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Pico de Gallo & Bean Tostadas (Vegan)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Holidays, Vegetables On May 1, 2017 0 Comments

Thinking of a quick, no-brainer recipe for Cinco de Mayo? Make these organic & delicious vegan tostadas. You’ll probably have to double or triple the recipe because these starters will vanish in no time!

Be sure to use Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans®. This bean product contains meat or animal fat products. Anything you make with these beans will taste wholesome and natural.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (with pulp discarded)
1/2 cup finely-chopped red onion
1 teaspoon finely-chopped Serrano chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (you may add more, to taste)
1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro leaves
One 15.4-ounce can Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans®
12 blue or yellow corn, flat tostada shells
Avocado slices (from 1 avocado), optional
1/2 cup grated, dry cheese (Cotija, Parmigiano Reggiano or other variety)

Make Pico de Gallo Salsa:
1. In a 1 to 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, onion, Serrano chile pepper, salt and cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust chile pepper & salt levels.

2. Set Pico de Gallo aside, covered.

Warm Up The Refried Beans:
1. Meanwhile, transfer the refried beans to a small saucepot.

2. On medium-high setting, warm up the beans, stirring constantly.

3. As beans warm up, if consistency is too thick or dry, add a little water.

Assemble Tostadas:
1. When beans are hot, spread about 2 tablespoons on each tostada set on a serving platter.

2. Top the beans with 2 tablespoons Pico de Gallo Salsa.

3. If desired add 1 or 2 thin slices avocado, followed by a sprinkle of grated cheese.

4. Serve with Margaritas or Tequila shots – Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Bloody Halloween Punch

Bloody Halloween Punch for Kids & for Adults

In Drinks, Holidays On October 11, 2013 16 Comments

This hassle-free and cost-efficient punch requires very few ingredients. Can’t believe your bloody eyes? Neither will your guests. Happy Halloween and stay safe!

Prep time: Less than 5 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients (for kids):
Juice of 4 limes
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups pomegranate or cranberry juice, chilled
2 liters ginger ale, chilled
2 to 4 drops red food color (optional)
One package plastic Halloween eyeballs

Ingredients (for adults):
Same as above, plus 5 to 6 shots of Vodka (adjust, according to taste)

1. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

2. Pour the lime juice and sugar mixture into a large punch bowl.

3. Stir in the juice and ginger ale and red food color.

4. For the adult version, add vodka and stir.

5. Decorate punch with plastic eyeballs (they will float) and serve.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Note: The cupcake design was inspired by Wilton Icing Decorations®

Nancy’s Mostaccioli (Spiced Cookies)

Nancy’s Mostaccioli (Spiced Cookies)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On January 1, 2013 1 Comment

The name “mostaccioli” denotes a pasta variety as well as a type of cookie. I learned to make these Italian spiced cookies from my mom, Francesca Sciscente. Her delicious version contains butter, cocoa and chocolate chips.

My recipe for this exquisite cookie contains no cocoa or chocolate chips. It’s also fat-free.
On New Year’s Eve, serve mostaccioli with champagne and bring in a bright 2013!

Active prep time: 1 hour
Bake time: 12 minutes
Makes: 30 to 34 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest from each a 1/2 lemon and a 1/2 orange
1/2 cup dark or light raisins
1/2 cup roasted, slivered almonds, coarsely ground
1 egg white, beaten (as part of garnish)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (as part of garnish)
-or-
candy sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12 X 18-inch baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a 1-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.

3. In a 3-quart mixing bowl or a stand mixer bowl, mix together the eggs, honey, sugar, lemon and orange zests, raisins and slivered almonds.

4. On medium speed, gradually stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Mix on medium speed until a cookie dough forms, about 2 minutes.

5. Using a spatula, clean sides of bowl and mix once more for a few seconds or until the dough is uniform.

6. Turn cookie dough out onto a flat, lightly floured surface. Gently knead dough until it is smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide dough into two dough balls.

7. Take one dough ball and, with lightly floured hands, flatten it to a 6-inch circle. Place the dough circle between two lightly-floured waxed paper sheets measuring about 15 inches long.

8. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough. After two to three rolls of the pin, lift off the top waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the dough once more. Placing one hand between waxed paper and flat surface and, with the other hand placed on top, make a quick flip of the dough (turn it over).

9. Lift off the second waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the dough surface. Replace the waxed paper over dough and continue rolling it out. Repeat instructions on lifting off the wax paper sheet and flouring as you roll out the dough.

10. When the dough has extended to a 10 or 11-inch circle and measures 1/8-inch thickness, remove top waxed paper sheet.

11. Lightly flour the top surface of dough and quickly flip it over onto the flat surface. Peel off the second waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the dough.

12. Using a 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles in the dough. Gather remaining dough and repeat roll-out instructions. Cut out more circles.

13. Place dough circles on parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving one inch between each one.

14. Brush each dough circle lightly with beaten egg white; sprinkle with sliced almonds or candy sprinkles.

15. Place baking sheet on a rack positioned in center of oven. Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove baking sheet with cookies from oven and set aside to cool on a counter.

16. Meanwhile, repeat roll-out instructions for remaining dough ball. Repeat baking instructions for the second batch of cookies.

17. Cool the cookies completely. Mostaccioli can be made ahead and frozen.

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS: When the mostaccioli have cooled completely, place them in double Ziploc® freezer bags. Mostaccioli will keep frozen up to one month.

TO THAW: Take mostaccioli out of bags and set them on a platter for 15 to 20 minutes.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Panforte de Siena

Panforte di Siena (Italian Christmas cake)

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Holidays On December 10, 2012 0 Comments

A few hundred years ago in Italy and other European countries, imported and exotic spices were linked to nobility – they were expensive!

Going back to the Middle Ages, panforte (it literally translates to “strong bread”) is  a rich fruit and nut cake. It is a specialty of the Tuscan city of Siena. Made with “strong” spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and black pepper, panforte is traditionally made at Christmastime.

However, you don’t have to go to Siena to enjoy panforte because I’m sharing my favorite version of this delicacy with you. Happy Holidays to all my Friends!

Active prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes: one 9-inch cake

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter (to lightly grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan)
Parchment paper, trimmed to a 9-inch round to fit in bottom of cake pan
2/3 cup dried figs, minced
2/3 cup dates, pitted and minced
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup candied fruit (a mix of lemon and orange rinds and citron)
-or-
1 cup mixed white raisins and dried cranberries
3/4 cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped (preferably skinned and roasted)
3/4 cup unsalted hazelnuts (roasted first, then skinned), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Vin Santo or Sweet Vermouth
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Butter the bottom of a springform cake pan and cover it with the parchment round. Set cake pan aside.

3. Place the figs and dates in a 1 to 2-quart saucepot. Add enough water to barely cover the dried fruit. Add the honey, brown sugar and the spices.

4. Cook the fruit-spice mixture on low heat for 4 to 5 minutes. NOTE: TO PREVENT BURNING OR SCORCHING OF THE FRUIT MIXTURE, DO NOT OVERCOOK. IF IT BEGINS TO “SMELL” BURNT, YOU MUST DISCARD IT AND START ALL OVER AGAIN.

5. When the fruit mixture has cooked and reduced for 5 minutes, transfer it to a medium bowl. the fruit mixture should be sticky.

6. Stir the candied fruit and nuts into the hot fruit-spice mixture, mixing well. Stir in the flour and Vin Santo or Vermouth and mix until the mass is sticky.

7. Carefully spoon the panforte mixture into the springform pan. Place the pan on a rack set in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes.

8. After 30 minutes, check to see if the panforte is too soft (undercooked) or if it is firm. If it is too soft, bake the panforte for an additional 5 minutes.

9. Remove the panforte from oven and place it on a counter to cool. When the panforte has cooled but is still a little warm, remove it from pan by releasing the sides. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter and peel off the parchment paper.

10. Cool the panforte completely. When cool, generously sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar and serve the panforte in tiny wedges.

Note: Panforte can be stored, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, up to two weeks.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos (Spanish)

Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos (Spanish)

In Nancy's Articles On October 28, 2012 0 Comments

In various cultures around the world, the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos (Spanish) is celebrated on November 1 and November 2. It corresponds with the Roman Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is a national holiday. It is a day when families get together (such as the skeleton family in the above photograph – lol!).

Altars, such as this one, are built to commemorate dead family members ad friends. Serving as shrines, the altars hold skulls made of sugar and marigolds. Articles that belonged to the deceased, as well as their favorite foods, are then transported by families to grave sites where festivities follow.

Notice the glazed, textured bread – it is known as pan de muertos (literally translated as Bread of the Dead). During this holiday, large versions such as this one or mini versions of pan de muertos are found in bakeries all over Mexico.

Day of the Dead rituals go as far back as 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, to the pre-Hispanic era in Mexico. Skulls, which symbolized death and rebirth, were kept and displayed as trophies by indigenous peoples.

The above skulls are my own trophies which represent party-time – they’re filled with Tequila!

Ancient festivities and rituals, however, took place in August, the ninth month of the Aztec calendar. They were dedicated to the goddess of the dead or the modern-day Catrina.

Catrina is an upper-class skeleton woman – isn’t she sexy? There are many versions of her, as you can see.

This one is reminiscent of Twiggy – the famous 1960′s model – is she alive or is she remembered on Day of the Dead in Mexico?

Photograph credit ©Tomas Castelazo
www.tomascastelazo.com/Wikipedia Commons/License CC-BY-SA-3.0

By far, my fav Catrinas are these two!
Which are your favorite sexy skeletons?

In honor of Mexico, its art, food and culture, I’ve posted a special recipe on this website – Mexican Pumpkin Treat. Find it in Recipe index, under Desserts, Creams & Sauces; and Vegetables.
Feliz Dia de los Muertos!
Nancy:)

Text and Photographs of Skeleton Family, Altar, Skulls, Blue Catrina, Black-Haired Catrina and Mexican Pumpkin Treat ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real