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Gifts from the Garden…Yes Please!

I¬†have had the fortune of great friends with the greenest of green thumbs extoll gifts from their garden. I LOVE summer’s bounty am elated when the supply far exceeds the demand. Truthfully, how much zucchini, tomatoes, beats and lettuce can one eat in a week? Hmmmm…..

So, with open hands and a grateful heart, I accept these gifts and in return, I share recipes, dog treats and treasures from my kitchen.

My zucchini growing friends did quite well this year….you know who you are ūüėė and I am sharing one of my favorite recipes…Zucchini Napoleons.

ZUCCHINI CAKE NAPOLEONS

Makes 4 servings 

SHRED:

  • 4 zucchini, green, yellow or both (4 cups)
  • 1/2¬†C.¬†shredded onion
  • 1/2 C. shredded Romano cheese
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

WHISK:

  • 2 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning¬†
  • 1/2¬†tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup Italian panko (or Italian breadcrumbs)

HEAT:

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

ASSEMBLE:

  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced¬†1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 Cup prepared pesto (I use Trader Joe‚Äôs‚Ķcheap + fresh)
  • Basil sprigs

Shred zucchini and onion

Place zucchini and onion in a salad spinner, sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 minutes. 

Spin mixture in a salad spinner to dry; transfer to a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove more liquid.

Whisk together egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, and baking powder.
Stir in zucchini mixture and panco. 

Scoop batter with 1/2 cup measure onto a baking sheet and press into 8 cakes.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil with drippings in skillet. Sauté cakes in two batches over medium heat until golden, about 4 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed.

Add a mozzarella slice to each cake in the last 2 minutes of sautéing to slightly melt mozzarella. 

Transfer cakes to a paper-towel-lined plate. 

Assemble Napoleons by layering

  • fresh mozzarella slice
  • a tomato slice
  • 2 T. pesto¬†
  • ¬†Top each with a remaining cake and garnish with a basil sprig;¬†serve immediately¬†

Dear Friends,

Summer’s bounty isn’t over until it’s over. I hope you enjoy this delicious dish. It has great presentation and doesn’t take forever to make…just a few small steps.

Great friends are truly a blessing. I remember taking a Steven Covey class many years ago where he emphasized the concepts of deposits and withdrawals¬†in friendship. “Over deposit and under withdraw” was his best advice in any relationship and no words could be truer.

Cheers to friends, family and everything else you love. Until next time…

ūüćłLaura

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SERVING TRAYS

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Mother’s Day Calls for Mom’s Chicken

Cookbooks, recipe cards, recipe files, have all been replaced by Pinterest, online cookbooks and online recipe sites such as Cooks, Epicurious, Delish, ¬†All Recipes, Cooking Channel, Taste of Home and more. It’s not a bad thing, but for sure, you will find a multitude of variations on anything you want to cook.

Wedding showers were the best. Often times, the gift was to include a recipe card for the bride’s recipe files. I vividly recall attending a friend’s wedding shower more years ago than I like to remember. As Connie opened her gifts with the attached recipe card, her mother proudly announced, “The next grease mark on any of my cookbooks will be the first!” ¬†We all politely smiled and nodded in agreement.¬†

How things have changed. Cooking is now an ‘in thing,’ whether created by television cooking programs like “The Chew,” or perhaps drinking too much wine in a restaurant became hazardous to your ability to drive home safely. In any event, it has changed, and the new customs of sharing great memories of food with friends and family is deep-rooted in the days long ago when it was customary to many ethnicities.¬†

My mother, Marilyn, an artist, created a cookbook with matching bookmarks, many years ago and sold them at a local gift shop with the help of her sister, Dorothy, and Polly Paphilous, the food editor for the Akron Beacon Journal. It never made the best seller list, but I can assure you that anyone who purchased a copy was privy to some delicious recipes. One of my favorites and super easy is “Mom’s Chicken.” I typically use boneless, skinless thighs which I find more flavorful and moist. The Parmesan cheese forms a delicious crust. Remember to grease your pan.

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Dear Friends,

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to you, your mom, or any woman in your life who has provided the unconditional love and caring that it takes to be a great role model and give children the ability to reach for the stars.

My mother is 87 this year and still loves to bake cookies for my father turning 90. I’m blessed, not only with still having them in my life, but also for the wonderful memories I will cherish forever. Watch for my next blog post, “Cookie¬†Nirvana,” where I will feature some of my mom’s most delicious cookie recipes. Until next time….

MOTHER'S DAY¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†ūüć∑Cheers! Laura

P.S. Swing by my online store for great gift ideas!¬†FOLIO TRENDS! Great women’s clothing and accessories at incredible prices!¬†fullsizeoutput_1ddd

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FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Last night, an old friend who we’ve know for many years stopped by for a little holiday cheer. We have known Jimmy wearing many hats over the years, as a lawyer, a great chef, and in his retirement years, Santa. Last night we realized that was all we did know about him, other than the love of his life passing from cancer a few years ago.¬†

Sipping his cocktail, ¬†Jimmy, who we fondly refer to as “Gumbo Jim,” was lamenting over a ‘Dear John’ letter he recently received in his mailbox, listing the reasons his long time girlfriend no longer wanted to see him. The first two were petty, but the third was surprising; surprising to know this about someone, and surprising that would be a deal breaker.¬†

Every year on Jimmy’s birthday, he purchases his own birthday cake inscribed with “Happy Birthday Lewis.”

“When I was 16,” he went on, “my parents forgot my birthday. They went out of town visiting friends, and I thought they were setting me up for a big surprise. After several hours passed, I realized they had forgotten!¬†So I went through all of the pockets in the laundry and around the house scraping up as much change as I could find and ran down the street to the corner bakeshop just about to close. Anxiously entering, I asked if they had any birthday cakes. The lady at the counter looked at me and replied, “Just one, but it already has a birthday message on it. It says, “Happy Birthday Lewis.”

Reliving that moment, Jimmy stated, “I bought it, and sitting on the corner eating my birthday cake through my tears, I wondered who poor Lewis was who never got his cake. So, every year, I buy my own birthday cake always inscribed with, Happy Birthday Lewis. I never realized that this was such an annoyance.”

So, you think you know someone until they share personal stories giving a window to their heart. This time of year, ¬†we get so caught up in shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, celebrating and trying to create the perfect holiday, that so often we forget to take time with our friends and family to know them and to listen. That is truly a gift both to give and receive.ūüéÖf620dd10609be2423fece09632cd75c3

Here’s an idea to plus up your holiday! Make it a fiesta! Grab a bottle of tequila, mix up a delicious poinsettia smash, cocktail ¬†and try any of these simple kid friendly, crowd pleasing recipes!¬†

TACO CRESCENT RING

 taco-crescent-ringThis taco-filled crescent ring is the perfect meal for Taco Night! Dress it up with fresh shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and taco sauce for a fun twist on tacos! (Serves 8)

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1¬†package (1 oz) Old El Paso‚ĄĘ taco seasoning mix
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
2¬†cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury‚ĄĘ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced ripe olives, taco sauce or salsa, as desired

¬†Heat oven to 375¬įF. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning mix and 1/2 cup water. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. In medium bowl, mix beef mixture and cheese.

  1. Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 16 triangles. On ungreased large cookie sheet, arrange triangles in ring so short sides of triangles form a 5-inch circle in center. Dough will overlap. Dough ring should look like the sun.
  2. Spoon beef mixture on the half of each triangle closest to center of ring.
  3. Bring each dough triangle up over filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around ring until entire filling is enclosed (some filling might show a little).
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and thoroughly baked. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into serving slices.

QUICK and EASY TACO PIE

quick-taco-pie

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef
1¬†(1-oz.) pkg. Old El Paso‚ĄĘ Taco Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup water
1/cup sliced black olives
1¬†(8-oz.) can Pillsbury‚ĄĘ Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 1/2 to 2 cups crushed corn chips
1 (8-oz.) container (1 cup) sour cream
6 slices American cheese or 4 oz. (1 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce, if desired
Avocado slices, if desired

1¬†Heat oven to 375¬įF. Cook ground beef in 10-inch skillet until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix, water and olives. Simmer 5 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, separate crescent dough into 8 triangles. Place triangles in ungreased 9 or 10-inch pie pan, pressing to form crust. Sprinkle 1 cup of the corn chips over bottom of crust.
3 Spoon beef mixture into corn chips in crust. Spread sour cream over beef mixture. Cover with cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 to 1 cup corn chips.
4¬†Bake at 375¬įF. for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cut in wedges. Serve immediately with lettuce and avocado. Store in refrigerator.

CHEESE TOPPED TACO PIE (MY FAVORITE!)

0bd73139-1873-4aed-84d5-9c54bdccab6eI just LOVE the way the egg, cheese cream cheese mixture sets on this pie! (Serves 6)

Ingredients

Crust
1¬†box Pillsbury‚ĄĘ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
Filling
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1¬†package (1 oz) Old El Paso‚ĄĘ taco seasoning mix
1¬†jar (16 oz) Old El Paso‚ĄĘ Thick ‘n Chunky salsa

1 can (2.8 oz) french fried onions
1 (8 oz pkg) cream cheese
2 cups shredded taco-flavored cheese blend (8 oz)
2 eggs
1 small tomato, seeded, diced
Steps
1¬†Heat oven to 450¬įF. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell using 9-inch glass pie pan or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown.
2¬†Reduce oven temperature to 350¬įF. In 10-inch skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix and salsa; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in half of the french fried onions. Spoon mixture into baked shell.
3 In small bowl, mix cream cheese, 1 cup of the taco-flavored cheese blend and the eggs. Spoon over beef mixture. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until slightly puffed and set in center.
4 Remove pie from oven. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over filling; sprinkle remaining french fried onions in center of filling.
5¬†Return to oven; bake 2 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle tomato around edge and in center of filling. Garnish with sliced¬†jalape√Īos¬† Let pie stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving

POINSETTIA SMASH

poinsettia-smash

INGREDIENTS

2 oz Patrón Silver
.5 oz Fino Sherry
5 Fresh cranberries (or .5 oz of cranberry jelly)
.5 oz Simple syrup (omit if using jelly)
.5 Lemon
+ Cinnamon stick & lemon wheel for garnish
METHOD
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon wheel.

Dear Friends,

Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it’s wonderful and filled with memories to cherish forever. Watch for the opening of my new E store: FOLIO TRENDS where I feature beautiful and trendy designs for ladies at great prices:¬†FOLIO TRENDS

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Aclamaciones! (that’s Spanish for Cheers!)

Se√Īorita Laura