Calling all foodies....

If you read my last post, you know I am diving back into my cooking realms and getting all "wifey" up in here to say the least. From pastas to pies I feel like I'm finally getting my groove back. I found this quote to be pretty profound as I've started the cooking journey in the role of Mrs. Baran (still getting used to the new last name!)...but it really makes you think about how cooking is good for the soul. "Cooking is one of the strongest ceremonies for life. When recipes are put together, the kitchen is a chemical laboratory involving air, fire, water and the earth. This is what gives value to humans and elevates their spiritual qualities. If you take a frozen box and stick it in the microwave, you become connected to the factory." Laura Esquivel says it all here. I mean maybe you don't maybe you do, but for me, when I microwave some chicken nuggets and have a side salad bought from Harris Teeter I feel pretty bleh afterwards alongside just in a crumby mood. Yet, when I take time to look up a recipe, gather the ingredients, get my hands dirty and create something myself...I feel a complete 180. For instance we typically buy meatballs frozen and will just add them into any Italian pasta and it takes a few minutes. The other day I decided to make the meatballs from scratch and even added an apple cider jam (just a tablespoon) to the mix for a fall-esque kick. Can I just say it was as if I had never had meatballs before? I mean it was so immensely scrumptious and I was proud of myself for making my family a homemade meal. Did it take a few more minutes..sure...were the few extra minutes worth the taste? HECK YES! 

So, reflecting from the quote above, I really do think it makes a huge difference when one puts time/energy/effort/love into each meal because it does make the soul feel better. You don't feel like you just consumed factory food. I don't want this all either to sound as though I don't touch fast food or eat out because believe me I still do (we are all human right?). However, I o notice a difference when I'm in charge of what my meals entail. If your not much of a cook just give it a try with something simple at the "get-go." For me I started with breakfast foods and ventured to more heavy course meals involving different spices/ingredients. The new blog will have its own "Taste & Tell" category due to cooking being such a vital part of life for Corey and I. 

Below I have a cherry pie recipe, an easy go-to lunch perfect for Fall and lastly another stuffed shell recipe!


Cherry Pie

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Ingredients

Pastry--  2-cups all-purpose flour // 1-teaspoon salt // 2/3-cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening // 4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Filling -- 1 & 1/3 cups sugar //  1/2 cup all-purpose flour // 6 cups sour cherries, pitted // 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, if you want!

Steps

  • 1. Heat oven to 425°F. In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

  • 2. Gather pastry into a ball. Divide pastry in half; shape into 2 rounds. Wrap flattened rounds of pastry in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable.

  • 3. Roll pastry on lightly floured surface, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate; or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate. Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

  • 4. In large bowl, mix sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Stir in cherries. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over cherries. Cover with top pastry that has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.

  • 5. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Cool on cooling rack at least 2 hours before serving.


Stuffed Shells

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Ingredients

  • 1 box of Jumbo Shells, 12 oz
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese, approx 4 cups
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 jars Bertolli Olive OIl & Garlic Tomato Sauce, 24 oz each

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mix together ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, garlic powder & black pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cook pasta in salted water until al' dente. Drain.
  4. Pour 1 jar of sauce in a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish.
  5. Fill each shell with cheese mixture.
  6. Place shell in dish on top of sauce - seam side up.
  7. Continue with all shells. When dish is full, create a second layer. You can spread a spoonful of sauce over bottom layer of shells to prevent sticking.
  8. Pour remainder of second jar of sauce over shells. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes.

Easy seasonal lunch

Turkey Sandwich- 

  1. Mix the mayonnaise, salsa (if you choose to add), and green onions in a small bowl. Spread the seasoned mayonnaise evenly on each slice of bread. Layer the turkey and cheese on 4 of the slices. ...
  2. Tis part is optional! You can melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat OR fry sandwich in butter until lightly toasted.
  3. I will sometimes add a side of dill pickles or radishes or carrots!

Soup-

Now when it comes to a bisque here is a steady recipe that works every time. If you do want lobster or a crab bisque you may be cooking a bit longer but like I said cooking can be seriously therapeutic. Pictured below I had leftover lobster bisque from Panera so not my own creation but I do recommend their soups if you don't have time to concoct your own masterpiece! Below is a basic bisque recipe which for me is always a go to come the chilly seasons. 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; cook and stir onion and celery with a pinch of salt until onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. ...
  2. Pour chicken broth and tomatoes into onion mixture. ...
  3. Blend soup with an immersion blender in the pot until smooth.