Red Barn Cafe-

Life is hectic - Savor every Bite!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Eggplant Parm Bow Tie Casserole

It's hot as heck today and I made this casserole (95 degrees), but I will be happy this week when I can just reheat it for a fast dinner. I've added some tips along the way. Make it your way, it will be good!

4 Italian (small) eggplants, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch.
large jar tomato sauce, or homemade. I used Mario Batalli's sauce, on sale for $2.30. It was pretty good.
1 clove garlic, sliced and chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 torn basil, or use t tsp dried
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese. I have made it with both. The cottage cheese made more of a sauce while the ricotta was more of  a filling.
1/4 cup parmesean cheese, plus 1/2 cup parmesean cheese
8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 box Bow Tie pasta, cooked until al dente, and drained.
1/2 cup olive oil, may need more or less.

Add 1/4 cup parm to the breadcrumbs, add some cracked pepper. Add the parsley, other 21 beaten eggs, some pepper and nutmeg to the cottage cheese and mix in food processor or mini chopper. (Or you can do by hand). Set aside. Dip the eggplant slices, first in egg, then in bread crumbs. Add half the olive oil to cover bottom of nonstick skillet and fry on both sides until brown. Set aside on a plate. In a large oval or rectangular casserole dish, ladle some sauce, half the eggplant, half the pasta, 3 slices mozzarella, half the ricotta/cottage =cheese mixture. Repeat layers, ending with sauce and mozzarella, Sprinkle some parm on top. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30 min. TO prevent sticking to the foil, run a little olive oil or butter on the inside of the foil, or cover loosely. I have found that if I put the parm on top of the mozzarella it wont stick as much. Remove foil and cook additional 10 min. Let rest for 10 min before serving.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tomato Puree and Memories of Gram

I am feeling a bit nostalgic today. I just made tomato puree for my Christmas Eve ravioli's. Why nostalgic? Because they remind me of my Gram, Rose Rizzo, who came to this country as a young girl. Married and raised three wonderful children. She learned to speak English by watching soap operas, her "stories", she called them. It made me laugh when I realized that two of the main characters were named Ed and Holly, my brother and me!

Gram was strong, walked up and down steep hills to get a few things at the grocery. She always had a few gardens that yielded tomatoes, herbs, peppers, zucchini, onions and lettuces. One of the many treats she made were fried zucchini "frites" blossoms. I haven't attempted to make them yet. I have a feeling they won'[t be nearly as good as hers. One thing I do make, though, is her homemade ravioli's. They were made for every special occasion. The size of dinner plates! When I was sixteen I watched her make them, measuring every ingredient. I still have that piece of paper, written in my sprawling script with i"s dotted with hearts. In red pen!

So, when I married, I started making the "rav's" for Christmas Eve, since that was the dinner I always hosted for my family. On the one or two occasions I attempted to make a fancy seafood dinner, I was met with incredulous, "But where are the Rav's?" SO, the ravs it will be...

I made the tomato puree with my garden tomatoes today. A few things I have learned over the years of doing this-
1. You need a lot of tomatoes! One large stockpot yields about a quart size bag.
2. Use quart size bags. The gallon size is awkward to fit in your freezer. And also, they tend to get more air, and then freezer burn.
3. Do not add salt. The only thing I add is a few sprigs of fresh basil. After the tomatoes have cooled.

Bring water in large stock pot to a simmer, not boil. Gently drop in tomatoes, maybe 10 at a time. Wait until the skins crack. Then take out and puree (DO NOT overfill) in a food processor. Let cool before adding to quart size freezer bags. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and try to get most of the air out before closing. Freeze on cookie sheet flat, and then you can stack them in your freezer when they are frozen. I always use within 6 months. (You can label the bag with a sharpie if you have a tendency to forget how long they've been there. Been there too...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Garden Saute

I should call this lazy garden saute...or leftover saute. Whatever you call it, it's easy, fast and delicious. Perfect for using up leftovers or garden bounty. Here's what I had:

1 cup rotisserie chicken, cut up
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped, 1 red bell pepper, chopped,
handful of rosemary, basil, parsley and mint (use whatever you have), chopped
1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheese. (I used mozzarella tonight, I also have used Parmesan)
some cherry tomatoes-halved
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 sliced avocado
 1 leftover cooked ear of Jersey white corn, removed from cob

Saute the veggies in the olive oil until soft- add garlic and corn for 2 min, then add chicken for 2 min to warm through. Add the herbs and cheese in the final minute of cooking. Serve with chopped parsley and a few cherry tomatoes. Avocado optional.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Corned Beef and Cabbage Hash with Eggs

This is a savory good way to use up those St Patrick's Day leftovers. I don't know why I never  thought of it before!

Leftover corned beef- about 3/4 - 1 cup, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup leftover chopped cooked cabbage
2 scallions, green and white parts, chopped fine
leftover cooked potatoes, cubed, 3/4 - 1 cup
4 eggs
2 tbsp butter

In an oven-proof skillet heat the butter until melted and add the bacon and corned beef. Cook until bacon is crisp, then add the potatoes and stir gently. Cook a few min and add the scallions and cabbage. After a few minutes carefully crack each of the eggs. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 min until eggs are set. If you want them runny, take out now. If you like them cooked through, wait another 1-2 min. Salt and pepper the eggs and serve.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Arugula Pesto Stuffed Chicken

I love pesto, and like
experimenting with different ingredients to make it. Here is one version you may not have tried..yet.

6 thin chicken cutlets

3 cups fresh baby arugula
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
half tsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, I like to toast mine in a  dry skillet for 4-5 minutes and cool.
1/2 lemon juiced and zested
1 large clove garlic, chopped
Italian seasoning, I like the McCormick Italian grinder seasoning.

combine pesto ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper and process until chunky.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil until smooth, but not soupy. I use about 1 tbsp.

In a large casserole dish spread a little Olive oil. Place 1 chicken cutlet flat and spread with pesto. Fold one side up and then roll the rest up tightly. Place seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top and more black pepper. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 min or until a fork goes through the chicken easily.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Shrimp "Fried Rice" Cauliflower

Shrimp "Fried Rice " Cauliflower is a take on my favorite take-out- fried rice. I had seen this idea but didn't think I would like it- maybe the texture would be off? Guess what? I was craving fried rice and my tablet wasn't charged, so I came up with this/. Feel free to embelish as you like. I like it, hope you do too!


1/2 large onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, diced
1/2 lb or 6 stalks asparagus, trimmed into 2" pieces.
1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and trimmed
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 - 1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 lb fresh shrimp

1 tbsp coconut oil
plus 1 tbsp coconut oil
1-3 tsp Sirachha hot sauce (if desired)>

Put half the cauliflower in food processor** and pulse until it looks like rice. Remove to a bowl and do the same with the other half.

Get 2 skillets going- 1 tbsp coconut oil in each. Saute cauliflower in one and the onions and carrots and asparagus in the other for 3-4 min. Add shrimp to the vegetables and saute, add salt and pepper.
Add 1/4 cup water or vegetable stock to the cauliflower and cover. Simmer on low for 3-4 min. (I actually did this for 5 min, I like it very soft. When the shrimp is pink and firm it is done. You can add the hot sauce to the vegetables if you like it spicy. Toss with the cauliflower.

** If you do not have a food processor you can use a box grater and /or chop into fine pieces.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Roasted Vegetable Soup

This soup will warm you and fit the bill for any vegetarians at your dinner table.

1 medium butternut squash, diced
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3/4 cup cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and cut in half
1 32 oz box vegetable broth
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp plain yogurt mixed with 1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 avocado, sliced

On a sheet pan lined with foil, spread out vegetables and mix with the olive oil, coating as many as you can. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 min until lightly browned. In a large soup pot combine the broth and vegetables and warm on medium setting, adding salt and pepper to taste.

With an immersion blender combine and whip the ingredients until smooth. Ladle into bowls and top with a few slices of avocado and 1 tsp of the yogurt.