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Roasted Tomatoes with Stuffed Italian Meatball, Melted Provolone Curt's Guest Post

My son called me and said Mom I got an idea for a stuffed tomato recipe and this was  a huge success and over the top delicious!  We were both so excited with the results I couldn't wait to share it with the world.  He really aced this one, it was a hit with the whole family.
First hollow out all the tomatoes you will use for your size family and set aside the insides because he will be making a great tomato sauce with them!

Slice some green, red, yellow or orange sweet peppers, sliced mushrooms and set them aside.

Hot loose sausage, peppers, mushrooms sauteed with fresh garlic

Next  you will add the pulp put through a food processor  in  the pan of sauteed sausage and vegetables. Curt is becoming quite the unique cook, he loves inventing new ideas and this one was over the top GREAT! So proud of him!

Stuffed with Italian meatball mixture on an oil sprayed foil line cookie sheet
Fresh Pulp and Plum tomatoes for the sausage, peppers and mushroom sauce

Roasted in the oven @400 degree hot oven and the aroma in the house was amazing!

 A great dinner,  these stuffed tomatoes were amazing with the penne pasta, sausage, peppers, mushrooms with fresh tomato sauce, were just a great combination of flavors.
 What a fabulous idea and amazing dinner he made for me~ Thanks Curt!

4 Extra large tomatoes (buy the largest ones you can find)
provolone cheese slices for each tomato
1 1/2 pounds of  ground sirloin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 slices of Italian bread put under water and squeezed out
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, dried parsley, red pepper flakes
2 eggs
1/2 cup Romano cheese grated
1 pound penne pasta
3 pounds plum tomatoes
1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
1 green bell pepper sliced in long strips
1 red bell pepper sliced in long strips
1 orange bell pepper sliced in long strips
1 pound of sliced mushrooms
fresh parsley for garnish

Prepare a cookie sheet for tomatoes, lined with tin foil and sprayed with cooking oil. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Large Tomatoes:
On the large tomatoes, cut around the inner wall removing and throwing away the cores then scooping the inside out with a spoon ( like you would a pumpkin) leaving the wall and just hollowed out, setting the pulp aside for stuffing.

Meatball Stuffing Mixture:
Mix the ground sirloin with all the herbs, spices, squeezed out bread, bread crumbs, eggs, 1/4 cup Romano cheese. Mix together well.

Stuff the Large Tomatoes:
Stuff the large tomatoes with meatball mixture. Bake on prepared foil lined cookie sheet on 400 degrees for around 35 minutes or until meat is cooked. Right at the end,  place a slice of provolone cheese on top of each tomatoes and bake till cheese is melted around 5 more minutes.

Fresh Tomato Sausage, Peppers and Mushroom Sauce:
In a large fry pan saute sausage till pink is gone around 5 minutes. Drain fat. Add the peppers, mushrooms and minced garlic, continue to saute 8 minutes. Cut the stems out and the cores off the tops of the plum tomatoes. Add to the plum tomatoes(skins and all) along with the large tomato (left over pulp from scooping out) into a food processor and pulse till all is pureed. Pour all the fresh tomatoes into the fry pan with sausage and vegetables and cook the sauce on medium heat until most of the water is evaporated out. Add 1/4 cup of cheese to the pan.

Boil penne pasta in salted water to your desired doneness. We like al dente. Drain, pour the sauce over the pasta garnish with parsley and more cheese.

Serve the tomato as an appetizer or part of the meal.

Bleu Cheese Crackers Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Mix all ingredients together, knead and form into two logs. Wrap in plastic wrap or zip lock bag.  Refrigerate overnight.  Roll out for thickness for squares, rectangles and cut with a pastry cutter for the pretty edges or just slice logs in 1/4 inch thick rounds. To get them shine brush with a beaten egg yolk or egg beaters work well too.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Leftover Broccoli Fritters Recipe

1/2 all purpose cup flour
1 egg
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
3 cups chopped steamed leftover broccoli
1/4 teaspoon each oregano, basil, garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
salt, pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne optional
1/4 cup grating cheese Romano preferred
Canola oil for frying
Heat the oil in a large fry pan around 1/2 inch deep on medium heat.

In a pie plate mix the egg and flour adding the spices and herbs adding the cheese last and beat till smooth.
Stir in the broccoli into the egg mixture. Use a tablespoon or melon scooper to makes rounds of the broccoli fritters and drop frying into the hot oil. Fry till golden brown. Absorb the grease on paper towels. These are delicious plain or dipped in melted cheese,  marina tomato sauce or hot sauce.

Note alternate baking for dieters and healthy version: I have baked these many times. Just use a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drop by spoonfuls on the cookie sheet. (They will look anemic as mom would say compared to fried) Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on the top of each one and bake on 400 degree hot oven till crispy.

Try some of these other appetizers:

Fried Potato and Tuna Cakes
Fried Avocado
Fried Polenta

Quick Baked Zucchini and Yellow Squash Parmigano Recipe

This quick baked zucchini and yellow squash parmigano recipe is delicious in so many ways!

You can eat it as a side dish, in a sandwich or just as it is for a lunch with a salad! It all bakes together and delicious. Dad used to have a wonderful garden growing up so mom had many creative ways to cook zucchini.

Quick Baked Zucchini and Yellow Squash Parmigano Recipe

1 or 2 green zucchini
2 or 3 small summer yellow squash (or use all the same green or yellow doesn't matter)
Italian style bread crumbs
2 cups of prepared tomato marinara sauce fresh or store bought
1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, oregano, parsley ,fennel seed
salt pepper to taste
cayenne pepper if you like a little heat
long shredded grating cheese
shredded mozzarella
olive oil
Optional: add some crushed meatballs to the sauce make a bolognese sauce click here for this dish and it's a full meal all in one!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Clean ( I lightly scrape some of the seeds out of the squash) wash and slice zucchini in coins, around 1/4 inch thick. Cut the tail ends off the yellow squash and cut them lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick slices.
In a aluminum throw away pan, single layer some yellow and green sliced squash, evenly sprinkle with bread crumbs, herbs, spices, mozzarella and  top with sauce. drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Repeat until you have only around 1/2 inch left to the top. When your around 1/2 inch from the top, add more sauce if needed, shredded mozzarella and grating cheeses, sprinkle with herbs and spices, end with bread crumbs and drizzle more olive oil.

Bake and cover with foil for around 15 minutes. Take foil off and continue to  cook on 400 degrees until the fork goes through the squash easily and the mozzarella is brown, around 25 more minutes.

Avocado Chickpea Cucumber and Tomato Salad Recipe

Avocado with a Greek style dressing, light and perfect for the hot summer days...
 for me it's great anytime of the year!

1 medium sized cucumber sliced in chunks seeds removed with a spoon
1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
1 can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
1 avocado peeled and sliced in wedges
1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon each oregano, garlic powder salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped mozzarella or 1/2 cup feta cheese

In a medium size bowl add the chickpeas, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes and olives. Mix together adding parsley. In another small bowl mix the dressing, add the lemon juice, fresh lime juice, olive oil, spices and herbs adding a pinch of cayenne pepper. Pour over the top of the vegetable mixture. Top with cheese of choice. Serve cold. This taste better when refrigerated at least three hours to blend flavors... That's if you can wait!
Really, this is one of my very favorites. Of course in the heat in Florida it will surely satisfy and with all fresh healthy ingredients. For all you dieters, skip the cheese, it's still fabulous!

Rainier Cherry Baked Skillet Crumble Recipe

A crumble that will be a great addition to your dessert recipes!

 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
 2 tablespoons cornstarch
 pinch salt
3 pounds of rainier cherries pitted
1 cup flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon toasted crushed almonds
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
7 tablespoons butter
cooking oil spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in preheated oven; heat 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Combine cornstarch, juice, dash of salt, and cherries in a large bowl, mixing coating well.

Pour cherry mixture into prepared cast iron pan.
Combine flour, sugar, almonds,cinnamon and butter in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle flour mixture over cherries. Place skillet on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until filling is thick and bubbly and topping is browned. Remove from oven, let stand 20 minutes. Serve warm with bing cherry ice cream, whipped cream, (it's great by itself.)

Cake Vodka Banana Chocolate Nut Martini

2 oz cake vodka
2 oz banana rum
2 oz heavy cream or half and half
1/4 crushed ice
1 banana cut into chunks
chocolate fudge syrup
crushed nuts
Prepare glass and banana before mixing drink.
Dip a martini glass rim in chocolate syrup and coat the rim with crushed nuts. Cut banana into chunks. Dip banana into chocolate syrup then into crushed nuts secure with two toothpicks for garnish at the end.
In a shaker, place liqueurs, ice and cream. Shake, strain. Pour into prepared martini glass. Garnish using the chocolate nut coated banana over the top secured with toothpicks. Some freshly chilled whipped cream is an optional addition. Enjoy!

If you like this recipe try other recipes using cake vodka below:

Cake Vodka Coconut Cream Martini
Cake Vodka Smores Nutella Martini

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake Using a Cake Mix Recipe

My sisterinlaw  Theresa Colenzo, gave me this fabulous pedestal cake plate that was her parents (RIP) I am so honored to be able to have this memento from them, as I will cherish it. While visiting recently in my home town, Utica N.Y., she gave me this to take home. So I decided to make a cake and feature it on this gorgeous vintage cake plate.

Amazing light in texture banana cake made with a cake mix and chocolate!

A delicious moist cake no one can tell it's made with a cake mix!

Mini bundt pans

Dress this cake up to make it for special occasions.....

Plain cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, it's still fabulous!

4 eggs
1 box of yellow or white cake mix
1 cup heavy cream (I have used evaporated milk or sour cream too)
8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder like Hershey's
1/2 cup chocolate chunk style chips
1/3 cup canola oil
3 very ripe bananas

Heat oven to 350 degrees and in the meantime prepare the pans you will use. I used two mini bundt pans and a large bundt pan. You can also use a 13x9 sheet cake. The cake will rise nicely and be full. Generously grease your pan and set aside.
In a large bowl with either a hand mixer or a Kitchen aid, beat all ingredients above for at least two minutes.
Using a spatula, carefully empty into your prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees.  Baking time varies. If using the small bundts this takes around 25 minutes testing with a toothpick in the center. The larger cakes take around 45 to 50 minutes.
Garnishing these cakes are so much fun and versatile. Some suggestions: decorate with fresh fruits and whipped cream like a banana split. Try some whipped cream, ice cream of choice and hot fudge sauce. Or keep it simple as it is super moist cake with just some powdered sugar. A light glaze will be delicious too. Have fun and enjoy!

Coconut Grove, Whining and Great Dining Review and Coconut Custard Tarts

 The photo above is my brother John Colenzo and I at the Village Of  Merrick Park in Coconut Grove, Florida. John suggested this would be a treat to see all the fine cars and retailers here. John, besides being my brother, is a music entertainer in Fisher Island   (not too far from here) and has some great friends in the area who you'll meet further down the article posted below.
 Merrick Park has several Retailers here to see, to include and name a few are anchors Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom's.  Quite some interesting finds here.  If you are lucky enough to own a Lexus (my favorite car) it's free valet parking. The rest of the vehicles would have a fee. Some very impressive vehicles we saw were the Bentley, Ferrari and the least expensive, a Corvette (still very respectable)!  A car buff and lovers dream place to visit here!

 There's always something at Tiffany's. This a beautiful jewelry store and showcased perfectly!

Nordstrom's by far had the best customer service as we walked through. The staff was greeting everyone, asking how we were doing, throughout the entire store! Affordable and some great buys! Everyone was so engaged and cheerful throughout the store! A great experience!
Here was the biggest disappointment and let down.
Neiman Marcus.  This upscale classy store who sells Prada, Gucci and many other big designer names, was by far the worse  customer service experience, I guess we just didn't look the part, rich enough.  Not one associate made eye contact, greeted us or offered any help, of course that may be just the way they are trained of course and we shouldn't take any offense. We visited the ladies, men's, shoes, cosmetics and jewelry departments, no greeting or associate interactions. No one once asked if we needed any assistance, then to make matters worse, see the clearance section below and how much it looked like a rummage sale!
Here is their clearance area!!!! Not acceptable, clothes on the floor? Off the hangers?  Nothing was sized or shopable.  The shirt on the front hanging went for $780.00 with 25% off?  This looked like a basement no bargain rummage sale! Absolutely shocking! This was my first time there. Prada snake skin purse $4000.00, Shoes $1100.00, wallets at $850.00. All presented very nicely in small stand alone shops inside the store but their clearance section was a customers nightmare. Customer service throughout the store was non existent! Amazed, just amazed.
Here was the highlight of my stay here in Coconut Grove. A great Portuguese Restaurant suggested by my brother, see the menu above. The owner is a very good friend of his, actually one who also worked  with him on the Island some time ago. What an amazing gourmet dining experience this was , you don't want to miss this one if your ever down this way. Coconut Grove's finest in Portuguese Food and Gourmet Experience. Old Lisbon Restaurant (click on the name for website) 1628 S.W 22nd Street Coral Way, (Sunset) Miami Florida 33145. 

Owner Rui Martin and good friend of John Colenzo. Rui is 100% about customer service, he greets and treats everyone like his own family. The staff was so accommodating. The food superb. You will not find a better dining experience with this kind of hospitality, thank you Rui!

This was a delicious very impressive appetizer called Chourico Assado (grilled Portuguese Sausage)
This came in a ceramic pig to the table lit up in flames! Awesome presentation!

A wonderful suggestion also made by owner Rui Martin was the  Pasteis de Bacalhau   ( Codfish Croquettes ) Black eyed peas were a cold salad with garlic, just a perfect addition.

Then came the desserts! Delicia de Fa'tima (egg yolk custard crumpled with Maria Cookies topped with white cream) just fabulous!  Light, creamy a must try!

Ice cream with a coconut custard... the aroma alone served hot was sheer bliss!
Our night was just perfect, the dinner we chose was a Grilled Salmon with Shrimps and Garlic Sauce, I also highly recommend! Check out their complete menu on their website!

Hope you enjoyed the review, if your ever in South Miami, visit Old Lisbon on Coral Way. Tell Rui Claudia and John recommended his awesome gourmet food!  You won't be sorry!

Coconut Custard Tarts:

                                                                      A recipe we enjoy!

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon  vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degree hot oven. Place rack to the middle position.  Paper line a 12-cup cupcake tin. Whisk the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of the milk. Set aside. In a food processor, pulse the coconut flakes for till fine shreds. In a large mixing bowl, stir the eggs and sugar beating together with a wooden spoon. Add in the cornstarch mixture, rest of the milk, coconut, melted butter and  vanilla extract, stirring well after each addition.Put the custard into the paper cups, filling to 1/4 inch from the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the coconut is nicely toasted. Cool completely. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or fresh fruits.

Chicken Penne Mozzarella Marinara

Light Italian chicken marinara, a perfect summer dinner!

2 boneless chicken breasts chopped into chunks
4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 box penne pasta boiled al dente drained and set aside tossed with two tablespoons olive oil
fresh mini mozzarella balls
1 recipe for fresh marinara sauce or large jar store bought
1 pound fresh tomatoes grape tomatoes or plum chopped
red pepper flakes
Romano grating cheese
salt + pepper
fresh basil, rinsed

Saute chicken in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper to taste and parsley. Cook until juices run clear around 12 minutes. Set aside keeping warm.
Boil water for pasta in a medium-large pot. Add salt and pasta to water and cook al dente. Drain in colander.  Slice tomatoes in half if using grape or chop in small chunks if using plums, place in a bowl.
Heat sauce, add chicken.
Add pasta to plate. Top with fresh mozzarella, spoon some sauce over the top of the pasta, chicken and tomatoes. Place under broiler till  cheese melts. Add basil, sprinkle with red pepper and grating cheese.
If you like this recipe you may like:

Mussels, Scallops, Clams, Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine Recipe

1 pound mussels
1 pound bay scallops
1 can baby clams drained and rinsed
1/2 pound large shrimps with tails on
8 oz mushrooms sliced and cleaned
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons sherry wine or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can chicken broth
1  pound linguine pasta or angel hair
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat and saute mushrooms and garlic till soft. Add wine, salt, ground black pepper and 1/4 cup cheese.
Add chicken broth and fish,  increase heat and boil rapidly for 7 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Reduce heat for fish medley and add parsley; place sauce on top of linguine. Remove any mussels that have not open and throw away. Serve pasta with fish and sauce on top.

Love Shellfish? Try these recipes:

Florida Rock Shrimp
Shrimp Kabobs with Blackberry

Grilled Shrimp Marinara
Seafood Medley over pasta
Shrimp and Coconut Rice
Broiled Lobster Tail
Firecracker Shrimp
Scallops with Italian bread crumbs

Grilled Brown Sugar and Pineapple Salmon

1 pound salmon filets
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup pineapple juice
splash of soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray
Aluminum foil

Heat grill on medium.  Place fish on an oil sprayed piece of aluminum foil. In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, juice and soy sauce. Add the garlic powder, stir. Pour mixture over the salmon. Place pineapple pieces evenly across. Seal tightly. Place on hot grill until fish will easily flake when testing with a fork, around 14 to 18 minutes, flipping once. Serve hot with white rice.

If you like Salmon try some of these recipes:
Apricot Glazed Salmon
Sesame Ginger Peach Salmon
Grilled Lemon Salmon

Salmon with  Bourbon Mango Salsa
Salmon Puttanesca

Mini Baked Coconut Doughnuts

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees then  oil spray or grease a mini donut pan, mini muffin pan, or regular sized donut pan. Set aside.
Mix the flours and baking powder together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, nutmeg, and salt. add the butter. Fold in the milk, yogurt, vanilla, and egg and stir until combined, don't overmix. Spoon the dough to a zip top bag and seal it. Snip off one corner and fill your pans about two thirds full.
Bake mini muffins around 20 minutes and full size donuts around 35.

Glaze : Beat the powdered sugar, three tablespoons milk or water, and the vanilla until smooth. whisk in more milk or water if the glaze is too thick.
Dip the donut into frosting then into the coconut place on a wire rack with wax paper underneath to catch the drippings.

If you donuts try these other recipes:

Baked Blueberry upsidedown donuts
Dark Chocolate Baked Donuts
Vanilla Baked Donuts

Father's Day Favorite Recipes

 Hold on to every precious moment. Dad is special, he is part of why your here. Love each day you have together and make beautiful memories to last a life time. I did. 
Happy Father's Day RIP Dad, gone but never forgotten, in my heart always....
That photo was the beginning of a great relationship that lasted 38 years of my life. Dad, best friend, great listener, supporter and one who loved his family unconditionally... that was my Dad, Carmen Louis Colenzo. For me one of the greatest men on the planet. What made him so special? His unconditional love, patience, and he never judged anyone. He was there in anyone time of need and always there to help, ever strangers.  At age 82, August 12th 1995,  the angels came and took him from us. His spirit lives on in each of us children left behind, we all lost a great man that day in our family. Amazing how he never complained, his kindness and generosity was stellar. He lived life with a smile, loved his wife, children, family and friends, worked extremely hard for what he had and most of all appreciated everything anyone did for him with deep gratitude.

Dad went fast, a stroke took him and within two weeks of it's onset, with some minor suffering he went peacefully.  RIP Dad, hoping you are having a beer, playing some pinochle card games up there with mom and many friends. Just hoping you know how missed you are today and always.

Here are a few of Dad's favorites he would have loved today:

Fried Calamari
Sunday with Peaches and Chianti
White Pizza
Italian Style Broccoli
Italian Gnocchi
Dad's Chicken Marsala

Grilled Beer Chicken
Mom's Veal Cutlets
Feast Upstate NY Style Sausage and Peppers Sandwich
Roasted Potatoes with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Baked Haddock Wine and Tomatoes
Mom's Stuffed Peppers
Dad's Favorite Jelly and Coconut Cake
Raspberry Pie
Fried Dough

Hope you all find something you like in this roundup menu...
          Happy Father's Day to all the Father's out there!

Southwest Cheddar Sausage Scones Recipe

A great Southwest quick bread. Scones go great with Chili and Chicken dishes, this one is full of great flavors that will be sure to be a great accompaniment!

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup half and half
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup cooked sausage drained
Optional: add 1/2 mixture of corn and black beans instead of sausage
1/4  cup chopped pepper medley of fresh green, red and yellow bell peppers or use Chile peppers
egg wash for the top of the scone

Preheat oven to 375 degree oven.
In a medium size mixing bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, oregano, garlic, salt, herbs and spices. Add in liquid and egg, mix thoroughly. Stir in cheeses and chopped peppers and sausage or corn mixture. Roll out on a floured board and cut into triangles. Bake on parchment lined cookie sheets (or you can use a muffin tins) and bake them until browned around 25 minutes ( brush tops with egg wash).
375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Taste great dipped in salsa and melted cheese.

Try these other Southwest Recipes:

Arizona Vacation
Southwest Soup
Tequilla Lime Grilled Shrimp
Grilled Lemon Lime Pepper Chicken and Vegetables
Southwest Crockpot Corn Pudding