Monday, September 21, 2009

It's a Delicious Way to Cheat on a Blog Post

As many of you may know, I'm the Chairperson of our township's Community Day Committee and the BIG event is this coming Saturday - 9/26 from 10-4 at Silver Creek Athletic Association on Route 212 in downtown Springtown in Upper Bucks County! (nothing like blatant promotion here, huh?) Come out and visit us if you can...check out for more info on their Downloads page on the menu on the left on their homepage!

So, I'm a teensy bit preoccupied, and thought I'd share this with's from Serious Eats at and they are fabulous...if you like food, this is a great website!
Thought you'd all appreciate at one pot meal as much as I do!

Dinner Tonight: Baked Ziti
Posted by Nick Kindelsperger, September 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM

"The end result is not quite the fantastic cheesy gut-bomb so commonly associated with baked ziti."

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I cannot recall the last time I ate baked ziti but know for a fact I never would have attempted the classic dish if not for finding this recipe in The Best Skillet Recipes from the editors of Cooks Illustrated. I don't think they have ever steered me wrong.
As a pasta lover, I make it often but usually indulge in simple preparations where the sauce acts mostly in the supporting role to the pasta. But baked ziti is all about the abundant combination of sauce, pasta, and cheese. It's heavy, filling, and meant to be an indulgence. I wondered whether Cooks Illustrated would elevate this classic or just embrace the excess. Luckily they go for the former.
The great thing about this recipe is that, as the cookbook advertises, everything happens in one pot. So the pasta literally cooks in the sauce, sucking up as much of the tomato flavor as it can possibly manage. Relatively light on the cheese, this substitutes a bit of heavy cream, which oddly makes the whole dish feel light. The end result is not quite the fantastic cheesy gut-bomb so commonly associated with baked ziti, but that's probably for the best. Still satisfying and creamy classic, this baked ziti is slightly more refined and definitely less greasy.

Baked Ziti
- serves 4 -Adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes.

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

3 cups water

12 ounces ziti

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 ounce Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

4 ounces mozzarella, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Meanwhile, pour the whole can of tomatoes into a blender or food processor. Process until the tomatoes are roughly chopped, not pureed.

2. Pour the oil into a large oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flake and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Dump in the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Pour in the water, stir, and then add the pasta. Turn the heat back up to medium-high. Cook until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Add the cream, Parmesan, and basil. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Place skillet in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and slightly browned.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Friends Are Creative Cooks! A Successful Tomato Party

We had a wonderful Tomato Harvest Party and people are still talking about it! Nice weather, nice crowd of friends, great food. Couldn't ask for more!

Here's a lowdown on the food:

Ravioli in a no-cook tomato sauce
Veggie Lasagna
Tomato Pie
Edemame Hummus
Salsa-Cream Cheese dip
Tomato Salad
Cucumber & Tomato Salad with Onions in Sour Cream
Deviled Eggs with Sundried Tomatoes
Two kinds of Gazpacho
Burgers and dogs
and for dessert...
Green Tomato Cake - this was very similar to zucchini bread and had a substantial amount of chopped green tomatoes - excellent!!!
Tomato/Lemon Cake - made in a tube pan with tomato and lemon juice - very good
Red Tomato Upside-down Cake - tomatoes in place of the pineapple
Chocolate Tomato Cake - tomato juice used for liquid -

This was amazing food and I'm sure I missed something! Next year we'll have to do something with like cucumbers or corn. Tomatoes seemed a bit too easy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Can't Believe What They're Saying About Froot Loops! Can You?

I came across this article in the NYTimes today about the new food labeling program and how they are crucifying my favorite cereal of all time!

If I'm completely honest, I have to admit, Froot Loops have forever been one of my weaknesses. Captain Crunch with Crunchberries, too. I liked to eat all the Captain Crunch, then load up my spoon with the crunchberries. Wow! What a sugar-fix! Same thing with Lucky all the marshmallows at one time as they squeak against your teeth.

I, like many in my generation who grew up in the late 1960's through the mid 1970's have dined on sugar laden cereals and loved them!

Froot Loops, Sugar, er, uh...Honey Crisp (name change later on), Captain Crunch; plain or with Crunchberries, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs and Coco Krispies, Quisp (remember that one?) Corn Pops, Trix and a myriad of colorful boxes and over-processed foodstuffs were the mainstay of the breakfast table and late night snacks most of my life.

Ok, I understand they are over processed and over priced in what the product delivers if you compare it to say, a healthy bowl of granola, some low fat yogurt and fruit. Even some eggs and bacon pack more of a nutritional punch than a bowl of Froot Loops or Captain Crunch, but what about the toy in the bottom of the box? What about reading that box while swishing that cereal around in in the milk?

There is a whole generation out there that grew up doing that. Sitting at the table in your flannel pajamas with the feet in them, swinging your legs back and forth, reading the box you just opened and then pouring out the box into a huge bowl to find the toy!

I'm guessing that in moderation, these aren't too bad for you. I mean, what's the serving size? 1 1/4 cups or something? I have never stuck to that. In fact, if I'm honest here, I could eat a good half box or more for dinner!

Just like ice cream, I don't keep much of these cereals on hand anymore. Too much sugar (I know they aren't healthy, but damn they are yummy!) and if they are around I'll eat them. I don't need no damn check mark! Just a big yeller box marked Cheerios these days to help keep that cholesterol down!

Food labels are such jokes till you get down to the nitty gritty of the nutrition section. And now, once again, bigwigs in the food industry are doing something to boost sales. Does anyone remember when cholesterol was a big deal? It was a peanut butter label that caught my eye with, "A Cholesterol Free Food."

Huh? Really? Wow, that makes it so much better! Oh wait...cholesterol only comes from animal derived products. So what's that about? Money...sales...same ol, same ol...just like now...trying to boost the bucks and convince the American public that its a better choice than some...

Read the labels, know what's good for you and use common sense and's really the only way.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tomato Harvest Party

So my Tomato Harvest Party from last week had to be rescheduled until this week due to (surprise...surprise...) rain! I've had a busy week and no time to blog, sorry if you have been tuning in and finding nothing but the blight info from last week.

I had this idea to throw this party very early in the season and once I heard about the blight, I had the idea that if I threw the party, we could all just avoid the disease and make it go away or something.

Anyway, all my plants are a mess and I've been fortunate to find some green tomatoes to fry, but haven't had much time for that this week, either. I work as a volunteer for our township and chair our Community Day Committee. The event takes place in 22 days. I'm completely consumed with the details, of which there are many, so I apologize for not keeping up for now.

You may, however see a few yummy tomato dishes on here in the next week or so. Let's see what comes of this party!

In the meantime, here's a really great recipe for a non-tomato inspired gazpacho from Spain, really this sounds great. Give it a look-see!