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.

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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.

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HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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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

 

 

LIGHTENED UP CHICKEN FRANCESE (by Skinny Taste)

Yes, still in Aruba folks. We have a few days before our last and final crew come. I’m excited for them to get here. This has been a wonderful vacation. In the mean time, we are taking some down time and hanging out. In the mood to cook, I turned to one of my favorites. This Chicken Francese is amazing. It’s also one of my hubby’s favorites.

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While my husband loves this, he doesn’t like it if  it’s “too lemony”. Don’t get me wrong…..I love the extra lemon. In order to have my francese and eat it too, I had to cut back slightly on the lemon. The sauce turned out richly flavored from the chicken broth, white wine, and butter and enough lemon to please both of us. I added some roasted vegetables to round out our meal.

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The recipe below is the exact recipe by Gina Homolka, author of Skinny Taste. She has three cookbooks out. I own all three of them and use them all the time. She is an amazing cook. All of her recipes are big on flavor and light on calories. Check our her cookbooks and do yourself a favor and look her up @ https://www.skinnytaste.com/

CHICKEN FRANCESE LIGHTENED UP from GINA HOMOLKA @ SKINNY TASTE.COM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large (32 oz) chicken breast halves, thinly sliced in 3 (12 cutlets total)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour*
  • 1/2 cup egg whites, beaten
  • 1 large lemon, juice of (about 3 tbsp) or more, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 15 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • cooking spray
  • salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the flour in a bowl, and the beaten egg whites in another bowl.
  3. Heat a very large non stick pan over medium heat. When hot spray with cooking spray to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Lightly flour chicken, then dip in eggs and add to the hot pan a few at a time. Saute chicken 2-3 minutes on each side.
  5. When cooked, transfer onto a plate.
  6. Spray the pan again and repeat until all chicken has been cooked.
  7. Once all chicken is cooked, place the chicken broth in the bowl with 1 tablespoon of flour and whisk.
  8. Add to the pan along with the juice of the lemon, white wine, lemon slices, parsley and butter and simmer over medium heat for about 2 minutes so it reduces slightly and thickens. Turn off heat.
  9. Return chicken to the pan to combine with the sauce.
  10. Serve immediately.

*discarded 1 tbsp flour so only calculated with 3 tbsp.

Note: I used one lemon cut in half. Half for the sliced lemon and the other half to squeeze in the sauce. It was a large lemon.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Yield: 6 servings, Serving Size: 2 cutlets

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Freestyle Points: 2
  • Points +: 6
  • Calories: 216.5 calories
  • Total Fat: 4.5g
  • Saturated Fat: g
  • Cholesterol: 5mg
  • Sodium: 264.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 38g
All text ©Gina Homolka for Skinny taste
Til next time,
Ciao xoxo
Viki D

POTATO, SAUSAGE, & KALE SOUP

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. It is my favorite time of year. I’m always a little sad when it ends. I truly love everything about it.

We had a lot of events to attend this year. My birthday is in December and I got treated to a Transiberian Concert in Hershey, PA.; it was amazing. We always have an annual Christmas party at our house. There is a dirty Santa ornament exchange that can get pretty intense, but lots of fun. There are multiple parties to go to as well. It all happens and ends too fast for me!

We attended our last party on the 23rd at a friend’s house. Lots of great food, including oysters, smoked duck, and all kinds of goodies. My contribution was potato, sausage, and kale soup. I also made some homemade bread. EGG BREAD or CHALLAH

This recipe came about because of a soup my husband had at Olive Garden, Zuppa Toscana. He asked me to come up with a recipe for it; so I did. I have to admit, it went over very well at the party. I was asked to give out the recipe and I’m happy to oblige.

Give this one a try. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re a Weight Watcher this soup comes in at 4 PP per 1 cup serving.

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POTATO, SAUSAGE, AND KALE SOUP

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz lean Italian turkey sausage, removed from the casing
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, fine dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 slice bacon, diced
  • 4 C fat-free milk, reserve 1 C to the side
  • 2 C water
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 8 oz red skin potato, sliced thin (I use a mandolin)
  • 2 C kale, cleaned, medium chop
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Splash of Sherry
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • nutmeg, freshly grated

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a 5-6 quart soup pot brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up as it cooks with a spoon or spatula. Drain and remove it from the pan, and place it on paper towels to remove any excess grease. Wipe the pan with a paper towel.
  2. Add the canola oil to the same pan. Saute the onions and bacon. Cook until the onion is softened and the bacon is cooked.
  3. Add the grated garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. Pour 3 cups of the milk and 2 cups of water into the pan. Add the chicken bouillon granules and bring to a simmer. (DO NOT BOIL) Add the potatoes and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. With the remaining cup of flour, add the flour and whisk, set aside.
  6. Add the sausage back to the pot and the kale and continue to simmer another 10 minutes.
  7. Add the milk and flour mixture and continue to cook until it is slightly thickened.
  8. Add the splash of Sherry
  9. Taste and season with salt and pepper
  10. Grate a small amount of fresh nutmeg, be careful not to add too much it can over power your soup. It will enhance the flavor of the kale.
  11. Serve immediately. Very good with some grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Til next time

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

RADISH BROWNS AND OVEN BAKED EGGS

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When exploring healthy options and lower carbohydrate recipes I discovered radishes. Yes, that’s correct, radishes.  I only used to use them for color in my fresh salads and a little heated bite. I’ve made radish roses for decoration on a crudite’ plate. I never thought of cooking them and using them as a potato substitute.

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The French use them as a nibble with sweet butter and salt and a nice baguette. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, has a recipe you can find on the web. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/radishes-with-butter-and-salt-recipe2-1945613. While I like them this way, cooking them has been a revelation.

My dear friend at  http://thecoastalcrushstyle.com/ sent me an article about weight gain. It got me thinking about carbs and how I could eliminate them. The article was actually very good. You should give it a read! Check it out on Instagram. (see references below)

I love hash browns. Who am I kidding; I love potatoes. One of my favorite breakfast meals is a frittata. I use Ore Ida’s Potatoes O’Brien for that dish and it’s amazing. That is actually where I got this idea from. I must admit, it made me very happy this morning.

I took a large bag of radishes and peeled them. Then I boiled them until they were just easily pierced with a knife. I strained them and returned to the hot pan, off the burner so it would help absorb the moisture. Once they were cooled I diced them into a small dice. I added some banana peppers from our garden and a bit of diced onion. So this morning Radish Browns were born.

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You will want to make sure your diced radishes are dry. The drier they are the less time it will take to brown them. Keep an eye on them and turn them several times to prevent burning and sticking. The end result is wonderful.

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I topped mine with some cracked eggs and stuck the pan under the broiler. I broiled it until the egg whites were set and the yolks were still slightly runny. Watch it carefully, it only takes a few seconds. Of course if you don’t like runny eggs, leave it under the broiler until they suit you.

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When radishes are cooked they take on a potato flavor. You can also roast or bake them. It’s one of those vegies that has a surprising flavor when they are prepared differently. Don’t take my word for it; give this one a try!

RADISH BROWNS AND OVEN BAKED EGGS

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 oz whole radishes, peeled
  • 4-5 banana peppers, seeded and sliced (can use any type pepper you like)
  • 1/4 medium onion, large dice
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 4 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil the peeled radishes for about 5-8 minutes or until a knife inserted pierces the flesh easily.
  2. Drain and return to the hot pan off the burner to absorb some of the moisture.
  3. Let cool and dice into cubes, as for hash browns.
  4. In a medium skillet that is oven-proof, add the olive oil and heat over med-high heat.
  5. Add the radishes, peppers, and onions and cook until the radishes begin to brown. Turn occasionally so they don’t burn and brown throughout.
  6. Once browned, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Spread the mixture flat and crack 4 eggs in different areas over the top.
  8. Place under the broiler until the eggs are set to the desired doneness.

Note: you can also, whip the eggs and add a bit of milk, and cheese and pour over the top instead of the cracked eggs.

A bit of fresh chopped basil would be good on top with any style egg.

Reference:  http://thecoastalcrushstyle.com/

https://instagram.com/shawnakaminski?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=4mfk6eaf651r

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

FRESH GREEN LIMA BEAN SOUP

It’s Fall! Or is it? Hard to tell with the temperatures we’ve had in Maryland. It’s been in the upper 80’s and severely humid. It’s been a boaters paradise to grab the last moments of summer fun. As for me……it’s just too stinking hot!!!!

I’m ready for sweaters, jeans, and colorful leaves. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s ever going to happen. I know it will and I’m really pushing it. I do every year because I love the cooler months. I am truly a Fall and Winter gal.

It’s getting to be that time of year when I am ready for a change in foods too. Soups and stews are two of our favorites. There is nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of yumminess on a cold day.  I can remember going to my Grandmother Pearls in the fall and winter. She would always have some sort of soup on the wood stove. This was a soup she made all the time. It’s quick and easy and very tasty.

Fresh lima beans have a short season. My grandmother used to get them by the bushels and shell them. She would then freeze them for later use. So if you can’t get fresh lima’s, no worries. Frozen limas are just fine for this. Same goes for the corn, I use frozen all the time.

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A nice complement to this or any soup is cornbread or a buttermilk biscuit. (See the posted link for buttermilk biscuits below). You can add a salad if you like. We usually make the soup our main, but anything goes!

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You can make this on the stove-top or in a crock pot. Either way the taste is great and the soup is very filling. I hope you enjoy it!!

FRESH GREEN LIMA BEAN SOUP

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 40oz. fresh or frozen green lima beans
  • 16 oz frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15oz) cans of fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 6-8 C of chicken broth (depends on the amount of broth you like)
  • 2 pieces of uncooked center cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp of sugar (more or less after you taste, it depends on the tomatoes)
  • Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the first 5 ingredients into a large stockpot on the stove-top.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer, stir all together until well combined.
  3. Simmer for at least one hour, 2 hours really brings out the flavor.
  4. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper to your taste.

To use your crock pot repeat the steps above. Set your pot to low for 4 hours.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS..and failed fried chicken!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

 

 

ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE & BROCCOLI RABE

Aaahhh…..is there anything better than pasta for dinner? I think not! Know what makes it even better? Homemade sausage made by our friends.

We were recently sent some homemade sausage from our friends in Connecticut. Their son, now an avid hunter, brings home all sorts of game. Our friends, in true Italian fashion, make their own sausage. They shipped it to us along with some other goodies. I can not tell you how excited we were to receive it. Tonight, it became part of our dinner.

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I would like to elaborate just a little bit about their son. An American soldier, he was wounded 2 times in Afghanistan and lucky enough to return home. Unfortunately, he suffered from PTSD, or, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He credits his continued recovery to the love of his wife, family, and now, love of hunting.  He was having difficulty when he returned home, and starting shutting himself away. His wife gave him a compound bow. He said he had no idea what to do with it. His wife said “you’re a soldier, you should know what to do.” With that, he started taking walks in the woods and began hunting.  He commented “hunting saved my life. It has such an impact on the human spirit.”

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I personally thank God every day for our military. I thank the military for my freedom. I thank him and his family for the wonderful sausage. This is a very special meal for the Del Grosso household tonight. We send a special prayer and a salute to all those who serve and protect. May God bless and keep all of you!

While I can’t share the sausage with you; I can share the recipe. You can use any type of Italian sausage that you like. Typically I would have used a lean Italian  turkey sausage. If you have a favorite then use that. Whatever type of sausage you use, this dish will be wonderful.

Orecchiette is pasta. It’s name means little ear and is indeed shaped like an ear. It is pretty easy to find in most groceries. You can find it online at Amazon.com. If you are lucky enough to have an Italian market they will have it.

Broccoli rabe is also called rapini. Broccoli rabe has a slightly bitter taste. The crowns, leaves, and stems are all edible. It is in the same family as the turnip. If you can’t find broccoli rabe you can use kale. Remove the leaves and discard the stems. Cook it as instructed for the broccoli rabe.

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ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI RABE

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, washed and 2″ trimmed off the stems
  • 1 lb lean Italian sausage, removed from casing (your favorite brand)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 oz orecchiette
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut the washed broccoli rabe in quarters. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Add the broccoli rabe and let cook for 1 1/2 minutes, remove to the side with a slotted spoon. DO NOT DUMP THE WATER.
  2. Bring the water back to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. (Al-dente works well here, about 8-9 minutes) Drain.
  3. In a large deep saute’ pan, brown the sausage on medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces. When completely cooked remove and set to the side.
  4. Add olive oil to the pan and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, DO NOT BURN! This step will take seconds.
  5. Return the broccoli rabe to the pan, mixing well with the garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 1 minute.
  6. Return the sausage to the pan and mix well.
  7. Add the drained pasta to the broccoli rabe and sausage. Reduce the heat and stir for about 30 seconds.
  8. Add the chicken broth, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes (if using). Adjust the salt and pepper and toss another minute so that everything is mixed well and coated in the sauce.
  9. Remove from the heat and divide into 6 pasta bowls.

Additional grated cheese can be added if desired.

Til next time

Ciao xoxo

Photo courtesy of: Barbara Migliaro

Photography: Joseph and Vickie Del Grosso