Agence Debra

Auteur : Debra

Energy Saving Tips

The Northwest is facing one of the worst energy crisis of the century this summer. As unbelievable as it may sound, we are having a drought year, coupled with energy deregulation laws in California that have us posed to send energy cost through the roof.

Our Governor has requested that we cut our energy consumption by 10% to aid in this grave situation. In order to help toward this goal, I’ve researched some energy efficient solutions that you could implement for your upcoming home projects this summer or perform simple tasks like replace those incandescent bulbs with energy efficient alternative and save $10-$15 a year for each bulb replaced.

Summer Gas Saving Tips!

  • Vacation Close to Home, Camp at a nearby park this year
  • Take Virtual Tours: Natural History or the Smithsonian
  • General Gas Saving Tips

Quick and Easy Energy Saving Tips

  • Use a Programmable Thermostat:set back the temperature when your not home.
  • Keep the sun, lights, and appliances away from thermostat.
  • Hang a damp wet sheet inside a sunny summer window to cool the house.
  • Cook in self-heating appliances such as a microwave oven or electric frying pan.
  • In the Summer months use kitchen/bathroom exhaust fans to reduce humidity.
  • In the Winter months increase the Humidity by using a pan of water on a hot surface.
  • Close shades on the sunny side of house.
  • Draw shades on cloudy days and open them on sunny days.
  • Close fireplace damper when not in use.
  • Clean furnace filter once a month.
  • When cooking cover pots with tight-fitting lids.
  • Boil only the amount of water needed for tea or coffee
  • Thaw frozen foods before cooking.

More Handy Hints

Sealed envelope – Put in the freezer for a few hours, then slide a knife under the flap. The envelope can then be resealed.

Use Empty toilet paper roll to store appliance cords. It keeps them neat and you can write on the roll to what appliance it belongs.

For icy door steps in freezing temperatures: get warm water and put Dawn dishwashing liquid in it. Pour it all over the steps. They won’t refreeze.

Crayon marks on walls? This worked wonderfully! A damp rag, dipped in baking soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is)!

Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt BLUE)! rubbing alcohol on paper towel.

Whenever I purchase a box of S.O.S Pads, I immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads, I finally decided that this would be much more economical. And now a box of S.O.S pads last me indefinitely!  In fact, I have noticed that the scissors get sharpened this way!

Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time! Now, where to put the body?

Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don’t wash windows on a sunny day. They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

Spray a bit of perfume on the lightbulb in any room to create a lovely light scent in each room when the light is turned on.

Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will smell freshly washed for weeks to come. You can also do this with towels and linen.

Candles will last a lot longer if placed in the freezer for at least 3 hours prior to burning.

To clean artificial flowers, pour some salt into a paper bag and add the flowers. Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt and leave your artificial flowers looking like new! Works like a charm!

To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stovetop.

Spray your TUPPERWARE with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won’t be any stains.

Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn’s natural sweetness.

Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Don’t throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area And you will experience instant relief.

Ants, ants, ants everywhere . . . Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march. See for yourself.

Use air-freshener to clean mirrors. It does a good job and better still, leaves a lovely smell to the shine.

When you get a splinter, reach for the scotch tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, then pull it off. Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily. 

Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer. Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China.

Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets. 

Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes. 

Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer Tablets down the drain followed by a cup of White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot! water.

Spring Cleaning Tips

 Great Cleaning tips

  • When you dust, start at the top and work down.
  • Take all your cleaning tools, avoid unnecessary trips back and forth.
  • Clean as you go! It takes a lot less time to remove new dirt than old.
  • Leave baking soda on carpeting over night will absorb musty odors
  • Make a checklist of chores to get organized first.
  • Wash walls from the bottom up, to avoid streaking.
  • Use old socks as mitts for cleaning difficult wood work.
  • Wash small knickknacks instead of dusting.
  • To removing heel marks , take pencil eraser and rub them off.
  • Don’t mix cleaning products. Ammonia and bleach are toxic.
  • Remember common cleaners such as windex and comet meet this don’t do rule.
  • Allowing cleaners to set for several minutes will ease the cleaning job.

Interior Walls

  • Wall cleaner, mix 1/2 c. ammonia, 1/4 c. white vinegar, and 1/4 c. baking soda to 1 gal. warm water.
  • For cleaning textured walls use nylon socks instead of a sponge or cloth to avoid leaving material chunks behind.
  • To dust wall paper, tie a dustcloth over your broom and work from the top down.
  • To remove pencil marks & other non-greasy spots from non-washable papers, use an art-gum eraser .
  • To remove greasy spots or crayon, apply a paste of cleaning fluid and fuller’s earth and cornstarch. Let the wall dry and brush off residue. Repeat the treatment until the spot is gone.

Exterior Walls

  • Use a water hose to spray the outside of your house. This will remove siding cobwebsand dirt.
  • Textured siding ? Attach a car-washing brush to the hose to remove dirt.


  • Make your own spray cleaner. Fill a spray bottle with 3 tablesoopns ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar & the remainder with water.
  • Dust blinds by wrapping a cloth around a ruler. Spray cloth with a dusting spray and run the flat end across each blind.
  • Shine windows using old newspaper.
  • Clean windows on an average temperature, preferably overcast day to avoid streaks.
  • Dry windows outside in one direction then inside in the other direction. If you see a streak, you will know which side is the ofender.
  • To clean window sills, pour diluted rubbing alcohol on a cloth and rub the entire surface.Then dust off the sill with a clean cloth.


  • Rubbing alcohol can remove the dull haze from mirrors.
  • Use rubbing alcohol to remove spots from bathroom fixtures.
  • Glass shower doors will sparkle if cleaned with white vinegar.
  • To clean the shower, use a solution of 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup ammonia, and 1/4 cup baking soda added to one gallon of warm water.
  • Lemon furniture oil will remove water spots on metal frames.
  • Rusty tile marks can be removed with kerosene.
  • Running the shower on hot for five minutes will steam the dirt loose.
  • Grout need cleaning? Wash with 2 tablespoons chlorine bleach in one quart of water. Dry thoroughly, then apply several coats of lemon oil. Let dry one hour between coats.
  • Dull walls will shine when washed with vinegar and waterand plished with a dry cloth.
  • Lighter fluid will remove most stains from porcelain sinks and bathtubs.


  • Pour club soda on counter and clean with a soft cloth, rinse with water then wipe dry.
  • Baking soda or club soda will clean and shine stainless steel sinks easily.
  • Remove stubborn water spots from a stainless sink with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.
  • Spots on stainless steel also can be removed with vinegar.
  • Rub stainless steel sinks with lighter fluid if rusty .
  • For a sparkling white porcelain sink, place paper towels across the bottom of your sink and saturate with household bleach. Let sit for 8 hour & rinse. Never use bleach in colored sinks.


  • An open box of baking soda will absorb odors for a month or so.
  • A few drops vanilla extract on a piece of cotton placed in the refrigerator will eliminate odors.
  • Wipe refrigerator with vinegar to prevent mildew.
  • Use your vacuum on the front of the coils and motor to remove dust and dirt


  • Stop yellowing of white appliances. Mix 1/2 cup bleach, 1/4 cup baking soda and 4 cups of warm water. Apply with a sponge and let set for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Wax large appliances with car wax to make them shine and to remove small scratches.

Wood Floors

  • Floor cleaner is a solution of 1/2 cup of white vinegar in 1 gallon of warm water. Damp mop with a mop squeezed nearly dry. It is safer to mist the mop with the cleaner than to apply to floor. Do a section at a time and throw an old towel on the floor and scoot back and forth with foot to dry and prevent streaks. Standing liquid from mopping, spills, and pet accidents can damage floors.
  • The greatest damage done to wood floors is from grit. Mats at doors are necessary to collect grit and it’s important to keep these clean. Frequent dust mopping in high traffic areas to collect grit is the best prevention. This should be done based on the amount of traffic, which may require dust mopping several times a day in an active household. The brush attachment of a vacuum can be used (no beater bars). Felt and furniture protectors should be installed on furniture. Never scoot furniture on wood.
  • Put a piece of waxed paper under your dust mop. Dirt will stick to the mop and the wax will shine your floors.
  • Use a paper bag over spilled candle wax then lightly iron
  • Removin Stains
    • Water Stains
      • Rub the spot with No. 2 steel wood and rewax. For more serious water stains, lightly sand with fine sandpaper, clean the spot with No. 1 or 00 steel wool and mineral spirits or floor cleaner then refinish and wax.
    • Cigarette Burns
      • If not severe, the burn can be removed by rubbing with steel wool moistened with soap and water.
    • Heel and Caster Marks
      • Rub vigorously with fine steel wool and floor cleaner. Wipe dry and polish.
    • Ink Stains and Other Dark Spots
      • Use No. 2 steel wool and floor cleaner to clean the spot and surrounding area. Thoroughly wash the affected area. If the spot remains, sand with fine sandpaper, re-wax and polish. Stubborn stains may require that you replace the affected area.
    • Chewing Gum and Wax Deposits
      • Ice until the deposit is brittle and crumbles off. Pour floor cleaner around the stain so the fluid soaks under and loosens it.
    • Alcohol Spots
      • Rub the spot with liquid or paste wax

Vinyl Floors

  • Sweep then damp mop using a gallon of water and a dash of dishwashing detergent.
  • No-wax floors eventually need waxing, this will help to prevent further deterioration.

Cleaning Carpets

  • To clean dry spots, loosen soil and vacuum away prior to moistening it.
  • When taking out stains, always use a white cloth.
  • Wax dropped on carpet or upholstery? Set a clean, absorbent cloth over the wax stain and hold a hot iron on it. Then remove the cloth.
  • Coat mildly greasy stains with aerosol shaving cream, use a hair dryer to speed dry. Then vacuum.
  • Sprinkle a greasy stain with baking soda, cornstarch or talcum powder. Leave on at least 8 hours, then vacuum.

Did you know that Bounce, the stuff you use in the dryer has many cleaning uses?

  • Eliminates static electricity from your television screen. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.
  • Dissolves soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a used sheet of Bounce.
  • Freshens the air in your home. Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang one in the closet.
  • Prevents thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce to eliminate the static cling on the thread before sewing.
  • Eliminates static cling from pantyhose. Rub a damp, used sheet of Bounce over the hose.
  • Prevents musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.
  • Freshens the air in your car. Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.
  • Cleans baked-on food from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in the pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agents apparently weaken the bond between the food and the pan while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food.
  • Eliminates odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.
  • Collects cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.
  • Eliminates static electricity from venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resetting.
  • Deodorizes shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight so they’ll smell great in the morning.


  • For heavier stains on marble, take three or four cakes of Ivory soap, cut them up and dissolve in hot water until you have a « slurry. » Paint this on the marble and let it sit for five days or so. If the gunk starts to dry during that time, wet it down. At the end of the period, wash it all off.
  • To remove lighter stains, sprinkle salt on a fresh cut lemon. Rub very lightly over stain. Do not rub hard or you will ruin the polished surface. Wash off with soap and water.

10 Tips to Help Kids Survive a Family Move

Moving is a major life transition full of mixed emotions for parents and children. Here are 10 tips your transferees can use to help their children through this « roller coaster » period.

  1. Share the news of your move as soon as you can. Be prepared for a variety of responses. Listen and acknowledge your children’s feelings. Acknowledge your own feelings, too, and explain why the move has to happen.
  2. Invite your child’s participation in the preparation and plans. Buy blank labels and let your child decorate them for his/her own cartons. Have a yard or garage sale with clothes and toys that have been outgrown. Together make posters to advertise the event.
  3. Plan some farewell activities with friends and family who will be left behind.
  4. Set aside some time to talk about what’s been special about your present home and how those things can be replicated in your new home.This might be a good time to prepare a family capsule. Fill it with artifacts of your lives in your present home and bury it in a favorite outdoor or indoor place. Sample time capsule treasures might include pictures and drawings, a favorite audio tape, lyrics to a song, recipes from special meals and celebrations, and jokes or special memories.
  5. Reach out for resources about your new community. Send away for information and maps from the local Chamber of Commerce or City Hall. Or, write to the new school principal or PTA president for news about the school.
  6. Get pictures of your new home to « preview » if your child is unable to visit prior to the move. If possible, include your child in a pre-move visit. Begin choosing bedrooms and planning decorations.
  7. Make moving day an adventure. Have a bag packed full of fun activities — games, books, stuffed animals. Make a journal or collage of the move, including taking pictures, writing feelings and anecdotes, and saving mementos of the trip, such as menus and maps.
  8. Reach out in your new community once you are settled. Plan a get-together with new neighbors, and contacts from work and school. Encourage your child to advertise to do odd jobs around the neighborhood. Support your child in joining a local boys/girls club or community group. Enjoy the neighborhood together: go to the park, walk the dog, take strolls, do yard work — you’ll meet new people that way.
  9. Start traditions in your new home. Sunday can be movie rental day or story read-aloud night.
  10. Encourage your child to keep in touch with family and friends back where you used to live. Offer a long distance call as a present or treat. Take pictures of your new home.

Sicilian Recipes – Vegetarian & Fish Entrees

Roasted Cod with Escarole Tomato Ragout

Serves 6

Cod with Escarole Tomato Ragout
1 head escarole, trimmed, outer leaves discarded
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves sliced garlic
2 tomatoes, cored, peeled and seeded
2 cans (14 ½oz.) chicken brothSalt and pepper
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 can White Cannelini Beans (Goya)
¾-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 ¼ pounds cod fillets, cut into 6 ounces each

Cut escarole into 2-inch pieces and rinse several times. Put a pot on medium high heat and add escarole still wet. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender. In a large skillet add oil and garlic. Cook until barely colored. Add tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add escarole, broth, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add beans and cheese. Toss gently to heat beans and cheese. Salt and pepper fillets. Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet. Cook fish 3 minutes per side.

Sicilian Baked Pasta Gratin

Serves 6-8

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 peppers, red and yellow cut into ¼ inch strips
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves, minced garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste
1-2 lb. can whole plum tomatoes, drained
12 Calamata olives, pitted
¼ cup capers, rinsed¼ cup fresh basil
3 tbsp. olive oilSalt and black pepper
1 lb. thin spaghetti
1 cup grated pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 400°In a 12-inch sauté pan heat oil. Add peppers and onions and cook till tender. Add garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes more.Bring a pot of boiling salted water to boil.Put tomatoes, olives, capers and basil in a food processor and pulse coarsely. Add tomato mixture to the skillet and mix and reheat. Adjust seasonings.Cook pasta until al dente, drain and add to sauce mixing in cheese. Turn into a lightly oiled casserole and bake for 30 minutes.Note: You can assembly the dish and refrigerate up to two days ahead.

Lasagna with Eggplant

Serves 8-10

2 pounds eggplant, peeled & sliced ¼ inch x 1 inch
½ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper

Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)

Recipe for 3 egg fresh pasta
1 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tbsp. Butter

Preheat oven to 425°. In a bowl combine sliced eggplant, oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on two baking sheets in a single layer and cook for 15 minutes. Turn eggplant over and cook for 5 minutes more. Set aside. Lower oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Dry on cotton towels.

Butter a 13×9 baking dish. Spread a layer of béchamel on the bottom of the dish. Make a layer of lasagna noodles. Add a layer of tomato sauce and eggplant, béchamel sauce and grated cheese. Continue until you have four layers of pasta. The final layer of pasta is covered with tomato sauce, béchamel and grated cheese. Dot with butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tomato Sauce:3 tbsp. olive oil1 small onion, finely diced1 can Italian plum tomatoes, 1 lb.12oz.1 bay leafSalt & pepper1 tsp. sugar½ cup fresh basil, chopped

Cook onions with oil in a saucepan for 8 minutes. Break tomatoes up and add to the pan along with bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes. Cool and add chopped basil.

Béchamel Sauce:4 tbsp. sweet butter3 tbsp. flour2 cups hot milkSalt and white pepper

Melt butter over low heat. Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3 minutes. Off heat add milk stirring constantly. Add salt and white pepper to taste.. Turn heat to medium and whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Cook at a simmer for 5 minutes.

Warm Potato Salad

2 lbs. small white or red potatoes, peeled
Chicken broth to cover
Salt and black pepper
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2-tbsp. parsley chopped
1 shallot chopped

Add potatoes to a saucepan with broth and place over high heat. Cook about 15 minutes.

In a bowl combine oil, garlic, parsley and shallots and mix well. Slice potatoes ¼ inch thick. Reserve broth. Add potatoes and toss with ½ cup reserved liquid. Season generously with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Add more cooking liquid if desired.

To serve, spoon potatoes in a bowl top with escarole mixture and its broth. Set a piece of fish on top.

Wonton Lasagna with Salmon and Wild Mushroom Sauce

Serves 8

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. shallots, chopped
1 lb. mixed sliced mushrooms, shitake, crimini, and button
¼ cup white wine
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
½ lb. mascarpone
¼ cup Inglehoffer Thick-n-Creamy Horseradish
3 scallions green and white chopped
1 tbsp. chives, chopped
1½ lbs. salmon filet
Canola oil for sautéing
½ stick butter, melted, seasoned with salt and pepper
24 thin wontons, 3½ x 3½ inches square
2 scallions cut into thin rounds for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°.Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté shallots until softened. Raise the heat to high and add all the mushrooms, season generously and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Pour in cream and heat through. Set aside.In a large bowl mix together mascarpone, horseradish, scallions, chives and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush seasoned melted butter on the paper and brush butter on both sides of the wontons. Place on the parchment paper and bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.Slice salmon on an angle into thin pieces, about ¼ inch thick, cutting them into 3 x 3-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large non-stick skillet heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Cook salmon for about 1 minute on each side and set aside on a plate. Reheat mushroom mixture.To assembly lasagna: Place a crisp wonton centered on a heatproof dish, next a piece of salmon on top with a tablespoon of mascarpone mixture and a tablespoon of mushroom mixture. Repeat again and then top off with the wonton, salmon, mascarpone and some chopped scallions on top. Decorate the dish with mushrooms and cream. Keep warm in the oven before serving. 

Linguini with Swordfish Sauce

Linguine with Swordfish Sauce, Sicilian Style Serves 6

Tomato and Swordfish Sauce:1 – two pound can San Marzano tomatoes I small onion, finely chopped I tbsp. minced garlic 2 tbsp. olive oil1/2 cup white wine1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes I sprig parsley I sprig basil I bay leafSalt and freshly ground black pepper I cup Perfect Addition fish stockI pound swordfish, cut into small cubes

Finishing the Dish:1 pound of linguini2 tbsp. extra virgin 1/2 dry breadcrumbs¼ cup parsley, basil, chives & lemon thyme, chopped

Puree the tomatoes in a blender. In a saucepan over medium heat, saut6 the onion and garlic with olive oil until soft. Add the white wine,, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, herbs, bay leaf and seasonings. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fish stock and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the swordfish. Cook for 2 minutes and turn off the heat. Preheat broiler. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water and drain.

In an ovenproof bowl, add the pasta and toss with the extra virgin olive oil. Spoon the tomato sauce with the swordfish over the pasta. Combine the breadcrumbs and herbs and sprinkle over the pasta. Place the pasta under the broiler and brown the breadcrumbs for several minutes.

Grilled Shrimp in Lemon/Herb Aioli Sauce

Serves 4-6

Marinade for Shrimp
1½ lbs. large shrimp, 16-20 count, peeled, deveined
2 cloves minced garlic
½ cup mixed herbs, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup olive oilSalt and freshly ground black pepper
8-10 wooden skewers soaked in water for a few hours or overnight

With a small knife butterfly the shrimp by making a deep cut lengthwise down the back of each shrimp. In a bowl combine garlic, herbs, pepper flakes, lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Coat the shrimp with the marinade. Marinate for 1 hour.

Preheat broiler or grill. Weave 4 shrimp on each skewer and grill about 2-3 minutes per side.

Lemon Herb Aioli Sauce

6-8 anchovies
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1 egg
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh mixed herbs, finely chopped

In a food processor, combine anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and egg. Blend. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the chopped herbs in by hand. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Serve shrimp warm on a platter with aioli sauce.

Grilled Stuffed Eggplant Slices

Serves 8

2 eggplants, 1¼ lbs. each
¾ cup olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
One-14½ oz. can Del Monte Fresh Cut Tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
1 sprig of fresh basil
¼ cup imported Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg yolk, beaten lightly
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
Basil leaves and Parmesan shavings for garnish

Trim eggplant and slice into ¾ to 1-inch rounds. You should have 20-22 slices. Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat or indoor grill pan to medium heat. Brush eggplant rounds with seasoned olive oil and cook for 10 minutes on each side. While the eggplant is cooking start the tomato mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons of seasoned oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Add chopped onions and sauté for 6-7 minutes. Add tomatoes, pinch of sugar and sprig of basil. Cook for 20 minutes or until mixture is thick and pulpy. Remove basil and set aside to cool. As the eggplant is cooked, place on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Preheat oven to 400° Combine grated cheese, egg yolk and vinegar to tomatoes. Top half of the eggplants with tomato mixture and place remaining eggplant slices on top. Heat through in oven for 10 minutes.

Garnish with Parmesan shavings and basil.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Risotto Fritters

Makes approx. 50 hors d’oeuvres

1 cup arborio rice
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
½ pound mascarpone, room temperature
3 tbsp. sour cream ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups all purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging
3-4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ -3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, * made in the food processor
2-3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped fine
Salt and black pepper
Canola oil for frying

Prepare risotto following directions on the package. When cooked spread on a sheetpan to cool.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in basil, mascarpone, sour cream, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls.

At this point you can refrigerate balls for three days or freeze for 1 month.

Set up 3 shallow dishes, one with seasoned flour, second with beaten eggs and third with breadcrumbs mixed with parsley. Lightly dredge fritters in flour, then eggs and breadcrumbs.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Heat a deep fryer or pot with oil, about 3 inches deep. Fry fritters for 3 minutes or until golden brown all over. Transfer to a sheet pan with a rack. Serve warm or make ahead and reheat in preheated 350° oven for 5 minutes.

*Use Portuguese Rolls or substitute Panko breadcrumbs which can be bought in an Asian store.

Sicilian Recipes – Antipasta

These Recipes are from some of the healthiest cooking styles in the world. Traditional Sicilian meals like these have been brought down over the centuries.

I’d like to share some with you. Courtesy of my cousin Diana Albanese a gourmet cook from Breille NJ. If you enjoy these recipes, please e-mail her to thank her for these freebies.

Fennel Stuffed with Cheese, Pinenuts & Raisins

Serves 6, makes 12 stuffed fennel pieces4 large round fennel bulbs, about 5 pounds½ cup canned chicken broth4 tbsp. Olive oilSalt & freshly ground black pepper½ cup onion, finely minced1/3 cup golden raisins, plump in warm water for 20 minutes1/3 cup pinenuts1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated2 eggs, beaten lightly2 tbsp. dry plain breadcrumbs2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°

Trim the base of the fennel bulbs. Cut across the tops and remove the stalks. Cut the fennel lengthwise in half and cut out the cores. Arrange the fennel in a shallow baking dish. Add the broth, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake until almost tender when pierced with a fork, 35-40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a skillet over medium heat add two tablespoons of oil and sauté the onion until tender and lightly colored. About 8 minutes. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

Separate the fennel layers using about 12 of the larger layers to stuff. Take the smaller inner layers and chop into small dice adding to the onions. Combine drained raisins, pinenuts, cheese, eggs to the bowl with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a small baking dish and arrange the fennel halves so that they fit tightly. Put about 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the fennel sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until topping is browned.

Antipasto Bruschetta

Makes 24-30 bruschetta1 loaf French bread, sliced and toasted lightly½ cup roasted red peppers13-½ oz. canned artichokes hearts¼ cup Calamata olives or green Sicilian cracked olives½ cup soppresata or salami, cut into ¼ inch cubes½ cup Asiago cheese or Parmesan cheese cut into ¼ inch cubesFresh black pepper2 tbsp. parsley, roughly chopped1 large garlic clove, cut in half3 anchovies, drained¼ cup olive oil +In a food processor, pulse peppers, artichoke hearts, and olives a few times to have a rough-cut. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and add diced soppresata, cheese. Season with pepper and mix. Can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead at this point.In a food processor puree garlic, parsley anchovies and oil. Set aside. Can be made ahead 1 day ahead.Preheat broiler. Spread 1 tablespoon of pepper and artichoke mixture on toasted bread. Drizzle some parsley and garlic mixture on top and cook for 4-5 minutes.


1-15 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup Calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ Sicilian green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. capers, rinse ½ cup or more olive oil
2 eggplants, about 1 pound each, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup celery, diced
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 tbsp. currants or raisins soaked in warm water
2 tbsp. pinenuts, toasted ½ cup good olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Put the tomatoes, olives, currants and capers in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat add 1/3 cup of oil. Add diced eggplant and cook for 15 minutes, browning on all sides. Taste for salt and pepper and place eggplant into large bowl. Lower the heat and add more oil to the pan if necessary and cook celery for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and add celery to cooked eggplant. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and cook onions until golden. Taste for salt and pepper. Add cooked eggplant and celery to the cooked onions in the skillet. Add tomato mixture and all the other ingredients. Cook for 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cold. Can be made up to a week ahead.

Goat Cheese Marinated with Tomato Oil & Garlic
Served with Grilled Garlic Bread

Serves 16-20

1½ cups olive oil
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded and diced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Red Pepper flakes to taste
Salt and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
Three-10.5 oz. logs French Goat cheese, well chilled Fresh sprigs of herbs
2 French Bread loaves, sliced, grilled and rubbed with garlic

In a saucepan combine oil, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard thyme. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Place chilled goat cheese on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife dipped in hot water slice the cheese into ¼ » pieces. Transfer to a gratin serving dish. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the logs. Season with black pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with grilled bread. Do-Ahead Notes: Make the tomato oil 3 days ahead. Marinate goat cheese logs with tomato mixture one-day ahead of the party. Grill bread the morning of the party. Decorate with fresh herbs before serving.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Serves 6

1 large garlic clove cut in half
6-8 oil packed anchovies
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil ¼ cup water or more if needed
3 hearts of Romaine lettuce
½ cup pinenuts
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1. In a food processor add the garlic, anchovies, cheese, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, lemon, pepper and process until blended. Scrape down the sides of the processor. With the motor running slowly add the oil. If it is too thick add water. The dressing can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

2. Preheat the broiler

3. Trim the ends of the Romaine hearts but leave intact. Slice the hearts in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a sheetpan. Brush the dressing over the lettuce leaves making sure that it goes in between the leaves. Sprinkle the pinenuts on the tops of the hearts.

4. Set the sheetpan on the top shelf in the oven and cook for several minutes. The lettuce will start to wilt and brown lightly. Remove promptly from the oven and sprinkle the Parmesan shavings on top. Serve warm.

Five Things No Safe Home Is Without

Home safety encompasses a number of very important topics that include child safety, fire safety and home security. This is the place where you will host your children and the rest of your family – you need to make sure that it is safe to stay in at any point of time !

Below are five things that every home owner should always have and should check in the event of purchasing or renting a new house.

Fire Extinguisher
Place at least one fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Keep it in an easily accessible place that is out of kids reach.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Install and maintain these alarms. Ensure that they are placed near the floor as carbon monoxide is a heavier gas.

Emergency Supply
It is a good idea to have at least a three day supply of emergency supplies. This should include supplies for every member of the family, including pets. If there is a baby in the house, make sure to include pampers, wipes, formula etc. Top priorities should be water, food and medical supplies.

Alarm System
This doesn’t have to be an expensive system that requires professional installation and monitoring. Any early alarm device is better than nothing. Place these on doors, windows and sliding glass doors.

Means of Self-Defense
This could be a legally registered firearm, knife or baseball bat. Having one that you are familiar with and can use effectively is best.

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