Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homemade Goodness

I love being inspired...especially with food. I also love having a few hours in the morning to be domestic! Today, I sent the kids to an extra day of school and started in on the housework. I was thinking what my new neighbor told me last night about what to do with all of my tomatoes that are rotting and falling off the vine. She told me to roast them with some olive oil, garlic, & seasoning for a delicious sauce. Duh.... why haven't I thought of that yet? Or maybe it is that I am just too busy or lazy or just tired to do it! Well, today I had some time and some inspiration. I went out and picked some tomatoes that were about to go bad, sliced them, drizzled them, roasted them, pureed them, and Wah Lah.... a beautiful bright red sweet & tangy tomato sauce.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

~10 ripe red tomatoes (best if homegrown)
3 garlic cloves
a few Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 white onion chopped
1/4 c. white wine
italian seasoning
crushed red pepper

~ Cut tomatoes in half, place in glass baking dish & drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper & italian seasoning. I shoved the garlic in the tomatoes for flavor.

~ Roast @ 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until bubbly & soft.

~ Meanwhile, saute chopped onions on stove with 1Tbsp. olive oil until translucent and soft. Add white wine and reduce (about 5 to 10 minutes).

~ Add tomatoes & onion mixture to a blender to puree. Season with salt, pepper, & crushed red pepper.

Serve over your favorite pasta, or eat it as a soup! yum yum yum

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Trifle fit for a King

If it wasn't for my Nana, my Dad wouldn't be here.... and what a shame that would be, because I wouldn't be here either! No, Dad is the best. He is one of the most sensitive, caring, and nurturing men I have ever met. He prides himself in being honest. One of the most important traits in a human being, in my opinion!

Of course, I didn't always get along with my Dad. There were the years in highschool, where I thought he was too hard on me, too strict, and just plain mean! I look back now and see that the decisions he made in raising me were to my benefit. He taught me to appreciate things, to love unconditionally, and to be true to myself. If he was reading this right now, he would be humbled. He doesn't believe that anything he has done has been that extroardinary, but I beg to differ. He has always said, "there is nothing wrong with being average." But there is nothing average about him....especially his taste in FOOD.

My Dad has got to be one of the best throw-it-together, one-pot-cooker, I have ever met. I don't think he got this trait from my Nana, because to be honest with you...she wasn't the best cook! He get's this from not being afraid to try new things, to be daring, and just unique.

His favorite dessert is Trifle. There is no recipe for this deliciously fresh dessert. As a matter of fact, part of the fun of making it is that it tastes different everytime. So, here is how I made it for Father's Day this year. Feel free to change whatever you want in it. I promise you, it won't disappoint.

A Trifle Fit for a King

2 packages lady fingers or a loaf of pound cake
1/4 cup dark rum (or liquer of choice)
16oz container of tapioca or vanilla pudding
lots of fresh fruit (bananas, kiwi, peaches, berries)
1 cup of whipping cream*
sprinkle of powdered sugar

In a trifle dish (or clear bowl), layer lady fingers in the bottom, drizzle with rum. Continue to layer with tapioca & fruit. Then put another layer of lady fingers on top, drizzle with rum, and continue. Top with fresh whipped cream & fruit.

* To make whipped cream, place whipping cream and about 1/8 c. of powered sugar in bowl. Mix with beaters until soft peaks form. I added a splash of rum to mine too!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I FIGured it out

Another thing I inherited when I moved into this house, is a FIG tree. It is the most beautiful tree in the yard. The bright green distinctly shaped leaves, just scream "take a picture of me!"

I remember my Dad always walking out to this fig tree, grabbing a plump purple piece of fruit and taking a bite out of and all. To be honest, I never quite got the appeal of it. To me, it was sweet, but had such a strange texture. Now... I have a FIG a plenty.... I need to pick these bad boys and do something with them before the dang crows get to them! So here, I am...taking any suggestion I can to make something with figs. My husband never tasted a fig before moving here.... his first response to the taste, "well, it doesn't taste much like a Fig Newton." Good answer honey! But No...they are better than a Fig Newton, especially prepared like this....

Fig & Goat Cheese with Balsamic Appetizer

made up by me (I FIGured it out!!)

A few fresh figs, rinsed & sliced

A few ounces of fresh goat cheese

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1 tsp. sugar

your favorite crackers, or crostini bread (next time I will do the bread, but I didn't have any today!!)

Simmer balsamic & sugar in a saucepan, stirring constantly, making sure not to burn! Allow to reduce and thicken.

Place goat cheese & figs on a platter, sprinkle with balsamic vinaigrette


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just Peachy

I have a peach tree....

The fruit isn't quite ready yet, but everyday I go out into the backyard, put my nose up to the little fuzzy fruit and take in a big whif. I love that smell. Peaches have to be one of my favorite fruit. They are sweet and juicy and just remind me of summer. I am going to have A LOT of peaches here soon. So, I started "experimenting" with what I will do with them. I could can or jam, or whatever you call it!! But I won't. I will probably feed them to my kids until they turn into sweet little peaches, or... I will make Minted Peach Oatmeal! It doesn't matter that it is summer and oatmeal is a "winter" breakfast. I will eat it. I threw this together this morning and wanted more and more. The problem is, I only had one peach, and it was store bought. But this is what I plan to do with my peaches once they are ready to harvest. You should try it, it is light, sweet, and fulfilling.

Minted Peach Oatmeal

1 cup cooked old fashioned oats
a splash of milk

1 ripe peach, cut into pieces
1 squirt of agave nectar (to sweeten it)
a sprinkle of cinnamon

1 large mint leaf chopped up

Cook the oats on the stove, how you like it.... add the milk, peach, agave nectar, cinnamon, and mint. Mix and EAT!

I promise you will want more:)

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Cookie Jar

When I was a little girl, my Nana would make the best cookies....Ironically enough, my Grandfather was a Diabetic, yet there were always cookies in the house. I can rememeber being a little girl and my Grandpa Joe whispering, "Girls, go get me a cookie from the cookie jar, but shhhh...don't tell Mother." I somehow inherited the infamous cookie jar. When I received this old wooden cookie container, it still had crumbs in it from my Nana's gross as that might be!! I cleaned it out and thought, I have to carry on the tradition of baking cookies and placing them in this jar. It helps that Mason (my oldest son) loves to bake. I think he really just likes eating the butter & sugar after they have been creamed together. Can you blame him???

I have a new favorite cookie recipe. It came from my friend Sara @ . I think it was her Grandmother's Recipe... and they are the best cookies I have had in a long time. They are salty, yet sweet, and best of all...they are crispy! Oh ya, and they have oatmeal in them, which makes me think they can substitute for your breakfast! She wrote a great story about these cookies, so you should check it out. As for now.. I am sharing her recipe with all of you. I have made these cookies twice now, changed a few things from her recipe and I am pretty sure, that you can't go wrong with adding whatever you love to these tastey bites.

Salty, Crispy Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Cook's Illustrated & Culinerapy

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)..(I used a little less)
1 bar (3.5 ounces) good quality white chocolate, or a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

2. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth, 10 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oats and chocolate and mix until well incorporated, 20 seconds. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8 dough balls per sheet. Using fingertips, gently press each dough ball to 3/4-inch thickness. Lightly sprinkle sea salt evenly over flattened dough balls before baking. They will spread and flatten quite a bit during baking.

4. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, 13 to 16 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely on sheet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I love Tea Sandwiches

So, not everything that I blog about on this site will be a recipe from Nana's Drawer. The food I make is still made in her kitchen and I use many of her bowls, utensils, and all of her ancient appliances. So, I guess you could say that this post fits what Nana's Drawer is all about, it just didn't come directly from there!

My sister is having a BABY! Yes, another beautiful little girl will be born in the next few months and I am one proud Auntie. So, naturally, I wanted to throw a baby shower fit for a Queen...or Princess. I thought a Tea would be perfect. This party took many months of planning. I have to admit I was nervous to throw a tea. I am not exactly "proper" and I don't know that I have the best manners around. I definitely am nothing like Martha Stewart or Bree Hodge from Desperate Housewives, so what business do I have throwing a Tea? I just went along with it...doing like I do with most things...knowing that with good food, good people, and a good setting, that it would HAVE to be a perfect day... and that it was.

I made Tea Sandwiches...

I had this vision of super soft bread with tastey fillings cut into perfectly triangled pieces. Much like I have seen on movies and TV shows, and have only had once at a tea. I swore up and down as I was planning the menu that I would never do a tea again. Making 4 different fillings, buying different bread, etc....was just overwhelming. But after it was all said and done, I promise I WILL do a tea again! I got these recipes off of Of course, I tweaked them, because I don't like following directions (recipes). So, bare with me. I promise you that all of them are delicious:)

Goat Cheese and Watercress Tea Sandwich

1 large log of soft goat cheese softened(Chevre), ~11oz. log
handful chopped fresh watercress
handful chopped roasted pecans
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
few tablespoons softened butter

Combine softened goat cheese & watercress. Season with salt & pepper.

Spread on both sides of bread. Put slices of bread together, trim off crusts, and cut into triangles. Place pecans on plate, spread softened butter along edges of sandwiches and dip in pecans. Garnish plate with some extra watercress.

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

1 pkg. Smoked Salmon (~6oz)
1 pkg. cream cheese softened
1 spoonful capers
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 Tbsp. fresh dill (or more to taste)
salt & pepper
~8 pieces of your favorite bread. I used the Tomato Basil bread from
few slices of red onion

Combine cream cheese, capers, lemon juice, & dill in mixer and combine until smooth.
season with salt & pepper.

Spread mixture on bread, add smoked salmon & red onions. Cut off crusts and cut into triangles.

Cucumber-Mint Tea Sandwiches

1 pkg. cream cheese softened
handful chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber, sliced thin
8 slices of your favorite bread. I used Country Miche from

Combine creamcheese and mint in mixer until smooth. Spread on bread, top with cucumbers. Remove crusts, and wah-la... a super refreshing bite!

Lemon-Tarragon Chicken Sandwich

~4 chicken breasts (boiled in water ~ 12 minutes until cooked through)
~ 2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon
~ 1/2 cup chopped celery
~ 1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper
~8 slices of bread ( I used Rye from
Endive lettuce

Cube chicken, and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Spread chicken mixture on bread, add endive lettuce, cut off crusts.

Along with Tea Sandwiches, I served Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Raspberry Scones from a local organic bakery. . My Aunt made a delicious Green Salad with Fennel & Goat Cheese, which I really need to get the recipe for. We also had fruit salad, and yet another DELICIOUS cake made by my Mother.

Oh ya... and we had TEA!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It is time to Sparkle

Living at the beach has it's ups and downs. Mainly ups...but May & June can be depressing here. We get what is called, "May Gray & June Gloom." Right now, it is cold & dreary outside, but if we were to travel 1/2 mile East, the sun would be shining and warming my pale skin. Nana lived in this house for 36 years. She saw many of these gray days. Maybe that is why she found comfort in hunting down recipes and making light out of a dreary day. I am having one of those "lack of motivation" days... I want to make something cool, but don't feel like dragging the kids to the store to get the ingredients. So, I opened the drawer and found a recipe that would bring the summer to my home. You know what the best part about this recipe is?? I can go outside and pick the citrus from the trees. You want to know what is even better about this recipe? can add Vodka to it! And you know that is exactly what I would have done if it wasn't 9:00 in the morning.

Lemon- Lime Sparkler

1/2 c. lime juice
1/3 c. lemon juice
1/3c. sugar

Combine fruit juices & sugar. Pour into tall glass over ice. Fill with Sparkling Canada Dry Water. Garnish with strawberries, cherries, or mint leaves.

Serves 4.

Recipe from the Canada Dry pamphlet. Not sure of the year this came out, but I am thinking it must have been the 50's. Does anyone have another guess?

ETA: My Dad's cousin just pointed out to me that there is a number at the bottom of these vintage pamphlets. It states the date it was printed. This one was 1962.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's for dinner?

My Nana was the quintessential young woman of the 40's. She took pride in cooking for her husband and her children. These were the times where communities were driven by the depression and World War II. Rationing was the name of the game and recipes started to consist of canned, packaged, and powdered foods. These types of foods were staples throughout her life. My Nana passed away in 2008 and left behind a drawer in her kitchen full of the recipes that, I believe, defined her and the life she lived. I moved into her home a few months ago, and when sorting through her things, my Mom asked me what I wanted to do with all of those recipes. I said, "Just leave them Mom, I will figure out something to do with them."

Well, here I am...inspired by my good friend, Sara, of Culinerapy. ( Although I do not have the writing skills that she has, I am hoping to bring my Nana's old recipes to life. My goal is to pull from this drawer weekly and recreate a recipe. Maybe even tweak them a bit to bring them up to date, nutritionally. I guess since I am a Dietitian, I have a hard time eating foods with Crisco being the main ingredient!

I have opened up yet another can of worms in my busy life! So when my family asks me what is for dinner, they may be getting Beef Stupendous with Green Bean Casserole and will have to wash it down with a Tomato Cocktail! I hope they don't disown me!