HEALTHY STUFFED PEPPERS

Do you ever ask the question,  “what would you like for dinner?” Typically the answer is, “I don’t care”. So when I ask and somebody gives me a specific, I am on it. Last night the hubster made this suggestion. I nearly fell over!!!!

This recipe requires a couple of steps but really is very easy. It’s full of fiber and flavor and makes 6 servings. It’s just two of us; I love leftovers for lunch. These peppers are even better the next day. The flavors really blossom overnight.

I use tri-colored bell peppers, red, orange, and yellow. I like my peppers a little on the sweet side. If you want a zestier taste, use green bell peppers. Either will work fine; it’s just personal preference and availability.

You will notice I list 4 different types of meat. Again, it’s your personal preference. I like to use 1/2 either beef, bison, or turkey, and add 1/2 italian sausage meat to mine. You can use all of one type of meat if you prefer. This is an absolute personal choice so go for it.

I like to add a dollop of ketchup to the top while they are cooking. It gets thick and sweet. It also reminds me of my mother’s when I was a kid. Shredded cheese of your choice can be added to the top in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Served with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream on top is also fantastic. As you can see, there are a lot of options.

Then next time the answer is “I don’t care”, give this one a try. I hope you enjoy it!

Healthy Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 bell peppers, tops removed and set aside, remove seeds and veins
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef or turkey or Italian sausage or Bison ( can use 1/2 of two different types of meat combined)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 C of Rao’s basil tomato sauce, or sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 C brown rice, cooked
  • 2 T Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 t Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Ketchup (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the cleaned bell peppers in a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, remove and place in a baking dish.
  2. Mince the tops of the bell peppers and set aside.
  3. Sauté the meat of your choice along with the onions, garlic, minced bell pepper tops and the Italian seasoning, until the meat is cooked and no longer pink. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the 2 C of tomato sauce, worchestershire and the cooked rice to the meat mixture and continue to cook until all of the ingredients are heated through.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly among the 6 bell pepper cups that are in your baking dish.
  6. Add boiling water to the baking dish to at least a quarter inch.
  7. I like to add a T of ketchup to the top of the peppers, this step is optional.
  8. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

By now everybody is getting ready for the holidays. Christmas is huge in my world! Probably because my birthday is in December. Shhh…..don’t tell anybody, it’s today!!! Most likely because I still believe in Santa Claus. Definitely because of the birth of Jesus and the true reason for the season. There are so many reasons to be happy and smile this time of year.

Lord knows I love a Christmas tree and love to decorate the house. I also love to bake  and make goodies for family and friends. I have been in the kitchen non-stop for the past few days. I make all sorts of cookies, dip pretzels in chocolate and bake bread. One of the things I love most is making marshmallows. I have a friend who is a chef. He said, “how do you do that? I don’t even know what’s in a marshmallow!”

I will admit my first attempt was scary. Now it’s just old hat. It still amazes me every single time. Just watching those few simple ingredients make magic. Once you have had these, you will never buy store bought again. They are little pillows of perfection. Light and airy and melt in your mouth.

27D1D105-CFC9-4805-A7E3-49F9F426B722

I choose to dip mine in chocolate. I mean why not? A little more decadence to an already delicious little morsel never hurt a thing. Wether you choose to keep them plain or cover them in chocolate; they are marvelous in hot cocoa. Trust me….this I know to be true.

After posting pictures on FB I got several requests for the recipe and how to. So on my birthday I would like to share a gift with all of you.

B0056A66-B822-4FF7-9245-F0862991EFDA

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 T plus 1/2 t unflavored gelatin
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1/2 C hot water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla
  • 1/2 C cornstarch
  • Candy Thermometer (most groceries and Walmart carry them)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Lightly spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Put 1/2 cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it stand to soften.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, mix the sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt together. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Place the candy thermometer on side of the pot, being careful not to let the tip touch the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage) on the thermometer.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin, stirring gently to dissolve; set aside.
  6. With a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
  7. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and continue beating for approximately 10 minutes. (I use a timer and do exactly 10 minutes and it comes out perfect every time)
  8. Transfer to your prepared 9×13 dish. Spread evenly. Spray a piece of parchment paper with non-stick spray and place it on top of your mixture smoothing it out with your hands gently.
  9. LET IT STAND OVERNIGHT (some people find this difficult…LOL)
  10. Remove the parchment paper, invert the marshmallow to a sheet of waxed paper or a plastic cutting board that has been sprinkled with cornstarch lightly. You may have to gently go around the sides of the pan with your fingers to help it come out of the pan.
  11. Trim the edges to make a straight line. (these peices I save and give to my grandson to put in hot chocolate or on ice cream or just eat).
  12. Cut into squares. In a plastic baggy toss with the cornstarch remaining.
  13. At this point it’s your choice, plain or dipped in chocolate. I use dark chocolate melting wafers that I get at Michaels or Hobby Lobby (directions for melting are on the package). I use skewers to dip and help me remove them from the chocolate. The melts come in all colors and flavors. Totally up to you. When done I allow them to sit out for the day and then put into a tin and keep in a cool place.

I hope you have fun with this recipe.  The oldest daughter said “thanks for ruining us Mom, I can’t eat store bought any more”. Oh well, what are mothers for?

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe, love and keep the ones dear to you close. Be kind to everyone. If all of us do these things “WE CAN” make the world a better place

Until next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

 

CRAB CAKE EGG ROLLS WITH CHILI DIPPING SAUCE

We have spent most of the Spring and Summer in Ocean City, Maryland. The majority of our time was spent on re-vamping an old mobile home. It belonged to my husbands parents for years. In fact, it’s been 20 years since they sold it. I can tell you it’s a good thing walls can’t talk! So many memories and happy times were spent there.  Fixing it up and bringing it back to life has been a lot of fun. We are, quite cozy there.

img_0055

Ocean City is an attraction known to many. We are fortunate enough to live close by. Both my husband and myself, spent our summers there when we were younger. I worked there a couple of summers in my teens. Sun, surf, and sand, and lets not forget about the famous boardwalk. It also has some fantastic restaurants with delicious and creative foods.

IMG_0218

We were on our way out to dinner and got sidetracked with a project. Needless to say by the time we were done it was “LATE”. We stopped at a place called “Ropewalk”. They were closing in 10 minutes. The hostess was gracious enough to tell us to “come on in, there’s still time”. Am I ever glad she did. Tired and cranky at this point, I perused the menu. I was trying to find something that wouldn’t be a lot of trouble because of the late hour. Under appetizers was a Crab Egg Roll. That was it for me, I was intrigued and hungry.

That egg roll has haunted me and my taste buds for months. So much so, we have been back several times just to have them. So….I bought a pound of crab meat and some egg roll wrappers. I made them last night and all I can say is “I put my foot in this one”. (an expression one of my work colleagues uses) They were as good as I remember and so easy to make.

6D380C46-EA55-4076-B226-46F971323482

Here is my crab cake recipe. I also concocted a Chili sauce for dipping. The restaurant serves theirs with a Thai Chili Aioli. Mine is similar and both the hubster and I think it was perfect. I encourage you to try this one. You can thank me later!!!

46DA33DE-73E0-45A7-90BD-7B9A37BD633E

CRAB CAKE EGG ROLLS

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Crab Cake Sauce:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 T Mayonnaise, (I use Heinz) just make sure it’s a good one
  • 1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
  • 2 t of Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 t salt
  • Chohula sauce (or hot sauce of choice) I used two good shakes, use to your taste
  • 2 T fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 C plain Panko (you could also used crushed saltines, but omit the salt)
  • 1 lb of fresh picked crab meat (pick through to remove any left over cartilage) Pasturized crab meat will also work well.
  • 1 package of large Wonton or Egg Roll wrappers. (Usually found in the produce section near the salad fixings and salad dressings)
  • Small dish of water
  • Peanut oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl combine the egg, mayo, dijon, Old Bay, Worcestershire, salt and Chohula sauce. Mix together with a whisk until it is well combined.
  2. Add the parsley and stir.
  3. Add the crab and the panko and gently fold into the sauce.
  4. At this point unless you are cooking them right away put this mixture in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. When ready to assemble and cook: cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornstarch. Have a dry towel at the ready to cover the egg rolls once made.
  6. Have your Wonton wrappers read, keep covered to prevent them from drying out, and a small bowl of water.
  7. Prepare your fryer by bringing your oil to 325 degrees. I used a deep cast iron skillet. You can also use a wok, or a fryer if you have one.
  8. Take your crab mixture and place in the center of the wrapper at a diagonal. (see above photo). I used about a 1/4 C of filling leaving about 1 inch of wrapper on both sides. Fold up the bottom corner over the filling and roll half way then fold the sides over. Dip your finger into the water and coat the top corner of the wrapper then seal and press to close. Place them on your prepared baking sheet and cover with a dry towel. (DO NOT REFRIGERATE OR THE WRAPPERS WILL CRACK)
  9. Fry the rolls until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, cut in half on a diagonal, and serve warm with dipping sauce.

*Note: Egg roll wrappers are the same as Wonton wrappers. The difference is really in the size. You can use either! It depends on how large you would like them!

Chili Sauce:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 3 t sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 tsp siracha sauce or to your taste

Mix all together and serve on side of your egg rolls for dipping.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

FOURTH OF JULY AT THE OCM (re-post of Meatball and Bagel recipe)

The last time I wrote I mentioned our new venture. Believe it or not, that’s why I haven’t written. We have been busy polishing, painting, prepping and cleaning up an old memory. All the while still trying to have a life and some down time. I have to say, this has been a labor of love.

About nineteen years ago, my in-laws sold this mobile that stands in Ocean City, Maryland. My husband and I recently bought it back. Lot’s of memories and reminiscing and thinking of the man we called Pops. He is no longer with us, but never forgotten. My husband and his sister tell some tales about the OCM. Some I would never repeat, nor could I. All in fun, I assure you! Even I had the opportunity to make some memories here. One in particular………uhhhhh, never mind that one. All I can say is, we were all young once.

img_0055

There were some things that were immediate. I’m sure you are familiar, cleaning, scrubbing, moving, and all that goes with that. Once she had her bath, then it was time for some cosmetics. We still have plenty to do, don’t get me wrong. The projects we have taken on have really made a difference. The kitchen and bathroom were the worse, so we started there. Now I feel confident enough to have company and don’t have to apologize so much. There are more projects to come, but for now, it’s time to enjoy and have fun. Here are a few before and after pics.

 

With that said, company is coming!!!! Everyone that is going to be here has been part of this place at one time or another. Bagels and meatballs have been a long standing tradition in the family. My father-in-law taught me how to make them, and I am going to re-share that recipe with you. I know a lot of people that have turned their nose up at them. In the end, once you’ve had one, your a fan for life.

Here is the link for the recipe MEATBALLS AND BAGELS

I am wishing you and your family and friends a wonderful fourth of July. Please stay safe and cool. Most of all enjoy the freedom that we are so fortunate to have. God bless you all.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

OUR NEW VENTURE

We just purchased a home away from home in Ocean City, Maryland. Both my husband and I grew up having fun in OC. It’s all fun when your a kid. Amusements, rides, sun, sand, and surf; what more could you want? Even at our age, it still calls to us.

IMG_0218

We bought a mobile home, with a bit of a history. It used to belong to my husbands parents 27 years ago. It was sold because they decided to build a home outside of OC. We offered to buy it and his father refused to sell it to us. When we asked him why he said “I want to get paid”. We laughed, truth was, they wanted us to stay with them and not at the beach. I must admit, we weren’t in a position to buy it back then anyway. So here we are, back at the old vacation place.

It’s going to take some love and elbow grease to get it the way we want it. Picking out paint, repairing and removing to make it ours. Hopefully it will be just as fun and memorable for our family and friends as it was for us years ago. Time to make new memories!

So here it is. Two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and one bathroom. Oh the stories this place could tell if it could talk. Here are the before pics. I will post our progress on my FB page Around the Butcher Block. One room at a time with some time off for sun and fun. Let me know your thoughts. I am open to thoughts and ideas to maximize our tiny space, all constructive ideas are welcome.

I hope you enjoy our transformation. If your in the area, stop by with a paint brush. We can certainly use a few more hands to get the job done.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

Stay Tuned……

It’s been a while since I’ve written! Believe me when I tell you a lot has been going on.

We are getting ready to embark on a new venture. One that I can not wait to share with you. So look for some new recipes and some cool and creative stuff very soon.

In the mean time; Spring is here! I couldn’t be happier! It’s time for flowers and my herb gardens. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic for this chick. How about you?

Anyway, I’ll be back real soon with some goodies. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter holiday. Be happy and enjoy your life. Tomorrow is never promised, live for today and live your best life.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D