Category:  Fun Foods

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Salami Mozzarella Quesadilla

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On September 20, 2011 0 Comments

This simple-to-make snack, lunch, starter or dinner is fast and fun. I’ve always enjoyed a plain cheese quesadilla, but when I created my own version with Genoa Salami and Mozzarella, it became exquisite!

Top these Italian-Mexican quesadillas with my Salsa and … Whatever recipe. It’ll be amore or amor at first bite!

Prep time: 5 to 8 minutes
Makes: 4 quesadillas

Ingredients:
Four 10-inch flour tortillas
16 slices Genoa Salami, thinly sliced
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, warm up two tortillas at a time on medium-high heat by flipping them over at 1 to 2-minute intervals.

2. Set burner on low heat setting.

3. Working quickly, lay 4 slices salami on the half side of each tortilla.

4. Top the salami with ¼ of the shredded mozzarella and fold each tortilla in half (you have made a quesadilla).

5. Flip the quesadillas over immediately (to avoid charring the underside).

6. With a spatula, gently press top of each quesadilla to flatten slightly.

7. Flip quesadilla over once or twice or until cheese has melted and starts bubbling along quesadilla edges.

Serve hot with Salsa and … Whatever (published on this blog on June 28, 2010).

Wine pairing suggestion: chilled Pinot Grigio (white) or Cabernet Sauvignon (red).

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Mochi Watermelon Ice Pops

In Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On August 21, 2011 0 Comments

Yesterday was a HOT day and I felt like eating something fresh and fun! I immediately thought of picking up a sweet, crisp watermelon at the supermarket – a delicious summer fruit. For the fun part, I was thinking of frozen treats or yogurt and all the toppings that I go crazy over (especially those chewy bits of mochi). I think you figured it out, right?

These watermelon pops are lots of fun – each bite is a curious surprise!

Active prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours or overnight (for freezing)
Makes: 10 ice pops

Ingredients:
4 cups watermelon chunks (1-inch pieces)
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
10 plastic ice pop molds
1 cup mini mochi pieces (available at most frozen yogurt stores)

1. Put the watermelon, lime juice, water and sugar in a blender and “pulse-blend” until ingredients are mixed, but not watery. Taste and adjust sugar or lime juice levels.

2. Divide the watermelon mixture evenly among 10 ice pop molds.

3. Place a few mochi pieces on top of the watermelon mixture in each mold.

4. Add plastic ice pop stick or wooden popsicle stick and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

To Unmold Mochi Watermelon Ice Pops:

1. Place exterior section of ice pop molds underneath hot, running water until the ice pops fall out.

2. When unmolding, if ice pops are watery all around, place them on a metal baking sheet and return to freezer for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve.

Text and Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza

In Fun Foods, Pizzas, Savory Tarts & Quiches On May 15, 2011 2 Comments

ENTER OUR KITCHEN, WATCH & LEARN

If you’re not in the mood to make pizza, go and enjoy it at your favorite Italian restaurant.

By popular demand, I’m sharing my recipe for pear and gorgonzola pizza. And, all you need is pizza dough, pears, gorgonzola, mozzarella and oil. The best part is that all the ingredients (including premade dough) can be found at Trader Joe’s® stores. Prepare this pizza in less than 15 minutes.

Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as an appetizer)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
One 16-ounce Trader Joe’s® plain, refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 large ripe pears (any variety), peeled, quartered, cored and cut into 1/16-inch thick slices
1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese*
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.

2. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, spread the vegetable oil evenly on a 12 X 16-inch rectangular or 16-inch round baking sheet.

3. Place the dough over oiled sheet and flatten slightly.

4. Flip the dough over and begin stretching the dough gently with fingertips until it fits into sides of baking sheet.

5. Brush the dough with olive oil. Arrange the pear slices evenly over dough, followed by the gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses.

6. Place sheet with pizza on a rack positioned in upper third of oven and bake 10 to 11 minutes or until cheese begins to turn light golden.

7. Transfer the pizza to bottom rack and bake an additonal 4 to 5 minutes or until bottom of pizza is golden brown.

Serve the pizza hot with a green salad.

Wine suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon

*Note: When assembling the pizza, use the lesser amount of the cheeses. If you are a cheese fanatic, feel free to add more.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Cinco de Mayo Tabasco Parfaits

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fun Foods, Holidays On May 1, 2011 0 Comments

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a holiday that was created by Mexicans living in California. It is not a Mexican national holiday, but instead, commemorates the Mexican army fighting the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Although this battle was not a victory for Mexico, Cinco de Mayo symbolizes Mexican heritage and pride.

I’m celebrating this holiday by going to a “fiesta” and contributing these Tabasco Parfaits which combine Tabasco® Spicy Pepper Jelly and the French dessert “parfait”. The pepper jelly’s “bite” adds a nice surprise to the strawberry gelatin and overall flavors. My dessert unites Mexico and France – peace at last!

Active prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Inactive prep time: 2 hours (chilling in refrigerator)
Makes: 10 parfaits (4 ounces each)

Ingredients:
One 3-ounce box lime Jell-O®
One 3-ounce box strawberry Jello-O®
3 tablespoons Knox® gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
One 10-ounce jar Tabasco® Spicy Pepper Jelly (red label)
One 8-ounce package Cool Whip®, thawed per package directions
10 lime or orange chewy candy wedges (substitute with 10 wedges fresh lime)

1. Place contents of lime Jell-O in a 1-quart bowl and stir in 1 cup boiling water until Jell-O is dissolved. Add 1 cup cold water and stir; set aside.

2. Place contents of strawberry Jell-O in a 2 or 3-quart bowl and stir in 1 cup boiling water until Jell-O is dissolved. Add 1 cup cold water and stir; set aside.

3. Fill 10 glasses or ramekins each with ¼ cup lime Jell-O liquid (glasses or ramekins should look 1/3 full). Place in freezer to set, about 18 to 20 minutes (check after 15 minutes to make sure they do not freeze).

4. Once set, top lime Jell-O with some Cool Whip (to fill the middle third of the glass) and transfer to refrigerator.

5. In a drinking glass, stir together the Knox gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water; let rest 5 minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture and the spicy Tabasco pepper jelly into the strawberry Jell-O.

6. Place the bowl with the strawberry Jell-O mixture in freezer to set, about 20 minutes, or until the Jell-O has thickened and looks lumpy (it should not set completely).

7. Using a 1/4-cup measure, pour the partially set strawberry Jell-O mixture over Cool Whip in each glass, filling it to the rim.

8. Place the parfaits in freezer to set, about 15 minutes; transfer to refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.

9. Garnish each parfait with a lime or orange chewy candy wedge.

Note: Tabasco® Spicy Pepper Jelly is available at most supermarkets or online at the Tabasco® Country Store – http://countrystore.tabasco.com.

Text and Photograph © Nancy DeLucia Real 2011
“Fiesta” theme decoration by © Amsan, Inc.

Vegetarian Calamari

In Fun Foods, Vegetables On April 9, 2011 2 Comments

While growing up in Southern Italy, I became an apprentice to my “Nonna” or grandmother, aka the “maestra” or master chef of the town. Although I learned how to prepare the peninsula’s finest cuisine, my focus was on the bounty from the “orto” or garden. I never liked some of the seafood delicacies that the cooks in the Campania region are so famous for. Among these are fried calamari.

Because my Nonna knew I didn’t like those rubbery circles that pretended to be crispy, she would go to her orto, pick fresh cauliflower and turn it into golden nuggets. She would then smile at me and say, “Ecco i tuoi calamaretti vegetariani” or “Here are your vegetarian fried calamari” – made exclusively for me!

This appetizer is fun to eat with a sweet pepper spread*.

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 fresh cauliflower (about 1-½ to 1-¾ pounds), leaves discarded and florets cut into 2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, for coating cauliflower florets
2 to 3 large eggs
¾ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying

1. Rinse the cauliflower florets and put them in a 4-quart saucepot. Cover florets with cold water. Set saucepot on a stove burner and bring to a boil.

2. Add ½ teaspoon salt, and boil, uncovered, on medium heat until cauliflower florets are crunchy-tender when pierced with a fork, about 4 minutes.

3. Gently drain the cauliflower florets and set them aside in a glass or porcelain bowl to cool, uncovered, about 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, put flour in a shallow, 8 or 10-inch bowl and set aside.

5. In another shallow, 8 or 10-inch bowl, beat 2 eggs with ¾ teaspoon salt and black pepper; set aside.

6. When cauliflower florets are cool, coat them first with flour, shaking off excess, and then roll them with two forks in the beaten egg (heat the oil as you do this).

7. In an 8 or 10-inch skillet or a deep fryer of the same circumference, heat the oil on high setting. Test by dropping a tiny amount of beaten egg – if it sizzles and rises, the oil is ready.

8. Immediately lower heat to medium and fry the cauliflower in batches. This is a quick process (after a few seconds of frying, gently lift bottom of a floret to check if it is golden); turn once and fry other side until golden.

9. Drain fried cauliflower (Vegetarian Calamari) on a dinner plate lined with paper towels.

Serve immediately with sweet pepper spread.

Note: Vegetarian Calamari can be made early in the day and stored in a baking dish and covered with aluminum foil. Set on a counter until ready to serve.

At serving time, heat oven to 350˚F. Warm the Vegetarian Calamari, covered, about 20 to 25 minutes and serve warm.

*Suggested spreads: Peloponnese Sweet Pepper Spread®, found in gourmet supermarkets; and Zergüt Mild Ajvar® (made with sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, garlic and onions), found in Middle Eastern or International gourmet food stores. Both brands are reddish-orange in color.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real