Author Archives: Courtney Cammarota

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

I’m really excited about this St. Patty’s Day because my BFF Michele (who I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with!) is coming over for some drinking and eats and I figured might as well make this a drunken dinner party and break out the nice flatware and set my seldom used dining room table for the occasion.

For our dinner I decided to make a traditional Irish meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage with Irish Soda bread (ok I cheated on the bread and bought it at the store).

I started out by marinating the corned beef in 2 bottles of beer overnight. Not sure if that was necessary as the original recipe didn’t call for it but I figured what they hey, alcohol makes everything better, right?

Using Len’s fun and informative recipe ( I urge you to read it for her humor and guide on how to select the perfect corned beef & cabbage to use in your recipe) on Food.com I Made This:

 

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Ingredients:

1 (2 -6 lb) corned beef brisket ~Mine was about 4 lbs
1 teaspoon peppercorn
2 dried bay leaves

~You can leave out the peppercorn & bay leaves if your corned beef comes with the seasoning packet

1  head fresh cabbage
6 medium red potatoes
1 (1 lb) bag fresh carrot
fresh parsley (Dried won’t do at all)
real butter
1 fresh garlic clove
1 medium fresh sweet onion
grainy yellow mustard
irish soda bread
can of beer

Directions:

  1. Place the brisket (best side up) in the bottom of a large dutch oven or stockpot.
  2. Add the spice packet or a teaspoonful of peppercorns and two bay leaves.
  3. Cover the brisket generously with water and a bottle of beer (optional – adds flavor and is a tenderizer) and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile scrub and rinse the potatoes removing any eyes or bad spots but leave as much peel on as you can and quarter them.
  6. Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage until the leaves are entirely light green, rinse and cut it into quarters through the spine so they stay together. Set aside.
  7. Peel the onion and cut it into eighths. Set aside.
  8. Rinse the bunch of fresh parsley and mince.
  9. After simmering for 2 hours add the potatoes on top of the brisket and add water to cover.
  10. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 mins
  11. Add the cabbage on top of the potatoes and add onion and carrot on top of the cabbage. Add water to cover everything.
  12. Bring to boil then educe heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  13. Dish is done once cabbage is cooked to tender.
  14. Place the potatoes in the bowl while still piping hot and add butter, garlic, and add a handful of chopped fresh parsley.
  15. While brisket is resting bring remaining liquid to boil then add cornstarch and whisk vigorously Cook until desired thickness.
  16. Slice the brisket cross grain.
  17. Top brisket and veggies with gravy.
  18. Enjoy!!!

Chocolate Fudge Icing AKA Chocolate Gooey Deliciousness

A homemade cake deserves homemade icing and in my humble opinion a yellow cake NEEDS a gooey chocolate  fudgey icing and I found the perfect chocolate fudge icing recipe courtesy of BettyR on ChefTalk.

This is my first homemade icing so I stuck to the recipe exactly and I Made This:

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Ingredients:

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ + 2 tbsp cornstarch-packed

7 tbsp cocoa powder

¾ tsp salt

1 ½ cups boiling water

6 tbsp butter

1 tbsp vanilla

Directions:

BettyR’s original recipe has microwave instructions but I preferred the stove top method

  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, butter, and salt.
  2. Whisk in boiling water then cook over medium heat until thick & bubbly. This will happen quickly so don’t step away and start doing dishes like I did lol
  3. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.
  4. Let cool then frost cake!

I suggest you use it to frost this yummy yellow cake 🙂

 

Yummy Yellow Cake Recipe

My BFF Michele is coming over tomorrow to celebrate St. Patty’s Day and since she is bringing the booze I’m going to supply the meal (Corned Beef & Cabbage which I will post about later) and, of course,  dessert. I was going to use a box cake and canned icing but realized I was would be missing out on a perfect blogging opportunity ~my first cake made completely from scratch!

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is my fav and I used my Google-Fu skills to find a scrumptious sounding yellow cake recipe on Chef Talk and I lucked out because the author, BettyR,  also included her delicious looking chocolate fudgey icing recipe as well~score!

Since this is my first attempt at cake making I barely deviated from the recipe (I only have 2 cake pans so it’s a two layer cake instead of three)  and I Made This:

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Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (do not sift the flour)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Vegetable oil
1 stick butter (not margarine), softened
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of (2) 9 x 1 1/2-inch round pans.
  3. Spray the pans with cooking spray, place the wax paper in the pans and spray the paper. I imagine you can just butter then flour the cake pans to prevent sticking but since this is my first cake I didn’t want to take any chances
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing well. I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the paddle attachment and it worked beautifully!
  5. Measure the 1-1/4 cups of milk in a 2 cup measuring cup….then add enough vegetable oil to bring the liquid up to 1-1/3 cups.
  6. Add the milk/vegetable oil mixture, butter and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer (or stand mixer) on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  7. Add the eggs and continue beating an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center of cake comes out clean, or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
  9. Cool cakes on wire racks for 15 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.
  10. Frost as you like although I recommend this chocolate fudgey gooey recipe

Decorated with green and gold sprinkles in honor of St. Patty’s Day:

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~As a side note, DO NOT forget to remove the parchment paper from the cakes before icing…like I did lol. We still ate it but we had to peel it and scrape the icing first 🙂 Luckily after a day of heavy drinking we really didn’t care.

Roasted Balsamic Sweet Potatoes

I LOVE sweet potatoes and so I’m always on the look-out for new recipes to try to convert my ‘regular” potato loving hubby to my sweet potato ways 🙂 I found this recipe on Pinterest (shocker, I know, lol) courtesy of Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide, a fellow WordPress blogger.

The recipe is simple and straightforward enough that I threw it all together while I was making a cake! With just a few adjustments to the recipe I Made This:

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup decent balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar (I used light b/c that’s all I had on hand)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400•
  2. In large skillet bring balsamic vinegar & sugar to a boil
  3. Reduce until sauce begins to thicken
  4. Add butter and salt and cook over medium heat until evenly mixed
  5. Place sweet potatoes into skillet and coat with balsamic mixture
  6. Put potatoes into baking dish and roast until browned on the edges, about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally
  7. Add parsley just before serving

It’s a Cinch Head Wrap & Collar

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For my first departure from knitting scarves I wanted to take on another simple yet cute project so I put my Google-Fu skills to work and found this pattern on Ravelry by Elisa McLaughlin.

Of course, being me, I decided to move ahead on the project even though I didn’t have the correct size knitting needles. So once again I improvised the materials (using the exact pattern) and I Made This:

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Materials Needed:

Worsted Weight Yarn (approximately 90yrds)

~I used Red Heart Super Saver Bonbon Print

Straight Knitting Needles US size 10 (6.0 mm)

Yarn Needle

I had some pretty leftover sparkly teal yarn so last night I Made This:

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Materials Needed:

Worsted Weight Yarn (approximately 90yrds)

~I used Red Heart Sparkly Teal (misplaced the tag so I’m not sure of the real name but any medium weight sparkly teal yarn will do)

Straight Knitting Needles US size 10.5 (6.5 mm)

Yarn Needle

 

The complete pattern along with step by step picture guide can be found here. Happy Knitting!!!

 

It’s dinnertime at the Cammarota household and so once again I’m relying on Pinterest to make sure we have a tasty meal. Tonight I’m trying out a recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers because it’s a cheesesteak in a pepper-duh:)

Why let all those (tasty) carbs get in the way of meat and cheese lol.

But before I get to the recipe I feel the need to give a shout out to my sister-in-law Christie for lending me her Canon camera software disk so I can now download these lovely pictures directly to my laptop rather than downloading them to the hubby’s computer (which had the original software installed) then transferring them to mine via a thumb drive-PITA I tell ya!

I used this recipe from Quick & Easy Recipes as my jumping off point and I Made This:

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Ingredients:

6 Green Bell Peppers

1.5 20 oz boxes Quaker Maid Steaks

10 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms

2 Medium Yellow Onions

18 slices Provolone or American Cheese

2 tbsp EVOO

3 tbs butter

salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400•

Cut tops off peppers, remove ribs and seeds.

Poke holes in bottom of peppers with toothpicks to allow drainage when cooking later. Arrange peppers on cooking rack in baking pan cut side down. Bake for 20 minutes. Then flip over and bake for 10-15 minutes more. OR in lieu of pre-baking the peppers  boil peppers instead.

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Meanwhile slice onions and mushrooms.  Saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.  Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized.  About 25-30 minutes.

While peppers, onions, and ‘shrooms are cooking heat large skillet on high heat. When nice and hot add broken up pieces of steak. Cook until no longer pink then drain fat.

Add onion & ‘shoom mix to steak and mix well. Mmmmm

Line each pepper with slice of cheese (a step I forgot and I’m sure will only enhance the deliciousness!!) Then fill with steak, onion, and ‘shroom mix and top with cheese.

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Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cheese browns

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“Mangia, mangia!”

Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

My Pinterest addiction struck again the other day and I felt compelled to try out another seemingly great sounding recipe..Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Sounds great right? Dough you can safely snack on~score!

So I used my Google-Fu skills to make sure I had the best recipe and most bloggers were basically repeating the same one to mostly rave reviews so off to the kitchen I went…

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My initial reaction upon tasting it was ehhh, it’s ok.

Soooo I started tossing in some more butter and sugar and a tad more vanilla and the result was a little tastier ( I mean come on how can you beat more butter, sugar, and vanilla, right?!?) but still not something that I would rank equal to an eggy cc cookie dough.

😦

I wasn’t even going to post the recipe on here but the hubby told me I had a duty to warn people lol. So really this post is to serve as a PSA against the evils of eggless cookie dough. NOT worth your time or ingredients…not to mention the calories!

But don’t fret my friends, I have made it my mission to find a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough that you can safely snack on without fear of salmonella. I have a few ideas up my sleeve and I will be sure to post once I have a worthy recipe!

***

And for those of you who’ve been snacking on regular cookie dough for years, according to several internet sources only about 1 in 30,000 eggs actually contains salmonella. Of course that statistic will be little comfort should you get sick so maybe hold off on the dough until we can find a good recipe 🙂

Chunky Arm Knit Scarf

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I get tons of compliments and people cannot believe I made it myself in just a few hours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I first tried my hand at knitting this past January and quickly became frustrated with the slow as molasses pace and my inability to understand the fundamentals THEN I stumbled upon this little gem on PinterestArm Knitting Tutorial – How-To | simplymaggie.com. and I was hooked. Not only is this a fun, easy, and quick way to knit it’s also an awesome way for a newbie knitter to learn the fundamentals!

Thanks to Maggie I have a gorgeous collection of homemade chunky knit scarves in colors I love AND I figured out the ins and outs of knitting! Win-Win 🙂 Now if only my budget allowed for more yarn…lol

 

I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn in Constellation for my scarf pictured above.

 

IMG_4269  You can see how wide the loops are due to using your arms as the knitting needles

 

Here is Maggie’s how-to video to get you hooked on knitting:

Super Simple Scarf

I love yarn, especially thick, soft, colorful yarn. I buy it without having the slightest idea of what I’m going to do with it. I figure I’ll find a pattern…the interweb is a big place with lots of ideas after all lol.

 

After practicing my knits and purls and trying to get all the knitting lingo down I decided for my first real project to just wing it and knit a scarf sans any real pattern (because at this point I couldn’t really read any pattern).

 

So using one ball of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn Mystical

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I cast on 12 stitches then knit 2 rows, purl 2 rows til end of yarn. Bind off in knit then weave in ends.

Voilà! Beautiful handmade scarf that you can knit in a day 🙂

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Crispy Avocado BLT Salad

This recipe had me at crispy avocado YUM!

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And don’t fret foodie novices, this was a really easy (but time-consuming) recipe to prepare.  Courtesy of Tasty Kitchen:

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CRISPY AVOCADO:
  • 1 whole Avocado, Semi-firm, Not Mushy
  • Pinch Of Kosher Salt And Pepper
  • ⅓ cups Flour
  • 1 whole Egg Beaten
  • ½ cups Panko
  • 2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil, For Frying
  • FOR THE SALAD:
  • Field Greens Or Spring Mix
  • Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 slices Cooked Bacon, Crumbled
  • FOR THE HONEY-LIME DRESSING:
  • 2-½ Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • Pinch Of Salt And Pepper
  • FOR THE SPICY RANCH DRIZZLE:
  • ⅓ cups Ranch Dressing
  • ½ teaspoons Or More Of Chili With Garlic Sauce (or You Can Use Tabasco Or Sriracha)

Instructions

First you need to make your bacon. My preferred method is to use the oven, as shown here by Our Best Bites. Its easy, fast, and relatively mess free (my aluminum foil wasn’t wide enough to line my pan so I doubled up and the oil got in between the seams and got on my pan anyway…ohs wells, I cook I don’t do the dishes lol).

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While the bacon was cooking I made up the dressings.

Honey Lime Dressing:
Combine honey, vinegar, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper in a Mason jar or shaker; shake until fully combined. Adjust to your liking (sweeter or add more vinegar).

Since I don’t keep mason jars on hand (not to self; keep mason jars on hand) I improvised with a drink tumbler and just put my thumb over the straw hole when I shook it all about.

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Spicy Ranch Dressing Drizzle:
Combine the ranch dressing and Chile with garlic sauce (or Sriracha or Tabasco) in a small bowl and mix until fully incorporated. Adjust to your taste.

I used a teaspoon of Tabasco brand Garlic Pepper sauce; just the perfect amount of spice for my taste buds!

Now it’s time to crisp up some avocados which really is easier than you may think! Cut your avocados in half, remove the seed, and cut lengthwise into about 6 slices. Make sure your pieces are thick enough to hold up to being fried. Dredge in flour, then dip in egg, and finally in panko/parm mixture.

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Meanwhile pre-heat your frying pan on medium high heat then add olive oil. When oil begins to smoke add avocados and fry on each side for a few minutes. They will cook up fast so be sure to stand by ready to turn them. When they are browned on all sides transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

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For the salad portion simply arrange your favorite greens in bowls and add tomatoes and parmesan cheese shavings.

Now top greens with crispy avocados and bacon, and drizzle with spicy ranch and honey lime dressings. Ok so I more than drizzled the dressing…I like me some dressing 🙂

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Enjoy!

IMG_4257 ‘Nuff said

 

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