Monday, March 19, 2018

Set the Table and Call them for Dinner...

One way to ensure that eating homemade at home is way way better than eating out is to set the table properly - simple and as elegant as possible. Use white dishes, they show off the food better...making it stand out on the plate in terms of eye 'appetizing' color. Use white napkins but not strictly; certainly do not use paper towels; and, use clear glassware along with simple silverware.

It takes no more time to set a simple table in this way than it would to put out paper plates or a mishmash of colorful patterned stoneware. Make your family feel special when eating at home!

You can decorate for the seasons by using soft woven bamboo place-mats instead of soft woven plastic ones or skip the place mats entirely and just go with a textured cloth table runner dressing up an ordinary plate with a cloth napkin and select candies presented in a small basket. Get creative and add your special touch...and your family will feel blessed!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Brainy Lasagna... as good as it gets!

Who doesn't like lasagna, right?

Its as simple as pie to make. Maybe even simpler... if you use ready to bake noodles. You will need: lasagna pasta, baby spinach leaves, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, soup stock, tomato sauce and or diced tomatoes.

To begin, heat your oven to 425. While it heats up, prepare the lasagna. Either use ready to bake noodles or ordinary precook. Lasagna is all about the layers. Its best to start the layering by putting down a layer of lasagna noodles 'dry or precooked' into a glass baking dish drizzled with olive oil. Cover each noodle with a spoonful of soup stock.

Next, add the meat (or not) of your choice; cooked and crumbled in. Pour over this, tomato sauce (or diced tomatoes), then a layer of grated mozzarella cheese topped with a sprinkle of dried herbs. Repeat this reserving the middle layer for the baby spinach leaves and ricotta cheese.

Put another layer of noodles, stock and sauce, top with mozzarella cheese (a few slices of whole tomato looks nice) and more dried herbs: rosemary, mint/basil and oregano.

Bake in the oven uncovered for at least 60 min keeping an eye on things. After 30 min. or so, add Parmesan cheese.  Let it cook until bubbling over.  Let cool before serving; and, have extra sauce on the side to spoon on or around the lasagna.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*if making vegetarian, omit the meat and just use spinach leaves in all layers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Are Mashed Potatoes Unsung at Your House...???

Its like bread and butter... if you haven't had really good mashed potatoes; then, you are missing out and so is the family!

The Brainy Gourmet uses only yellow gold potatoes. There are other potatoes that can be mashed but yellow gold are just supreme in my book.  The best thing about mashed potatoes is that they can be served simple or dressed up and either way, they are great.

The way to make mashed potatoes is to wash and peel as many per person (2 med. potatoes per person) as you will need to serve. Halve the peeled potatoes and boil in salted water until tender.

Drain and add a large dollop of butter, 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of sour cream... more or less.  Mash with an old fashioned potato masher or you can use a hand mixer for extra creamy fluffy style mash.

 with olive oil and pepper...
with chive or dill...

Add either grated cheddar, bacon bits, tomato or basil pesto, or chopped chive, or some roasted mashed garlic and grated parmesan cheese; or just keep it simple and serve with extra butter. Of course, some like gravy on their mash.

Serve hot!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ole Fashioned ...Bread and Butter???

Yes, today some might think that just good ole bread and butter is old fashioned or even unhealthy. Everything is unhealthy when eaten in large quantities or unbalanced with other important foods such as: meat proteins, fruits and vegetables.

As a child, I ate bread and butter and looked forward to that taste and especially to that first bite. Bread hot out of the oven, crispy on top and moist inside served with a dollop of creamy butter - Yum! Only love can say more than that.

Even if you are not a baker, grab a loaf or round at your local grocer, heat up the oven, crisp it up and serve with butter. The family will think they went to heaven for dinner!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bread and Soup for Family and Friends...

If you have never served just bread and soup for dinner, then your family and friends are missing out on the simplest and most deliciously satisfying meal ever; and, you don't need a recipe either.

You will need: one whole chicken, one leek, dried herbs and of course, a fresh baked round of bread. Yes, its just that simple.

To begin, fill a large pot with water (8+ cups), add 1 tbs of salt and boil on the stove top. As soon as the water begins to roll, drop in the whole chicken (innards removed) and the washed/trimmed leek.

Sprinkle in a generous amount of dried herbs and let this simmer for close to 90 minutes; until the whole chicken floats and the meat is white and tender.

Cook your favorite pasta or even rice on the side. When you have determined the chicken to be fully cooked, remove the entire chicken (any pieces as it may break apart) and place onto a serving plate along with the leek.

Drain the pasta/rice,and ladle to individual bowls. Pour the soup broth over the top and serve. Why keep the pasta/rice separate - out of the pot? Because though you will serve chicken noodle soup tonight, you also have a good stock for the rest of the week.

Invite family and friends to the table... put out the soup, bread and butter and enjoy!

*Hoping that your family knows the good taste of soup with bread and butter...

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Italian Diet ~ Probably, the Healthiest in the World...

Yes, Italy is the second healthiest country in the world. Why? Italians are healthy because of what they eat. Yes, they love pasta and homemade with quality flour makes for good carbs. However, one can definitely stress the olive oil, hard cheeses, fruits and nuts in season, fresh herbs, tomatoes and sunshine that are working miracles in the Italian diet.

Meat is not eaten in Italy in the same portions as one will find in the U.S. and the amount of fat in the meat they prefer is also a lot less. On the coast, they do eat more fish/seafood; whereas, in/upland a bit more rustic breads, cured ham and olives; overall, Italians celebrate life and that is the key!

And, let's not forget the wine, when consumed in moderation, it makes the heart glad.

"Wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts" ~ Psalm 104:15.

Sources ~  [].

Eggplant Parmesan ~ Could it be so 'skillet' easy...?

Delicious is just an Italian bistro away...

Eggplant parmesan doesn't have to be difficult or done in the can do this dish on the stove in the skillet. One large eggplant is all you need along with some bread crumbs, tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese.

Begin by soaking (washed and semi-peeled) sliced eggplant in a milk bath. Pat down both sides on a plate of seasoned bread crumbs (seasoned with dried herbs). Then gently pan fry in olive oil until browned on both sides. You will be surprised how quickly the eggplant soaks up the olive oil, so you may need to drizzle in some extra as you see it begin to disappear in the pan/skillet while the eggplant sizzles.

Once you have finished browning the long slices, remove from the skillet and set aside. Clean the skillet with a moistened paper towel and return to the stove top. Add your tomato sauce, from the jar is fine as long as its your favorite. Lay in your browned eggplant slices. Let them simmer for about 20-25 min on med heat. Then as a finale, generously top with shaved Parmesan cheese and simmer for another 15 min.

Prepare a bucatini pasta or salad as a side to this stove top lusciousness ...

~Tutti a Tavola!