Caponata , on Everything!

One of my favorite things about Summer is fresh produce. I love nothing better than a fresh market basket to bring home and cook up. My tendency is to go Italian. I love tomatoes, herbs and olive oil.

Eggplant is the purple nemace from my childhood. Now I find I can make it in so many tasty and unique ways. It seems to grow so well here in the Central Pennsylvania soil. So, as the PA Dutch say, WASTE NOT WANT NOT! Gather it when it is on sale and plentiful. So lets make this tasty “salad”.

I start by warming a LARGE frying pan with a thin layer of olive oil and minced garlic. When I am making any dish starting this way , the more garlic the better. I often can use up to 7 cloves. Once you have the Garlic Oil ready, you are ready to add your onions. My preference for this dish is always RED onion. They are colorful, sweet and hold their integrity in the dish. If I have a red , orange or green pepper I add it to the dish as well. Both the onion and the pepper need to be in a rough chop. Finally comes the star of the show. Leaving the skin on , chop the eggplant into one inch cubes. Eggplant will get watery if you add salt, hold that until the end. After adding the eggplant to the pan, drizzle with more olive oil , stir it all together and cover the pan. I watch the pan stirring in 3 minute increments. Once you have all the ingredients in and cooked, herb time has arrived. Your ingredients should not be mushy, FORK TENDER! I always use fresh, because I have them. Parsley, Oregano, Basil and now salt to taste. This can be served warm alone, an amazing pasta addition, meat topper or I have even had it with eggs. As you can tell I love my Vegetables.

ANYONE CAN COOK, now you can make Eggplant!

Mulberry Madness, A Sweet Reminder Summer is HERE!

I have a lovely yard, filled with fruit trees. One holds the sweet-tart berry that signals Summer is here. Growing up I remember playing in the garden hose and being covered in a light purple stain all over my face from eating them strait from the tree. Mulberries, you either love them or hate them. They are a bit tart if you don’t wait for the dark purple to emerge. With a little patience and the proper dosage or rain and sun, they are dark purple perfect!

Pancakes, muffins, cakes, pies or simply fresh they are the perfect summer fruit. I tend to make them with my pancakes, and jelly. Simple and most of the time, Free. They are the perfect gypsy ingredient.

Mulberry Jam Ingredients 3 cups smashed berries ( leave stems, not an issue) , 2 cups Sugar , 1/2 cup Lemon Juice, 3 T of Sugar Pectin( I use BALL)

Prepare jars, and lids. Combine mulberries, lemon juice, and butter in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Whisk in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Remove lid and let stand in canner for additional 5 minutes. Remove jars, cool, and store. This will yield 4 pint jars.

When you are adding these berries to anything be sure to lightly rinse and toss gently in a colander. THEY ARE FRAGILE, you will discover that when picking them!

Anyone Can Cook, Go Find a MULBERRY tree. Start Summer Right!

Baking with your kids, Can be FUN!

I know the last thing a Mom or Dad wants to do is bake with their kids. Time is the only thing we can not buy with Money these days. The memories that you will make in the 3 months of Summer, will last a lifetime. When I make a cake, bake a cookie, or roll a pie crust it triggers a fond memory. I realize the EXTREME amount of Love my Mom, Aunt, or Grandma had for me.

Baking does not have to be hard and you do not have to do it from scratch. Box mixes are a great opportunity to allow your kids to practice math, creative thinking and time management. One of my favorite things about a plan box mix is, you are only limited by your imagination.

My favorite HOTROD Box Cake creation is my Pineapple Coconut Cream Cake. It starts with a Humble Yellow Mix, that is as far as normal goes here! I replace the oil with Crushed pineapple (same measurement as oil), Coconut Cream Milk ( for water), and eggs as usual. I add to the mix 1 cup Toasted Coconut flake and 1/4 cup brown sugar. This goes in the oven at a 20 degree lower temp and 10 minutes longer. Low and Slow to avoid burning. This one is Super Simple to make, my daughters can make this with ease. When this comes out of the oven, topping is not needed. My kids use Cool whip to garnish!

Cookies can come from a Pre made box, a recipe from a package, or your favorite Pinterest Recipe. What you need to remind yourself is…… This does not have to be perfect. Allow your children to measure, pour and mix. Your end goal is an edible product and a great sense of accomplishment because they helped. Then they will have a joy for cooking and baking paired with a memory of LOVE!

ANYONE CAN COOK, and you can bake with your kids and Have Fun!

Grow Your Food, Then you will know where it has BEEN!

When you grow your own herbs and vegetables you are 100% sure where your food has been. So many articles and social media scare us with all the things BIG BUSINESS is doing to our food. If you are one of those individuals this is a panic button for, Grow your own Food! You can do it!

All greenhouse and BIG BOX stores have a fresh plant section. If a patio planter is all you have space for, GO FOR IT! Stop making excuses , grab some potting soil and plants. I always advise you start small with a couple peppers, tomatoes, squash. You only need a small land plot to grow lettuce and it is super simple. When planting herbs, start with pre-grown small container plants. Keep in mind, herbs last from year so f you plant them, that is where they will re-emerge! I have huge success with Miracle Gro Product, and Burpee seed. Locally I can not say enough about Family owned green houses. I am a supporter of Bonnie Belle herbs! What you put in your soil is as important as how you care for your plants.

Simple Sauces and Salads are easy to achieve and with a little practice you can master this. Anyone Can Cook, and know how to grow their own food!

Fresh Stuffed Bread

Each evening in the summer brings a new group of people to your home. I love having snacks , that are fancy and simple. Stuffed breads are on of my favorite quick snacks.

They can be cheap or get a little pricey. That is up to you. I am going to give you three of my favorites and you choose your favorites. The best part of this is a day old loaf is best for this. That means pinching pennies already! Lets have a Grilled Vegetable Cheese, Italian Trio Cheese, and Cheddar and Bacon. The possibilities are endless but they all start in the same manner.

I always choose a large, round , and crusty loaf. The thicker the crust , tends to lead to a more successful bread. Grilled Vegetable is easy. Choose your favorite summer vegetables, grill with a little bit of Italian dressing to coat and allow to cool. I start by Cross Hatching the Bread, quite simply cutting in one direction slanted and in the opposite to make a large X on the bread. Now, stuff the bread , FULL! Make sure all those veggies are in every slice. Finally , Generously Sprinkle with Good Cheese. I use a mix of Italian classics, Romano , Asiago and Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Italian Trio is a meaty choice. Cross hatch the bread, and dip it in a melted bowl of butter and minced garlic. Let the bread sit for 10 minutes, this will allow it to soak up the goodness. I then stuff it with Salami, Pepperoni and sweet red roasted peppers. I top this one with cheese TOO! Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Cheddar and Bacon is a sure crowd pleaser. I like to do this one with a pretzel type braid bread. Challah works in a pinch. This one is my favorite. I crosshatch the bread and brush it with honey mustard before stuffing it with GOOD Quality Cheddar cheese. You can either use fresh precooked bacon or Bacon bits. I use Candied Bacon, MY SECRET RECIPE, or bacon bits. Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Toppings are endless, you are only limited by your flavor choices. ANYONE CAN COOK, now you have a crowd pleaser in your recipe book!

Strawberry Pie, Yes Please!

Fresh is best when serving any dessert at a Holiday picnic. My go to in the summer is to pick a Fresh fruit and serve it simply.

Strawberry pie is a sure fire hit at my house. You will need a pie crust, fresh plump berries and jello. I love this recipe because you can gather your family team and make it as a group. Once the pie crust is made and pre-baked you must allow it to cool. Be sure to poke some holes in that crust with a fork, to keep it flat while baking. You will need at least 2 quarts of fresh berries per pie. Our family always needs an extra quart for sampling while baking! Second step is to pile those berries in until they are a beautiful mountain filling the pie dish. Make your 2 packs of Strawberry Jello add 2 packs of KNOX and pour over berries until the pie is full. Place pie in to chill for at least 3 hours. We serve this with a heaping spoonful of cool whip. This Dessert marks the start of summer for our family! Make sure to you make 2 pies, this one is addictive. This pie disappears QUICK!

Anyone Can Cook, this pie is the start of your family tradition.

Feel Good Food, Planning A Shindig

Eating is an emotionally motivated activity for so many people. Therapist say it is an issue. I say it is a learned condition. In my family, important life events are always were marked with huge meals.

Weddings and Graduation parties are on the horizon. What does your family eat? Who brings what dish to the pot Luck? Who makes the best cake? All Important questions, most families have no need to ask when planning a large event.

When planning a large family celebration. Stick to the known crowd pleasers. For variety add 1 or 2 new items to the menu. In the next coming Blogs I will give sample menus to help you plan a crowd pleasing event. You may not be Martha Stewart, but I can assist you in creating a Tasty menu for any BIG Event!

Anyone Can Cook, now we will make you the Host or Hostess with the Mostest!