Caprese Pie

If you guys are anything like me, you have a “thing” for delicious mozzarella cheese. There’s nothing better than those salty little bites of chewy goodness, am I right? So, when I was asked to participate in the 2013 Galbani® Caprese Challenge, I couldn’t have been more honored or excited. Any chance to work with mozzarella, ripe red tomatoes, and fresh green herbs and you can count me in!

Galbani Mozzarella Fresca™ is made in the Italian tradition of fior di latte using fresh cow’s milk. The cheese is gently stretched and kneaded, then fresh-sealed, leading to a fresh mozzarella cheese that is unparalleled in texture and flavor. The cheese is slightly firm and salty–wonderful! They also offer other delicious varieties packaged in water, as well as a marinated variety, which would be a perfect addition to any antipasto platter.

The Mozzarella Fresca was recently named a favorite fresh mozzarella by the editors of Saveur Magazine, and for good reason. It melts beautifully but maintains its body–great chew factor! I also found that when melted, it released very little liquid. So often with other mozzarella cheeses I’ve tried, they released so much water–that’s no good for a pizza! Galbani Mozzarella Fresca is truly a superior product. Look for it in your local supermarket’s specialty cheese display.

So, without further adieu, here is my entry for the 2013 Galbani Caprese Challenge. A simple pie crust filled with layers of ripe tomatoes, Mozzarella Fresca, herb sautéed onions, and a splash of balsamic vinegar then baked to bubbly perfection. Paired with a green salad, it’s the perfect light summer meal. Such a great way to put all of those gorgeous summer tomatoes and fresh herbs to use!

Voting is open now, so go vote! To celebrate this fun challenge, Galbani is giving away all kinds of fun prizes to voters through August 9, with a grand prize of $500 given to a random voter at the end of the contest. You can enter once a day, so go check out the other blogger’s fun spins on the classic Italian dish Caprese, and vote for a chance to win some great prizes!

2013 Galbani Caprese Challenge

Disclaimer: I have been compensated for my time to create an original recipe for the Galbani Caprese Challenge. As always, all thoughts are my own.

Ricotta-Pineapple Pie

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe here on the blog for a long time. Oddly, I’d planned on making it this weekend – had all the ingredients in the fridge, waiting. But with the sad news this week, I wanted to make it so I could share it with you guys today.

This is one of the first desserts I made when learning to cook, The Sopranos Family Cookbook being one of the first cookbooks I owned. Needless to say, the show…and it’s anti-hero Tony Soprano, played by beloved James Gandolfini, hold a special place in my heart. Over the years there were so many great moments, and characters. Paulie Walnuts, Janice, Junior, Livia… I still find myself wondering what the characters would be up to today.

If anything, I know this ricotta pineapple pie would be in their lives. Carmella always made it when she wanted to “butter” someone up for a favor. The first time I made it I remember thinking that it was unlike anything I’d ever made before. The ricotta gives it such a unique texture and lightness, and not too sweet. And the pineapple topping is just the right amount of sweetness, with a hint of tart from the addition of fresh lemon juice.

I’ve modified a few things over the years. I like to use fresh pineapple instead of canned. I’ve found it has better flavor, and texture. Also, I use a blind-baked pie crust, as opposed to the graham cracker crust. It holds up better, making pretty slices possible.

Pork Tenderloin Marsala

I love pretty much anything that’s been Marsala-fied. It’s such an indispensable item to have in your liquor cabinet. It’s got a wonderful, rich depth of flavor when used for cooking, and it’s shelf stable – meaning that you can open it up, and it’ll keep fine un-refrigerated for years (not that a bottle ever makes it that long in our house). It comes in two varieties – sweet & dry. I usually buy the sweet, then balance out that sweetness with lemon juice when I’m doing a dish like this. Sweet Marsala is also great in dessert and other sweet recipes as well. So if you don’t have a bottle, pick one up – it’s handy to have on hand.

Chicken Marsala is pretty much my favorite dinner, and has been for years. But, in an effort to get less chicken – and more “other stuff” into our weekly menu I thought a Marsala twist on a pork tenderloin would be fun. Turned out to be alot easier than chicken marsala too, as the pork didn’t have to be pounded out to an even thickness – then coated and fried. Instead I took cues from this recipe – gave the tenderloin a little soak in the wine, then seared it off in the pan, cooked the mushrooms, added the wine, and finished it all off in the oven. It turned out delicious, and like I said – it was so much easier than the chicken version. And probably healthier too!

BLT CarbonaraI feel like we’ve been crazy busy lately – it’s always something on our schedules one weekend or another. Poor Jon just got to brew beer for the first time in two months last week! Plus, we’d all been sick for pretty much the entire month of January. Stomach bugs? Check. Coughing up lungs? Check. Faucets for noses? Check.

This has been the first week this month where we’ve all felt good, and I’ve been playing catch-up with house chores that kind of got put by the way-side while I was sick myself, or playing nurse maid. Seriously, where does all this laundry come from? I’d swear I live in a house with 5 teenage girls the way these boys go through clothes! Anyways, with all the housework, I wasn’t feeling cooking dinner the other night. But, I wasn’t feeling anything out either. So, I mustered up some energy and went to the kitchen to make this quick pasta. A few ingredients, and a little bit of time – and you’ve got yourself one terrific and satisfying meal.

If you’re worried about using raw eggs in your pasta – hear me out. It’s not really raw eggs, because the eggs cook (more or less) in the pan with the hot pasta. It transforms into a thick and luxurious sauce that can’t be achieved with any substitutions. If you’re that worried about it, let it cook on the heat for a little bit longer than 2 minutes. But, there really isn’t anything to worry about – you don’t think anything about licking brownie batter off the spatula when you’re done baking, do you?

The original recipe just calls for bacon and tomatoes, but I happened to have a half a bag of baby spinach hanging out in the fridge that I needed to use – and thought that a green leafy component would make it a BLT, which is always a fun twist. I served it with simple green salads and focaccia bread.