered tablecloths and the walls were littered with celebrity photos.  I anticipated this being a one time deal, although with a certain charm it was touristy, loud, crowded - but then came the pizza.   The pizza was perfect!  The crust reminded me of my beloved NJ tomato pies, but the sauce was different as was the sauce to cheese ratio.  The cheese was a good whole milk mozzarella.  I loved it!  We then proceeded to take a walk in the lovely waterfront park down the street.  The views are amazing!  I'll have to return on a cooler and clear night to walk the Bridge and would love to take a pizza to go and eat it in the park. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Prosciutto

I have been meaning to check out a local farm for some time and finally made it over when the farmers were there.  The farm is Merrick Farm in Farmingdale, NJ and I just love it.   An interesting fact is that scenes from the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds were filmed at the farm. The farmers, Juan and Susan, are such nice, friendly people.  They oozed passion for organic farming and even have grass fed beef available from their own cows!  They also run a CSA and since it was a pick up day when I went by, a lot of produce and fresh eggs were gone.  They did have Swiss chard, kale, arugula, and fresh garlic.  I didn't want to leave empty handed so I picked up two bunches of the fresh picked arugula and some fresh garlic.  My daughter and I took pictures at the farm which I will post soon.  I will be back at the farm to buy some beef. 

I have been craving grilled peaches since I saw this delicious salad on Stacey Snacks.  I decided that the arugula would be perfect with grilled peaches and I added some crispy prosciutto and goat cheese.  I tossed the salad with grapeseed oil and reduced balsamic vinegar.  Before grilling the peaches, I sprinkled them with light brown sugar and a little balsamic a la this Williams-Sonoma recipe.  My daughter Cailyn stated that this was the best salad she has ever had!  Peppery, sweet, salty, tangy, salad goodness.  Delicious! 

Today is my baby's 18th birthday and we will be in New York City.  Happy Birthday Cailyn!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Best Swiss Chard and Pasta Recipe

I absolutely adored this pasta recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.  It was so easy to make and the flavors worked together beautifully.  I loved the bitterness of the chard combined with the sweet onions and tomatoes, the brininess of the Kalamata olives, the crunch of the pine nuts, and the sharpness of the Romano cheese - perfect!  The recipe calls for whole wheat spaghetti but I had fresh linguine on hand.  I used only one large bunch of Swiss chard and one large onion but otherwise followed the recipe.  I am hoping for Swiss chard in my CSA box again this week and I will happily eat another plate of this delicious pasta!  This pasta is also super healthy and only contains one tablespoon of olive oil. 

Every so often I stop by Casa Di Trevi in Roselle Park, NJ to pick up some fresh pasta.  You can easily pass this place by since it is in a warehouse on the side of a busy four-lane highway.   They are mainly a wholesaler that sells pasta to restaurants and specialty stores but there is a small retail store.  I have tried their fresh cut pastas and homemade ravioli - delicious!  Their fresh linguine was perfect with the Swiss chard recipe. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roasted Zucchini and Tomato over Angel Hair Pasta

I love simple meatless pasta dishes in the summertime.  I also really like roasting vegetables since it is such a healthy and delicious cooking method.  I had lots of zucchini on hand and also some fresh New Jersey tomatoes and fresh dug garlic from a local farm so I came up with a quick pasta dish. 

I sliced two zucchinis into half moons and cut up two tomatoes into large chunks.  I added two cloves of thinly sliced fresh garlic and tossed the vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper.   I roasted the vegetables on a sheet pan at 400 degrees.  When the vegetables were nearly done, I cooked some fresh angel hair pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.  I topped the pasta with the roasted vegetables and deglazed the baking sheet with the reserved pasta water to release any delicious bits stuck on the pan and added it on top of the pasta.  I topped the pasta with fresh chopped basil and crumbled feta cheese.  Easy and delicious!  The only down side was turning on the oven in our seemingly never ending heat wave! 

I am happily on vacation this week.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cranberry Tuna Salad

I love the cranberry tuna salad at Whole Foods!  It is addictive, which is something that I never would have thought that I would say about tuna salad.  While searching around, I discovered that I am certainly not alone and many have tried to recreate this salad.   I am not sure how close this came to the Whole Foods recipe but it sure was delicious.  There may not be dill in the Whole Foods recipe but I like the flavor.  I came across variations with additions of celery, carrots, lemon juice, parsley, and slivered almonds.  The combination of tuna and cranberries is so good! 

2 cans albacore tuna drained and finely flaked
Hellmann's mayonnaise to taste (I used about 1/3 cup)
1 small onion diced
1/3 tsp. dried dill
3 tablespoons dried cranberries

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

There are crisps, crumbles, brown betties, slumps, sonkers, grunts and pandowdies but I am going with the buckle as my favorite type of fruit cobbler.  Yes, definitely, hands down, the buckle.  I absolutely loved this recipe.  I had it last night for dessert and again this morning for breakfast -  be warned the buckle is dangerous but also crazy delicious! 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trader Joe's is Coming to Monmouth County NJ!

I have been making my monthly pilgrimages to Trader Joe's in Westfield or West Windsor for quite some time.  I really like many of their pantry and ready-made items.  I find the selection to be similar to that of Costco, which I also like, but in much more reasonable quantities.   The cheese selection is particularly nice and inexpensive.  Trader Joe's is now coming to nearby Shrewsbury, NJ - yay!!   No wine at this location, however - oh well.  I am just happy that they are inching closer to home!  

Panino di Prosciutto e Fontina - Recipe Courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

My panini grill came in handy this week as I refused to turn on the oven - it has been absolutely sweltering here!  I made these delicious paninis in minutes.  Two slices of fontina cheese, one slice of prosciutto di parma, fresh spinach leaves, freshly ground black pepper on sliced Italian bread brushed with olive oil and grilled - simple and just perfect!  Look for fontina at you local TJ's!  Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Favorite Potato Salad

My family is very picky about potato salad. My husband hates pickles in his potato salad, my one daughter despises hard boiled eggs, and the other doesn't like a lot of mayo or it to be “pickly.” I don't like raw white onions in mine. No one likes hard potatoes. Yes, we are hard to please when it comes to potato salad! Well, I came across this recipe for Creamy Dijon-Dill Potato Salad and we all loved it! Yes, we all loved it! It is my new favorite potato salad recipe. The only change I made was to use red potatoes since that is what I had in the house. Thank you Dave Lieberman!

Here in NJ we are having a major heat wave - over 90 degrees every day, and it was over 100 yesterday. Even the beach doesn't offer much relief. The grill is our friend, as is the pool! Stay cool!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fresh New Jersey Blueberries - Emery's

This time each year I have to take a ride out to New Egypt, NJ for the world's best blueberries at Emery's Berry Farm.  The farm is organic which is great since blueberries are on the "dirty dozen" list of foods that you should only eat organic.  You can pick your own berries or buy freshly picked in their farm store.  Warning!  Once you enter the farm store I guarantee that you will leave with unplanned purchases!  They have gorgeous fresh baked goods and lots more (jams, jellies, syrup, honey, granola...).  We picked up an apple butter barbecue sauce and some delicious blueberry pastries. 

Unfortunately, farming is so weather dependent and while the weather here in NJ has been perfect for beachgoers - 30 days without rain and most days above 90 degrees - the weather is hurting the blueberry production.  We also had a late frost this year.  The farm still had plenty of berries but limited purchases to four pints per customer.  We happily bought up our four pints. 

Did you know that the official fruit of New Jersey is the blueberry and it was first cultivated in Whitesbog, NJ?  Blueberries are not only delicious; they are high in nutrition and contain antioxidants.  I would love to know your favorite recipe for blueberries.  I want to make good use of the beautiful berries.  Since I am off from work today, we are enjoying a late breakfast of what else? - blueberry pancakes!

You can see how dry the fields are - so sad!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kielbasa from Pulaski Meats in Linden, NJ

One of the best things about living in New Jersey is the availability of so many different types of authentic and delicious ethnic foods.  Over the Fourth of July weekend everyone loves to cook out and traditionally I think hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, etc.  Well my daughter Ashley suggested grilled kielbasa which she discovered that she really likes when she had it at a picnic at college.  I grew up eating kielbasa and I do like it but don't think to make it often.  I guess that I never really introduced it to my daughters - surprising.

Not far from where I work is a wonderful Polish delicatessen and market, Pulaski Meats in Linden, NJ.  When you walk through the doors you are hit with the most wonderful aroma of smoked meats.  Every type of Polish delicacy is here at your disposal - meats, breads, desserts, pantry items, and homemade pickles.  They serve a fantastic kielbasa and sauerkraut sandwich for $3.50.  Polish is the language spoken at the store and I felt like I stepped into Eastern Europe.  I had my camera in tow and planned to take some photos but alas a dead battery.  So, I grabbed a homemade kielbasa, potato and onion pierogies, a loaf of hearth baked rye bread, a few pickles and headed home to grill.  The kielbasa was perfectly spiced - just delicious, and the pierogies were the best I've ever had.  It was a great quick dinner and the perfect start to the holiday weekend. 

Sauerkraut and Onions
adapted from Aaron McCargo Jr.

2 tablespoons melted butter
1- 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 sliced onion
3 cups drained sauerkraut
chopped parsley

Melt the butter and sugar (depending on your taste) in a saute pan and cook until it becomes golden.  Next add the sliced onion and saute until softened and lightly golden.  Add the drained sauerkraut and heat thoroughly.  Lastly add the chopped parsley.  Serve with the grilled kielbasa and a good mustard for dipping.

Photo from the Pulaski Meat Products website

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spring Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Fresh roasted beets are so delicious and are nothing like the dreaded canned, pickled variety!  The beets are nice and sweet once roasted - just lovely in a salad.  I washed the beets then individually wrapped them in aluminum foil and roasted at 375 for about an hour.  Once roasted it is easy to peel the beets by rubbing the skin off with your fingers.  I sliced the beets once cooled to room temperature and added them to some mixed baby greens tossed lightly with white balsamic vinaigrette and topped with crumbled goat cheese.  My family loved this salad and since I got a lot more beets in my CSA box this week, it will be making an appearance again soon! 


1 small diced shallot
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup olive oil

Combine the shallot and vinegar.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.