Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tomato, Ham and Cheese Bake from

I make it a habit to periodically clean out my freezer and while doing so the other day, I came across a package of Hickory Smoked Boneless Ham Steaks.  They come three in a package at good ole Costco and I always freeze a couple of them.  They are so good just heated in a frying pan with pineapple slices, a bit of brown sugar and some cloves.  I simply put the lid on and more or less steam the ham until it heats through.

The other day I thought I would try something different so I went online and found a recipe that appealed to me. While reading the directions, I thought of a ham sandwich crumbled up and baked because along with the ham, it has mayo, tomatoes, cheese, and bread crumbs.  Same ingredients of a sandwich, but of course prepared differently.  It comes from and they called it “Tomato, Ham and Cheese Bake”.  Surprise!  It was very tasty although a bit dry with what I thought was too many breadcrumbs.  Or my bread might have been too crusty.  I used a loaf of Rosemary bread which doesn’t crumble real fine.   Here’s the link to the recipe, which I halved.

Preheat the oven to 375.

I started by crumbling my bread in the Cuisinart food processor to make 3 cups.  I love doing that.  I mixed those with the cheese and melted butter.  I used ¾ cups of shredded Parmesan because I didn’t have enough Cheddar.  I mixed the two together to make 1-1/2 cups. 

Then I sliced up 4 tomatoes - the full recipe calls for 8 - and lined my greased dish with half of them.

I used 2 Tablespoons of Miracle Whip instead of 4 to mix with the ham along with 2 teaspoons of dry parsley although the recipes calls for Mayonnaise and fresh parsley which I didn't have.   

Combine the ham, mayo and parsley in a bowl before adding 1/3 of it to 1/3 of the tomatoes.

I made two layers and could have used more butter on the breadcrumbs - next time! Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.  Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

I used my NuWave oven so mine was done in 40 minutes and I liked it except for too many breadcrumbs.  Tweak it the way you like it  - maybe more ham and tomatoes and less bread!  I had it for dinner with some green beans.     

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What do you do while deep sea fishing and catch only sharks?

You throw them back in of course!

Mating Season?

My son went deep sea fishing with a friend over the weekend off the Jupiter inlet and I asked if they caught anything.  “The only thing biting were sharks, eight of them to be exact.” He answered.  They decided it was probably mating season because there were quite a few in the water and close to the boat.

 They weren’t about to keep any that they caught but they still had to reel them in to get the hook out of their mouths. 

  They pulled them in closer to the boat...

This one did the back stroke...

....closer yet to the side of the boat...

...then upsy daisey to get the hook with a fish out of his mouth!  OMG!  Say what!  That’s my son though – a diver and not necessarily afraid of sharks.  He's careful around them though!  I said to him, “I hope if you should go diving instead of fishing next time, that those same sharks remember you saved their lives!”  I never go on trips with him because they often involve alligators, snakes and now sharks!  No thank you.  Chicken mama would rather stay home and he knows it!

Splash!  Catch and release and they didn't catch anything else that day! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Three products I like and one was an accidental discovery

Sunday morning I was going through my receipts for the week so I could balance my checkbook when one item in particular caught my eye.  It was frozen yogurt which I figured must have been something else but mismarked.  I don’t remember ever buying frozen yogurt.   I was in Publix the other day looking at the vanilla ice cream but they were out of the store brand that I like so I thought, well I’ll try this Espresso Chip flavor.  It was practically next to the empty vanilla ice cream shelf in a smaller container for $4.99 and I’d wanted to taste coffee flavored ice cream, so I took some home.

Unfortunately, coffee and chocolate both keep me awake at night so I usually try to eat or drink any of them earlier in the day.  Saturday night I had some of that Espresso Chip ice cream after an early dinner but apparently it was still too late in the day for me to be eating anything with coffee in it.  After spurts of sleep that night, I was still awake at 4:30 a.m. and watching the Three Stooges on TV, and of course I blamed it on the ice cream!  Well, it was ice cream until I went through my receipts on Sunday and found out I’d been enjoying Espresso Chip yogurt.  After seeing the receipt, I checked the carton which only proves I might need to start wearing my reading glasses when I shop!  Who knows what else I’ve been eating!

 Anyway, if you like coffee and chocolate, I recommend this low fat yogurt because it is delicious. 

Another item that is good but I don’t know whether Costco carries it anymore is this box of rice stuffed grape leaves. 

I really like the mint and the sunflower and olive oil in each of the containers of 8 grape leaves, and there are 4 containers in the box.  I bought this several months ago and the ‘Best Before’ date stamped on the box indicates they are good until October 31, 2015.  It’s a good item to stock up on for hurricane season, or for quick lunches, so I hope Costco has more of them.  They are good at room temperature right from the package or nuked for 30 seconds.  I like mine nuked with white rice for lunch, either leftover from the Chinese restaurant or I cook my own. ½ cup of rice to 1 cup of water.

This is what I had for lunch on Saturday and Sunday - not very colorful but tasty.   

And also a dish of Espresso Chip yogurt for dessert – yum!

Later, with my reading glasses in tow, I went grocery shopping because I plan to make time for some cooking this week.  I could never get used to carry-out or eating out all the time no matter how great the meals have been this week!

I also bought more of this great product called Wet & Forget.  I just spray it on my driveway and wait.  The rain and elements will do the cleaning over several weeks and you can also use it on your roof, pool deck, tennis court and more with a good sprayer.  It says not to spray directly on plants but I notice it doesn’t hurt the grass after a rain.  It is non acidic and has no bleach and I like the way it cleans.

How was your Sunday?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Something I wrote called "Greatest Treasure"

I’ve been so busy this week that I haven’t had time to cook.  We’ve been eating carry-out mostly and I have to say, that gets old real fast.  I don’t mind it for a couple of days but I crave home cooked food too.  Granted, Costco has great food so I picked up one of their tortellini salads and some chicken wraps one night.  I had to try them because of the cold slaw they put on top of the chicken salad.  It was good with a container of spicy sauce on the side.

I’m waiting for some new craft tools that I ordered from HSN so hopefully I’ll find some time to try them out.  In the meantime, maybe you’ll enjoy reading another of my poems that’s been tucked away in my files.

I couldn't resist a picture of 17 month old Jaycee even though she just got up from her nap and wasn't quite awake.  Normally she smiles her cute little smile!

Greatest Treasure
                      By Trish Castro                           

We can all have something special,
If we're willing to try,
And this something special is nothing you buy,
You won't have to search,
Or travel about,
For right in your heart is what I'm talking about.

To be able to love,
Is something special, most definitely!
To give others love,
Expecting nothing in pay,
Is the greatest treasure on earth, I’d have to say.

Love is a friendly smile,
When you see someone sad,
For when they smile back, don't you feel glad?
Some of us are rich,
And some of us are poor,
But when we exchange love, there's no difference anymore.

There are all kinds of treasure,
Abundant and rare,
Like diamonds and rubies, the Queen's crown in her hair,
But the pleasure they give,
Can never compare,
To the warmth in our hearts from all the love that we share.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gardening: My sago plant sprouted anew and our built-in planter needs an upgrade

I took this picture of my sago plant on Monday.  As many times a week I walk to the mailbox, you would think I might have noticed this growth but it seems to have popped up overnight.  I walked by it Saturday and saw nothing yet Monday these new fronds in the center were there.  I think they resemble a pineapple.

It was just a few weeks ago I was complaining about the fronds turning yellow even though I had fertilized it and watered with Epsom salts which I read would help with the yellowing.  I should have just waited a few days more knowing full-well this plant is a slow grower.  It even took its time to think about doing anything with the fertilizer I gave it but at least it isn't yellow anymore.

 Here’s one of the pups from that plant.  The new fronds are also thriving – notice the darker green in the center.

I noticed this coleus awhile back and it is growing taller right next to an elephant ear.  I still can’t figure out where it came from since it’s not the same color as my other coleus.  I’ll just call it a nice surprise.

 Here’s another shoot that rooted by the trunk of the ponytail palm tree.  I’ll just let it grow to see how big it gets.  The coleus I planted is on the right.

 Inside the house, or more correctly, on the patio we have a planter that was put in by the builder’s over 30 years ago.  They planted a Madagascar dragon tree in it and I’ve been picking up fronds ever since.  There’s no killing this tree with cruelty so even though I rarely fertilize it, it keeps on growing, thinly though.   We break off stems and put them in planters by the pool and it grows.  It’s a feisty little plant.

And it can get big.  Here’s one from a branch we stuck in the front yard.  It’s time for it to go though because I’m tired of raking up fronds.  The trunk is very soft so it will be easy to saw down and replace with a nice palm tree.

Here’s another close to the pool.

I’ve liked this plant long enough though and although I’ve been afraid to put anything else in the patio planter because I don’t want roots growing into the house, I will do something else with it later on.  

I pruned everything over the weekend and will think about what to do next - something in brass containers maybe.  Two shoots were coming up from the bottom so I left them to grow and almost cut down the fat trunk in the middle before I realized I would need it to support the thinner one that I decided not to cut away.  This area definitely needs some nutrients and some new plants!

I picked up this basil plant at Publix last weekend and so it’s time to make some one-pan spaghetti and Shrimp with tomatoes and basil this weekend.   I love fresh basil! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Great recipe for broccoli lovers…or even non broccoli lovers!

I found this recipe on Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen and she called it Roasted Panko-Parmesan Broccoli.

 Roast as crispy as you like – I stopped just before too crispy but it was cooked and very tasty!

I usually buy a big bag of fresh broccoli florets to steam, add some cheese and eat on a baked potato or just as a side, and then I found this more interesting looking broccoli recipe online.  It has green onions, cloves of garlic, olive oil, Panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, lemon or black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Interesting right?  All you do is mix 2 lbs of broccoli florets with those ingredients and roast in your oven for 20-23 minutes.  

 This is what you will need

2 lb fresh broccoli florets, cleaned and separated (approx. 2 large bunches)
3 green onion, sliced, white part only
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt to taste
Light sprinkling black pepper or lemon pepper, to taste
½ tsp red pepper flakes

You really need a big bowl to combine everything.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Spritz a standard baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  Separate the broccoli florets into bite size pieces.  Place into a mixing bowl, (use a large one) with the sliced green onion and minced garlic.  Pour the olive oil over the broccoli.  Toss gently until coated.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  (I mixed gently with each ingredient to make sure they were combined.)

Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 20-23 minutes or until crisp tender and the crumbs are golden.  Serve immediately.  Yield:  6-8 servings.

I used two pans in my NuWave oven and roasted for 22 minutes.  After 11 minutes, I switched the pans to brown the bottom one.  This is before the oven.

I will say that the next time I make this, even if I don’t have all of the above ingredients, I will just use the ones I have.  The garlic and cheese were the tastiest.  Actually though, about the only thing I don’t always have are the green onions and yesterday I was out of garlic salt so I used garlic powder and regular salt.  I love this recipe and it was great with my rib eye steak last night, no potatoes.

I had to have a big taste!  I love broccoli so much I could have eaten all of one pan but I needed to save room for steak!  This stuff is really yummy!   

Saturday, July 19, 2014

One-Pan Orecchiette with Chick Peas - a Martha Stewart recipe

One-Pan meals are all the rage lately and so if you haven’t planned your lunches to take to work next week, the following recipe is your solution.  It is from my blog dated March 24, 2014 which I thought worthy of a revisit because of the many views it received.  It makes a very good family meal or more than one lunch for you to take to work!  

On March 24, I said:  As I said in my previous blog about the April issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I was off to make my list of the ingredients I would need for this titled dish and that's what I did and then I went over to the Fresh Food Market and got what I don't always find at Publix such as the orecchiette.  This is my first time eating this particular pasta and I liked it and the texture is great.  I’ve never made a homemade noodle but the orecchiette reminded me of the fresh ones I’ve seen cooks make on TV. 

The ingredients you will use:  Arugula and Cheese for serving.  In the pan goes the Orecchiette, chickpeas, tomato paste, Kalamata olives, a rosemary sprig, olive oil, and 3 cloves of garlic.  Pepper flakes and salt and pepper not shown.

In the pan before I added the 5 cups of water needed.  

The recipe from April issue of Martha Stewart Living and you can find it on her site here:

12 ounces orecchiette
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 6-inch sprig rosemary
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving (I used Parmesan)
2 cups baby arugula (about 2 ounces)

1.) Combine pasta, chickpeas, olives, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, oil, pepper flakes, and 5 cups water in a large straight-sided skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and liquid is reduced to a sauce that coats pasta, 12 to 15 minutes.

In this picture, it has come to a boil and then I simmered on medium high for about 15 minutes.  I set the timer on my NuWave cooktop and stirred the pot every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking.

Remove from heat when your pasta is al dente and add your cheese.  I also put in a few tablespoons of water to thin the sauce a little because mine was kind of thick. 

    Serve it in bowl with arugula on the bottom if you like and add a sprinkling of cheese to the top.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and enjoy.  Add more red pepper flakes also if you like.  I know I’ll be having this for lunch again today!

I liked the flavor of this meatless dish and it was very filling.  You could take a cup of this to work and have it for lunch and not be hungry until dinner time.  It would also make a good side for dinner with maybe a fried pork chop for those who want meat with their meal.  The red pepper flakes gave it a little zing and the arugula and olives added even more flavor.  I have to say a quarter teaspoon of those flakes went a long way!  I don’t usually eat anything spicier than a banana pepper but a few of the recipes I’ve tried lately have the pepper flakes in them and I’m starting to get accustomed to them.  The Kalamata olives also added lots of flavor – I love those olives!

I had about 5 ounces left of the orecchiette so I think I will make a smaller portion of Orecchiette with Sausage, Corn and Chiles that I made before from the June issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Here's that recipe and I remember I didn’t have orecchiette at the time and used another kind of pasta.  

Give today's one-pan dish a try.  I think you'll like it!