Saturday, July 31, 2010

No Cook Meal: Carmine's Cold Italian Heroes and Spiced Melon Balls

Ever get one of those cravings that just won't go away and you have to satisfy it? Last week I was craving a Cold Italian Hero in the worse way and I simply had to have it. At the store I planned on just buying enough to make one or two sandwiches. Then it hit me....why not buy more fixings? It's the perfect no cook meal! These heroes were so tasty that we had no trouble eating them throughout the week. They were a delicious way to stay cool in the awful heat we were having.

Cold Italian Heroes

Adapted from Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook

Serves 4 very hungry people (could easily serve 8)

4 Crispy Hero Rolls, 6-8 inches long

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

salt and freshly ground black pepper

20 slices genoa salami

12 thin slices prosciutto

24 slices mortadella

16 slices provolone

2 large roasted red peppers, halved

4 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce

12-16 large slices ripe tomato (about 4 tomatoes)

Slice the rolls in half lengthwise, without cutting all the way through. Press them open with your hands.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the vinaigrette over both halves of each roll.

To assemble each sandwich, layer 5 slices of salami, 3 slices of prosciutto, 6 slices of mortadella, and 4 slices of provolone on one side of the roll. Top with half a roasted pepper, 1 cup of shredded lettuce, and 3-4 slices of tomato. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the other side of the roll over the sandwich ingredients and press to close. Cut sandwich in half and serve.

Notes/Results: This is one serious and delicious sandwich and it certainly satisfied my craving! One half of the sandwich is plenty to satisfy even a hearty appetite. The first time around I followed the recipe and drizzled the dressing directly on the bread. I'm gonna have to say that isn't my favorite method. Not only did it make the bread soggy, but you couldn't really taste the dressing that way. I prefer drizzling the dressing directly on top instead. I definitely recommend this for a great, flavorful, hearty no cook meal!

I am submitting my Cold Italian Heroes to Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sundays roundup.

As a side dish to our Cold Italian Heroes I also served Mark Bittman's Spiced Melon Balls. Round and juicy pieces of cantaloupe tossed with lime juice and a sprinkling of salt, cayenne pepper and cilantro. A perfectly refreshing side dish with just a touch of heat!

Mark Bittman's Spiced Melon Balls for Raw Foods Week @ I Heart Cooking Clubs!

Date Night!

Last night my husband and I had a date night. I can't really begin to tell you the last time we did something like that. We are really home bodies, especially me... Here in Baltimore we have a concert venue down at the harbor called Pier six Concert Pavilion. It is open air and next to the water. I bought tickets months ago to go see Dave Koz and friends. We love smooth jazz and so this promised to be perfect for us. Now I have to tell you that I have been a little concerned what with the 100+ temps here in Baltimore and the surrounding areas lately, that I would be a suffer'n fool...but as luck would have it or the Gods or maybe even Dave and friends, the weather was gorgeous! low 80's and by evening 70's and a gentle breeze. Just picture it...a lovely summer evening. Anyway, the "friends" turned out to be Jonathan Butler and Sheila E! Wow, not a bad line up...We had great seats (the front row of the center section) so no one directly in front of us and lots of space...The artists looked like they had a blast up there and it was a lovely evening all around...The space in front of us was a walkway so I was able to do a lot of people watching and I saw some wonderful summer evening outfits and some "what were you thinking" outfits too. We even held hands on the way back to the car.

There were the usual boats out in the harbor and the peeps out and around that were taking advantage of the excellent sound system to hear the concert also...Dave and co. included them also...nice...

I remember when I posted on face book that I had purchased the tickets that I mentioned that we had not been to a concert there since our dating days and that I hoped that the seats were bigger! Well, not so, but the clientèle seemed to be our age and the seats a lot closer to the stage and under the pavilion...hmmm...

My honey got up to go to the boys room(he didn't used to do that either) and came back with a JB I will upload it, but before that I will open it with...wait for CD opener...yes you did read is a little gadget that I found in my Christmas stocking that makes opening those impossible to open new CDs a pleasure to open! Hey another simple pleasure for another blog...

Well I must say that date meant that a crappy eye-opening week ended on a lovely note...

Stay Pink!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

three things thursday

I haven't posted "three things Thursday" for awhile, but have had a lot of requests to keep it up. Thanks, I'm glad you like it.

ONE: Gardening Boxes
We had high hopes for a beautiful little garden last year, which quickly turned into a disaster. Our lettuce was so bitter we couldn't eat it and our tomatoes all split. We grew beautiful little pumpkins to decorate the porch, then some idiot teenagers stole every last one--all 14--right off our front porch! I was so mad.

We decided to give it another try this year.

So far so good. We've actually made salads with our lettuce and it's really good. We also planted a zucchini plant, tomatoes and that's a pumpkin plant around the corner. You can't go wrong with these square foot gardening boxes. We put ours rights in the planter area in the backyard. I'd seen a yard on one of our walks that had done the same thing and I loved the way it looked. Of course it'll look better when we get more foliage around it. We purchased our garden box here. They deliver and set up the entire thing, soil and all. We may add two more smaller boxes down the side yard next year if we get a bumper crop. That's bumper, not BUMMER again!

***update: Our lettuce turned bitter again. Anyone have any ideas why? Maybe we're not picking it quick enough.

TWO: Memory Banners
You know I love banners. And I know you've seen this one from Ella's birthday. I made a little change to it though. I clipped memorabilia and a couple of photos from Ella's party to the banner. There's her birthday invite, the bingo card, a photo of Ella holding up four fingers, another photo of Ella with a cupcake and her finished craft we made at the party. Ella loves to look at it and remember her party. As usual, she's already started planning next years.

For those of you in my ward, we're planning a Super Saturday for fall. I'll be teaching a celebrations banner class, so start gathering fun fall or holiday-themed papers.

THREE: Ziploc Big Bags
You'd think I work for Ziploc since I love their products. Here's a new one I just found.

I've seen them advertised forever. We're having shelves built in the garage to store camping/emergency/gardening stuff. I was trying to figure out how the keep things from getting dusty out there and remembered these bags. They're great! The large sized holds Ella's life vest and the XL size holds our little travel cooler. I love that I can see through them instead of having to rummage through bags to figure out what's in them.

Happy Thursday!

Vegan Eats: Jamaican-style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake

In my younger years, I was a very strict vegetarian. I read every ingredient list, drove people crazy with questions about food and was completely happy not eating any form of meat. I toyed with the idea of going vegan, but would always cave when it came to cheese. If I had ate more meals like this one it may have helped, but I still don't think I could've ever given up cheese!

This Jamaican-style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake is one delicious meal. Spicy, filling, fresh and flavorful it is seasoned with jerk seasoning and packed with black beans, diced tomatoes, green chiles, and corn. It is then topped with a cornbread topping made with coconut milk in place of the normal milk and eggs. I spiced mine up by adding some extra green chiles and it was a delicious, healthy and filling meal.

Jamaican-style Black Bean and Coconut Cornbread Bake
Adapted from Vegetarian Times May/June 2010 Issue
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, juices included (see notes)
1-1/2 cups frozen yellow corn, thawed
1/2 teaspoon jerk seasoning, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup light coconut milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil 8 inch-square baking dish with olive oil.

Stir together beans, tomatoes and juices, corn, jerk seasoning, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Adjust seasonings with more jerk seasoning, if desired. Spread in prepared baking dish.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a separate bowl. Add coconut milk and 2 tablespoons oil, and stir until just combined-do not overmix. Spread batter over bean mixture with spatula. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center of topping comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

: I made a few changes to this recipe. In place of the canned diced tomatoes I used 3 fresh tomatoes from my Mom's garden. To make my version a little more spicy I added in two 3 oz. cans of diced green chiles. I also nearly doubled the amount of the jerk seasoning. The magazine indicates that you can also sub one tablespoon of chili powder in place of the jerk seasoning. The bake turned out spicy, but not too spicy and was full of fresh flavor. The addition of cococnut milk to the cornbread batter resulted in a thicker, denser cornbread which paired well with the bake. I really enjoyed this meal and think it is something than everyone would enjoy, vegan or not!

Serves 4, per 1-cup serving: 346 calories; 13g protein; 9g total fat; 2g sat fat; 57g carb; 0mg chol; 914mg sod; 13g fiber; 4g sugars

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Hi there,

I have to tell you I am sad today. I find myself surrounded by a few people that have proven themselves to be two faced on several occasions. It troubles me and it usually involves me. It seems that while I am away I am the topic of conversation and not in a good way, and then there are consequences...I am spoken to about whatever the few have decided are my supposed transgressions and then later those same people are all very friendly and trying to strike up conversations with me. Usually I allow it, because after all, to do otherwise would make for a pretty nasty atmosphere you know?? I have to say however, that I am weary of this. It is not of, course that I might not be able to improve myself. It is rather that I really don't think that the "golden girls" as I have dubbed, them really are all that and a bag of chips, and I really don't know if I have it in me to be all that mature about it any more...I mean if they can be all middle school about it, than why can't I?

I'll tell you why...the thought of behaving in that manner turns my skin cold. I am so much better than that, So much more. I have been through much in my life. If all it takes is to use a computer within sight of the golden girls so that they may see that I am indeed working and not goofing off than so be it. However, I do not have to pretend to be friends with them or to be involved on a personal level. I will be my usual pleasant and funny self, but only on the surface...Will they even notice, I wonder? Somehow I think not!

Stay Pink

northern california vacation: butte meadows

Our first stop on vacation was at Grandma and Grandpa's summer home in Butte Meadows. We took the older kids every year when they were growing up and have wonderful memories of the time spent there. Now we're excited to create new memories with Ella.

This is Grandma and Grandpa (a.k.a Connie and Ren Wakefield) and Ben.

Ella and Ben became pretty much inseparable the entire visit. There are two things in life Ella wants more than anything: a baby sister and a dog. The first is NOT an option. The second is highly unlikely. Ella Brucker was over playing the other day and I overheard Ella tell her, "My Grandma and Grandpa have a dog and his name is Ben and he has three legs. Aren't you impressed?" Obviously our Ella was. Not only does she want a dog, she now wants one with three legs.

This is one patient dog.

My favorite part of our stay was taking walks in the morning and evening and just kicking back and relaxing. I read (finished the first of the Fablehaven series), finished binding a quilt...

watched the birds...

and laughed at Ella running around chasing squirrels up the trees.

Then waiting patiently for them to come down.

The Meadow Fairies left Ella a special gift. It was a new easel and lots of art supplies. She colored and crafted for hours out on the deck. Grandma joined in too.

That's Ella's "thumb guard" in the third photo. It was to prevent her from sucking her thumb. It worked like a charm (we kept it on for 30 days) and she hasn't sucked her thumb since we took it off.

We played school. Ella and Grandma took turns being the teacher. Ella is a much bossier teacher than Grandma.

This is Grandma and Grandpa's "backyard". Ella and I went exploring and picked lots of flowers. Ben joined us and somehow I ended up covered in more mud than the two of them combined.

Our budding photographer.

We took a half day trip to Mt. Lassen Volcanic Park and had a picnic. They have a beautiful new Visitor's Center.

More relaxing and down time. I love these pictures of Ella. They are such a reminder to me that we need to take more time to just "be and become", instead of always "doing". We were all so relaxed the entire time we where visiting. I've made a conscience effort to chill and enjoy the little things more often since we've gotten home.

Grandma and Ben chillin'.

We let Ella try chewing gum again "since she's four now". She's hooked.

Exploring the forest and picking more flowers.

A morning walk still in our jammies.

Wagon surfing.

I want in on this action.

Collecting pinecones for the fire pit. One of my absolute favorite smells is a campfire.

And what would a campfire be without S'mores? Our family still talks about the first year we made S'mores with Grandma and Grandpa and how Grandma bought those huge one pound Hershey bars by mistake. (Those were good S'mores!) I brought it up again, only to find out after all these years that it was Grandpa who bought them and let Grandma take the fall! :)

Waiting patiently and watching Grandpa build the fire.

So what's a little ash and dirt with your marshmallow?

A little assembly help from Grandpa. Ella decided she didn't like everything smooshed together. She preferred to eat the graham crackers, roasted marshmallow and chocolate all separately.

It was hard to say good-bye. We are so grateful to have Grandma and Grandpa in our lives. We noticed after the trip, that Ella had a far more solid sense of family--not only with us because of the extended time we'd spent together--but of her extended family. We look forward to visiting again next year.