Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year





Happy New Year to you and your family!  May your days be filled with wonder and love!! ♥




Dishin with Didi

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Savory Steak and Celery - Crock Pot

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I know right?  So easy, I mean unbelievably easy dinner.  Did I mention absolutely delicious?  I didn't?  Well, the word that comes to mind when digging into this, if you want to call it a word is; "mmmmm".  Yup, seriously!  No other words are necessary.  You have those delicious round steaks, chunks of celery all bathing in that savory broth.  I know!




This was my adoption of an old favorite from my ex-mother-in-law. She is an amazing cook, and the first time she made the pork & celery with the egg and lemon sauce, (a very old Greek from the regions of Sparta recipe), I thought I had gone to heaven. The flavors of the celery just enhanced the pork, and the broth, well there just wasn't enough bread for the dunking I say!  After obtaining the recipe and duplicating it many times, I decided to do something a little different.  Make it working mom friendly was my goal.  Voila!  It was an absolute success and my family loves it!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;


Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time: 8-9 hours (on low)
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
6 round steaks (or your favorite cheaper cut steak)
4-5 large celery stalks

1 can cream of celery soup
1 can, 14.5oz  beef gravy (I used Campbells)
1-1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp onion powder + 1 additional tsp
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp Canola oil

Directions:
-Combine dried seasonings except for the dried thyme and the additional 1 tsp of onion powder in a small bowl and set aside.

-Clean celery very well and cut into chunks.  Place half of the celery onto the bottom of slow cooker. Reserve the other half.

-Using a large skillet add Canola/Vegetable oil and bring to a high heat.

-Take the reserved dried seasonings and lovingly pat them onto both sides of the steaks.  Show them "the love" I say...

-The skillet should be ready now.  Lay the steaks into the skillet and sear until nicely browned on one side, about 1 minute or so.  Flip the steaks over using tongues, and do the same on the other side.  Place the seared steaks along with the drippings over the celery in the crock pot. 









-Using a medium bowl, combine the cream soup, beef gravy, dried thyme and 1 tsp of onion powder.  Taste, taste one more time for seasonings, what?  Pour over the steaks.  Add the rest of the celery over the soup mixture.  Cover, and cook on low 8-9 hours.



Voila, dinner is ready!  I know!  All you have to do is make a side when you come home and let me know what time dinner will be! *grin*




Buttered rice is my favorite with this, but I'm sure mashed potatoes are on hubby's wish list!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, December 16, 2013

Italian Ricotta Cheese Cookies

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I know, trust me, they are "to die for"!  These little gems are one of the most delectable cookies ever.  I mean even for a self professed chocoholic, I still choose these over the chocolate cookies.



From what I understand there are more versions of these cookies than one can shake a peppermint candy cane...
That being said, I am sharing the recipe that was given to me by my very good friends mom, or as we all referred to her as "Nona Lena".
I think the difference in these cookies is the flavor of orange...
They are light and just bursting with flavor!  I know I can't stop at just 3, I'm serious!  What?

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;


Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 10-11 minutes

Yield: 6 dozen

Ingredients:
Cookies:

1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter (I used unsalted)
2 cups granulated sugar

1lb (16oz) Ricotta cheese
2 eggs

Zest of 1 orange
*optional* 2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or your favorite orange liqueur)
1 tsp vanilla
4-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Frosting:

3-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted
4-6 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350F

-Add your flour to a medium bowl and mix in the baking powder, soda and salt, set aside.

-In a large bowl, cream your butter.  Once butter is creamed, add in your sugar and continue to cream, about 1 minute or so.  Add in your eggs, ricotta cheese, vanilla, orange liqueur (if using) and your grated orange zest.  Mix till all flavors have been incorporated.

-Slowly add in your flour.  You do not want to have the beaters on high unless you like yourself and your kitchen coated in flour.  If you do, hey, why not?

-Mix in all your flour till a soft dough forms.  Using your favorite small cookie scoop (or melon baller), scoop out dough and place on an ungreased nonstick baking sheet.

-Bake for 10-11 minutes till edges are lightly browned.  Remove from oven, let rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before moving over to cooling rack.

-As cookies are cooling, let's make up our frosting.  Add all your ingredients into a bowl.  Add your milk 1 tbsp at a time till you have reached your desired consistency.  I like a thicker frosting, some like a thinner.  If so, just add additional tablespoons of milk.

-Dip top of cookies with frosting and sprinkle with your favorite sprinkles.





Before giving all these babies away don't forget to grab some for yourself!!

Till next time!


Dishin with Didi

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shredded Chicken Santa Fe Dip

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I was introduced to the Philadelphia Cooking Cream Cheese packages last year when I won a "Kraft party" from House Party.  I have to tell you guys; this is the BEST STUFF EVER!  



Easy as pie to make and to create your own favorite flavors.  This recipe was a "make as we go" and let me tell you, IT WAS OUTTA THIS WORLD GOOD!! Don't believe me?  Look at my "BFF's hand", I couldn't get her arm out of the dip...
All I'm saying!!  Easy as all get out to make and absolutely delicious with the Southwestern flavors.  Add some crackers and you will have a very happy family and guests!!

Note: This REHEATS beautifully!! ♥


Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40-45 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings


Ingredients:
2 cans chicken (chicken breast in broth), shredded, reserve broth
1 package Kraft Santa Fe cooking cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic salt
3 tbsp sour cream
10 Ritz crackers (butter crackers)
2 cups- 1 package Kraft 4 Mexican shredded cheese (or shredded cheese of your choice)
1 jalapeno, fresh - seeds & membranes removed, diced fine

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove your Philadelphia Cooking Cream Cheese Santa Fe blend from your fridge and allow to come to room temp.

-Open cans of cooked chicken breasts.  Reserve chicken broth and taking a fork, shred till uniform, set aside.

-Clean and discard seeds and membranes from the jalapeno pepper, dice finely and set aside.

-Chop your fresh parsley and green onion, set aside.


-In a medium sized bowl, add your shredded chicken, sprinkle with garlic salt, add in your diced jalapenos.  Let's add in our fresh herbs, diced green onions and our Philadelphia Santa Fe Cooking Sauce. Now we add in our reserved chicken broth and mix well.

-Let's add in our sour cream and mix very well.  Taste for seasonings at this point... *what*?

- Sprinkle in 1-1/2 cups of your shredded cheese.


-In a 9 x 9 dish, spray with non stick spray.  Spread chicken mixture into pan.  Using your very clean hands, crush the Ritz crackers and sprinkle over chicken mixture.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.


-Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes till nicely golden and crispy and the cheese has melted nicely.  Sprinkle on a few green onions for a beautiful visual appeal if you want, totally optional!  Get ready for the "mmmmm's, and OMG's"!


This dip is seriously rocking, NO I'M NOT JOKING!
That is my "Chicken Souvlaki Dip" pictured next to the dip that my BFF is constantly dipping into! Best feeling in the world!! Did I mention easy?  I know!!  You can make this in a snap, and still have time to don on your favorite sporting jersey!!




Till next time!

Dishin with Didi


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - Our Latest Blessing




The quote above says it all...

I know my blogging has been sporadic to say the least.  But I have been a little busy.  Well okay, I have been very busy.  Never-the-less, I wanted to share with you that I have so many blessings in my life to be thankful for!  This is our latest blessing.   I would love for you to meet my granddaughter!!


Meet our little Maria Alexis!


I know, that little button nose!  Just like her mommy's!


This is my favorite...




I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with great food, laughter and blessings!


Happy Thanksgiving









Dishin with Didi

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Simple, Easy Chicken Tortellini

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I know, it was delicious!!  Today was the busiest day ever to be honest with you.  I had so much grocery shopping to do to prepare for Thanksgiving, which I won't even be here to cook. So I have to prepare in advance...
No worries, all familia will have to do is bake as directed.  However, the prep has to come from me right?  I know!!  So after grocery shopping at 3 different stores, coming home, putting everything away and mentally devising a list of what needs to be prepped tomorrow along with putting the frozen turkey in the refrigerator to defrost...
I was exhausted!!  The weather is wicked cold, flurries and downright slick and icy!!  So being the comforter that I am, I wanted to make a nice meal that my family will love that will warm them up!!

This dinner was absolutely FANTASTIC!!!  Actually it's one of my "go too's" to be honest with you!!  I've made many variations of this dish, but the main ingredients are always canned chicken breast and jarred Alfredo sauce.  Talk about creamy, COMFORT IN A BOWL!!  That's all I'm saying!!  I started off by using 
ready made products along with a nice quality grated cheese and that makes all the difference in the world, please do not skimp on that!!  It's COMFORT in a bowl along with a nice fire that hubby built in the fireplace!!

Excuse the yellowish glow to my pics.  I love my Tiffany lamps, no seriously I do...
But when the weather is dark and dreary and I have to have the lights on, yellowish glow is what we get.

Okay, I am off to watch Netflix, but I wanted to share with you...
Because you know me, I ♥ you so much!! Don't' forget I've adopted you as Greeks as well you know!!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Yield:  4-6 servings


Ingredients:
1lb 4 cheese tortellini (I used dried packaged)
1-1/2 cups frozen sweet green peas
1 can (12.5Oz) - (354g) chicken breast (reserve canned broth)
1 jar (15 Oz) 425g Four cheese Alfredo sauce
1 cup grated cheese  ( I used Kasseri, but a good Parmesan is excellent as well)

1-1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried parsley
Few cranks of black pepper

Directions:
-Reserve broth of canned chicken, and taking a fork shred the chicken breast, set aside. 



-Place 4-5 quarts of water with a few pinches of salt.  Bring to a boil for the tortellini.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for how long to cook. 



-When the tortellini is almost cooked, (about 15 minutes).  Add the chicken broth along with the frozen peas in a medium saucepan and let come to a simmer.

-When the peas and reserved chicken broth have come to a simmer, add the Alfredo sauce, onion powder, a few cranks of black pepper along with the shredded chicken.  Bring to a boil.

-When the white sauce has come to a boil, turn off the heat and drain your tortellini, once tortellini has been drained, return to the same pot.  
(Why dirty more pots I say)

-Pour your absolutely delicious chicken white sauce over your cooked tortellini.  Crank a few cranks of pepper over the pasta if so desired and then add as much shredded cheese as you want. Personally, I want TONS!!!  Serve this easy home comfort to your family!!

You will have a very happy family, heck you will have a very happy YOU!!  Did I mention this was done in less than half an hour?  I know!!




Off to make lunches for Monday with the leftovers, sneaking just a few tortellini for me while doing so... "shhhhhhh it's our secret"!!

Till next time!!






Dishin with Didi

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Simple Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (with a Greek twist)

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I know right, just a weeknight dinner any time of the year. However, the wind is blowing like a son of a gun right now, it's dark, gloomy, rainy and they are calling for snow showers...

Spaghetti it is!!  But we're not going to be opening up a jar, no, no, no!!  We will make homemade in less than 45 minutes.  You're family will love you, you will love yourself, heck they might even do the dishes!!
What I absolutely love about this version of the sauce is the special "Greek" ingredient found in most red sauces that just tantilizes your taste buds for the sake of a better word.  It's just slightly there, no one can really figure out what it is, but man oh man is it good! And what better weather for this hearty, comfy dish than the weather we are having tonight.


Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1lb dried spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
28oz can of crushed tomatoes
15 Oz can of diced tomatoes drained
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme 
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
*magic ingredient*
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter *optional*

Directions: 

-In a medium saucepan, brown your brown beef and drain excess fat, remove onto a plate, and set aside. 

-Using the same saucepan, add your olive oil and bring to medium high heat.  Add your onions, saute for a few minutes till translucent and then add in the garlic.  Saute for one minute more.  Add in the diced pepper , saute for 1 minute more then add in the ground beef and spices.  Saute for a couple of minutes till the spices have been nicely incorporated.  

-Add in your sauces and your sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Taste for seasonings.

-Meanwhile, about 10 minutes before your sauce will be done, bring a large saucepan filled with water and a pinch of salt to boil.  Add in your spaghetti and cook till Ala dente and drain.

-You can either drain pasta and then add the butter so the noodles won't stick (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) or you can return the drained noodles to the sauce omitting the butter.




I highly recommend the first tip!!  There is just something about a pasta under an amazing sauce... it like sings to me!!  Plus it's absolutely delicious with that hint of butter and a good grating of cheese!!

Till next time!!


Dishin with Didi

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Caramelized Squash & Onions with Butter Sauce

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I know, trust me!  It was absolutely delicious!  Did I mention a snap to make?  I didn't?  Well it is, and your family will absolutely adore you.  My youngest said to me when she bit into the rice mixture, "mom it feels like I'm eating Thanksgiving right now".  Music to a mother's ears I say...



I like to use seasonal ingredients when possible.  First and foremost it is cheaper to use in season, and secondly, they are at their best flavor.  With autumn literally around the corner, squash is plentiful, bursting with flavor and very budget friendly.  Not to mention "I love me some squash"!!  



I'll share a little secret with you.  "Shhhhhh, don't tell anyone, okay, promise"?  When I first met my husband he told me he doesn't like squash.  I literally froze in my seat.  Who doesn't like squash I thought to myself? First Thanksgiving over his mother's house, I now knew and completely and utterly understood my husband's aversion to squash.  She took the box of frozen squash, you know, the pureed kind.  Dumped it in a saucepan, heated it up and put it in a bowl.  Yup, that was it...
Yummy?  NOT!  Baby food tastes better.  

Fast forward to the present, my husband now adores squash, of all kinds.  Yes, *insert fist pump* my job is done!

Ready for this very easy recipe?  Here we go;


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45-55 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:
2 medium squash (I used acorn)
2 large onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

Butter Sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 - 1/3tsp cinnamon


Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375F.

-Cut and seed the squash.  You can either peel it and cut it into cubes, or you can quarter it with peel on and scoop out the middle once roasted.  I usually do it that way because it is much easier, set aside.

-Cut and slice your onions add into a bowl and along with the quartered squash.  Add your olive oil, salt & pepper and toss to coat.

-Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45-55 minutes turning the onions every so often so they don't burn.  

-Once the squash is nice and soft and has turned a bit golden, along with your onions pull out of the oven.  Plate your veggies onto your favorite platter, set aside. 

-Add your melted butter into a small bowl, add your brown sugar and the pinch of cinnamon.  Whisk till nice and creamy and the butter has been incorporated with the sugar.  Drizzle lovingly over your veggies and serve.  




Don't be surprised if they ask for seconds.

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Three Cheese Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon Topping

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Believe me, it was absolutely delicious!  We had seconds, I'm not joking.  You have the macaroni bathing in that decadent creamy three cheese sauce...
Then you add the bacon topping.  "What's not to love"?  




This dish will be loved by everyone in your household trust me.  It is a snap to bake and did I mention budget friendly?  I know!  Just make sure you call me so I can come over for dinner! I'll bring appetizers or dessert or something.

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:  
1lb your favorite pasta (16Oz)
1lb bacon

Three Cheese Sauce:
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Canola oil
6 tbsp flour
4 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (can use Parmesan, not the one in the jar)
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grated
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Bacon Topping:
Cooked bacon slices minus the 4 strips
25 butter crackers- 1 sleeve (Ritz)
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
2 tbsp parsley *optional*

Directions:
-Cook your bacon till crisp, drain on paper towels and reserve 4 slices, set aside.  If a bacon strip somehow, I mean these things happen, mysteriously ends up in your mouth...
Don't panic, just go with it!

-Boil pasta according to box directions.  Once cooked, drain and cool with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Keep cool, cooked pasta in the strainer till ready to use.

-Preheat oven to 350F.

-Let's get to work on that amazing sauce shall we...
Easy so far right?  I know!  Using a medium saucepan melt your butter and canola oil.  Add your flour and cook for about 1 minute. The reason you are cooking it is so your sauce doesn't have a floury flavor.


-After about a minute, add your milk all at once and whisk into the flour mixture.  Keep whisking till the sauce is nicely thickened about 5-6 minutes.  Turn off heat

-Add your cheeses and stir to incorporate thoroughly.  Here is a step by step video by me that shows you how to make a "Bechamel" which is literally the cheese sauce.  See, that's how much I love you! ♥




-Add your cooked pasta and stir.

-Pour your decadent pasta that is just so happy to be swimming in a creamy lake of luxurious cheese sauce into a 13 X 9 pre-sprayed baking pan, set aside.



-For the topping, add your bacon (I usually break them into pieces for this, I shouldn't but old habits die hard, you know how that is), your crackers, Romano cheese and parsley if using into a mini food processor.  Pulse till crumbly and fine.

-Sprinkle bacon topping over macaroni and then crumble the remaining bacon pieces over the topping.

-Bake for 30-35 minutes till nicely warmed through and you just can't wait to dig in.

I usually serve this with a simple salad of some kind, as I want the macaroni and cheese to be the star!!



Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Toffee Cinnamon Bunt Cake



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Sometimes life hands you strawberries, so you make cake.  I know, I know.  That is exactly what happened and how this cake came about.
I have had such a busy few weeks, could you tell by my sparse posting?

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After my girls came home from Greece, we had quite a few visitors who wanted to welcome them back home.  So I found myself making quick appetizers and desserts to serve.  This my friends was one of the fast, easy and absolutely delicious desserts I made.  It is so moist, and the addition of toffee & cinnamon just bring it over the top.  Did I mention to you it starts off with boxed cake mix?  I didn't?  This could not be any easier for an easy and fast show stopper!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix (can use yellow) - SEE NOTES
1 cup toffee bits (I used Heath)
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp flour

Notes: You can certainly use your favorite homemade cake recipe, I was just in a hurry.

Directions: 
-Preheat oven to 350F.

-Prepare your cake mix using the instructions on the box, set aside.

-Using a small bowl, add your toffee bits, cinnamon and brown sugar, stir till thoroughly mixed through, set aside.




-Grease your favorite bunt pan, sprinkle the 1 tbsp of flour on the bottom portion of your bunt pan and pour half the cake mixture into it.




-Sprinkle your toffee filling directly over the cake batter, evenly.



-Pour the rest of your cake mix directly over the toffee bits.  At this point I like to give the pan a couple of quick taps on the island to make sure to eliminate any air bubbles and have a uniform cake. 


-Bake as directed for a bunt cake according to box instructions, my box cake stated 45-55 minutes.  I baked it for 52 minutes.

-Take out of oven and let rest for about 8-10 minutes in pan, then carefully invert onto cooking rack to cool all the way through.

-You are going to ask me; "Didi why are we sprinkling 1 tbsp of flour on the bottom of the pan"?  "Aha, I thought you would never ask"?  The reason why is because the toffee will melt and become delicious and gooey and just stick to everything don't you know...
So when we add the addition of 1 tbsp of flour to the bottom, the cake being ever so moist now will have something to adhere to and the top of the bunt will not stick to everything in site and will easily slip out when inverted.
I know, I know... I told you I loved you guys!

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I served mine with fresh strawberries sprinkled with a little bit of sugar and just some non-dairy topping.  To be honest with you, IT WAS DELICIOUS!!  It was completely gobbled up and the cake disappeared before I could have more than one bite.
There is just something extra special about strawberries, cinnamon and toffee.  They just form a perfect marriage!

Till next time!


Dishin with Didi