Sunday, December 30, 2012

Italian Meatballs

These meatballs have multiple uses.  They can be paired up with pasta and sauce, used in a hoagies for sandwiches, or by themselves as an appetizer for a party.  Make a lot because you will want these leftover for the next day.

1 Pd. Ground Beef
3 Garlic cloves, minced
½ C. Parsley, fresh, minced
½ C. Parmesan, grated
1 medium Onion, minced
½ C. Breadcrumbs
1 Egg, lightly beaten
6 Oz. Tomato Paste
¼ C. Dry Red Wine
Spaghetti Sauce (your favorite, homemade or store bought)

Mix all ingredients except spaghetti sauce.  Shape into balls.  (I use an 1/8 C. measuring cup to make uniforms balls.)  In a non-stick skillet, lightly brown on all sides.  Pour into the skillet your favorite spaghetti sauce to cover.  Bring to a low simmer with a lid on.  Simmer until meatballs are cooked through.  Serve with pasta, on hoagies or as an appetizer. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese

Not the healthiest of meals but a very comforting one.  This recipe makes alot of mac and cheese.  However, the recipe can be easily halved.  It is also good leftover the next day heated in an oven proof container with sauted panko breadcrumbs on top.  Can also be put into a shallow dish and refrigerated overnight.  Then cut into slices, dip in egg, then panko breadcrumbs and deep fried.  Your arteries will hate you but your tastebuds will love it.

6 Tbsp. Butter
¼ C. Onion, minced
½ C. flour
4 C. whole milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 Pd. Macaroni
5 C. Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard

In large saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp. butter.  Add onion.  Cook until soft.  Add remaining butter, flour and salt.  Cook until golden in color, stirring to prevent scorching.  Pour in 2 cups of milk.  Whisk until smooth.  Add remaining milk and cayenne.  Heat to low boil then simmer for 15 minutes until starting to thicken.  In separate pot, cook macaroni unit salted water until al dente and then drain.  Set macaroni aside.  In sauce, add cheese, mustard and Worcestershire.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour over noodles and stir.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mushroom Wine Sauce

Absolutely love this sauce.  It has a great taste and is so easy to make.  Give yourself enough time to let the sauce simmer and develop depth.  You can adjust the amount of sauce so want by changing the amounts of liquid, just keep the same ratio.  As always, never cook with a wine that you wouldn't drink on it's own. 

2 Tbsp. Butter
8 Oz. Sliced Mushrooms
2 C. Beef Broth
2 C. Dry Red Wine
1 tsp. Gravy Master

In large skillet, melt butter.  Chop mushrooms and add to skillet.  Stir and cook until softened.  Stir in the beef broth and red wine.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add gravy master and black pepper. Simmer on low for 20 minutes.   Adjust all seasons to taste.

Spinach Meatloaf

I usually bake this a day before serving it.  The second day, I cut into slices and brown in a skillet.  I think that the flavors are more pronounced this way.  This is good one its own, but is truly excellent when served with the Mushroom Wine Sauce.

2 Pd. Ground Beef
10 Oz. Spinach with cream sauce
1 envelope Onion Mushroom Soup Mix
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 350.  Thaw spinach.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Mix well.  Form into 2 loaves.  Bake on an oven safe rack for about 60 minutes until cooked through.  Serve with Mushroom Wine Sauce.

Asparagus with Parmesan

I used to hate asparagus.  I would never touch it willingly as a kid.  Even today, I don't like the canned version.  However, once I've had it fresh, this is now one of my favorite vegetables.  I usually buy the asparagus in the container found next to the salad in the grocery store.  Snap off the bottoms because they tend to be a little tough.

10 Oz. fresh asparagus
1 Tbsp. Butter
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Garlic Salt

Add asparagus to a small skillet.  Add about a 3 - 5 Tbsp. of water, butter and salt.  Cover with lid and bring to a low simmer until vegetables are just tender.  Stir and top with the cheese.

Carrots with Thyme

This is not your run of the mill heavy syrupy glazed carrots.  Much more flavorful and healthier.  New twist of flavor with the wine and thyme.

1 Pd. Carrots
1 C. Chicken Broth
½ C. White Wine
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. Butter
3 Tbsp. Honey
Peel and slice carrots into rounds.  In large skillet combine all ingredients.  Heat carrots to a simmer with the lid on.  Cook until carrots are crisp-tender.  Remove lid and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and carrots are tenders.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Beijing Noodles

I was a little hesitant about the black bean sauce at first.  It has a pungent smell, but an excellent flavor.  So glad I tried this recipe.  It reminded me of Miso. 

½ C. Black bean sauce with garlic
2 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Oil
1 Pd. Ground Pork
1 Pd. Thick Spaghetti
1 bunch Scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced

In bowl, mix bean paste and sugar.  Set aside.  In skillet, heat oil.  Add pork and cook until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces.  Add scallions.  Cook until beginning to soften.  Add bean paste.  Remove from heat and cover with lid.  Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water until al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving 1 – 2 cups of the pasta water.  Mix in pasta and reserved water.  (Add water amount depending on preference)   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

Wonderful chocolate flavor.   Roll in your favorite topping.  I love the bitterness of cocoa powder while my husband prefers the crunch of toasted coconut.  Chopped nuts are also a good choice.  This is a messy recipe and I can never achieve the perfect rolled ball, but worth the effort.

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C. milk chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. Water
5 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
1 1/8 C. Powdered Sugar
3 Tbsp. Concentrated Orange Juice
Cocoa Powder

Melt chocolate, butter and water in double boiler over low-medium heat.  While chocolate melts, in separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.  Set aside.  Stir chocolate until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Whisk sugar mixture into chocolate until smooth.  Pour into a shallow dish and refrigerate until firm.  Shape into balls and roll in cocoa powder.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Southwestern Turkey Soup

I absolutely love the tubes of chopped herbs that you can now buy in the salad section of grocery stores.  What a time and back saver!  I'll still grow my herb garden, but in the winter, it's a nice alternative.  This is a nice hearty cold winter soup.  Add shredded chedder, sour cream, tortilla chips or extra lime when you serve.  Save your corn tortillas and cut into sixths.  Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and bake until crispy. 


1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion, minced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. Chili powder
½ tsp. Cumin
½ tsp. Oregano
10.75 Oz. Condensed Tomato Soup
28 Oz. Tomatoes, diced
4 C. Turkey, cooked and shredded
2 Tbsp. Lime juice
1 C. Water
3 C. Chicken Broth
14 Oz. Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 C. Corn, frozen
½ C. Sour Cream
3 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in large stockpot.  Add onion and sauté until soft.  Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.  Cook 2 – 3 minutes.  Add tomato paste.  Cook 5 – 7 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Simmer for 20 -30 minutes.  Serve with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

Italian Sausage Ragu

If you want a spicer version, use hot Italian sausage and red pepper flakes.  Serve over the type of pasta that you like the most.


2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Pd. Mild Italian sausage
1 C. Whole Milk
2 Lg. Carrots, shredded
1 Lg. Onion, shredded
1 tsp. Celery seed
6 Oz. Tomato paste
1 C. Dry white wine

Heat oil and butter in skillet.  Saute onion, carrot and celery until softened.  Add garlic.  Saute 10 minutes.  Add sausage.  Cook, breaking into small pieces until cooked through.  Add tomato paste.  Cook 5 minutes.  Add wine and milk.  Simmer covered about 1 hour.  Serve over pasta.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Olive Dip

Use your favorite type of olive in this recipe.  If you want to tone the taste of olives down, use less juice.  Letting the dip sit in the fridge overnight really lets the flavors develop.

8 Oz. Cream cheese
½ C. olives, chopped
¼ C. olive juice
¼ C. mayo

Have the cream cheese at room temperature. In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix with blender until creamy. Season with pepper. Cover tightly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours up to overnight.

Pork chops with Olivero peppers

Super easy, tasty weeknight meal. 

8 boneless pork chops
1 jar Olivero style peppers
15 Oz. Tomatoes, Petite Diced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients into a crock pot. Cook on low 8 – 10 hours. 

Serve over brown rice.

Kale and Ham Gumbo

Very comforting cold weather recipe.  Use as many different greens as you want for this, eg. spinach, mustard greens, etc.


2 Tbsp. Oil
1 - ½ C. Ham, diced
1 onion, diced
3 Pds. Kale, chopped, ribs removed
45 Oz. Chicken broth
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Bay leaf
½ tsp. Thyme, dried
1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper

In large stockpot, heat oil. Add ham and onion. Cook until onion is softened. Add garlic. Cooked 5 – 10 minutes more. Add greens. Cook until wilted. Add broth, 5 C. water, bay leaf. Thyme, salt and cayenne. Bring to boil, then simmer 2 – 3 hours until kale is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over cooked rice.

Banana Nut Bread

Nothing smells better than bread straight from the oven.  Swap in the type of nuts and spice you prefer.  This is also good with pecans.

1 - 1/3 C. Flour
¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¼ tsp. Baking powder
5-1/3 Tbsp. Butter
2/3 C. Sugar
2 Lg. Eggs
2 Bananas, Mashed
½ C. Walnuts, chopped
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Nutmeg

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Heat oven to 350. Grease 6 cup loaf pan with oil. In bowl, cream butter and sugar until light in color. Beat in flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mixture will be very dry. Beat in eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold in bananas and nuts. Batter will be very thick. Scrape into pan and bake about 50 – 60 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Loosen sides and turn out on cooling rack.


The grocery stores now sell the tubes of chopped herbs.  What a time saver!  This time of year, when my herb garden is no longer an option, it is a great alternative.  Use fresh lime and when covering the dip, press the plastic wrap lightly on top to keep out the air.  Otherwise, it will turn a darker color on top.

4 avocados
2 medium tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
½ onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 2 Tbsp. Cilantro, minced
1 jalapeno, minced

Remove skin and pits from avocados. Dice tomatoes, removing some of the pulp if the tomatoes are not “meaty”. In large bowl, place all ingredients. With a large wire whisk, smash until you have the desired consistency. Season with salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Chicken Pomodoro

Ask my husband how many ways you can cook chicken and he will just laugh.  However, this is one of his favorite dishes.  If you don't want to use the vodka that this recipe calls for, you can just use the chicken broth to help deglaze the pan. 

4 Chicken Breast
2 Tbsp. Oil
½ C. Vodka
¼ C. Heavy Cream
2 C. Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
15 Oz. Diced Tomatoes

Cut each breast into 4 or 5 pieces. Pound lightly until ¼ inch thick. Dredge chicken in flour, seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat oil in skillet. In batches, sauté chicken until lightly browned. Transfer to platter. Deglaze pan with vodka. Add broth, tomatoes, cream and lemon juice. Return chicken to pan. Cook on low with lid on, for 30-40 minutes.