Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday Sauce Share

Even though I don't have one little iota of Italian in me, I still make certain Italian dishes just like if I was taught by a beloved Nona. 
 I believe that is because I love cooking and eating so much that it transforms some of the dishes I make to seem like it's been handed down to me.Either that or some little Italian Nona has decided to adopt me and guide me when I cook.
I like to think it is the latter.

So this Sunday I decided to make Sunday Gravy (Spaghetti Sauce to those non-Italian-ites), and big tender Meatballs. 
Placed over perfectly cooked tender spaghetti noodles with sourdough bread to sop up the gravy, we all had red mustaches!!

Italian Cursive, 16th c.

You can use a prepared sauce or easily make your own. This makes enough to serve 8-10 servings.

Sauce Directions:

1 large onion diced
2 cloves of garlic-minced
2 tbsn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small can tomato paste
1 28oz. can whole tomatoes
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup or more of Red Wine(opt.)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste 
  1.  In a large heavy bottomed dutch oven, heat oil to medium and saute onions 6-8 minutes until translucent, add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more. 
  2. Add tomato paste and stir and cook for 2 minutes. 
  3. Deglaze the pan with the Wine if using otherwise some water or chicken stock and add the rest of the tomatoes. Stir to combine. 
  4. Reduce heat to a fast simmer and add herbs and salt/pepper. 
  5. Simmer partially covered 1-2 hrs, until thickened slightly and stewed tomatoes have broken down a bit. If you like a more smooth sauce, use a stick blender and puree or carefully blend in batches in a blender (be careful to vent the lid-this is hot!).
Meanwhile, make the meatballs.

Meatball Ingredients:

1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 minced clove garlic
1/4  cup minced onion
1 tsp each of dried basil, oregano and salt
2-3 tbsn water

  1. Preheat oven to 375F, line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with Pam.
  2. Combine all the ingredients gently in a large bowl. Use the least amount of water needed to combine and hold the mixture(water makes the meatballs moist and tender). 
  3. Shape into golf ball sized balls, gently. Mixture may be sticky. This should make about 24 good sized meatballs. Place without touching on pan.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  5. Remove and gently place in sauce and simmer while you cook spaghetti pasta. 
Once pasta is cooked, serve portions of pasta in shallow bowls, Serve 2-3 meats balls and cover with sauce. Pass parmesan cheese if desired. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas Candy Share

This recipe is my son's favorite candy. He could eat this any time of year, not just at Christmas Time. Whenever I make it I always think of him and smile. 
He's way out by Boston in Graduate School and so making it now is a wistful experience for me.  
*Sigh* Funny..when you're children are young you never really think how hard it will be when they become adults and move away. But the older they get the more the memories of them young pop up. 
Anyhoo, this is a super easy, 4 ingredient candy, using of all things Saltine crackers!

Saltine Cracker Toffee


1 sleeve saltine crackers,tops up
2 sticks butter (1 c.)
1 c. light brown sugar
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts (opt.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 15 x 10 inch pan with foil. Butter or spray the foil with Pam. 
  2. Arrange crackers right side up. 
  3. Melt butter and sugar - boil 3 minutes; stirring. 
  4. Pour over crackers evenly.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chips over top and when shiny and soft spread evenly.
  6. If using sprinkle with nuts. When cool, break into small pieces.
Store in containers in a cool place. 


Friday, November 23, 2012


Hey, I'm a new BzzAgent and I received samples of Green Mountain new k-cups of an antioxidant and Focus blend. They Rock! Try them yourself at

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Walnut Tartlets

Oh my goodness!!
These babies rock.
We are talking such an easy dessert. Each one is a perfect BITE!
Walnut Tartlets
These are so easy and turn out perfect. 
These are an adaptation on Gina's recipe at

She made a great recipe but I am just not a fan of Pecans. So I used Walnuts. 
It was so easy and just awesome. 
Try this for your next holiday gathering, you'll make a hit. 
Oh, and use whatever nut is your favorite, you won't go wrong. 


  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, hazelnuts or a mixture-chopped
  • 15 Mini Phyllo Shells (Athens)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pecans. Mix well. Stir in chopped nuts. Arrange mini shells on a baking sheet. Fill mini shells with one heaping teaspoon of pecan mixture. If any of the mixture remains, distribute evenly between all the shells.

 Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let them cool before serving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To Brine or Not To Brine...


For the last 10 years I have "brined" my turkey for Thanksgiving. 
It helps to make it moist, and juicy and yet really flavorful depending upon what you put in your brine. 
I generally use Rosemary and Sage, garlic, brown sugar, Kosher salt, whole peppercorns and just plain water. 
   But, there are ba-zillions of ways to change it up. 
Throw in citrus peels, Thyme, dill, Savory. Add onions halved, mustard seed, coriander seed and on and on. Use Apple Cider, bottled Ale, broth instead of or together with the plain water.
I would really add whatever you most like to have "stuffed" in the cavity of the bird to make it flavorful. 
So, once you've got an idea, I generally heat 2 quarts of water to a simmer and add in all your aromatics, 1 cup of Kosher salt and 1 cup of brown sugar. Turn of the heat and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, this not only helps to dissolve the salt and sugar, it releases the oils from the herbs or aromatics. . Let cool or pour this into a metal, glass, or plastic container ( just don't use aluminum), and then dump in about 8-12 cups of ice if you"re not in the Midwest or just water if you are. Be sure to keep your bird cool.
Whatever container you're using, place your bird in (I put mine in frozen with the packaging slashed) and make sure the bird is 95% submerged. Weight it down with a heavy plate if you have to. I will do this on a Tuesday evening and by Thursday morning the bird is 90% thawed and perfect to take out, rinse and roast. 
I generally use a 11-12# turkey. 
So this is what it looks like during brining. 

The reason I can get away with using a frozen bird is because I live in the upper MIdwest and the nights here are in the 30's with the high's during the day only in the 40's and I put it inside an insulated cooler. 
Once ready to cook, rinse it well inside and out and dry it and prep it how ever you would normally to roast. 
I rub the outside of mine with a butter herb mixture. and stuff the cavity with more herbs and lemons.
Roast it per the instructions for any turkey. Making sure to use a thermometer to get the interior of a thigh at 165F. 
Cover it and let it rest for 20-50 minutes while preparing the rest of your dinner and voila!!
It's beautifully browned, moist and flavorful.
If you make gravy from the drippings be sure to taste before adding any salt. I always add homemade chicken broth to the bottom of my roaster to not only help steam the bird and prevent the drippings from burning and smoking, but to insure I have enough goodness to make a great gravy!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I am way infatuated with the Chardonel Tall Boot by Merrell. 
Is there anyone else out there that can admit falling in love with a boot? Maybe it just falls until shoe fetish. 

The adverts for these are beautiful, and well dammit, I just want a pair!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cinnamon French Toast Strata

Cinnamon French Toast Strata

Apple-Cinnamon Coffee Cake (club store pack)
Photo Courtesy of Pillsbury

This recipe is a version of the 2004 Pillsbury Bake-Off's Cinnamon French Toast Bake,


2 (12.4 oz) refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing like Pillsbury (can use light cinnamon rolls)

4-6 large eggs (some people thought using 6 eggs made it too eggie-I didn't)

1/2 c  half and half or whole milk

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla

1 c chopped pecans or walnuts

1 cup maple syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray an 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Separate rolls into 16 and cut each cinnamon roll into 8 pieces and place randomly in dish.  
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  Pour over rolls.  Sprinkle with pecans and drizzle syrup over all.  
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 10-15 minutes.  Remove covers from icing and microwave 5-10 seconds until softened enough to drizzle.
  5. Drizzle icing over top. Serve with additional syrup and powdered sugar.   
Source: Adapted from Cinnamon Nut Breakfast Casserole


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Man Pleasing Meatloaf

Well, not to be sexist, but that is what this recipe is calle don the Kraft Foods website. It pleased me just fine and I am definitely all girl....

Just give it a try, it is really good, be sure and put a sauce on top whether it's BBQ or just Ketchup with a little brown sugar.

Stove Top Stuffing Meatloaf

<a href="" title="Stove Top Stuffing Meatloaf">Stove Top Stuffing Meatloaf recipe</a>

Monday, November 12, 2012

Beef Burgundy Stew

On Sundays, I try and make something a little more time consuming and invoived than our normal weekday dinners.
And since this last Sunday the high temp. was about 20F for the first time this Fall, I made a twist on Beef Burguignon, Beef Burgunday or Pot Roast.
Anyway you call it, it is delicious, meaty, with perfectly simmered vegetables and a hearty, but silky sauce.

This is delicious served over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. but our absolute favorite is having it over creamy, parmesan cheesy Polenta!!


  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, whole or cut into 2" chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. 
  • In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate. Do this in batches if you choose to brown 2" pieces.
  • Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. 
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the beef or chicken stock, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Throw the thyme and rosemary into the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.  
  • Remove the roast and vegeatbles to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. 
  • Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce and place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Slice the meat if whole. Serve warm with the vegetables and sauce spooned over it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Asparagus Cream Soup

I know, I know I used the infamous term; Stoup.
This soup is so rich and full of flavor and body though, that it really falls into the category of a stoup. Which technically is thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew. 
Anyway you look at it, or eat it, it is just DELISH!!

Cream Of Asparagus Soup

 This stoup is not only an easy fast prep, it is extremely healthy and full of important nutrients like Vitamin B6, C and A, Iron, and full of fiber and protein. 
I actually made this with wild Asparagus that I rinsed and froze in 1.5-2 lb. freezer bags whole this summer. Came out perfect! 


  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped, (about 1/2 cup) 
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, thawed if frozen.
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 Half and Half or cream
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon wedges, Opt.


  • Heat Oil in a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  • Add onion , potato, carrot and garlic, and saute 5 minutes. 
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Add asparagus and saute another 4 minutes. 
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until asparagus and vegetables are very tender. 
  • Turn off the heat and use a stick blender to thoroughly puree the soup. or alternatively carefully transfer to a blender/food processor and puree until smooth. 
  • Return to saucepan, stir in parmesan cheese and cream and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to serving bowls sprinkle with croutons and serve with lemons. 
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Comfort Food 101:

Tenderized Pork Cutlets simmered in a Rich Marsala Gravy Sauce

4-6 thin Pork loin steaks or about 1 1/2 lbs tenderized Pork cutlets.
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tbsp Butter
2-3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups of Beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup Marsala Wine or White Wine
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced Mushrooms (opt.)
2-4 tbsp heavy cream, half and half or milk

  • Season the steaks with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then saute in the oil/butter until just cooked.  Set aside on a warm plate.   
  • Add the flour to the pan, stirring to brown 2-4 minutes.  
  • Add broth to the pan and stir until smooth.  
  • Add the Marsala or Wine, blending well.   Add the onion and mushrooms if using, salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the pork to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until Pork is fork tender.
  • At this point stir in the cream or milk.
We love serving this over Creamy Mashed potatoes, fluffy rice or even an old boot (just kidding, but it is that good!)

We’ve made these several times–sometimes with milk instead of cream to lighten up on the calories, sometimes without the mushrooms, depending on whether we remembered to get them at the grocery store.  It’s always decadent and sweet and creamy and I like the sauce with pork much more than I have ever liked a marsala sauce with chicken.

Recipe and photo adapted from: Our Share of the Harvest