Sunday, April 30, 2017

Oregano.....

It's a good thing that oregano requires no gardening maintenance because we all know how much I hate to garden...

(Yes, this is one of MY oregano plants!)

...and mostly because of these:


...we have a few ponds in our neighborhood and along with the beauty come these critters!

BUT...

I love to grow herbs and enjoy using fresh herbs all year long.

I was surprised to see how large my oregano bushes were this spring:


(another one of my plants!)

Some info on Oregano:
Oregano, an herb with a robust scent and flavor, loves to grow in pots where it can spill over an edge of a pot or low wall. However, its trailing growth also makes it a good seasonal ground cover, or it can serve as a nice edging along a path. In late summer, enjoy Greek or Italian oregano’s white flowers against its bright-green leaves. Grow oregano in an herb garden or in containers.


The herb is used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.  Oregano contains: high concentrations of antioxidants( Antioxidants help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals and improve your ability to fight infection), fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E and K, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids, manganese, and typtophan.

I have used oregano for herbal vinegars...


...and of course all Italian dishes!  It adds deep flavor to Italian or Greek dishes, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables such as beans and zucchini. 

 Oregano does not hold up well to prolonged cooking when used fresh, so add fresh leaves at the end of the cooking process or use dried leaves for sauces or anything that requires lengthy simmering.

Here are a few of my favorite meals using fresh oregano:



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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tito's and Tapas Party....

Thursday night my good friend Janine and I attended a fun event at Phoebe's restaurant in Syracuse.  The Tito's and Tapas Party was definitely a great experience....


We had never heard of Tito's vodka, and this was a fun event to introduce it to us.  Vodka has always been my liquor of choice and I rarely drink any other liqueur.

You can read the great story about Tito's vodka and how it all began HERE.  

We were hoping these were the "Door Prizes", but we were wrong:


The restaurant served 6 cocktails made with Tito's - my 2 favorites were the Strawberry Mo-Tito and the  Peach Cooler.




And the tapas were so delicious....my favorite was the skirt steak!




It's always a fun time with Janine, especially after a few cocktails!


Tito's vodka is distilled from corn, is gluten free, and is light and smooth.  It is reasonably priced and is now on my shopping list!

Visit Tito's website to learn more about this small company and if you are looking for some great cocktail ideas, go here!

And remember:
 "drink responsibly" and "don't drink and drive"!


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dinner at the kitchen counter...

Sometimes I just feel like eating at the kitchen counter rather than at the table...It feels good to simplify things now and then!
I made a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs, more than enough for two, so there will be leftovers for lunch tomorrow!


I used paper placemats and napkin rings with an Italian theme...


...and opened a bottle of red...


...and pulled out our wine glasses from Truro Winery on Cape Cod...


...and MC Courtly Checked bowls and harlequin forks from Wegman's


...and all I have to do it toss the spaghetti and meatballs together and butter some bread with garlic butter for dinner!


And, chocolate frosted cupcakes for dessert!



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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How to make a kalac....


A kalac (or kalach) is a Hungarian and Russian braided bread, often served on special occasions.

My take is a bit different, but created similarly.

I defrosted 2 loaves of bread dough and spread each into 14"-16" circles.  I diced 1/3 cup each of green and red peppers, added some seasonings and chives and spread it over one circle of dough...


...and topped it with shredded sharp cheddar cheese....


...and then placed the other circle of dough on top....


....I coated the blades of kitchen shears with olive oil....


...placed a glass in the center and cut strips into the center...


...until it looked like this:


Each wedge was then twisted individually:


I brush a bit of melted butter over the dough and let it rise a bit before ....


....baking at 350' for about 30-35 minutes...


It's best served warm, and sometimes can just be pulled apart...


...or you can gently cut apart


I have made this with bits of ham and cheese OR onion and green pepper with pepper jack cheese.  The kalac I made on Sunday was gone in no time, with just the center left on the platter!
Delish!!


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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Prepping for Easter Dinner....

Tomorrow we will celebrate Easter with family.
I set the table with "springy" pastel dinner dishes...


...for 14 of us.  I used my Pottery Barn topiary and bunny for a quick centerpiece...


...a sparkly topiary with eggs, flowers, berries and dragonflies...


...and then John brought home tulips.  They were so pretty that they had to go on the table!


My great niece and 2 great nephews will be the stars of the show with an Egg Hunt and special treats at their place setting...




I bought bunny shapes at Target for place cards...


...and I potted little Violas in clay pots...


 ...wrapped them in cello...



...and place them in little gift bags I bought in NYC at ABC...see the message on the bag?...


...trust me, there will be some mischief going on!  There always is when the family gets together!


The bar is set with Waterford crystal stemware for a pitcher of Strawberry Martinis!!


I try to get a lot of prep work done the day before so I can also enjoy the day!
I prepared a squash casserole, with a garlic/herbal butter drizzled over...


...and after baking I will sprinkle the top with cheddar and some fresh chives...


...I will also serve asparagus bundles wrapped in bacon, tomorrow they will be drizzled with EVOO and seasonings before baking...


 I am also serving a Potato Torte, a big pot of macaroni and cheese for the kiddies, lemon-poppy seed bread, home made pickled carrots and I will throw a ham in the oven!!  Easy peasy!


I am making a Kalac for an appetizer - stop by next week for pics and directions on this scrumptious bread!


Nothing says "Happy Spring, Happy Easter" more than tulips!


Wishing you a wonderful Easter, a bright and cheery spring, and a happy day!

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