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Caprese

So… I had full intentions of posting two recipes tonight, neither one of them being Caprese.

I thought I would share with you my Naw’lins Shrimp Po’ Boy to represent N.O. & Crook-Neck Squash and Zuccichni Ribbons, in honor of the opening day of regular season for the NFL when Green Bay hosts New Orleans. Fortunately, my plans changed and I took my daughter Emily to a ceramic paint studio, where we had a blast! One-on-one time is a rare occurence in our little family of six so I must take advantage of every opportunity 🙂

As it turns out, I decided to share my favorite side/salad recipe. This dish is the easiest thing to make, from start to finish, you might have all of five minutes of your time invested! I serve this often, an Italian menu is not in any way required. I even make this salad into a sandwich!

I will soon share my cajun sandwich-like (po-boy) meal with you.

Laugh often & Love much!

Ingredients:

2 vine ripe tomatoes sliced into 8 equal pieces (4 each)

1 8 oz. fresh mozzarella sliced into 8 equal pieces

8 fresh basil leaves chopped

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinager

Pinch of Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Directions

Layer Cheese and tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste! EnJoY!

You will fall in love with this!

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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Appetizers, Veggies

 

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Caprese Pasta & Chicken Salad

Caprese Pasta & Chicken Salad

This dish must have been created for the summertime! I find it is the perfect meal when it’s scalding outside, and it’s ridiculously easy to throw together! The last thing I want to do at the end of a sweltering and busy day is to come home and eat a hot meal. This wholesome and delicious, meal in a bowl may be prepared ahead of time and can be served right out of the refrigerator. I do however recommend leaving the tomatoes whole if you make more than 24 hours in advance. Also, allow the dish to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes or so before serving. The flavor of  cheese becomes more enhanced as it comes to room temperature. This recipe is easily doubled for larger crowds. This makes it a quick and easy go-to dish serve at your next party or to contribute at a Pot Luck!

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. box of Farfalle (bow-tie shaped) pasta
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or pick up a fully cooked chicken from the deli, to save time)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Basil Pesto (already prepared in the jar)
  • 8 oz. of Fresh Mozzarella cut into cubes or fresh mozzarella pearls if your grocer carries them, again a time saver
  • 7-8 Fresh Basil leaves chopped up for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Poach the chicken by boiling in salted water 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. When it is cool enough to handle cut into bite size piece.  Time saver – buy an already cooked chicken.
  •  Cook pasta al dente’ according to directions on the box, careful not to over cook this makes the pasta mushy.
  • Slice tomatoes in half, and cut up the cheese into small cubes.  If you can find the pearls go with them, less preparation time and makes for a better presentation of the dish.
  • Drain pasta well and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • While the pasta is still warm add the pesto, toss so that all of the pasta is coated, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Once to room temp. add the chicken, cheese and tomatoes & gently toss.
  • Season with salt and pepper if desired, the pesto usually adds enough salt.
  • Slice the basil and garnish just before serving to prevents wilting and discoloration.
  • Red pepper flakes are a great way to spice it up a bit.
 
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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Chicken, Pasta, Salads, Uncategorized

 

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricotta cheese is good. You can stuff pasta with it, bake a ricotta pie, add it to mashed potatoes, top your pizza, pair it with fresh fruit, ricotta on top of figs and drizzled it with honey is out-of-this-world, eat it right out of the container, canoli, the list could go on and on… I have always liked ricotta cheese with its mild taste and smooth texture make it easy to incorporate into many meals.

Prior to yesterday the thought of making cheese had not really crossed my mind. Cheese was one of the items you buy at the grocery store, not whip up in your kitchen. Let me tell you friends, I will never buy ricotta again! The difference in taste and texture of the homemade in comparison to store-bought is basically indescribable. The best way I can explain the difference would be like asking you if you would rather eat a hamburger steak or filet mignon! Really, it is that good. While the cheese was straining in a cheesecloth lined colander on the counter, I took a spoon and had a small sample. That was all it took, I knew I had found something good, a new favorite food (I have many favorites) I am hooked! Homemade ricotta cheese is fantastic!

One day, very soon, I will attempt to make fresh mozzarella . A while back I posted a recipe for Caprese, which is my first choice of appetizers, hands down. This was also the winning entry for September’s recipe contest at  C & L Farms, located in Alva, FL. I absolutely love this salad as it is, and I can only imagine how much better it would be with homemade cheese! I am so looking forward to this 🙂 I will definitely let you know how it turns out.

Back to the ricotta, as you will see below this recipe only calls for four (4) ingredients and it is super easy, you don’t even need a thermometer!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 generous teaspoon of sea salt
  • 3 generous Tablespoons White Wine Vinager

 

Directions

  • Line a sieve or colander with 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth. Put the colander over a large bowl.
  • Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until is curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and the milky parts (the whey).
  • Pour mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for about 25 minutes. The longer you allow the mixture to drain, the thicker the ricotta.
  • Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and the liquid in the large bowl.
  • Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The cheese will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

 

Do yourself a favor and make a batch of this deliciousness! I would love to hear what recipes you use that call for ricotta cheese.

The picture at the top and bottom of this page is:

1 baguette sliced and put under the broiler until crisped on the top, rub with a clove of mashed garlic (the garlic catches on the crispy bread) add a dollop of ricotta cheese, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste and garnish with fresh rosemary! Good Vittles friends 🙂 enjoy

This recipe has been adapted from Barefoot Contessa, 2010

 

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