Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Accidental Asparagus Pesto...

WOW what an accident!  I am always looking for new and different recipes for anything - fish,chicken, pasta, rice, vegetables, potatoes, sandwiches, you name it.  Sometimes recipes come from a piece of this recipe and a piece of that that recipe.  Sometime they are born from the ingredients in my fridge that day and sometimes they are created from a mistake I made in the kitchen.  At this point you can probably guess how accidental pesto came about.

I set out to make oven roasted asparagus to put over pasta.  I chop up my asparagus and onion, season it and into the oven it goes.  Well much to my dismay 20 minutes later my asparagus was not getting crisp it frankly was not doing much of anything but lying there among the onion.  So I taste it - just OK and a bit flat - what went wrong?  I over crowded the pan and I cut the asparagus too small so they steamed instead of roasted.   The onion caramelized nicely - not what I intended either.  I have some slightly soggy asparagus and brown caramel colored onions so now what???  Not the dish I was hoping for but in reality it was.  I go to the pantry and I search the contents.  Diced tomatoes - no good, extra virgin olive oil - maybe, chicken stock - nope not a good match, walnuts - well now we might have something.  I grab the walnuts and head two steps back to the kitchen to create something amazing.

I toss the walnuts into the food processor, I add the asparagus to the walnuts and I whir it up.   A beautiful pesto is well on its way. I taste it and I am wowed by the flavors.  I add some salt and pepper and a tad of extra virgin olive oil .  Taste again decide a little goat cheese will take this pesto to the next level and Viola!

I know I did not create something new in the culinary world but with a few simple ingredients and a simple concept a beautiful and delicious dish now finds a new home in my recipe box and in yours!  ENJOY...

Accidental Asparagus Pesto

1 Bunch Asparagus (cut into small bite size pieces)
1 Large Onion (diced)
Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Hot Pepper Flakes
1 Cup Walnuts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz. Smooth Goat Cheese
Pasta (your choice; I prefer Penne)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spread asparagus and onion evenly on a baking sheet
Season with salt/pepper and red pepper flakes
Coat with olive oil and toss well
Place in oven to cook 30 minutes till asparagus is very soft
Cool for 15 minutes
In two batches place 1/2 walnuts and 1/2 asparagus/onion mixture in
Food processor and blend till smooth
Transfer to a bowl and repeat
Once second batch is blended add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and
Goat cheese to mixture and blend again till Incorporated
Add this mixture to the previous blended mixture in the bowl and
Stir well to incorporate
Cook pasta according to directions
Drain pasta well and spoon desired amount of pesto onto pasta and
Toss till coated evenly
Store unused pesto, covered in the fridge for 2 days or freeze for 6 months

Take II - Left over pesto is a nice addition to grilled fish or chicken

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Apollo Needs A Home...

This is a little off topic today...
Something other than a recipe from my blog and Extremely Important!  

This sweet little guy needs a home.  Apollo is currently up for adoption and he needs to find his forever home very soon.  Tony and I know first hand that he is a true sweetie pie just looking for love and a family and we know this because recently Tony began volunteering at the Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter.  Apollo has an incrediable personality - he might just be the mascot at the shelter - he walks nice on the leash and he is eager to give love and kisses.  Please lets try to get him adopted.  I know that someone out needs a companion like Apollo to share their life with!  Call me or e-mail me with questions and pass on the word.   Thank you so much!  

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tony & Toni Go On A Road Trip...

Tony, my beautiful assistant, and I took Forkful of Simplicity on a road trip last Friday and what a great day it was.  We were invited to host a food sample demonstration at the corporate office of Dress Barn in Suffern, New York that my sister, Nicole - the assistant accessory buyer - arranged for us!

Dress Barn Corporate is extremely employee oriented and often hosts various vendors, on site yoga classes, and many more activities.  So it was the perfect opportunity to spend some time in the cafe of the corporation with a soup and snack sample from Forkful of Simplicity Cookbook.

So onward and upward to the north we go.  The Garden State Parkway to the New York Thruway with our crock pot in tow - this is the second time in a short period of time our crock pot has traveled.

We arrive early to set up and we are warmly welcomed by Diane who takes us to the section of the cafe we will be occupying for the next few hours.  She helps us settle in and even gives us a tablecloth.  Tony and I set up the crock pot of Jersey Corn Chowder and we fill the Tostitos Scoops with the black bean deliciousness creating the original Moschello Black Bean Bite!

For the next four hours we talk about Forkful of Simplicity Cookbook, we talk about our blogs, we answer questions, gave out tons of samples, spend some time with Nicole, met some of the nicest people, have our picture taken by Gerri, and sell some Forkful of Simplicity Cookbooks. We are well received and got so many compliments on our soup and bites.  We were invited back to do a summer sample menu in a few months.  I am telling you it really was a great day.

Thank you Nicole and Dress Barn Corporate for hosting Forkful of Simplicity.  We cannot wait to come back for take II.

Jersey Corn Chowder
1 Large Onion (chopped)
2 Cloves Garlic (Chopped)
Vegetable Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flake
2 Boxes Frozen Corn (10 oz. each)
3 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Cup Half/Half
6-8 Slices Pre-Cooked Bacon (cut into bite size pieces)

Over medium heat coat the bottom of a Dutch Oven (or stock pot) with vegetable oil
Add onions and garlic
Cook till soft about 5-7 minutes
Add red pepper flake and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes
Add corn, cook additional 2 minutes
Season with salt/pepper
Add broth and half/half
Bring to a boil then turn down heat to simmer for 15 minutes
***Allow soup to cool
Transfer half of the soup to blender and puree till smooth
Return pureed soup to pot
Re-season if necessary with salt/pepper
Stir in bacon...Enjoy

***Be careful when blending hot foods - make sure soup is cool enough to handle before pureeing

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Monday, February 13, 2012

An Easy Lover's Day Menu...

Happy Valentine's Day! A holiday filled with love and devotion for the ones we hold nearest and dearest is upon us and what a better way to celebrate than with a home cooked meal.  This dinner selection is for the new cook, the old cook and everyone in between.  Nothing too fancy or complicated but your dinner will be nothing short of spectacular. Go get some roses, a nice big box of chocolates, light the candles, take out the good china, and share some great food with your someone special. This menu selection is given to you from my heart to yours and I hope that your meal is filled with much love and happiness!  Enjoy...

Steak Sicilian - Everyone Loves A Sicilian 
2 Filet Mignons
Vegetable Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper
Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Preheat Oven to Broil
Lightly coat steaks with vegetable oil
Season steaks with pepper
Press breadcrumbs onto both sides of steak
Brush nonstick cookie sheet with vegetable oil
Place steaks on cookie sheet
Broil each side of steak 5-6 minutes for medium rare
Broil longer for desired doneness

Lemon Kissed Orzo
1/2 lb. Orzo Pasta
1 Lemon (zested and juiced)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cook pasta according to directions and drain well
While pasta is still warm season with salt/pepper
Add zest and juice of the lemon
Drizzle with oil
Toss till pasta is coated
Serve warm or cold
***If serving cold refrigerate for at least 1 hour***

Bundles of Mushrooms

1lb. Mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 Cup Butter
Tablespoons Minced Onion
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice

In a large pan over medium heat melt the butter till brown about 5 minutes
Add mushrooms to butter
Season with salt/pepper
Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium low heat
Add lemon juice and serve warm

***If making this dish ahead of time allow the mushrooms to cool
Place mushrooms in air tight container and refrigerate
When you are ready to serve mushrooms bring to room temperature
Place mushrooms in microwave safe container and warm for 10 minutes
Turn once and serve warm***

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have A Heart...

February is a month filled with lots of action...

The Superbowl - which by the way was a great Giants victory;

Groundhog Day - which could have been skipped in New Jersey this year since winter has not even started yet;

Pet Dental Health Month - my greyhounds are going for a cleaning in two weeks; and

So many other bizarre -Library Lovers Month and National Care About Your Indoor Air Month - and not so bizarre celebrations to include Valentine's DayFat TuesdayAsh Wednesday and Black History Month.

With all of this celebrating it is easy to forget that February is also American Heart Month and heart disease is the Number 1 killer of women.  That's right we are not taking care of the ticker.  Stress, nutrition, smoking, as well as other factors all lead to heart disease.  Small changes can make a big impact on your heart so follow this link, get some great information and take heart in knowing that there is plenty of information available to you to prevent heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and many more unpleasant heart related aliments.

From my heart to yours celebrate February in a heart healthy way. Be kind to your heart and celebrate National Nutella Day (which is February 5), Elmo's Birthday (February 3) relive our nations history, and invite some friends over to celebrate national embroidery and termite month!

Heart Healthy Cod...

1 lb. Cod Fish
1 Can Artichoke Hearts (drained and quartered)
4 Large Roasted Red Peppers (sliced)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
Place cod on tin foil and season both sides with salt/pepper
Evenly top with artichokes hearts then with roasted peppers
Drizzle with oil
Bake for 15- 20 minutes or until the cod is opaque and flaky
Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes and slice into 4 equal pieces

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Drum Roll Please...

The winner if the Forkful of Simplicity Comment Contest is...
Rhea for her fridge comment -
Wow buggin!!! 
Congrats Rhea you win a dinner cooked by yours truly. Thank you to everyone who made a comment for the contest. Keep the comments coming. 
It means so much when you take the time to 
cook and comment!  

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Menu From Forkful of Simplicity Cookbook...

Well here we are the first day of February already...where in the world did the month of January go?  We were just celebrating New Year's now we are getting ready for Super Bowl and Valentine's Day.  Time really does go fast and it should not be wasted on endless hours of Internet searching for the perfect game day menu for the Big Blue Super Bowl this weekend!  Search no more you can rest assured that this menu is sure to please any guest, even the vegetarians, at your Super Bowl party this Sunday.   Call, email and text your friends, stock the fridge, get the chips, make this meal and enjoy the game...

BBQ Pulled Turkey Biscuit Sandwiches
Express Sweet Potato Fries
Kicked Up Black Bean Cakes with Lime Topping

BBQ Pulled Turkey Biscuit Sandwiches
2 lb. Turkey London Broil
Garlic Powder
Salt / Pepper 
1 Medium Onion (sliced)
1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce
1 Bottle of Beer (Preferably a Wheat Beer Such as Sam Adams)
Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
Sliced Cheddar Cheese

Place turkey in crock pot and season with garlic powder, salt / pepper
Top turkey with sliced onions
Pour entire bottle of BBQ sauce over turkey
Pour in 3/4 of the bottle of beer
Cover and cook for 4 hours on high
After 4 hours uncover and add remaining beer
Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the turkey is cooked
through and the juices run clear
Remove from crock pot and shred
Serve on a biscuit with thinly sliced cheddar cheese melted over top

Express Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potatoes (peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch long slices)
Vegetable Oil
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with vegetable oil, salt/pepper and garlic powder
Place potatoes on cookie sheet in a single layer
Bake 10 minutes
Turn once and bake 10 additional minutes or until golden brown
Remove from oven
Sprinkle with salt
Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving

Kicked Up Black Bean Cakes
2 Cans Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic (pressed)
1 Jalapeno (minced)
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Large Sweet Potato (peeled and coarsely grated into 2 cups)
1 Egg (beaten)
1/2 Breadcrumb
Lime Sour Cream (recipe below)
Special Equipment...Fork or Potato Masher

Heat oven broiler
In a medium skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add garlic, jalapeno and cumin
Cook till fragrant about 30 seconds
Transfer mixture to a large bowl
Add beans to mixture and mash with a fork or masher, leaving 1/4 of beans whole
Season generously with salt/pepper
Fold in sweet potato, egg and breadcrumb
Brush baking sheet with remaining olive oil
Divide into 10-12 balls of equal size and flatten into patties
Place patties on baking sheet
(Up to this point patties can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake in the oven)
Broil 4 inches from heat until golden brown about 8-10 minutes
Carefully turn patties and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes
Remove from oven and cool slightly
Top with Lime Sour Cream

Lime Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Reduced Fat Sour Cream
2 Teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice

In a bowl combine sour cream and lime juice
Season with salt

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