Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Feta Cheese, Basil 'n Red Pepper Rolls (step by step)

Can I just tell you these rolls were absolutely "too die for".  No seriously, I am so not joking!  You know when you have a flavor taste already in your mind?  When you just know how it's going to taste like in your mouth before even tasting it?  Yeah, that one.  Well my friends, I am here to tell you, not only did these rolls LIVE UP to my expectations, they exceeded them!  They tasted exactly the way I had wanted them to taste.  But most of all, they are family and friends approved.  Easy enough, that even a non-baker like myself can do.  Best of all, very few common ingredients that when combined will explode with flavor!

I can and usually go on and on.  I do love to ramble you know!  However, there are step-by-step instructions below along with many pictures.  So, I will let the pictures do the talking!  Ready for this simple recipe?  Here we go;

3 cups all purpose flour 
1 pkg  rapid rise active dry yeast
1-1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp warm water 
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 jar (14.5 oz) red peppers, drained and julienne
3/4 cup fresh basil, julienne 

-In your stand mixer, (mixer of choice), using your dough hook, add your water, salt and yeast.  Stir with a spoon to incorporate and let the yeast activate for about 5 minutes.

-After the 5 minutes, start incorporating the flour into the mixer slowly.  Till all the flour has been used.  Let the mixer go at medium speed for about 6-8 minutes or till the dough has formed a ball that is smooth and elastic.  

-Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot so it can rise and almost double in size, about 45-60 minutes.

-While dough is rising, gather and prep your filling ingredients.

-It is very important when using peppers from a jar to dry them thoroughly.  I then retain them in paper towels so I can ensure that the dough will not be soggy on the inside.

-When dough is done, punch it down and roll out it to a 12 X 16 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

Not quite a rectangle, but hey, it will do...

-Let's spread on that amazing cream cheese.

 -Now we add on that decadent Feta cheese.  If a few pieces of Feta cheese end up in your mouth, I am just as astonished as you are.  I have no idea how these things happen!

-Here come the red peppers.

-Finally, that amazing fragrant fresh basil!

-At this point, I just stand back and admire my masterpiece.  What?

-Now, we are ready to roll.  Starting with the short sides, fold over, ever so slightly.  Then, start with the long side.  Roll up dough jelly-roll style; pinch seam to seal.

Are you just as visual as I am?  I know pictures always help me!

-Cut crosswise into 1 inch slices; arrange slices, cut sides up, using your pre-sprayed muffin tins.   Cover, and let rise one more time for about 35-45 minutes.  

-Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Loosen edges of rolls with a knife to remove and place on wire rack.  Tell yourself to sustain, heaven's know I have to!

Right?  I know!  Enough said...

Till next time! 
Dishin with Didi

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Salad From The Garden

 My first bounty...
 I am not a gardener to say the least.  I really am not.  However, these past couple of years for whatever reason, maybe it's my old age...
I have been wanting to have a small garden.  I always plant herbs in pots because I love them and when you add fresh herbs into your dishes, well that just plain rocks.  I haven't none-the-less been able to grow a lick of vegetables.  I mean a lick I say!  Till this year.

Above are my cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and chives.  All from my garden!!  I was squealing in delight as I gathered a small bowl to harvest these precious gems in.  I had to get ready for the part, so I put on my gardening gloves, my garden crocs, equipped myself with my gardening shears and off I went towards my two little raised garden beds.  What was missing in this picture was my big floppy hat and flowing sundress.  *What*

My peppers are just starting to come to fruition, and my eggplants are thriving.  The zucchini is coming along too, even though I consider it very small.  Heck, I'll take anything at this point.
I'm so proud of my little patch.  I dressed these babies with some Feta cheese don't you know.  When the ribs are done I will make a very simple olive oil & red wine vinegar vinaigrette and that will be our dinner along with an amazing sun dried tomato & parmesan baguette hubby picked up at our local Wegmans. 

Didi loves gardening?  Who would of have thunk?

Till next time!
Dishin with Didi

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Working moms - Sometime You Have To Compromise

Dinner tonight was Barber Foods chicken Cordon Blue & Chicken Parmesan stuffed breasts with frozen mixed veggies along with another package of frozen green beans, steamed in my favorite Tupperware microwave container.  A smidgen of butter and salt.
Then I pulled out the "emergency" Hungry Jack potato flakes for "instant mashed potatoes" and that my friends, was dinner.

Sometimes a girl has got to do, what a girl has got to do!! When you don't come home till very late, and hubby, bless his little heart after almost 21 years of marriage still can't figure it out, even with written instructions.  Well, I have no idea.  I used to stress about it, no, seriously, like totally stress about it.  Killing myself with either "Lola" - you know my crockpot, or prepare in advance.  I've tried freezer meal recipes.  God bless the women that can take an entire weekend to do that.  I personally cannot.  I tried once, just once to do that.  That was enough for me!!

 The other alternative that a whole lot of modern America does, is go out to eat.  We have done that as well, and to be honest with you?  I cook better and it's tons cheaper and healthier if I make a semi-homemade meal at home, even if it means we eat later.  So my friends, that was dinner for us tonight.   

However, I have to share with you my funny, well I think it's a funny story.  On the 2nd item ever I have ever placed on Craigslist.  Pictured below is my dining room table.

My dining room table

Solid wood bench - sits 4

4 of the most comfortable solid wood chairs you have ever set on

I put it on Craigslist trying to downsize and get a smaller dining room table.  It served my family of 7 perfectly for so many years!!
Then when I became the "matriarch" for family functions when my mom could no longer do it, it served us even better.  Picture a very large Greek, boisterous family of immediates numbering at about 27, that's with 2 leaves (not pictured) in the dining room table and extra chairs of course.  Yep, that would be my family, with first cousins in Europe removed of course!!
But I no longer have use for this size of a dining room table.   Things have changed over the years.  Kids grown, married, moved away, and they all have family's and lives of their own.
Of course 2.5 seconds after I posted this very well used and loved dining room table, leaves and chairs, I got some very serious responses for IMMEDIATE TRANSACTIONS.  I probably would of believed them if they could spell a lick.  Or the fact that "all of them" wanted to pay by PayPal.  So of course I had done my homework on "PayPal" and as honorable as PayPal is.  The only protection they provide is for E bay purchases and also if you have the item shipped and delivered to the paying address on file.  How strange that all the attention I received for the dining room set was for the buyers wanting to buy it for someone else.  Meaning, you accept the money from the buyer, and then they have you ship to an alternative address not associated with PayPal, like their dad, aunt, uncle etc.  You know what that means right?  They can file a complaint against you (and they do), so the monies are reversed and you are out of merchandise.  I know right?  How sad has this world become.  
I think I'll keep it for another 50+ years.  It's big, it's solid and it's all mine!!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New blog, new kitchens & thunderstorms

Bye bye island, you have been so good to me...

 Hello!  Welcome to the new "Dishin with Didi"!  I am so very, very glad you stopped by!

I started this blog almost 4 yrs ago with the hopes that I would be at this point in my life doing food blogging full time, and I wouldn't have to work outside the home.

Well,  that didn't happen!  I've had a good 3+ yrs of severe financial hardship since starting my blog.  Yes, lost my job, tried to go back to school...
You know the things everyone does when they suddenly find themselves without employment!  But I plugged along.  Actually, I had no other choice but to.  When schooling didn't work out, I took the first job I could, (it's called a mortgage), in order to make ends meet and it was totally out of my comfort zone.  Strange and very long hours later.  That very disturbing job, gave me the foundation of the job I currently work now which is in health insurance.  I know right?  Who would of thunk?
I mean I have a medical degree, all my work experience has always been with direct patient care.  Talk about a "completely different work experience"?

Nevertheless, the company I work for now is absolutely AWESOME!!  They treat not only their "members" with amazing customer service, but they treat their employees that way as well.  Somebody pinch me!!
As much as I love the company I work for, I seriously HATE THE HOURS!!  I have worked very early hours for so long, getting home after 6pm is seriously a wet towel on my dreams and hopes of blogging, entering food competitions etc.  I mean by the time I get home?  Heck, I'm lucky if I can think much less have natural light to take food pictures!
My blog obviously has seriously been neglected!!  

Till a few of my readers privately emailed me and asked me if I was okay.  I answered in the positive, because I was seriously okay.  Then, I say THEN, they responded back with something that I had never expected, nor would even have thought of.  Are you ready? 
They didn't care about the recipes, they wanted to know about me!!
What?  For real?  Are you kidding me right now??

So after serious consideration, I figured my blog name can accommodate a "life blog", why not make it into one!!  So my friends, I hope you come back and visit more often, because I will be posting more often with what is going on my life, and would love to hear what is going on in yours!!

So back to the "new kitchen".  We recently refinanced taking full advantage of the low rates before they rose.  We refinanced locking into a conventional 3.15% for 15 yrs.  With the amount of equity we had in our home, we were able to some money out for the new kitchen etc, but the best part...
Are you ready?  We are paying significantly LESS in our mortgage for a shorter amount of time.  So if you haven't refinanced, or thought about it.  Look into it.  If you don't take money out, that's okay, but either way, it's going to guarantee a lesser mortgage payment.

My dream island

So on to my new kitchen dream!  The one showing above is my ideal island by the way, but that's not going to happen.  My kitchen is not large enough.  It can be if I make my entire dining room into a kitchen, but I like having a separate dining room.

Originally, my husband and I were going to do most of the work ourselves.  However, my husband has just recently been diagnosed with a severe medical condition.  So it's very difficult for him to start much less finish this kitchen remodel of ours.
It kills me to see this very, very strong man I married who was able to take on the world, hesitating and hating the fact that he no longer can tackle this kind of work. 
Not wanting to make my husband feel any less inferior, I told him; "Honey, I'm tired of remodeling and doing everything our selves, why don't we hire a company to do this remodel for us, because honestly, I think we are old enough we can do that'! The fact that HE KNOWS I'm doing this for him, and I PRETEND he doesn't know.  And all is good in the marriage pretend world.  Because sometimes, let's be serious, that's how we have to roll. 

We hired a company out to do the work for us.  We priced contractors for "sub floors", "plumbing", etc. 
But after pricing all the separate contractor fees, it is seriously cheaper and on point to have a company come in and just do the dang kitchen remodel.   That being said, I'm up to my ears in samples, dimensions and textures!  I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I'm not kidding.  It's not even fun any longer.  I'm seriously feeling stressed!  I go to work, come back home and there is yet another email, voicemail or urgent call back for more dimensions that I have to respond to!!  That famous TV commercial of my time, man am I dating myself or what?  But remember that commercial that went; "Calgon take me away" comes to mind every time I pull into the driveway!!

Last night was a very stressful "texture night" with the new flooring.  I want bamboo, and the company is trying to steer me towards slate.  Slate to me, is cold.  I don't want cold, I want warm and inviting.  It's enough I had to settle for dark cabinets vs the white because hubby doesn't like white or cream only natural maple, and I hate all that natural wood texture.  Ugh!! 
So I had a couple of glasses of wine and was in a deep sleep when at 3:40 a.m., Manny, my Bichon frisse woke me up by panting and whining.  I thought to myself; "Oh man, it's a thunderstorm"!!

 And what a thunderstorm it was!!  We all had emergency alerts sent to our phones at 4:46A.M.  In all my years, I have never seen or heard a thunderstorm that lasted for over 1 hour.  At one point, the entire house shook and the girls literally jumped into our bed!  Man do I need a king size bed!!

So that was Didi's Friday evening.  I am sure there will be more mumbling from me in the near future!! 

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi