Tomato Sandwich

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Does anything say summer more than a juicy tomato sandwich?

Toasted whole wheat bread, crisp and refreshing iceberg lettuce, tomatoes bursting with juice and freshness and seasoned lightly with salt and black pepper, and a slice of classic American cheese.

Roasted Tomato Grilled Cheese

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A juicy tomato nestled in a gooey grilled cheese is one of life’s simple pleasures.

And two slices of white bread, some cheese and a tomato slice has its place.

But sometimes, you want to pump it up a bit.

And that’s where roasting tomatoes comes in.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice your tomatoes and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Season with olive oil, salt and lots of black pepper.

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Roast for about 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are toasty and golden.

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Place the tomatoes in your food processor or blender

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And blend til you have a smooth spread

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Spread the tomato sauce on both sides of your bread

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layer with mozzarella and fontina

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and lid it.

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melt some butter on a skillet and place your sandwich in the pool of butter.

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Cook until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side.

Slice and enjoy.

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Orange Cranberry Scones

I posted a recipe for the scones I made for mom and grandma last mother’s day, and with mother’s day coming up again soon, I decided to revisit that recipe and put a new spin on it.

Granted, I didn’t do anything more than add in some orange juice to the dough.

But it’s enough of a tweak to give the scones a new taste and a nice burst of freshness.

Sometimes a tiny change to a recipe is all you need!.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar (depends on how sweet you want them)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • zest of one orange

Preheat the oven to 400

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

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Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients.

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If you’re fancy, you can pull out your pastry cutter to combine the butter and flour mixture. If you’re lazy, you can use your food processor to blend it all. If you’re like me, you know that your hands are the best tool. I just stick my hands in and start breaking the butter up into the flour. You want to end up with pea-size bits of dough.

Make a well in the center and pour in the orange juice and the milk.

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stir to combine.

Sprinkle in the orange zest and the dried cranberries then mix again.

The dough will be tacky.

Form into little football shapes and place on a cookie sheet.

I got 8 scones from this recipe.

Bake for 13-15 minutes.

The perfect breakfast or mid-morning snack!

spinach salad with Dried plums and cranberries

It’s a Dreary and Drizzly day here in New York. It’s Downright chilly out and a Darn shame that it can’t just be spring already…. Daffodils in bloom, kids picking Dandelions…

Okay. I think you get it. It’s D day here at the A to Z challenge.

And this gray day could really use a punch of color and brightness.

So, I painted my nails hot pink (I’m obsessed with my new Julep subscription)

And decided to mix up a delicious salad.

Now salads can be boring.

If everything is all one note, same texture, then you’re just going to feel like a bunny munching on greens. No offense to bunnies. Easter Bunny, if you’re reading, I’ll leave you some carrots in exchange for some robin’s eggs.

But if you’re having a salad for lunch, you want it to be interesting enough that you won’t be at the vending machine getting a Snickers bar, and satisfying enough that you’re not rummaging around for a bag of pretzels at 3 o’clock.

Lately I’ve been really into adding dried fruit to my greens. It adds a nice chew, a hint of sweetness and a new texture.

Here’s my spinach

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I added some marinated artichokes for some fat and some zing

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next some dried cranberries and dried plums (yes, prunes. sounds so much better to say dried plums though, no?)

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Some sunflower seeds for crunch and protein to keep me full

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A simple dressing of sunflower oil (to pick up on the sunflower seeds) and champagne vinegar and voila!

An interesting, delicious and filling salad

 

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BLT Salad

 

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My fiance just got his wisdom teeth out.

Which means he’s on the applesauce and mashed potato diet.

I feel horrible. But, at the same time, I’m hungry. And I can chew. So mashed potatoes and applesauce are just not going to cut it for me.

But I also don’t really feel like cooking just for me. When I lived alone I never really cooked, not because I couldn’t cook, but because it seemed like such a lot of work to make a meal just for myself.

But from that time alone, I’ve come up with some satisfying meals that involve just the smallest amount of cooking. This is one of them.

I love big salads for dinner. But sometimes you need a little meat tossed in there to make it really feel like a meal. Usually I go the route of the prosciutto salad dressing, but I was in the mood for something with a little more to it.

I liked the idea of prosciutto, but I wanted something a little smokier, something more like bacon.

And so, a BLT salad.

I love BLTs, but sometimes you just aren’t in the mood for a sandwich. Don’t brush aside the meal, but instead think about deconstructing it and assembling it in a bowl.

For this salad you will need:

  • Bacon
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • (and any other bits you like added to your BLT)

For the dressing, I’m making a champagne vinaigrette. But again, use whatever you like.

My dressing is a tablespoon of good, spicy mustard, a tablespoon of champagne vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper, tossed in a mason jar, then shaken (lid on) to combine.

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From there it’s just a matter of slicing up your veggies and your bacon

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Tossing in a bowl and topping with dressing.

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I’m aware it’s slightly mean to make bacon and fill the apartment with the intoxicating aroma when your other half can’t eat, but I’ve made promises to make him all of his favorites as soon as he’s better.

That makes it okay.

Right?

I’m Tellin Helen You ate the Cinnamon Rolls!

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The Irish Coffee was a good way to kick off the snow day.

But this winter storm calls for something even better.

Grandma Helen’s Cinnamon Rolls.

I may have told you about my grandma Helen before, so if I have, I apologize. But she was such a great woman that she deserves a repeat story.

My dad is one of 6 kids – 2 girls and 4 boys. And there is a wide age range between with the first 3 being born about a year apart from one another and then the fourth following after about 8 years. Which means that when my parents were dating at 17, my dad’s youngest brother was 7.

My grandmother had no dishwasher. And no driver’s license.

But she cooked and baked. A lot.

When she passed away and we held her wake, the funeral home was filled to the max with kids from the neighborhood who used to come over for dinner or snacks or family parties. She basically fed the whole neighborhood at some point. Pies, stews, spitzad, pepperoni and string beans, and a whole list of things. Thursday night spaghetti night would find my aunt’ college friends piled into the kitchen.

But Monday night. Monday night football to be exact, was about cinnamon rolls.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been intimidated by this recipe for some time. Yeast. Letting dough rise. Making a caramel sauce?

Yikes!

But it actually isn’t that bad. And it is totally worth the wait.

Before I get started, a note on the name. My dad and his siblings used to say to each other “I’m tellin’ Helen!” whenever one or the other did something bad. Eating these cinnamon rolls is not in any way a bad thing. But eating them all and not saving any for a family member is definitely a bad thing!

So be sure to share.

Or I’m telling Helen you hate the cinnamon rolls.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • extra margarine for greasing the dough
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the dough
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons margarine
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
Okay. To get started combine sugar, salt, margarine and scalded milk in a large bowl.
Scalded milk is milk heated to just before boiling.
It will look something like this – bubbles at the edges and a slight skin on the top.

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Dissolve the yeast in a half cup of warm water

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When the yeast mix is lukewarm, add it, half the flour and the egg to the sugar, margarine and milk mixture.

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Continue to stir and incorporate the flour until all of it has been added.

Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes.

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Grease the dough ball with margarine, then place back in the bowl, covered with a towel in a warm place.

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Let the dough rest and rise for 1 and a half hours.

It will double in size.

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Then, punch the dough down, cover and let sit for another 15 minutes. It will rise a bit again.

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Now we are ready to get rolling! Preheat the oven to 350.

Flour your work surface. The Itty Bitty kitchen does not have enough counter space to roll out dough, so we use our table.

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Roll out the dough into a rough rectangle. We’re going to roll it up like a jelly roll so you want it to be fairly thin.

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Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Be generous.

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Starting at one ed, carefully roll it up.

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Leave the dough to sit for a minute while we make the glaze.

In a sauce pan, heat one cup of brown sugar and four tablespoons of hot water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

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Add 6 tablespoons of margarine and stir until melted.

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Pour this sauce into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking tray.

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Stay with me on this one.

Slice the cinnamon roll log up – I got 16 rolls out of this dough – and place the slice rolls in the tray on top of the sauce.

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Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. The rolls will absorb the glaze and will puff up.

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Let them sit for about 5 minutes so the glaze sets up on the rolls.

Flip.

Marvel at the ooey-gooey cinnamon deliciousness.

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Stormchaser – Irish Coffee

Well, the city got hit by winter storm Hercules.

It’s cold.

It’s windy.

And the streets are a big slushy mess.

It’s the perfect day for Irish coffee!

Irish coffee is one of those drinks that bars and restaurants will charge you a ridiculous amount for. You will be walking around, cold and tired, and you will see a warm and snug Irish pub, beckoning to you with freshly brewed coffee and a shot of whiskey.

Well, guess what? That’s all it is, so man up. Buy a bottle of Jameson and brew up some coffee.

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Jameson

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Milk

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Coffee

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Whipped Cream

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Cinnamon

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Slainte!

 

 

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Meme’s Manti

When pepe and meme were first married, pepe woke up in the middle of the night with a craving. He didn’t know the name of the dish, so instead, in the wee hours of the morning, he described the dish to his (very patient, might I add) wife. Instead of being totally annoyed with him for waking her up, she surprised him the next day with the dish that woke up from his dreams. Manti.
Manti is an Armenian dumpling, almost like an Armenian tortellini stuffed with meat instead of cheese.
The basic recipe is ground lamb, onions, garlic and some Armenian spices, all mixed up and  stuffed inside of pasta dough. It’s then boiled and served with a garlic yogurt sauce and mint in melted butter.
But that’s the basic recipe.
This is meme’s recipe.
And meme’s recipe involves frying the dumplings before boiling them.
That’s right, we’re going to mix the meat, make some pasta dough, roll little dumplings, fry them all, then boil them.
You ready?
I suggest doing this when it’s snowing or raining out and there’s a good football game on TV. You’re going to be here for a while.
For the filling you will need:
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  •  blob of crushed garlic
  • bunch of parsley
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon halebi biber (For more on this check out the comments on this post)
For the dough, use your favorite pasta dough recipe, or wonton wrappers if you want to cheat a little.
For the sauces for serving you will need:
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Mint
  • Butter
Are you ready?
Are you sure?
Okay. Let’s go.
Start by pulsing the onions and parsley in the food processor. Then place the mix in a strainer and press to remove the liquid.
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Place the drained parsley and onions in the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
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To the onions and parsley, add the crushed garlic (a blob is about 2 large cloves), salt, halebi biber and coriander.
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Last, add the lamb and sirloin and mix until completely combined.
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Set the mixture aside and roll out your pasta dough.
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Trim the edges so you have a rough rectangle.
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Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into one inch squares and drop about a teaspoon of the meat mixture into the center of each square.
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Pick up a square, dip your finger in a bowl of water, and run along the edges.
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Fold so the corners meet and the square is now a triangle. Be sure to press and seal the edges.
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Fold the top point of the triangle in and over the meat mix, so they almost look like tortellinis. Repeat until all the meat is used up.
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Now, take a break. Trust me. Get a drink or a snack.
Okay, ready for the next part?
Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with enough vegetable oil for the manti to be almost submerged. Turn the heat to medium, and start frying the manti.
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They take about 2-3 minutes on each side. Flip using tongs.
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Then, place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain slightly.
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Then put them in tupperware to store.
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Or, if you’d like to eat them right away, place the desired amount of manti (less than you think per person as these are very heavy) in a pot and cover with chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Not a boil. Just a simmer. The manti will absorb some of the broth and soften.
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Finally, top the manti with a garlic yogurt sauce (just some chopped garlic stirred into Greek yogurt) and, if you want to be very traditional, some melted butter with torn mint leaves tossed in. We left that out, opting for just yogurt instead.
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And there you have it. Manti.
This is not a fast and easy dish to make, but it is delicious. And if you make a large batch, you freeze the rest and have some Armenian dumplings ready to go.
You know, in case you have a late night craving like pepe.

Christmas!

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I know this is a few days late. But I hope you will cut me some slack. I wrapped, I cooked, I cleaned, and then Iumped around.

That’s right. I cooked!

Christmas dinner came out of the Itty Bitty City Kitchen this year!

And there was no skimping on the food just because it’s a small space, oh no! It’s Christmas! There needs to be an overabundance of food. I mean, I’m Italian. And my fiance is Greek and Armenian. It’s all about the food on both sides.

So I have to admit, I was a little nervous to cook the big holiday dinner. I mean, you get one Christmas dinner a year. Talk about pressure!

And I knew this year would be a little harder without meme here with us. So instead of worrying and stressing, I took a deep breath and decided to do Christmas my way. I talked to meme about it first. She told me not to worry and to do it my way.

Seriously.

I tend to talk to her when I’m in the kitchen. Cooking was a passion we both shared. That and our love for family, especially for Christopher. My god, I’ve never seen a grandmother love her grandsons so fiercely.

But anyway. The food. We decided to do a combination of Greek and Armenian mezze and Italian antipasto, a fusion of our families.

It started with meme’s hummus. That is the only hummus recipe you will ever need.

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Then we added pita, olives, salami, prosciutto, and basturma (a seasoned and cured meat)

The we brought out the brie (the Armenian side of the family went to France after the genocide so there’s a mix of French and Armenian there), mozzarella, provolone, kasseri (a Greek sheep’s milk cheese) and Armenian String Cheese (no, I did not make that up)

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We left this array of munchies out and everyone picked at it while we relaxed, drank some wine and, of course, opened presents!

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After gifts were exchanged and thank yous were said, I got started on dinner.

I actually started dinner a few days prior by making a big pot of meatballs and gravy. I just doubled my usual recipe. I also fried up some sweet Italian sausage and added that to the pot of gravy as well.

I stored it in the fridge for three days, so the flavors could, okay dad’s word all together now, fester. Then on Christmas morning I pulled out the pot and pot it over a low flame, stirring occasionally, and filling the whole apartment with that awesome smell of meatballs and gravy.

To accompany the meatballs, I went with stuffed shells. They don’t require boiling. You throw some gravy on them and throw them in the oven, so you’re not standing at the stove and then draining pasta and dirtying another pot like you would if you were making raviolis say.

Instead, preheat the oven to 350 (or follow the directions on your package), pull out an aluminum baking tray, and layer gravy, shells and then more gravy in the pan. Top with mozzarella (because we didn’t eat enough cheese) and bake for about 45 minutes.

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The cheese will get bubbly and melty.

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And despite the amount of mezze/antipasto consumed, everyone will find room for a meatball or 2 or 3 and a few shells.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, for dessert we had fruit salad, chocolate chips and Dad’s Favorite – the Cheesecake Thing

So, don’t be intimidated. Cook what you love. Cook what makes you happy.

And you can have an Itty Bitty City Kitchen Christmas too!

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Buon Natale

Kalá Christoúgenna

Shnorhavor Surb Tsnund

Joyeux Noël