Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cucuzza Squash

166. Fritz and I were in the garden the other day and we realized our Cucuzza Squash was ready to pick!
In May, my honey and I prepared our little plot of land to plant several garden plants. Tomatoes, eggplant, basil, peppers and zucchini. Our backyard is very shaded and the only area with sun is along our fence. This little garden has produced wonderfully in past years. Just enough to handle with our busy schedules.
This is how beautifully it has grown by mid July.
But my story is about these wonderful zucchini plants. Easy to grow, always produce beautifully. I even found a cute sign to place next to them. This year I rotated all my plants and placed the zucchini against the fence so it wouldn't be bothered or the leaves disturbed, which is the key to a healthy zucchini plant. There just happened to be a trellis at this spot.
I am so glad I did because within two weeks, to my surprise, these were not zucchini plants but "Cucuzza" Squash plants. Let's just say, it was like planting the bean that Jack bought! The vines started to grow upwards, wrapping around everything in site. And then I realized this was not just a simple plant but an adventure.
What is a Cucuzza Squash you ask? It is part of the squash family and grows very long. You can prepare it in recipes as you would for zucchini or summer squash. The flowers bloom in the evening and all night long. You have to check out this website: and listen to the hilarious song "My Cucuzza" by Louis Prima.
I have heard this squash called many different names before and I have tasted it. Some call it "Guguts", "Cuccuzi" or "Cuzzcuzz" Squash.
The first squash grew to be 24" in length! Amazing! And it was so beautiful.
I washed and sliced it into 1" slices.
Take a small casserole dish and spray it with oil and spoon prepared tomato sauce in the bottom. I layered the Cucuzza across the bottom, and sprinkled it with mozzarella cheese. Then, I repeated a second layer till all the rounds were used. I then sprinkled the top with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Then baked it, covered, for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees. Don't forget to remove the cover during the last 10 minutes so the cheese can brown. You could also add sweet Italian sausage by placing small slices or meatballs around the squash.
It turned out lovely. The Cucuzza Squash is very mild and will compliment this dish. Using it in a vegetable lasagna would be a great idea as well.

"Now you can have your pasta and your Chicken Cacciatore. I'd rather have cucuzza cause for me it means I'm more. So when the moon is shinin' brite from dear old Napolí. I dream of my cucuzza she's the only dish for me!"
~Louis Prima

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Banana-Split Cream Pie

165. A Banana-Split Sundae with cold, icy sweet creamy vanilla, chocolate almond fudge and Whitehouse cherry ice cream; hot dripping fudge sauce; sliced, perfectly ripe bananas; light, airy, real! whipped cream; crunchy chopped nuts dotting the top and sides; pineapple sauce in a pool around the melting ice cream, and hot dripping, salty peanut butter sauce *lick lips*. Yes that is my version of a wonderful banana-split sundae. Oh, and not to mention, the maraschino cherry on top. I like it when they throw a few cherries on the side too. This is a delight I rarely have, but do enjoy.

With all the ingredients to make a banana-split, I decided to make a "Banana-Split Cream Pie" for dessert this evening. Cream pies and frozen pies are always a hit, not just in the summer, but any time.

This recipe is repurposed from an old "Banana-Split Cake" recipe I've had for two decades. Whether you make the cake or the pie...they are both divine!!!

Banana Split Cream Pie

1 pie crust, baked and set aside to cool, my recipe for Pâte Brisée here

1 cup confectioners sugar
4 oz butter, soft
1 egg

1 banana, ripe yellow, not green
1 can of crushed pineapple, drained very well (discard juice or use for popsicles)

1/4 cup ground walnuts, toasted
1 cup chocolate glaze or hot fudge sauce, warmed, (Country Living's Chocolate Glaze Recipe 4✮)
1 large container of Cool Whip
Maraschino cherries with stems

Prepare pie crust, place in 9 inch pie plate, bake and set aside to cool.

Mix confectioners sugar, butter and eggs in a mixing bowl and mix for 5-10 minutes till fluffy
In bottom of pie crust sprinkle a few nuts. Spread the sugar/butter/egg mixture over the nuts evenly, sealing the bottom of the pie. Slice the banana and layer each slice over the mixture. Do this quickly so the bananas will not turn black and oxidize.
With your hand, evenly distribute the well-drained pineapple over the bananas. This also helps to keep the bananas from turning black.
With a few spoonfuls of Cool Whip, carefully spread a thin layer over the pineapple.
Next, pour 3/4 cup of the warmed (not hot!!) chocolate glaze/fudge sauce over the Cool Whip layer. Top with the rest of the Cool Whip and design peaks on top. Drizzle the remaining chocolate glaze/fudge sauce over and dot with cherries. Finish off with a sprinkle of the remaining walnuts.
Chill for 3 hours or overnight.

In the beginning, the Lord created chocolate, and he saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the dark, and it was better.

"You make me sick!
You are offered meat and you choose a banana-split-with-nuts!"
~ Martin H. Fischer

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pico de Gallo Salsa

164. What could be better than a fresh bowl of homemade Pico de Gallo Salsa?

Recently, my daughter invited friends over. She made a cake and I made a huge bowl of salsa to dip several bags of Tostitos and Scoops in. The salsa disappeared along with the cake.
Pico de Gallo Salsa

6 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 to 4 fresh jalapenos, chopped fine, seeds removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large scallions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped very fine
1 large lime, juiced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
tsp. chili powder
2 Tblsp. olive oil, (adds a shine and helps develop the flavors)
Salt and fresh ground Pepper to taste
Wash and prep all the ingredients.
Place all in a large bowl and stir to blend.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. The flavors will bloom and develop. Before serving, taste salsa and adjust seasoning if necessary. ENJOY!!!

"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra."
~Author Unknown

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tennessee Fixin's

163. Our recent trip to Tennessee was so enjoyable and relaxing. The southern hospitality was the first thing we noticed. Everyone calling you "Honey", "Sweetheart" and "Darlin'". We realized we weren't in NY any more. And patient...everyone is so patient and accommodating. Even when we couldn't get our order straight at the Dunkin Donut Drive-Thru. "That's two medium black coffee's, no, no cream, no, no sugar...yes, a medium black ice coffee with sugar, no, no cream...but cream on the side." And we ended up with a medium cream and sugar coffee...but, we were called "Sweethearts" and told that "We can fix that!" (With a very deep southern drawl.) I really got use to it.

Along with the beautiful mountains and scenery all around, we were sure to taste what Tennessee is famous for. Delicious food, sweet tea, biscuits, fried chicken, bbq and so much more.

While driving through the Great Smokies Arts and Crafts Community, we came across Glades Homemade Candies in Gatlinburg.
Their small sign that said "Homemade Ice Cream" made us stop.
The ice cream was delicious, and homemade peanut butter fudge was fantastic.
Another gem of a candy store was on the main street in Gatlinburg. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the shops, stores and attractions, The Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen had the best taffy I've ever eaten. It's not too sweet and the flavor is so subtle.
They were making peanut butter taffy and we were able to sample it. So soft, chewy and light.
It started with this large log of pulled taffy mixed with a peanut butter strip.
Then it was placed on a fantastic taffy machine
that pulled and stretched the candy
eventually pulling it into a small log, wrapped it in paper, twisted the end and then dropped it into a basket.
Each flavor was so light and delicious. We purchased a 1/2 pound of mixed flavors and enjoyed it so much, we stopped back for another box before leaving town.
Besides sweets, we really enjoyed the barbecue.
Several years ago, while passing through Tennessee we had eaten at Bennetts and couldn't wait to have their ribs once more. And we were not disappointed!
The smokey flavor went right down to the bone.
One of the best meals we had that week!
Not only did we enjoy wonderful fried chicken and biscuits at Bojangles', and gallons of sweet tea, we also enjoyed another local favorite. Grown wild throughout the area, wild blackberries were in season and seemed to be along every roadside. While we were exploring we came across a large patch, and I just had to jump out of the car and pick some.
The blackberries were sweet and juicy and so delicious.
When we got back to our cabin, I whipped up a blackberry cobbler. What a treat!
Thanks to Tennessee, we had a very "Taste"ful time!

"Do Southerners laugh at different things than Northerners do?
~ Southern Quotes

"In the South, the breeze blows softer... neighbors are friendlier, nosier, and more talkative. (By contrast with the Yankee, the Southerner never uses one word when ten or twenty will do). This is a different place."
~Southern Quotes


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