Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Bella Collina

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To the west side of Orlando, 15920 County Rd 455 Montverde, Fl. 34756, lies a resort like no other I’ve seen. I was able to get a few pictures to show you, but they really don’t do any justice to what their web site can do. I’ts a moving video of the grounds that’s just breathtaking. Visit bellacollina.com

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Tom West Blueberry Farm

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It was a day for just us girls yesterday. We went to a local blueberry farm. It was my first visit and I was totally amazed. Acres and acres of blueberry bushes as far as the eye could see. One of the things I found fascinating was that they also produced their own honey.

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To find a place so close to my home that used to be covered in orange groves, and now is a place where you can spend the day with your family and friends picking your own blueberries right from the bushes.

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The scenery around the farm was really beautiful. You could see the homes in the distance that surrounded the lake on the outskirts of the blueberry farm. My dear friend Cheri and her daughter Story, helped me pick as many blueberries as possible before the rain came. I think  a homemade blueberry pie is on my list when I get home.

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Even the turtles were enjoying the scenery. One thing I noticed were all the birds flying overhead. They have visual and audio deterrents that keep these birds away from eating the blueberries. They had hawk shape kites that flew high above the farm and noise machines that produced periodic siren type sounds. I have to say, it was working. None of those birds flying overhead came too close to the farm.

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What a great time. I have my blueberries and I’ll be sure to pick up some of that delicious local honey on my way out. Oh yeah, I bought a small blueberry bush too.If you live in the Orlando area, and looking for something to do with the family, you need to visit Tom West Blueberry Farm at 155 W Oakland Ave. Ocoee, Fl. 34761.

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Roses Are Red Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

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A dear friend sent me a link for a video on how to make these elegant and easy red roses. It just so happens that it’s Steve’s birthday today so I thought I’d surprise him with these. He’s  a huge fan apple pies so I thought this would be perfect.

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I have two Red and Delicious apples with the core removed and sliced really thin. I also have a bowl half filled water that I’ve added the juice of one lemon. Just place the sliced apples into the lemon water and microwave for 3-4 minutes. You just want the apples to be pliable and somewhat blanched, to help them on their way for the baking process. Next drain off the water from the apples, using a strainer.

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In a small bowl I have half a cup of Apricot preserves and 1 tablespoon of water. Stir together and microwave for just 1 minute. Mix with a spoon so that the preserves are nice and spreadable. I also have some ground cinnamon for the apples. It adds some sweetness and warmth.

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I always have puff pastry in my freezer. It comes in handy whenever you need a dessert in a hurry. I let the puff pastry defrost in the frig for about an hour. Flour a marble surface and pastry. Roll the pastry out until it’s half the thickness (almost double in length),and the creases are smooth. Cut into 6 equal strip cross wise. Starting by cutting the dough in half, and the half into thirds.

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Brush the apricot preserves over the pastry dough and lay the apple slices where they hang over the edge of the pastry. Sprinkle a little ground cinnamon over each apple. Grab one end of the dough and roll up the pastry very gently.

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I place them into muffin tins and lightly dust each one with a little Turbinado sugar. I bake them off in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  When they come out, golden and puffed up, I brush them again with the same apricot preserves that I used earlier. It gives the roses a beautiful shine. Finally, after they’ve cooled I dust them with a little powdered sugar.

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Yields: 6 roses
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Inactive prep time: ! hour for pastry to defrost
Baking time: 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes
2 Red and Delicious apples (cored and thinly sliced)
1/2 cup of Apricot preserves
1 lemon juiced
3-4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of water for apricot preserve
1 sheet of Puff pastry cut into 6 equal strips
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of Turbinado sugar ( or granulated sugar)
Set oven to 350 degrees. Have the apples sliced, microwave for 3-4 minutes in the water and lemon juice. Strain the water off. Roll out the Puff pastry and cut into 6 equal strips. Mix the apricot preserves with water and microwave for 1 minutes. Mix well and then brush over each strip of pastry. Lay the apple slices so that they hang over the top edge of each strip. Sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon over each apple. Gently take one end of the pastry and roll the apples along with the pastry as seen in the pictures above. Place all 6 into a muffin tin pan, and sprinkle a little Turbinado sugar over each one. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Once completely cooled, remove from the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

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Ribollita With Homemade Chicken Sausage Meatballs

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This traditional Italian vegetable soup has had a makeover. I’ve added chicken sausage meatballs to what was an already perfect soup. Now it’s even more delicious.

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I went to my butcher and had him grind up some boneless- skinless chicken breast for me. I add the ground chicken into a large mixing bowl and add the usual suspects for flavorings. I’m also going to add some whole fennel seeds to give it that Italian sausage flavor. I thought that the sausage flavor would enhance this recipe, but still keep it on the lean side by using chicken, instead of pork. I’m also going to post the ingredients for my meatballs here, this way, if you wanted to make this dish completely vegetarian, just leave the Pancetta and meatballs out. Replace the chicken stock with vegetable broth. The Ribollita would be just as delicious.

Oven 375 degrees
Prep Time: 5-7 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 24 walnut size meatballs
1 pound of ground chicken breasts
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of finely fresh chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup of heavy cream
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of freshly ground Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
Mix all the ingredients together, but do not over mix. Just once all the flavorings are mixed throughout the ground chicken. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray each one with non-stick cooking spray. Using a small scoop, make the meatballs walnut size. Spray the tops of the meatballs lightly with the non-stick cooking spray, and bake them off for 20 minutes at 375. They will have a golden crust and finish cooking in the soup, and absorb all the flavors from the broth while they are simmering away. Now for the star, the Ribollita.
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I always like to do my prep in advance of making any dish. I took the time to prep while the meatballs were baking in the oven. All my veggies are diced, the garlic is minced, and the Pancetta is diced. I have Cannellini beans the are rinsed and drained, half of the I purred in a food processor. All I did to do that was to add them to a food processor adding 3-4 tablespoon of the unsalted chicken stock to loosen then up so they would puree nice and smooth.  I  the Kale chopped, Savoy cabbage chopped, and the fresh basil chopped. I also have ground up the cheese and cubed some sourdough bread with the crusts removed. Twenty minutes have passed and the meatballs are out of the oven, on stand- by, waiting to be dropped into the Ribollita. Let’s get started.

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In a heavy bottom soup pot, I’m going to start sauteing the onions, on med heat, just until they are soft but not brown. Next I’m adding in the Pancetta. I cook those together for 3-5 minutes until the Pancetta has released some of it’s fat. Next, I add in the crushed red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. I stir the flakes around in the pan so it releases a little heat for this dish. Moving on, I add in all the veggies and minced garlic, along with some Kosher salt, and black pepper. I let this all cook together for 10 minutes until the veggies start to get tender.

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Now for some liquid. I’m adding in 1 can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. Stir that all around and then I add the kale, Savoy cabbage, chopped basil, along with some freshly grated nutmeg. I stir all this together and let cook for another 5-7 minutes, giving the cabbage and kale a chance to will down. Once the cabbage and kale have wilted down, I turn the heat down to med low. I add in the pureed Cannelini beans, stirring that through and letting it combine with the other ingredients. Now for the whole Cannellini beans. To that I add in the unsalted chicken stock and the chicken sausage meatballs. I let this simmer on med low for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After the Ribollita has been simmering for 15 minutes, I add in the cubed bread and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Still stirring, giving the bread cubes a chance to dissolve and thicken the soup.

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Soup is ready to serve. I like to ladle the Ribollita into large soup or pasta bowl. Add a nice helping of the cheese that I ground up earlier on top. Finally a drizzle of the best E.V.O.O on the top. I promise, if you love a hearty vegetable soup, with some delicious meatballs, I would say to try making this dish.

Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time 35-40 minutes
Equipment: Food Processor
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/4 pound of diced Pancetta
1 cup of diced carrots
1 cup of diced celery
3 cloves of minced garlic
2- 15 ounce cans of drained and rinsed Cannellini beans 1 pureed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1-28 ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups of chopped kale
3 cups of chopped Savoy cabbage
5 slices of good sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/2 a cup of fresh grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
E.V.O.O for drizzling over the top of each bowl
First start off with making the chicken sausage meatballs ( instructions are explained at the beginning of this post). Have them baking in the oven ( for 20 minutes) while you prep all the veggies for the Ribollita; Once you’ve prepped the veggies the meatballs will be ready to come out of the oven. Set them aside until you are ready to add them into the Ribollita.
On med heat, start sauteing the onions in olive oil. Saute until softened but not brown. Add in the crushed red pepper flakes and diced Pancetta and let cook for 3-5 minutes. Next add in the veggies and minced garlic. Add in the Kosher salt and pepper and let cook together for 10 minutes until the, veggies start to soften. To the cooked veggies add the whole caned tomatoes with juice. Stir that through and then add in the kale, cabbage, and basil, letting this cook for another 5-7 minutes until the greens have wilted down. Turn the heat down to med low and add the pureed Cannellini beans. Stir the pure through and then add the whole beans. Next, add in the unsalted chicken stock. This is the point where you would add in the meatballs that were baked off earlier. Simmer, still on med low for another 15 minutes. At this point add in the cubes bread and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Ribollita is done at this point. Garnish with fresh grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, and drizzle with good E.V.O.O.

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