The Braille Monitor                                                                                       March 2003

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This month's recipes were submitted by the NFB of New Jersey.

Pasta Fagioli

by Madeline Moreno

Jerry and Madeline Moreno
Jerry and Madeline Moreno

According to Joe Ruffalo, president of the NFB of New Jersey, Madeline Moreno is the "label lady" and ultimate volunteer; she is always ready to help. She and her husband Jerry are members of the Northern New Jersey chapter and dedicated Federationists. Madeline says that this dish is often pronounced "Pasta Fazool" (fa zool), Some make it more liquid, like a soup, but she makes it more like a pasta dish. If you like it soupier, don't drain the beans.


1 16-ounce box elbow macaroni

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

16 ounces water or chicken broth

1 16-ounce can cannellini beans or chick peas (drained)

Garlic cloves (as many as you dare)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Pinch of basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Cook macaroni according to package directions. While you are waiting for the salted water to boil, place olive oil in a three-quart saucepan on medium heat. Brown garlic (some prefer to mince it finely). When the garlic is browned, add the can of tomato paste to the pan. Occasionally stir for a couple of minutes, then add water or chicken broth. Bring liquid back to a boil, add beans and remaining ingredients, cover pot and lower heat to simmer. Cook for about twenty minutes. Serves three to four.

Dirt Cake

by Mary Jo Partyka

Mary Jo Partyka is the president of the Capital Chapter, which serves the Trenton and Princeton area.


2 3-ounce or 1 6-ounce package instant chocolate pudding

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick margarine

3-1/2 cups milk

1 12-ounce container Cool Whip

1 20-ounce package Oreos

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Method: Mix instant pudding and milk according to package directions. When mixture thickens, fold in Cool Whip. Cream together butter, cream cheese, and confectioners' sugar. Blend into pudding mixture. Crush Oreos. In 13-by-9-inch pan place a third of the cookie crumbs across the bottom. Add half the pudding and layer with another third of the cookie crumbs and the rest of the pudding. Place the remaining cookie crumbs on top and refrigerate at least two hours or until time to serve.

Ruff's Puffs

by Joe Ruffalo

Joe Ruffalo
Joe Ruffalo

Joe Ruffalo has been a Federationist since the late 1980's and has served in many positions at the chapter, state, and national levels. Joe is currently president of the NFB of New Jersey and a national board member. Joe learned baking skills and techniques from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired Joseph Kohn Rehab Center, and owned and operated a baking business for seven years. Here is one of his (and many others') favorite recipes, Ruff's Puffs.

This recipe makes a dozen large cream puffs. Double the ingredients for double the pleasure.


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 stick butter or margarine

4 large eggs

1 cup of water

1 box of instant pudding

1-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup sour cream

Method: In a one-quart saucepan combine one cup water and one stick butter. Place saucepan on low heat, bringing the water and butter to a rolling boil. Turn off heat and add one cup flour, stirring with wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and there are no lumps (approximately three to five minutes). When the batter is perfect, the wooden spoon will stand straight up in it. Place batter in a large mixing bowl. Add four large eggs, one at a time, stirring constantly to insure that the batter remains stiff. When all four eggs have been worked in and you are satisfied with the stiffness of the batter, you are ready to make the Ruff's puff shells.

You may want to grease the cookie sheets you use for baking the puffs if they do not have a nonstick surface or are not already well seasoned. Use a quarter-cup to measure the batter. Be sure to pack the batter into the cup so that you have no air pockets. Smooth the surface of the batter with the reverse side of a butter knife, allowing excess batter to fall back into the mixing bowl. Place the batter on the cookie sheet by sliding the butter knife around the inside of the measuring cup to loosen it. If the resulting puff is not round, shape it with your hands. Leave one to two inches of space around each puff. Place sheet in preheated 375-degree oven for thirty-five to forty minutes or until the smell of the puffs tells you that they are golden brown. Half way through the cooking process, rotate the cookie sheet 180 degrees to insure even baking. Be very certain that the puffs are done; they will fall when removed from the pans if they are not thoroughly done and a bit crisp to the touch.

When done, gently remove puffs from cookie sheet and allow to cool on a rack or plate. Do not cut puffs until they are room temperature. While puffs are cooling, in a large metal mixing bowl make the cream filling. Use one package vanilla or chocolate instant pudding. Once the instant pudding is in the mixing bowl, add one and a half cups milk, any kind--whole milk adds a calorie or two but makes the filling noticeably richer. Then add a half cup of sour cream. Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix filling for approximately two minutes, then increase speed to high for about thirty seconds. Allow to stand at room temperature for approximately ten minutes. If you prefer to mix the cream by hand, use an egg beater for about three to five minutes or until the cream thickens.

Use a sharp knife to cut puffs before filling them. I cut puffs horizontally about three-quarters of the way through, approximately in the middle. This should expose a hollow space in the center. If not, pull out enough of the soft center to make your own hollow for filling. Using a tablespoon, begin filling the puffs with the cream and then close them again. Place in the refrigerator and enjoy the cleanup. Double the recipe, and you will double the calories. Enjoy the Ruff's Puffs and watch your waistline grow.

Filomena's Italian Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

by Adrienne Snow

Adrienne Snow
Adrienne Snow

Adrienne Snow is a member of the Northern New Jersey Chapter. Here is one of her favorite recipes.

Meatball Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

2 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine meat, eggs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. If necessary, add more breadcrumbs until mixture is moist, neither liquidy or dry. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape mixture into balls (these do not have to be perfect spheres). Bake for twenty minutes. Makes eighteen to twenty-four meatballs, depending on the size.

Sauce Ingredients:

1 29-ounce can Hunt's tomato sauce

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic

Pinch crushed red pepper

Handful of sugar

Dash of red wine (any red table wine)

1/4 cup olive oil

Method: In a large saucepan, over medium heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil. Then add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, red pepper, and handful of sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add dash of red wine. Heat to boiling point over medium heat; remove from heat. When meatballs are done, add them to the sauce and cover. Simmer on low for two hours. Enjoy!

Low-Calorie Orange Chiffon Cheesecake

by Jerilyn Higgins

Jerilyn Higgins
Jerilyn Higgins

Jerilyn Higgins is a longtime Federationist. She is the second vice president of the New Jersey affiliate and the president of the Central Jersey Chapter.


1 cup orange juice

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 8-ounce packages low-fat cream cheese

1 cup skim ricotta cheese

16 ounces light Cool Whip

2 prepared graham cracker crusts

1 can mandarin oranges

12 packs Equal

Method: Heat one cup orange juice for about one minute in microwave oven and dissolve the unflavored gelatin in it. With an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and Equal. Combine the gelatin mixture with the cream cheese mixture. Fold in the Cool Whip and beat well. Drain the mandarin oranges and fold them into the mixture. Pour the mixture into graham cracker crusts and chill overnight in refrigerator.

Cappuccino Cheesecake

by Jerilyn Higgins


2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

3 eggs

3 cups sour cream

1/4 cup coffee

1-2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 ounces melted chocolate chips (optional)

Method: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. With electric mixer combine sugar and cream cheese. Add eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream. Dissolve one tablespoon of instant coffee in 1/4-cup hot water and add to mixture. Melt chocolate chips in microwave oven for a minute and add to mixture; beat well. Add the vanilla. Prepare crust in springform pan with Oreo cookie crumbs, following package directions. Pour the mixture into pan. Pour water into a larger pan to make a bath for the cheesecake. Bake at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes. Turn off oven and leave cake in closed oven for one hour. Garnish with whip cream or Cool Whip and chocolate-covered coffee beans.

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