Friday, March 25, 2011

Sage Honey - THE Sore Throat Remedy

With all the sickness that has plagued our household, the kids were starting to become immune to OTC cough meds! I can only give them so much before it stops working - especially when the sickness circulates through all the kiddos for weeks.

This is my latest finding in sore throat remedies that ACTUALLY WORKS!

Not only does honey have an enzyme that actually heals inflammation, it coats the throat. Sage also has antiviral properties (just learned this) and is a great addition to the honey. I use raw local honey because a lot of the commonly store-bought brands are often processed so much that they lose all their goodness & nutrients in the high heat of pasteurization.

Simmer (on low) some organic sage leaves in
enough honey to cover the leaves for almost 1 hour. Strain, and pour into bottles. Take 1-2 teaspoonfuls throughout the day as needed for sore throats!

That's it! Medicine in a minute! And its not so dangerous that you have to worry about giving them too much! Just don't give it to babies under one year. Salud!

Gabriella's Onomastico!

Today marked a popular Feast Day for many Italians - the feast of the Annunciation, or L'Annunciazione!

It's when Catholics remember the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, "announcing" that she would bear the Christ child. In our house, this is a particularly special feast because our daughter's name is Gabriella. Now, the traditional feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel was yesterday, so that was really Gabriella's "Onomastico" or 'name day." (In Italy it is very common to celebrate the feast day of your patron Saint or namesake.) We decided to celebrate today instead for a few reasons:

1. It's Friday night and the sugar buzz will not be so lethal on a non-school night.
2. It is also the anniversary of our other daughter, Gianna's, baptism - or her "Baptismal Birthday" (which we also celebrate every year!)
3. L'Annunciazione is a pretty special feast to just let pass by...

Since our kids were babies, we would celebrate these 'excuses for cake during Lent'........ahem, I mean - special feast try and teach the kids a little bit about their culture & religion. (we all give up sweets for Lent - it's my husband's way of dieting) Now that the kids are really starting to understand the meaning behind it all, it's tons more fun.

These are the cupcakes that went to school with Gabriella this morning:

When I asked if her class enjoyed them, she paraphrased, "Oh, Mamma - everyone in the class wanted my cupcakes soooo bad. I opened them in the morning and I wanted them all day but I waited until lunch and then Sister handed them out because I would have spilled."

I was looking for a simple, "yes" and "thank you" but hey, that works.

Each little picture is a scene of the Annunciation that I printed off from my computer (in t-2 seconds), cut out, and taped to toothpicks - super simple.
So if you don't do it already, find a way to incorporate these types of feast days into your calendar. It's a terrific way to teach the kids a little something with meaning behind it, and a greaaat excuse for cake:) Cheers!

Monday, March 21, 2011

5 Things to cook with Ground Beef

Sometimes the busy week gets the best of us, and we just don't have time to pull a meal together in only 20 minutes. Rather than drive through the nearest fast food chain, I've come up with a quick solution for your weeknight chaos - ground beef! All it takes is the investment of cooking a larger batch of ground beef ONE NIGHT, and you'll have dinners for FIVE NIGHTS!

Saute a few pounds of ground beef (adjust to the size of your family) with garlic, onions, salt, and pepper until browned. Separate into 3-5 batches and you have the makings of 3-5 meals in a cinch! I use one small onion and 5 cloves of minced garlic per pound of meat, because I like it to be VERY flavorful. Adjust to your liking. (You can even place the cooked ground meat into freezer baggies and freeze for later use.)

Here are the TOP FIVE ways I use my pre-cooked ground beef:

(Open-faced Sloppy Joe sandwiches)

Mix the ground beef with your favorite bbq sauce. Top sliced ciabatta bread with the mixture. Sprinkle with a mix grated mozarella, cheddar, and provolone cheese. Cook under the broiler until warmed & melted.


Mix the ground beef with feta cheese. Fill croissant dough and fold over to make empanada pockets. Serve with zucchini or cucumber 'chips' & Sour Cream Dipping Sauce (below).

Dipping Sauce:
1 3/4 cups sour cream
1/4 cup mayonaisse (you may substitute sour cream if you are not a mayo fan)
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp lemon juice

3.) Baked Ziti

Mix the cooked ground beef with a can of your fav. crushed tomatoes, simmer 20 minutes. Toss with ziti pasta & ricotta cheese. Pour into a casserole dish, top with shredded mozarella and bake it off!

Here's mine right before it goes into the oven! I use a mixture of fresh and shredded mozarella! (I usually bake it at 375 degrees)

4.) Tacos
Reheat the ground beef in a skillet on med-low heat, tossing in some cumin, garlic & onion powder, chili powder, and shredded mexican cheese. Fill up some taco shells & mangia!

5.) Asian Lettuce Wraps
These are one of my favorites! Reheat the ground beef in a skillet on med-low, adding your favorite terriyaki or hoisin sauce (I prefer hoisin). Pour spoonfuls of the meat mixture into lettuce cups and top with fresh chives, cashews, and whatever other asian veggies you might like.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sfingi di San Giuseppe & Our St Joesph's Table

So Saint Patrick's day has come and gone, but the green beer and the partying is not over yet! Well, maybe the green beer is over (that is just NOT appealing to me) but Italians will party on this Saturday with La Festa Di San Giuseppe - The Feast of St. Joseph! The Irish may make their claim on Saint Pat (who wasn't even from Ireland!!), but Italy's love for St. Joseph dates way back to Sicilia, the home of my paternal grandfather.

Long ago, during famine in Sicily, the people prayed to Saint Joesph to end the drought and hunger that plagued their people. They promised to honor him with a great feast if he came through. Well good old Saint Joseph (patron of Sicily, fathers, and carpenters) took care of his paesans, and the people of Sicily kept their word!

The Sicilians honored him with a grand feast in his name. They bult an altar (usually consisting of three tiers for the Blessed Trinity) caleld the Tavolo Di San Giusppe, or the Saint Joseph's Table. Since his feast day falls during Lent, much of the food was meatless, consisting of authentic recipes of the region. Basically, they cooked what grew in their area, like fava beans and artichokes. There was always a ton of homemade bread, often shaped into symbolic crosses, shepherd's staffs, or carpenters tools. And the altar is gloriously decorated with pictures of St. Joseph and, of course, lilies (a symbol of his purity).

Our first Saint Joseph's table was a hit with my kids!
We made simple recipes that the entire
family would enjoy, including stuffed artichokes, pasta with vegetable sauce (recipe coming soon), fried wonton skins stuffed with nutella and mascarpone cheese, and, of course, bread! We braided some loaves, and the kids shaped their dough into little hammers and candy-cane-shaped shepherd staffs. We decorated the table with our finest linens. It was a feast to remember.

This year we'll conquer it again, thanking St. Joseph for our family's blessings, just as our ancestors did. (St. Joseph is a special friend to our famiglia!) Here's one of the traditional recipes we'll be trying for the first time - a zeppole-like pastry or cream puff that is often served this time of year. The following recipe uses cream puffs mix. You could also buy the cream puff shells from your frozen section.

Saint Joseph's Cream Puffs
(a quick mix version)

1 pkg. prepared cream puff mix, made as directed with the addition of:
~1 tsp lemon zest
~1 tsp orange zest
Bake into small cream puff shells. Cool, split & fill with:

1 lb ricotta cheese
1 TBSP orange zest
2 TBSP grated bittersweet chocolate
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 oz. rum or liquer

(ABOVE RIGHT: our Tavolo di San Giuseppe a few years ago)

Cream the cheese and blend thoroughly with other ingredients. After the shells are filled, dust with confectioners sugar.

You could always top each shell with a spoonful of chocolate icing and sprinkle with slivered almonds, or slender strips of candied orange peel.

They are also often decorated with sweet vanilla butter cream icing and a cherry on top.

I'll let you know how it works out! Buona Festa di San Giuseppe!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mom's Pasta Salad

Almost every party my mom throws, she serves up this simple pasta salad and it is always a hit! In honor of my Italian mamma, I thought I'd share it with the rest of the world! Thanks, Mom!

Kosher salt
6 sundried tomatoes diced
16 asparagus spears
1 lb. pasta (your choice)
2 tbsp. butter
2 minced garlic cloves
zest of one lemon
black pepper
l tbsp. lemon juice freshly squeezed
1/4 cup toasted pignoli nuts
freshly grated cheese (I used ricotta salada)

Saute the julienned asparagus in a frying pan with a little olive oil, kosher salt and pepper
Set this aside.
In a small saute pan heat butter and garlic and lemon zest over low heat for one minute
Boil pasta, drain and put in a large pasta bowl.
Add asparagus mixture to pasta.
Add butter, garlic, lemon zest mixture to pasta
Add diced sundried tomato to pasta
Sprinkle with grated ricotta salada
Add pignoli nuts
Toss all together
Taste and make sure you don't need to add more salt, pepper, etc.
Serve room temperature.
Eat and Enjoy (and maybe put on a few pounds).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Easy Fried Chicken Tenders with Cous Cous - a kid pleaser!

This is an easy, healthy alternative to drive-thru chicken nuggets ~ and the kids will be equally as satisfied!

I served my Fried Chicken Tenders alongside Tricolor Cous Cous that I cooked with chicken stock and then tossed with a few pats of butter, grated cheese, salt, pepper, and diced fresh zucchini (always sneaking in fresh veggies!). Enjoy!

6 chicken breasts, cut into strips (or use the chicken tenders from your butcher)
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (If you don't have buttermilk, you can use regular milk. Buttermilk just adds a slightly different flavor & naturally tenderizes the chicken when it soaks.)
2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Peanut Oil for frying

Cut & trim your chicken as needed. Combine the buttermilk, beaten egg, and 1 tsp. of garlic powder. Soak the chicken in this mixture for 1-3 hours in the fridge. In a large resealable baggy, combine the dry ingredients thoroughly. Bread the chicken strips in the flour mixture. Fry each strip in the peanut oil, turning only once. When removing from the pan, drain on a paper towel and immediately dust with grated cheese.

NOTE: If you want a fluffier crust, you could add 1 tsp of baking powder to the flour mixture.
Also, if you are using regular milk, you may omit the marinating step.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...