Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

~In the south and around the world.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday's Favorites ♥Linky Party♥

It is time for our Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥
My favorite for this friday is simple

Now what's your favorite?
Remember... anything goes!

Y'all join the party,

Pomodori e Vino ~soup

If you saw me post earlier in the week, y'all saw my big goof. I made the wrong soup!
As a part of the Pomodori e Vino Challenge we have divided the cookbook, Essentials of Italian Cooking, into 7 different daily recipes. We each have a day and a new recipe.
Somehow I confused the Potato and Split Pea Soup with Potato and Green Pea Soup. So tonight I whipped up another pot of potato soup. I can say both were great!
Potato with Green Pea Soup
The thing I love most about The Queen of Italian cooking is the way she describes the details of each recipe. It is the process that brings out each flavor. This soup is a very simple soup with onions, potatoes, and green peas. In her cookbook, Marcella has a beautiful way of describing the process~ 'put in the butter, oil, sliced onion, and a large pinch of salt. ... cook the onion, turning it occasionally, until it becomes very soft and has shed all it's liquid. Then uncover the pan, turn up the heat to medium and cook, stirring once or twice, until all the liquid has bubbled away and the onion has become colored a tawny gold.'The meat broth that I had made and frozen provided a flavorful base.
I may not have cooked the potatoes until they were soft enough to get the right texture. I used frozen petite peas, to me they have the best fresh flavor. The combination of potatoes with peas and caramelized onions was a fantastic flavor.Y'all don't forget to Follow Along on facebook... everyday a new adventure!
Ciao y'all,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pomodori e Vino

Now... You can officially call me wacked. ***see the end of the post.
This is my week to rise to the Pomodori e Vino Challenge. We are slowly working our way through the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, and are now into the soups. 'Luckily', today in Alabama we are watching southern springtime storms roll through... the perfect day for a bowl of soup! We will stay home and be safe.
I made my soup saturday, I'll blog it today, and post it to Facebook on Friday. I hope y'all are friends on Facebook and following along on our daily journey.
This recipe is Potato Soup with Split Green Peas.***
Pretty basic right? The thing about all of Marcella Hazan's recipes is the layers of flavor. Simple ingredients with flavors that all pile in your mouth.

This soup starts with a basic homemade meat broth that I made ahead and froze.
The potatoes and peas are slowly cooked in the meat broth until tender. The southern term is smishing... Marcella says to puree them in a food mill then return them to the pot.
Onions cooked in butter and oil, to add another layer of flavor.
Finally parmigiano-reggiano and a fresh crostini.
It is hard to get a pretty picture of green pea soup~ but believe me the flavors pop in your mouth.

Another beautiful dish!
***now for the wacked part.
I am not 'Split Pea Soup'~ I am 'Green Pea Soup'
Lucky for you... you get two of Marcella's pea soup posts this week.
Bill will be thrilled!!
Ciao y'all~

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lemons and a torch~

I will have to give credit to Susi for this craving that was flung upon me. She started it with her Lemon Meringue Cupcakes on Photograzing. They are beautiful! (I won't show her picture here because you will then see that mine are sorely lacking)

But... once you get the taste for lemon meringue in your mouth there is no turning back.
I had an idea.
Using my favorite Diet Soda Cake idea, I created lemon-ginger cupcakes~ using diet gingerale and lemon cake mix.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
24 lemoney cupcakes
1 jar lemon curd
Paula Deen's 7 Minute Frosting When it was time for dessert~ I topped each of the cupcakes with a dollop of lemon curd. Then a larger dollop of the 7 minute frosting that I had made earlier in the day (which answers the question... is this meringue stable enough to last in the fridge?). I torched each cupcake until the meringue was lightly toasted.
They were fabulous!
and fancy :-{)
Thanks bunches to my new bloggy friend Susi. She even responded to my email's while I was in the kitchen... It was almost like having a bloggy friend at the kitchen counter while I was cooking. Y'all enjoy~

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Linky games

I was playing around with Mr Linky friday and managed to really mess up my Friday Favorites ♥Linky Party♥.
I decided to change to the thumbnail links rather than the basic line links.
~Changing boats in the middle of the stream is never a good idea! I finally got it fixed... now I am undecided as to which I like.
What's your opinion?Linky party~ yes, no, or what the heck is a linky party?
thumbnail links or line links?

Y'all leave a shout!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Photo Hunt ~Addiction

The photo hunt for today is 'addiction'
Bill and I have proven that it is NOT the margaritas that are addictive at The Margarita Grill.
It is the chips and salsa!
We have cut back on our icy drinks... but we still go visit our friends!
Happy hunting y'all,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Favorites ♥Linky Party♥

It's friday!
Which means it is time for Friday's Favorites ♥Linky Party♥. Remember~ anything goes! This is actually my family wall of photos.

I have added a few old family photos, and some starfish to tie in my 'summertime' mantle.
They always make me smile.

Now~ y'all join in the linky party!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Somebody Stop Me!

I am hooked on this chalkboard paint... Somebody Stop me!

We just finished off another large container of coffee. They were piling up in the recycling bin... I thought there has to be something to do with these handy plastic containers.
It even works for other clear plastic jars.
Now I can easily find anything in my pantry.

I'm linking to Leigh at bloggeritaville, for her Thrifty Thursday party. This is not only Super Thrifty.. it is recycling! Celebrate Earth Day!

Y'all don't forget to join us for our Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥~

Monday, April 19, 2010

When Life Gives you Lemons...

When life gives you lemons~
Make Limoncello!
I have been in the house for 3 days after my most recent PDT treatment for skin cancers. There is nothing that makes you want to get out of the house more than knowing you can't.
I have caught up with season 7 of Project Runway (I'm still devestated over Anthony~ Bless His Heart!) I've read a book, cooked to my little heart's content and worked on some overdue projects.

My limoncello has been infusing for 45 days. It was time to start Step Two of my hooch-making process. Check HERE for the entire Limoncello recipe from my friend Deborah~ the hooch maker herself (also now of Pomodori e Vino fame!).
So... here we go. The lemon peels have lost their color and are crisp as chips. I filtered out the peels.
I made a syrup of sugar and water and added it to my lemon infusion.
The next step is to return my jar to it's cool dry place for 40 days for the mellowing process that will combine the alcohol infusion with syrup to create a beautiful Limoncello. By then I'll be sipping limoncello in Tuscany.
This batch will be really ready when I get home.
Ciao y'all~

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers~ Pasta

This weeks Sunday Supper is Pasta. It was Nancy's turn to name her favorite pasta. Luckily she didn't choose any plain lasagna, she picked a Butternut Squash and Leek Lasagna. I love trying something new!
The hardest part of this whole recipe is the prep... First, cleaning and dicing the leeks. You have to be careful, just when you think they are clean. Look again! Grating the butternut squash is a chore, watch your knuckles on that!
Squash & Leek Lasagna
10 ounces lasagna noodles, preferably whole-wheat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large or 5 medium leeks, pale green and white parts only, thinly sliced and washed thoroughly (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups nonfat milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and grated using the large hole side of a box grater
6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated using the large hole side of a box grater
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain; return the noodles to the pot and cover with cool water.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the leeks; stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk in a slow stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Whisk in thyme, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Assemble lasagna in the prepared baking dish by layering one third of the noodles, one third of the sauce, half the squash, one third of the cheese, half the remaining noodles, half the remaining sauce, all the pine nuts, all the remaining squash, half the remaining cheese, all the remaining noodles, all the remaining sauce and all the remaining cheese. Cover with parchment paper then foil. Bake the lasagna for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbling and lightly browned, 30 to 45 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving (or follow make ahead instructions). Make Ahead Tip: Bake, let cool for 1 hour, cover with parchment paper then foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, at 350°F for 1 hour, then uncovered for 30 minutes more.

Next time I am using frozen butternut squash, the kind that is peeled and diced... that would cut out 75% of the work. Thanks Nancy!

Y'all enjoy~

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Photo Hunt ~Covered

The photo hunt for today is 'covered' If you live in the south, you know that by the end of the summer the kudzu will cover everything in it's way.
Happy hunting y'all,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

It is time for our Friday's Favorites!
This time of year, my favorite has to be the flowers
and the ferns.
Everywhere you turn.
What is your friday's favorite?
y'all join the party~

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pomodori e Vino~Novel Food

In Marcella Hazan's autobiography Amacord she talks about growing up in Italy during the war, her studies as a scientist, and then later coming to America without knowing any english. She decided to learn to cook... the rest is history!

I am a part of a group who are cooking our way though her Essentials of Italian cooking and posting it daily on Facebook~ called Pomodori e Vino. I am sharing this as my Novel Food hosted by Lisa and Simone. I encourage you to read her story... and to follow us on our journey.
I first saw that I was making a Bagna Caoda, I had no clue what it was.
This was a learning experience for me (one of many I am sure!)
Marcella describes the flavors and sensations of the Piedmontese table being celebrated through the bagna caoda. The cold simple vegetables accompanied by the heat of the bagna caoda~ caoda being the word for hot. She recommends vegetables such as cardoons, artichokes, radishes, carrots, peppers and assorted greens for dipping.
Bagna Caoda is a dip of olive oil, butter, garlic and fresh anchovy fillets. The anchovies melt as the oil is warmed over a small flame. It is served with the freshest raw vegetables. You dip the vegetables into the hot oil. Of course, I had a heck of a time finding Italian vegetables in Alabama. This must not have been the week for a shipper of fresh artichokes. No fresh anchovies as Marcella prefers, I just used the tiny fillets in a glass jar at Whole Funds.The sensation of the cool and crisp vegetables with the hot thickened oil is amazing. The anchovies melt into a paste and all but disappear, leaving a warm salty flavor.
We enjoyed it with friends who are leaving for Italy in just a few days~ the perfect appetizer! We drank wine and talked bella Italia!
Ciao y'all~

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just another day...

Just another day in Paradise!
Monday is a perfect example of my favorite way to spend a day.
Lunch with a friend, sitting outside on a beautiful spring day at the California Kitchen. I ordered some fried artichokes... nothing like the carciofi alla giudia Michelle was frying at
Pomodori e Vino today. Ahh~The taste of Rome! We had to swing through the Salvation Army ~AKA 'Sally Ann's... Rhoda has the eye for good stuff. I came home with a seashell... but saw this dress. What do you think? It could be the very same one I had them pick up years ago.

Off to the garden shop... carpet roses and peonies for the poorly neglected front of the house. My hope is, that once they get started, I can continue to neglect them and enjoy the pool in the back. New ferns for my pots. Tomatoes and 4 kinds of basil nestled in the dirt.
Just in time to enjoy the sunset on the back porch.

Just another day in Paradise... (plus some Alieve for my achin' back!)
I'm linking up for Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.
Y'all enjoy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Special Request...

My niece Haley caught me on facebook and IM'd me for the family favorite chicken casserole. I told her to search the blog (using the search box with the magnifying glass at the top).

100 things to do with a chicken, and no chicken casserole!
Not the fancy chicken casserole with broccoli and curry (It looks like I need to do that one too), the plain one with no veggies.
Not everyone eats veggies, apparently!Here you go, by special request~

Family Favorite Chicken Casserole
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
3 eggs
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayo
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped celery
1 onion, diced
1 cup cooked rice
1 Tbs lemon juice
Corn Flake crumbs
Mix all ingredients, except crumbs in a large bowl. Pour into a sprayed casserole dish. Cover generously with corn flake crumbs. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Y'all enjoy!
Aunt Sandi

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers ~Stir-fry

Our Sunday Supper this week is from Eden. She suggested a stir fry that was quick and easy... just what I needed this week.
Garlic Chicken Stir Fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced cabbage
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet. When oil begins to smoke, quickly stir in 2 cloves minced garlic, ginger root, green onions and salt. Stir fry until onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 4 cloves minced garlic and stir. Add sweet onions, cabbage, bell pepper, peas and 1/2 cup of the broth/water and cover.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup broth/water, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch. Add sauce mixture to wok/skillet and stir until chicken and vegetables are coated with the thickened sauce. Serve immediately.

I served mine on a bed of rice noodles. I added a few extra vegetables and some cilantro ...the sauce was great!
I'll be making this again.

Y'all enjoy~

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Photo Hunt ~Vertical

The photohunt for today is 'vertical' Which is exactly where you go in a hot air balloon!
Straight up... and softly straight down.
Happy Hunting Y'all,

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Favorite's ♥Linky Party♥

It is time for another Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

I am starting my countdown to my most favorite time of the year...
Cooking in Montisi!
39 days until I get to fly to Italy and spend a part of my vacation 'working' in the kitchen with Gail'sGreatEscape.
It's a tough job...
And I can't wait to do it.

Now leave a linky to your Friday's Favorite~ anything goes!
Ciao y'all,
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