Pizzaiola! A.k.a. ‘Pizza Meat’ at my house!

Happy first Friday of the new year, everyone! May God bless all of us with peace and health as the days of 2013 unfold!

This is up there with the awesome rosemary-wine chicken recipe at my website. Beyond easy but elegant and flavor-loaded to the point people will think you were cooking all day. (My favorite kind of recipe!) Just a note: this was the ONLY meat my older son would eat when he actually started touching meat at about 12 years old. There is hope for those fussy guys, folks!

To serve four you’ll need:

1-1/2 lb of top sirloin steak—if possible, have a butcher cut it as thin as humanly possible then pound it even thinner at home.

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (or use your own)

3-4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

salt/pepper/oregano to taste

oil (I sauté the meat in canola then use extra-virgin (EVOO) for the garlic—more detail below)

In your largest fry-pan (I’m a fan of non-stick), heat some oil—just enough to cover the surface of the pan when you swirl it around over medium-high heat. Quickly brown the meat on both sides for up to a minute each. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem done it will cook through later. Work in batches as needed, placing the browned pieces in a shallow bowl. Reserve the juices in between batches.

After you’ve browned the meat, wipe out the pan and add a few tablespoons of EVOO (or more, depending on your taste). The pan is hot, so you’ll be working faster and using a lower flame/heat setting (medium, I’d say). Heat the oil a little then stir in the garlic; sauté until golden. (Don’t let it burn!) Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, salt and pepper and allow the sauce to heat a bit, even bubble a little. Add the reserved juices and stir. One piece at a time, add the meat to the sauce, turning to coat on both sides and tucking one piece under another as needed. Add parsley and some extra EVOO here too, if you like; cover, reduce heat to low and heat through. (Don’t overcook or the meat may get tough.)

Keep warm in pan or transfer to a serving plate and done! Sometimes, I just put the pan on a trivet and serve from there. Make sure you’ve got crusty Italian or Portuguese bread to sop up the awesome beefy sauce you get from this one. Pair with a green salad and/or pasta and dinner is ready. BTW, leftovers—assuming you’ll have any—are even more amazing b/c the flavors have had time to come together better, and any extra sauce can be used over pasta or even stirred up with browned ground beef.

Enjoy and happy weekend!

Joanna

The Lazy Potato

Welcome to Friday and to another installment of super-easy recipes!

For my son's and Nanny's birthdays--just liked the way this one looked :)
For my son’s and Nanny’s birthdays–just liked the way this one looked 🙂

This is probably nothing new, but it’s the delivery that wound up turning this take on home fries one of my favorites to make in a pinch!  Cut up a batch the other day, put ’em in the oven and went for my walk. (Hubby was home to make sure the house didn’t explode, lol.) By the time I got back, home fries were done!

Here’s what you’ll  need:

One med-lg Eastern or Idaho per person

Canola or olive oil (bottled or spray)

Sea salt/Pepper/Adobo/Garlic salt (any or all, depending on your taste)

Your sharpest knife. I love the old-fashioned Quikcut/Ginsu or this Sportsman from Ronco:

Quikcut is the top image. Sportman is on the bottom.
Quikcut is the top image. Sportman is on the bottom.

Here’s what to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (If you have a convection or convection-like option, you’ll want to activate it. Makes your finished product crispier!)

Wash/scrub each potato. (You will NOT be doing any peeling! :))

 

Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise to create potato slices. (Cut as thin or thick as you like, depending on your taste and how quickly you’d like potatoes to ready.)

Arrange potatoes IN A SINGLE LAYER on a (preferably perforated) pizza tin or cookie sheet. (See photo.) THIS IS THE KEY TO EASE!  YOU WON’T HAVE TO TURN THE SLICES ONCE THEY’RE IN THE OVEN!

Perforated pizza pan
Perforated pizza pan

Brush the potatoes with oil (or spray with cooking spray). If you’re really fancy and want more flavor, use an oil infused with a flavor you love–garlic, rosemary, oregano, etc.

Sprinkle with any/all of the seasonings listed above and feel free to add your faves: grated Parmesan cheese, oregano–even a little lemon rocks it.

Flip the slices and repeat the oil/seasoning process.

Place in the oven and let bake approximately 20 minutes (longer for thicker cut potatoes), to desired tenderness and/or crispness.

Remove from oven and start eating!

The finished product--uh...yum!
The finished product–uh…yum!

Tip: Place a cookie sheet lined with foil under the perforated pan. That will catch any oil that drips through and save you a lot of oven-cleaning time. I mean, what cook–lazy or not–wants to do that?!

So what are some of your standby super-quick and easy recipes? Feel free to share, or let me know and you can post your recipe here as a guest, along with some tidbits about yourself!

Have a great weekend!

Joanna

With Whom Would YOU Sing?

Thanks to the Happiness Engineers at WordPress.com for the prompt for this post. Thought it would be fun to take on and makes for good audience participation, don’t you think?

Of course I’d love to duet with Donny Osmond–any of those wonderful Broadway covers he did on Somewhere in Time would do. So would my dream role: narrator to his Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).  Go figure: the narrator on the Canadian soundtrack looked so much like me–thinner of course–one of my sons pointed to the photo and said, “That’s you, Mom.” (I wish! He was quite a bit younger then, but I’ll take it. :))

Then there is my birthday buddy, Bono. How cool would it be to share the mike with him on Stuck in a Moment, Vertigo, The Sweetest Thing or my absolute U2 favorite: Walk On?

And I’d so sing with Kevin Bacon on pretty much any cut from any one of their amazing CDs–Tuesday, Old Guitars and the one we all heard first: Only A Good Woman.

So who would YOU sing with? Come on and play along!

Joanna

This One’s Trouble! Cheesecake too!

Okay, I had to do it. Wasting delicious food is a no-no, right? Especially when it’s cheesecake related?

I’m blaming my online quick-cooking-from-scratch guru Stephanie (modernchristianwoman.com) for this one. She posted this awesome and ridiculously easy no-bake individual blueberry cheesecake recipe. Of course I tried it and had to play with it. (The recipe did lose out a tiny bit on the ‘from scratch’ end–but there are easy ways around that with a little creativity, depending on the ingredients you have on hand.)

First: I did the math and came up with a 9-inch pie version: two blocks of softened Neuftachel (makes for a firmer pie since this is a no-bake); 3/4 cup of sugar; vanilla and a squeeze of lemon/orange/lime–your choice–to taste. Mix on medium speed until creamy and well-blended, about 5 minutes. Spread it in a 9-inch prepared graham crust–or one easily made from scratch from 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar. (Toss together then spread in a glass pie pan.) Top with fresh fruit and/or chocolate chips, chill for a few hours and you’re good to go. (I suppose you can freeze it too.) Positively perfect for a super-quick and elegant dessert in a pinch!

Second: Here’s what I did with the leftover cream cheese mixture. I spread it on store-bought oatmeal cookies and topped each with half a fresh strawberry. Done! Like I said, you can’t waste it! BTW, I’m sure homemade oatmeal, chocolate chip or sugar cookies would work as a base, as would graham crackers.

So, special thanks to Stephanie for inspiring me in more ways than one! And to my iPhone-touting son who takes photos for his mom and emails them to me on the spot. (Even though I took the top photo, lol.)

Look for another super-quick recipe next Friday–perfect for back-to-school breakfast!

Have a great weekend. Please feel free to SHARE! Thanks!

Joanna

Are You Published or Want to Be?

Happy Friday, friends! For those of you in the area who might consider joining me, I’ll be at the Howell Library, Howell, NJ tomorrow! I’d love to see familiar faces and some new ones, too!

Here’s the flyer!

What I Wish I’d  Known—and Done Differently—

 BEFORE I Got Published!

WHERE:     Howell Library   318 Old Tavern Road;    Howell, NJ 07731 (732) 938-2300

WHEN:         July 28, 2012    10 AM-12 Noon

That manuscript burned a hole in your hard drive. You prodded it, polished it to a blinding shine, then sent out query letters to agents and editors. Nothing to do now but wait for a response, right?

Maybe not.

New Jersey author of romance and women’s literature, Joanna Aislinn, has been there, done that and earned the tee-shirt. Armed with the knowledge and perspective only hindsight brings, Joanna will share important tips on what aspiring and soon-to-be-published authors should do while waiting for that first contract.

Joanna Aislinn’s debut novel, No Matter Why (originally published by The Wild Rose Press), was hailed by her editor as “…what a contemporary should be…an emotional journey…a beautiful story well told.”

When not working her day job or attending to a husband, two boys and two cats, Joanna is crafting sequels, planting seeds for future stories of love and commitment, judging contests, networking and expanding her writing and speaking horizons. Friend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/joannaaislinn) and follow her on Twitter (@JoannaAislinn).

                                                                                                             

For a variety of articles and tips on craft, social media and so much more, check out Joanna’s blog (https://joannaaislinn.wordpress.com) and website (www.joannaaislinn.com). 

Summer Tuna Salad Meal

Happy Thursday, all. Trying to stay focused and get ahead of my blog-writing game, but things get busy in my little home. I may also be offline for a few days but will try and get connected sometime. Please note: I am not ignoring anyone, just spending some dedicated time with my family.

Made this one just a few weeks ago. Such and easy fix, I had to share:

Summer Tuna Salad Meal (Sorry, no photo, but I promise this looks really pretty on any plate! BTW, this recipe serves one and is easily multiplied.)

One 6 oz. can solid white tuna (packed in water)

1 tbsp mayonnaise (adjust to taste)

Fresh basil leaves, cut into small pieces

sea salt

shredded cheese of choice and/or 1 slice American cheese

1 slice multi-grain bread (or bread of choice)

baby lettuces of choice (I love Aldi’s Artisan Salad package; only $1.99/pkg, but densely packed and always fresh. Not crazy for the plastic container, but I use those to store other veggies–i.e., zucchini blossoms,  iceberg lettuce, etc. I can also give my neighbors and friends cold leftovers and not worry about losing my better containers.)

salad dressing of choice

Wash and dry baby lettuces. Arrange on a plate, leaving room for a slice of bread. Top with a sprinkling of the shredded cheese and your favorite salad dressing. (Lately, I’m into raspberry vinaigrette, which tends to be fairly low in fat and calories, depending on the brand.)

Drain tuna and place in bowl. Add mayonnaise, basil and sea salt to taste. Stir until well-coated. Toast bread. Immediately top with cheese then place tuna mixture on top. Garnish with basil* and/or shredded cheese, and even a bit of the vinaigrette–yum!

There is something about lightly melted cheese and tuna that works for me. I like to eat this open-faced sandwich with a fork and knife. Using utensils fools me into not missing that second slice of bread and thinking I ate a more formal meal. Helps slow me down too, key to me eating less but feeling every bit as full. This ups my satisfaction big-time and all that protein in the tuna and fiber from the bread and lettuce keeps me from getting hungry for hours. (Convinced my younger son to try it this way—he was sold!)

*Although finely chopped onion tends to be a favorite in tuna salad, I find fresh basil adds a major punch of flavor—no onion breath either, lol.

What are some of your favorite simple recipes that eat like a meal? Please share! And if you’d kindly SHARE by clicking on one of the buttons on your way out, I’d greatly appreciate that too.

Have a wonderful day and weekend,

Joanna

Simple Sunday Fare: Stuffed Zucchini with Sausage

Happy weekend, everyone. Temperatures are have been much more tolerable here on the east coast—enough to bake in a countertop oven, lol.

Sometime last year I posted a recipe for stuffed zucchini. Because I like to find creative ways to “use up” those little amounts of food in the fridge that will often otherwise get tossed, I wind up playing around with flavors. Here’s a take on the stuffed zucch that turned out surprisingly yummy and a bit differently flavorful!

You will need:

3-4 small sweet Italian sausage links

BBQ sauce of choice

1 large zucchini (or about 4 small ones)

2-3 small zucchini (about10 inches long, smaller diameters, coarsely chopped)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped (or more, to taste)

1 ripe tomato (optional, chopped, seeds removed)

canola and/or olive oil

½-cup of seasoned bread crumbs

1/4-cup grated cheese (I like parmesan)

fresh basil to taste (cut into small pieces)

fresh parsley (chopped, stems too)

salt, pepper, Adobo, paprika and/or oregano to taste

1 egg

Start with the zucchini and onion base (i.e., chopped zucchini and onion seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, Adobo, paprika—all your choice—and sautéed until crisp-tender). Make enough to stuff one of the clubs—er, larger zucchs.

Boil* 3-4 small sweet Italian sausage links to remove some of the fat and salt. Remove from pot, cut in half lengthwise and brush with BBQ sauce. Grill** until browned and sauce caramelized. Transfer to plate and slice into medallions or crumble. Set aside.

Cut a large zucchini in half lengthwise. (The bigger the better. This is a great way to use up those Bam-Bam clubs my husband often finds hiding at the bottom of his plants, lol.) Remove the seeds and as much flesh as you like. (I tend not to use the flesh from the large zucchini, as the seeds are quite big.)  Keep in mind, this part could taste a little bland if you don’t hull it out quite a bit. Depends on how much you like plain baked zucchini, lol.

Season each half with olive oil spray, salt, pepper and/or Adobo.  Place each half in a shallow pan or directly on rack of a 375-degree (F) for approximately ten minutes (or while you prepare the stuffing.)

In a separate bowl, place zucchini/onion mixture, tomato, sausage, bread crumbs, grated cheese, fresh basil to taste and one egg. Mix thoroughly. Spoon into each half of the big zucch. Sprinkle with more grated cheese. Wrap each ‘boat’ with foil and seal. Bake until large zucch is tender to your liking and filling is heated through. (I’m thinking about 30 minutes, at least 375 degrees F.) Uncover from the top and brown under broiler, adding mozzarella (or even feta cheese), if desired.

        

Remove from oven, allow to set at least five minutes then cut and serve. Depending on the size of the large zucchini, you can serve 2-4 or slice into smaller pieces and serve as an appetizer or side dish. Leftovers WILL taste even better once those flavors come together–enjoy! (FYI, my original recipe is here, on my Recipe Central page. Just scroll down to the seventh post, immediately following the photo of the pumpkin blossoms. You’ll also find the link to the base zucchini/onion filling and some other ideas on what to do with that!)

*You can skip boiling if you don’t mind the added fat/salt.

** Brown on a griddle or hot frying pan if grilling is not an option.

BTW, my online friend Stephanie posted a stuffed zucchini recipe at her blog the same day I made mine for the first time. I think hers look so much prettier; try them both and let us know your preference! While you’re there, check out her no-bake chocolate-peanut butter cookie recipe and her post on saving $$. You’ll be glad you did!

So how about sharing some of your favorite fresh-from-the-garden (or farmers’ market) recipe? I’m always game for trying someone else’s take on my favorites! And if this recipe sounded good to you, mind clicking on one of the SHARE buttons below to help spread the word? Thanks!

Until next time,

Joanna