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Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

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Lets be honest, momma likes to have a drink every now and then.  A beer after a day on the beach.  A cocktail with dinner.  A just because celebratory glass of champagne.  All good things in my book.  It’s taken me a while to appreciate  wine though.  I didn’t understand all the hubbub over wine until I entered my thirties.  Maybe it’s my taste buds maturing?  Who knows.  Even still, I can’t drink a dry wine.  Give me a sweet moscato though and I’m in heaven.  Mix that moscato with fruit and schnapps, and well, I’ll call that breakfast.  Just kidding.  Maybe. 😉

Me with my babies on Mother's Day.

Me with my babies on Mother’s Day.

I had the most amazing peach sangria on Mother’s Day this year at a Greek restaurant that’s been in business since the 1970’s, Hellas Restaurant and Bakery, located on the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  If you’re ever in the area, stop here for an authentic Greek dining experience.  Absolutely delicious.  While there, be sure to browse the shops and learn a few things about the strong Greek community and the harvesting of sea sponges. You can even embark on sightseeing tours, where you can get the opportunity to look for dolphins, watch sponge diving exhibitions,  see the historic lighthouse, explore natural estuaries, and some boats even beach on an island where you can look for shells. It’s a great place to just stroll around and explore.

Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs Florida

Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs Florida

Since dining at Hellas I’ve had a slight obsession with Greek food and recreating some of my favorites.  Some recipes were definite misses, and some were big hits!  This Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria is one of the hits.  Sweet and fruity, it’s a great, refreshing drink to serve anytime of the day or night.

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery on the historic Sponge-Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery on the historic Sponge-Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL

Another thing I love about sangria is that you can add almost any fruit to it.  All is fair in fruit and sangria.  Except bananas.  That would probably be really gross.  Save those for smoothies.  Have some lemon or lime slices leftover? Toss those in.  An abundance of berries?  Throw those in too. Why not?  It will only enhance the flavor.  Plus you can convince yourself that it’s healthier because you’re getting extra servings of fruit, right?  Maybe not, but who cares.

Light, refreshing, sweet, and fruity sangria

Light, refreshing, sweet, and fruity sangria

 

Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

1.75L bottle Barefoot Moscato (or your favorite white wine)
2/3 cup peach schnapps
1/4 cup sugar
16 oz can chunk pineapple in it’s own juice
1 mango, cut into cubes (or frozen chunks)
Optional: Other fruit. I used peach, blueberries, and strawberries.

In large pitcher combine wine, schnapps, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add fruit and the juice from the pineapple can.
Chill. For best results, refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Overnight is better.

Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

Peach-Mango-Pineapple Sangria

Pizza Quesadillas – AKA Pizzadillas

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Pizza Quesadillas – AKA Pizzadillas

Happy Sunday!! We are having a lazy day here, or trying to at least.  The last week has been insanely busy and Buddy and I needed a day to just veg out.   Sadly, Hubby and Sissy couldn’t join us today.  Sissy is away visiting her far-away family for the summer and Hubby is stuck at work.  Bummer 😦

Funny enough, being lazy is actually hard work.  I keep wanting to go clean something or at least pretend to be productive.  Relaxing is not my strong-suit.  I get bored and anxious.  Buddy, on the other hand,  has been perfectly happy just hanging out this morning and rediscovering some forgotten toys since he hasn’t had a lot of independent play time recently.  I think independent play is so important for children to have.  It boosts their creativity and imagination, helps develop  problem solving skills, inspires confidence, and gives both of you a break from each other.   Some of my most treasured moments with my children have come from independent play.  How can you not smile when you peek in on your 3-year-old and see him dressed up as a cat-superhero-rockstar, talking on a spatula telephone, while baking imaginary eggs for his family of stuffed animals or using the bottom of a drum as an astronaut helmet?

Independent play isn’t something that comes easily to some parents and children, so start slow if you need to.  Set aside 15 minutes dedicated to independent playtime.  Start off by setting them up with a favorite toy, some dress-up items, crayons and paper, blocks, and/or interesting, safe things like kitchen utensils (whisks, spatulas, plastic bowls,etc).   Go through the items with your child and see what sparks their interest.  Let them lead the way.  When they start to engage with a particular item, let them know you’ll be right back and walk away for a few minutes.  If they instantly come running after you, that’s ok.   Just lead them to their play area and remind them you need a few minutes to use the bathroom (start dinner, put a load of laundry in) then you’ll be right back.  Gradually increase the amount of playtime as your kiddo gets comfortable.

While they are learning how to play independently you can whip up this fast and tasty lunch.  The pizzadilla is also perfect for hot summer days where you don’t want to heat up your kitchen and lazy afternoons.  Use your favorite pizza toppings and customize it anyway you want it!  Serve with fresh fruit, cut veggies, or a salad and you have a complete, light meal.
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Pizza quesadillas – AKA Pizzadillas
Makes 1 pizzadilla. Double/triple/quad recipe for however many people you are serving.

  • 2 white corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon pizza sauce (plus extra for dipping, if desired)
  • 1/8 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (use up to 1/4 cup if you like it extra cheesy)
  • 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch of italian seasoning
  • 4-5 pepperoni slices – or topping of your choice (diced green pepper, onion, mushrooms, crumbled cooked sausage)

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Preheat skillet to medium-high heat.  Put 1 of the tortillas in the pan.  Top with pizza sauce and spread to the edges.  Sprinkle half the cheese onto the tortilla.  Add toppings.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and seasonings then top with second tortilla.  When bottom tortilla is lightly browned, flip carefully.  The Pizzadilla is done when both sides are browned and toasty. Cut into quarters and serve with extra pizza sauce for dipping.
*Note: Corn tortillas shrink slightly when cooked. The bottom tortilla will be smaller before you flip. Once both sides are cooked, the size will even out
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Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

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Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

I cannot tell you how excited I am that it’s summer squash season.  Zucchini is one of those veggies that we always have around during the summer and I throw it into anything I can. They are so affordable right now and there is a million things you can do with that delicious green-skinned veggie. Breads, muffins, ragout, sautéed with olive oil and garlic and tossed with pasta, used in frittatas, you get my drift and now I’m drooling.  You name it, I’ve probably done it…except for turn it into noodles.  That’s something I don’t have any desire to try.   I just don’t want to.  You can’t make me.  Neener neener  (so grown-up of me. I know) I’m sure it’s tasty – I just like my noodles filled with carbs.

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By the way! Don’t be one of “those people” who try to sneak squash in place of noodles thinking no one will notice, and you’ll get to be all “SEE! It tastes exactly the same!! And it’s so much better for you!!”  No. They will notice and they will never trust you again.  How would you like it if I gave you water when you were expecting vodka.  NOT SO MUCH FUN NOW, IS IT?!  Just be honest and say you’re trying something new.  It goes over better that way.

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Baked parmesan zucchini crisps

Sorry about that….
Anyway….
Back to my point.
Even though I love zucchini it’s not a veggie the kids get excited about when they hear it’s in the dinner line up.  Hubby swears he doesn’t like it (even though one of his most requested dinners from me is based around zucchini….hmmm…) They are singing a different tune now that I made these parmesan zucchini crisps.  Sissy has asked for them every night for 2 weeks now.  Hubby loves them with my spicy greek yogurt dipping sauce, and Buddy calls them chips and happily munches them down.  Crispy, cheesy, baked goodness that goes perfectly along side a burger or just as a snack.   They are SO FREAKING YUM!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

Sliced zucchini, flour, egg wash, panko

 

zucchini crisps getting ready to be baked

zucchini crisps getting ready to be baked

Flipped, 10 minutes to go...

Flipped, 10 minutes to go…

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps. So brown and crispy without frying!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Crisps. So brown and crispy without frying!

Click here for the recipe!

Soft Onion Sandwich Rolls

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Soft Onion Sandwich Rolls

Onion rolls are pretty much one of my favorite things.  I became obsessed with them after having them at a kind-of local NY style deli restaurant.  I’ll even buy all of their day old/reduced bags  and take up every inch of my freezer.  We don’t need anything else.  Just onion rolls.  I’ve talked my husband into driving toward that town, without feeding him, knowing he’ll get hungry and want to stop somewhere.  How convenient! We just happen to be near that establishment!  Not that I planned it that way, at all.  Nope.  Didn’t do it.   Oh look! Free onion rolls!

This is my version of an onion roll.  Soft, chewy, full of onion flavor with just a hint of garlic. This is the perfect vessel for delivering delicious meat and vegetable fillings to your awaiting taste buds.  You’re drooling now, right? Read the rest of this entry

Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken

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Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken

Sissy’s school held her spring dance last week.  She looked adorable and actually wanted to dress up for it.  She put her own spin on her outfit, but that was fine with me. I was just happy that I got her out of denim shorts and t-shirts.  I also win the award for mother-of-the-year because I forgot to take pictures of this momentous occasion.  I’ve considered having her put the same outfit on just for pictures.  By the time she’s grown up she’ll forget that it wasn’t the same night of the dance, right? Honey Sesame Crockpot Chicken

Her school’s special events are usually held on Thursday nights.  It makes for one hectic evening. Trying to get everything done, and the kids in bed on time, on a “regular” school night can be crazy some days.  Toss in an event that essentially takes 2-2 1/2 hours out of our routine?  That is pretty much a recipe for disaster.  In hopes of avoiding a meltdown from the kids (lets be honest, me and hubby too) I turned to my crock pot to take some of the stress out.  I started it shortly before I left to pick up sissy and it was ready when hubby got home.  Easy and tasty,  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Read the rest of this entry

Philly-Style Sloppy Joes

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Philly-Style Sloppy Joes

If a Philadelphia cheese steak and a sloppy joe made a baby, it would be this sandwich.   So.Much.YUM

I’ll likely be vilified for calling it Philly style, as there are green peppers in it, but eh – I like green peppers. It’s also why I called it “Philly Style” and not  THE TRUE ORIGINAL PHILLADELPHIA CHEESE STEAK.  Are there sloppy joe purists too? I don’t know if there is a sloppy joe rule book….

It’s quick to put together, easy, and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Most importantly, 4 out of 4 on the approval rating. Even Buddy ate this happily. I thought it was a goner when he noticed the peppers, but he just picked them out and kept eating. Definitely a win.

Philly-Style Sloppy Joes

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cube beef bouillon OR 1 cup beef broth
1 cup water (omit if using broth)
1/4 cup steak sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
pepper to taste

Brown ground beef, drain. Pretty straight forward here. I sometimes like to use my potato masher when browning beef. I feel like it breaks it up a little better and gives it a nicer texture when using ground meat for sandwiches. Don’t attack it, be gentle. We aren’t looking for pate.

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Dice onion and green pepper, mince your garlic if using whole garlic cloves.
Add it to the cooked ground beef.
Cook over medium heat until peppers and onions are tender.

IMGP1200Dissolve bouillon cube in hot water.
Put water, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, and liquid smoke into meat mixture.

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Simmer for 5-10 minutes
Serve on rolls. You could make a cheese sauce if you wanted. I was in a time crunch and used a jarred sauce.  You could go without cheese too. Doesn’t matter, whatever you want.

See that yummy roll? I’ll be posting the recipe for that soon! (Find it here! Soft Onion Sandwich Rolls)  Let me know in the comments if you tried this and what you think!

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