Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yesterday while we discovered downtown Newburyport, MA, I stumbled upon Grand Trunk Imports selling specialty imported food and wine.. YUMS! We spent some time there and ended picking up a few yummy items to stock my always full pantry.
Among my “loot” where these 2 salt; Hickory Smoked Salt and Red Clay Salt. They weren’t cheap since a container of the specialty salt cost about twice the price of a big container of plain ol’ table salt. However, I can’t help getting some to try. I love trying out various food, and when it’s a couple dollars..I usually would not hesitate to purchase it.
So guys…..I need some help and ideas to use these 2 salts, maximizing its flavors………..  Recipes..Ideas..please? Some help guys?

Simply June 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

I saw this yummy Italian Wedding Soup recipe from my Ina Garten cook book and I’ve been wanting to attempt it for the longest time but never did until one snowy day. This was also sort of semi spontaneous as I only thought of making the soup while shopping for some groceries a day before the big snow storm (we were greeted by more than 19” of fresh powdery snow!!) Having to just know the key ingredients; ground meat, sausage, spinach, pasta and chicken stock, I guessed my way through the rest of the ingredients!
I’ve never tried Italian Wedding Soups before though I’ve seen it plentiful on menus. Most of the time, the meatballs are beef and if you know me well enough, I can get very picky when it comes to beef. I never knew what were the origins of the Italian Wedding Soup either. My best guess was it might be a soup served often at an Italian Wedding? After some Googling and yes the help of Wikipedia, I found out that it’s just a soup that consist of vegetables and meat and it’s very common in Italian restaurants in US. I guess, I was totally wrong about this being a typical soup being served at a Italian wedding! Extracted from Wikipedia, “The term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language, minestra maritata ("married soup"), which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together. Some form of minestra maritata was long popular in Toledo, Spain before pasta became an affordable commodity to most Spaniards, though the modern wedding soup is quite a bit lighter than the old Spanish form, which contained a large variety of meat, rather than just the meatballs of modern Italian-American versions”
Long story short, I modified and came up with my version of Italian Wedding soup very much inspired by Ina Garten. Her Italian Wedding Soup recipe can be found HERE. This soup is a perfect for lunch (or dinner) during one of those cold wintery days!
Italian Wedding Soup1_thumb[2]
Part A (Meatballs)
  • 3 Hot/Spicy (Fresh) Italian Sausage (about 9 oz), Squeeze the meat from the casing
  • 6 oz ground pork
  • 1/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp Milk
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
Part B (Soup)
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 2 Stalk Celery, Finely Chopped (About 1 Cup)
  • 2 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped (About 1 Cup)
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Cup Macaroni Elbows
  • 10 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 6 - 8 Oz Spinach
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix Part A (meatballs), place the ground pork, sausage, bread crumbs, parsley, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, milk, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, measure about 1tsp of meatballs, roll them and drop them onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 80 x 1 tsp size meatballs).  Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
Italian Wedding Soup
In the meantime, prepare part B (soup). In a pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1-2 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted. Serve immediately.
June’s comments: Feel free to omit the cilantro if you’re not a big fan of it. I love cilantro very much and try to include them in my meals whenever possible! This recipe serves 4-6.

Simply June 

Friday, January 14, 2011

20% Off @ TGI Fridays!

Hey guys! Here’s a money saving coupon for your next meal at the nearest TGI Friday's! Click on the image to be directed to the coupon to print. This coupon is just valid for US locations.
I’m not affiliated with TGI Fridays in any way…just merely sharing a money saving coupon whenever I see them! I LOVE COUPONS!!

Simply June 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cranberry Apple Sauce (Jelly)

I’m sorry but for one reason or another I hate canned cranberry sauce….I think the look of the sauce when it comes out of the can turns me off. So, I never buy canned cranberry sauce and I try to avoid eating them when it’s served. =) Sorry, if I offended anyone!
Cranberry sauce is SO EASY to make, so why buy canned ones? Fresh homemade cranberry sauce might cost a little more, but hey at least you know it’s fresh and free of preservatives. The easy ones are just boiling water, cranberry and sugar all in one pot for a couple minutes. I came across this recipe from my Food and Wine magazine and added it to my thanksgiving dinner menu. It looked and sounded yummy, I just had to try it..and I love it !I enjoyed the slightly crunchy texture the apple gave…..this recipe is a keeper!
The original recipe from Food and Wine recipe is found here and knowing me, I had to modify the recipe (just a little), so my version is below.
Cranberry Apple Sauce
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 Large Fuji Apple, Diced into 1/2” Cubes
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Apple Juice
Line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine the cranberries with the apple, juice and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, about 15-20 minutes. Scrape the cranberry sauce into the prepared pan, let it cool down then refrigerate until it’s chilled. Just before serving, invert the jelly onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Slice with a serrated knife before serving.

Simply June 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Easy Fruit Tarts

This is another dessert that I put out during my Thanksgiving dinner. I always love fruit tarts/fruit flans but I did not want to sweat too much to prepare it yet still want to make a presentable yummy dessert. Making a quick and easy dessert was crucial especially since I have a lot of other dishes to prepare. Well, I couldn’t make up my mind to just make one dessert. So, I ended up making 4 kinds because I wanted to make sure every picky eater (if any) have some kind of dish/desert that they will be able to enjoy.
I always feel uncomfortable making pie crusts from scratch and will defer to the help of store bought crusts whenever possible. With the help of Pillsbury, Jello and Dole, and some what minimal preparation time, I came up with a plate of semi healthy (look at the colorful fresh fruits), individual dessert tarts.
Here are some instructions to make this dessert. I used mini tartlet tins to bake the crust. This way, there’s no fear of ruining a dessert when you cut into it. Every portion is somewhat the same (bite) size. Oh yeah, baking spray was also very helpful to enable an easy removal of the baked crust from the tin.
Fruit Tarts
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray tartlet tins with baking spray. Unroll pie crust on a flat surface and using a round cookie cutter (size of cookie cutter needs to be larger than the top rim of the tartlet, sorry I do not have the exact measurements!) stamp out the pie crusts. Press each “cut” crusts into the each tartlet tins. Gently prick the base of the pie crusts so that the crust does not bubble up when you bake it. Bake the tartlets at 400F for about 10-15 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.
In the mean time, prepare the Vanilla Pudding per the instruction on the back on the box, set aside and let it chill. Drain your mandarin oranges and cut the strawberries into quarters. Slice the kiwi into 1/2” thick slices and cut them into quarters.
Once the pie crusts are baked, let them cool before you start to assemble the tartlets. Fill the chilled crusts with till about 3/4" full. Arrange the fruit slices as you please and serve immediately! Enjoy!!
June’s Comments: It depends how big your tartlet tins are, I think I came up with maybe 14-16 tartlets with one package of pie crust. And I think I may have used up 1-1/2 package of pie crust for my purpose. The extra fruits that you may end up with; combine them together and make them into a fruit salad. Extra vanilla pudding?..Just eat it as is, or with the fruit salad! =)
There are no restrictions to the type of fruits to use. The reason why I chose those three was for color. Feel free to use raspberries, blueberries, mangoes, peaches, etc. Let your creativity run wild and have fun!

Simply June 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pumpkin Cake

Here’s another post to start my new year and keep my new year resolution going! Yay! With busy work schedule, I don’t cook as often anymore and the laziness in me just refrained me from updating the blog! Sorry!!
So, I made this pumpkin cake back in November for Thanksgiving. This year we had a sit down dinner with about 12 guests. I should probably reserved more details on what I did for Thanksgiving dinner for another post. Ana, my friend from work and I were discussing the Thanksgiving menu and after some googling, we both made this for Thanskgiving. I think both our guests enjoyed this super moist pumpkin cake.
The original recipe extracted from My recipe has been modified slightly using the spices I have.
Pumpkin Cake
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cups Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups Pumpkin Puree
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tsps Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsps Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 2 Tsps Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 Tsp All Spice
  • Powdered Sugar (Optional – for dusting)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 12x18 inch pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine sugar and oil. Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, then beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Spread batter into prepared 12x18 inch pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool. Dust with some powdered sugar just before serving if desired.
June’s Comments: I like using a bundt cake pan when I’m baking a cake that will not have any frosting on it. I feel that it makes the cake look a little special, and that extra dusting of powdered sugar gives the simple cake a little “oooh-aaahhh” effect.

Simply June 

Happy New Year 2011!

2010 has been a great year, and I hope 2011 will even better! What is your new year resolution? Mine, will never be to lose weight/to go on a diet… coz it never worked for me…. I love eating too much that I have a hard time refraining myself from all those glorious food……
So, my new year resolution is to update this abandoned blog of mine, a little more often… I just realized that it’s been more than 6 months since it was last updated!!
Sorry!! Well, stay tune for more updates…I guess!

Simply June 

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