Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Basics: Marinara Sauce

My husband loves my Sunday Gravy.  Unfortunately, sometimes I don't have the time to sit over a stove all day and cook the sauce with all the meats.  This is a simple, basic marinara that can be used over pasta, as a basis to lasagne or chicken or eggplant parmesan.  This basic recipe will make about 2 cups, so double or triple the recipe to keep on hand in your freezer for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  The best part, this sauce is done in about 30-45 minutes!  Brava!

1 32 oz can of crushed san marzano tomatoes
1 large carrot, diced fine
1 medium onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. dry wine ( you can use red or white)
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. italian seasoning
2 tbs. tomato paste
2 fresh basil leaves, left whole
salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup or dutch oven, heat about 4 tbs of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the carrot and onion and saute for about 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes more.  Add the red pepper flake, bay leaf and the tomato paste and stir to combine.

Next, add the wine and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the wine has reduced by 1/3.  Next add the chicken stock, crushed tomatos and rest of the herbs and stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let the sauce come to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Serve over your favorite pasta or meats!

Mangia, Mangia! 

The Basics: Simple Vinegarette

Many of you have been emailing me, asking me for a more basic series of recipes that can be adapted to everyday fare.  This is my basic salad vingarette that can be used to add a homemade and sweet spin to your everyday salads.  It's simple, it's fresh and you know what's in it, because you made it.

2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 large shallot, chopped fine
juice of 2 large lemons
3 tbs. honey
1/2 c. olive oil
salt & pepper

in a bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients until the honey is mixed together with the lemon juice.  Then slowly whisk in the olive oil until thick and smooth.  Add salt & pepper to taste. 

The dressing will last about one week in the fridge. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Classic: Italian Style Turkey Meatloaf

There are many variations  of meatloaf.  I like this version for my everyday, go to recipe because it's light, healthy and delicious with the spicy ketchup topping.  You can use ground beef or chicken if you don't like turkey.  Serve this with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted veggies for a complete meal.

1 lb. ground turkey
2 eggs
1 tbs. tomato paste
1/4 c. worcestorshire sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme or 1 tbs. fresh
1 tbs. italian seasoning
3/4 c. dried breadcrumbs
1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. ketchup
1.5 tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375

In a saute pan, drizzle about 1 tbs olive oil in the pan and heat.  Add diced onion and saute for about 3-4 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Add thyme, worcestorshire sauce, stock and tomato paste and stir together until thick.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, turkey, breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and combine.  Add the cooled down onion mixture and mix well.  The mixture should be firm.

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and hot sauce and mix together.

Place mixture on top of the meatloaf.

Place freeform in a cookie sheet or in a bread pan and cook for about 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Buttermilk Waffles

Sunday mornings are perfect for a leisurely breakfast with the family.  While waffles may seem like their really difficult to make, they are extremely easy.  I use buttermilk which makes it light and fluffy.

Like my cornbread mix, I buy the regular old pancake mix and doctor it up.  Again, no one will know the difference!

Preheat waffle iron

In a bowl combine  3 1/2 c. pancake mix, 2 c buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1/2 c vegetable oil and combine until smooth.  Serve with warm maple syrup and fresh fruit.


The Best Chili & Cornbread

If you do a search on the internet for "Chili Recipe" hundreds will pop up on your screen.  I've experimented with all kinds of recipes and this is the best one I've made.  The chili is thick, hearty and spicy.  If you don't like your chili that spicy, reduce the amount of chili powder.  As for the cornbread, I buy the mix at TJs and then whip it up.  Sometimes the boxed stuff is just as good as homemade and besides, no one will ever know the difference!


1 lb ground beef
1 lb hot italian sausage, removed from casing
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, deribbed and diced
3 cloves garlic
2 16 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tbl tomato paste
1/2 c. beef broth
1 beer ( i use mexican)
2 16 oz cans kidney beans
2 16 oz cans pinto beans
4 tbl cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tbl cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/3 c. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tbl. ancho chili powder
1/2 can chopped green chilis
salt & pepper to taste
chopped green onion, shredded cheese and sour cream for serving

In a large dutch oven,  brown meats and drain excess fat. 

Meanwhile in the bowl of a food processor, combine onion, peppers, garlic cloves and one can diced tomatoes and pulse until smooth.

Add mixture to meat and add all spices.  Add beer and reduce down, add additional can of tomatoes, broth and chilis.   Let simmer for about an hour then add the beans.

Cook for an additional hour or so.  If you notice your chili is too soupy, you can add a slurry of cornstarch  and water and it will tighten it up.


1 box pre-mixed corn bread
1 egg
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1/2 can green chilis
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together and pour in a baking dish.

Cook for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Many consider stuffed bell peppers to be a southern comfort food.  Traditionally, cooks will stuff green bell peppers with a mixture of beef, pork, tomatoes and herbs and spices.  You all know by now that that's not exactly how I roll.  I don't like green bell peppers at all.  I've found that I can at least tolerate the red, yellow and orange varieties because they are sweeter and since my husband loves peppers, I have to compromise sometimes and give him what he likes.  Plus, the colored varieties of peppers are loaded with lots of vitamins.  It's a win-win.  Just like a marriage should be!

6 medium sized bell peppers  (you can use green, but the colored variety are better)
1 lb. lean ground beef (you can use turkey, chicken or pork)
1/4 c. diced onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1.5 c. white rice, cooked half way through (if you don't have rice, you can use orzo)
1 egg
beef broth
4 tbl. worchester sauce
2 tbl. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. steak seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat Oven to 375

In a baking dish line up the bell peppers.  Make sure that you cut the bottom of the pepper a little bit so that it has a firm bottom.

Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl and make sure everything is well incorporated.  Fill the bottom of the baking dish about 1/4 inch up the bell peppers with beef broth.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins.  Remove foil and pour a teaspoon of the broth into the pepper to keep it moist.  Top the peppers with some parmesan cheese and place back in the oven (minus the foil) for about 10 more minutes or until the parmesan has browned.

Serve with a little broth on the plate!  Easy!