Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Scribblings

St. Monica by Gozzoli
After a couple of really warm days, I was happily surprised to wake up this morning to feel a cool breeze coming through the open window. What a great way to start out this feast day of St. Monica. Since Joshua started his pathway to The Church 8 years ago, I knew there must be someone praying for me specifically. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I first read of St. Monica. I have entrusted my prayers to her intercession on numerous occasions~ especially for my family. Tomorrow is the feast day of her son, St. Augustine, who happens to be Joshua's patron saint. Because it will be Sunday, St. Augustine won't be celebrated in Mass, but we'll be doing a little something special before driving Joshua back up to Mt. Angel Seminary to start school.




Since it was so hot (100 degrees) yesterday, I took some time in the late afternoon to spend some time in the backyard. Normally this view would frustrate me as we need to do so much back there, but- whether from the heat or not- I decided to just enjoy the breeze and being in God's nature. It was definitely a much more relaxing time!









I had found a recipe for eggplant "bacon" and decided to try it last night for eggplant "BLT's". After his first taste, Josh said it tasted like crispy...marinated eggplant. We all agreed it was delicious but no way could ever replace bacon in our house. It was low sodium despite how much salt is in the recipe. Since you rinse the salt plus only use a bit of marinade on each slice, it is a good recipe for folks needing to watch their sodium intake. With all that in mind, I am sharing the recipe because it was a really good way to cook eggplant!





Eggplant Bacon recipe~adapted from The Spirited Spoon
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (I used red wine, but balsamic or apple cider would work too)
  • 3 tbsp liquid aminos (I get mine in bulk at Winco)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus more for brushing)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8  tsp chili powder
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Remove the stem of the eggplant and quarter it lengthwise, making 4 even long, thin sections.
  3. Slice each piece of the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips. 
  4. Arrange eggplant strips in a single layer on a paper towel and generously sprinkle with 2 tbsp salt. Allow this to sit for at least 30 minutes. During this time the eggplant will start to bead up with water.
  5. After 30 minutes, rinse off the eggplant strips to remove the salt added in the previous step and allow the strips to dry on new paper towels.
  6. Brush each strip with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a well-greased pan.
  7. Cook eggplant strips for 14 minutes, flipping half way through.
  8. Remove the strips from the oven and let cool. Reduce the heat to 350F. 
  9. Combine vinegar, maple syrup, liquid aminos, olive oil, liquid smoke, salt, paprika, black pepper and chili powder in a small bowl.
  10. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and place a baking rack over it. (The foil is optional, but it certainly makes for an easier clean up).
  11. Dip each strip of eggplant in the marinade and place strips in a single layer on the baking rack.
  12. Bake at 350F for about 14 minutes, or until the strips are nice and crispy.(Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your strips)
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before using. 
Enjoy your Saturday & do something that you enjoy as you prepare for Sunday and the joys that day brings!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Random Ramblings

So I said I was going to start being more consistent in my blogging, and I almost blew it in the first week. It's been a little busy around here as we have been shipping kids off to school, preparing for the Oregon State Fair & trying to stay cool during this last part of August.

I've got just a couple of thoughts for you on this Thursday evening. Nothing profound, mind you, just some random ramblings from an overheated almost empty nester.



One of the things that I enjoy doing with my kids is watching movies that they pick out. We've watched some good ones this summer, and I knew Josh would want to probably watch one while he's been home this week. His choice was Gran Torino starring Clint Eastwood. He warned me that I might be bothered by the swearing, and it would be okay if I wanted to watch something else. I will admit he was totally correct on the amount of swearing, but it did not detract from this amazing film. All I will say is if you haven't watched it, please do so. It is definitely not okay for children (due to language and violence), but it is one of the best films I have ever seen on the meaning of redemption. 



I've been able to do some crafting this summer which has been a lot of fun. I get the opportunity to work with my mom at the Oregon State Fair demonstrating the HandiQuilter for the next couple of weeks. With this in mind I fixed up a plain t-shirt to show a bit of creativity using Carrie Bloomston fabric. Since we're demonstrating a quilting machine, I made this Nancy Drew inspired quilt top to work on while we're there. It's going to be a great experience as I get to hang out with my mom, quilt and be at the fair!



 
“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.” 
—Giuseppe Verdi
The last little thought is to share one of the books I'm reading right now. Just like with movies, my kids do a terrific job of suggesting books for me to read. Josh had told me about this book he read called The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. First published in 1827, it is considered to be the most famous Italian novel ever written. I am only about 1/3 of the way through, and I have enjoyed every minute of this book!

So there it is. My bits and bobbles of thought on this Thursday. May the rest of your week be filled with love, joy and laughter! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tasty Tuesday- Truvy Cake with a Twist

A Disclaimer: You'll find the ingredients and directions throughout this post, but it's so easy that I'm going to forgo an actual recipe. 

Our oldest son, Josh is home for a week before heading back to Mt. Angel Seminary to start his first year of theology. Generally, when the kids are home, I try to cook/bake at least a couple of things they like. While we were talking yesterday- and we tend to talk a lot when he's home, especially as he has just completed a three week silent retreat- he mentioned how much he has realized he likes cake. 

With this in mind, I decided to bake a cake. I wanted to do something easy, but I wasn't sure what kind to do. I just happened to be on Instagram when I saw a post from Southern Living Magazine. It was a video of the movie Steel Magnolias where Dolly Parton's character, Truvy shares her recipe for a "Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa" cake.  It's a really- we're talking really really- simple recipe for a cake. Basically, she says "You take a cuppa flour, a cuppa sugar & a cuppa fruit cocktail (with its' juice) & mix it and bake until golden brown and bubbly".  


I didn't have any fruit cocktail, however, I had a 1/2 of a pint jar (yep, that's a cuppa) of homemade mincemeat in the fridge that I thought might fit the bill. There wasn't as much liquid in it as I thought it needed, so I scavenged around and found an almost empty bottle of orange lemonade we had drank at my youngest' going away dinner last week. I mixed those two up and voila, had a nice citrusy/raisin/date/nuts concoction that I thought would work.


I got out Grandma's mixing bowl and proceeded to follow Truvy's instructions. It looked pretty good as I poured it into a 9" square pan while my toaster/convection oven was heating to 350 degrees. I popped it in & set the timer for 30 minutes. After about 6 minutes, I realized something didn't feel right. Once I thought about it being a southern recipe, I knew what the problem was- I had just used regular flour without any added leavening. Truvy, being a true southern gal, would've used self-rising flour. I immediately pulled the cake out, added 1 teaspoon baking soda and a good dash of salt, mixed it up and popped it back into the oven. I figured even if it didn't turn out well, I could always use it for trifle or crumble. 

After 30 more minutes, I pulled out the cake which had a nice rise and golden color. We decided to have it after dinner with some vanilla ice cream- especially since, as Truvy says, "the ice cream cuts down on the sweetness". So the next time you or one of your family members gets a craving for cake, you don't need to look any farther than your pantry and fridge for a "Cuppa, Cuppa Cuppa" to make a delicious cake!


Friday, August 19, 2016

A New Look & End of the Summer Recipe

If you've ever visited my blog before, you'll notice Mangia Mamma now has a new look. Thanks to my oldest child, who is much more computer savvy than I will ever be, the blog now has a bit more of a polished look. I had once again thought about just giving it up then Cari (the aforementioned oldest child) noticed how many people actually check it out. I was so shocked that I had her double check, and sure enough, I get enough "hits" that I decided to keep going with it. 

I also now have a page about my Etsy shop, Piccolo Di Luce. It'll link you right to the shop as well as have updates on new items I'm working on & selling. 

Since I'm going to try to start blogging a bit more consistently, I thought I'd let you know what the weekly menu will look like here at MM:

~Tuesday posts will be "Tasty Tuesdays" and feature a recipe from my plethora of cookbooks or new creations from my kitchen

~Thursday posts will either be a link up to Like Mother, Like Daughter's {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} or a post on homemaking,, movies, books, podcasts that I've been enjoying and other things like that.

~Friday or Saturday posts will be all about empty nesting & having young adult kids. I am hoping to have some guest posts about these topics as they are relevant to so many people, even if not today then in the future.

I thought I'd add an easy and inexpensive recipe for one of our family favorites during this last part of summer. When it gets too warm to put on an oven, you can still cook up a batch of Mangia Mamma Tostadas! Another bonus for us is that it's gluten free, nut free, low sodium & can be made with lactose free cheese. All of the toppings can be cut up/made ahead of time, so you can just heat up the meat & beans for a quick weeknight dinner.  Enjoy!


Mangia Mamma Tostadas
It's less expensive plus so much better tasting when you fry up corn tortillas to make the shells yourself. If you do use store-bought tostada shells, be sure to heat them for 5-7 minutes in a 300 degree oven which makes them taste a little closer to homemade goodness.

  • Yield:
  •  Serves about 6
METHOD
INGREDIENTS
Vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
Salt
21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe's
1 lb. lean ground beef 
1 finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 tablespoons low sodium taco seasoning 
2-15 oz. cans refried beans 
Toppings can include the following plus anything else your family may like:
cooked rice (I either make a batch or just reheat what I've got in the fridge in my rice cooker), chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, guacamole or avocado, salsa, cilantro, grated or crumbled cheese of your choice (we do whatever we have along with some goat cheese for our lactose intolerant kid), chopped fresh cilantro, green onions, sour cream
1 Heat refried beans in a saucepan, until warm. If you are using regular canned beans, drain them, then add them to the pan with a little water, mixing them as you heat them. Keep on low while you prepare everything else.
2 Heat a little bit of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until opaque. Add ground beef, cooking until no longer red. Add taco seasoning and tomato paste. Keep on low heat while you prepare the tortillas.
3  Pour enough oil to about 1/4" into another frying pan. Heat the oil on medium high heat until sizzling hot, but not smoking then turn down to medium. As soon as it seems hot enough, fry the tortillas in the oil, one or two at a time depending on how big your pan is.  Fry until golden brown on both sides, cooking about a minute per side. Using tongs, push the tortilla down in the oil, and to turn and lift the tortilla out of the pan, gently shaking the excess oil as you do so.  Place the tortilla on a paper towel-lined plate, to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt (or the 21 Seasoning Salute for anyone who needs to eat low sodium). 
You might need to add a bit more oil to the pan as it gets low, but be sure the oil heats enough before adding another tortilla.
4 We like to serve this buffet style. I just place the pots of beans and beef on trivets on the kitchen counter along with the rice in the cooker plus various toppings in various bowls (I like to use jars or tupperware sometimes in order to expedite clean up). Have everyone serve themselves stacking their tostadas with what ingredients they like.

I usually have leftover oil and tortillas, so since I don't like to waste what can be reused, I make chips with what's left. Cut the tortillas into any shape you want and fry the same way for the tostada shells. Also, you can also use any kind of leftover meat or even eggs instead of the beef. This makes a great "Faithful Friday" dinner when you just use the beans and no meat. 
I'd love to hear what kind of tostadas your family likes to eat as I'm always happy to learn new ideas for recipes!