Not My Mother’s Meatloaf

When I was a little girl nothing disgusted me more than meatloaf.   There was nothing about my mom’s meatloaf that appealed to me.   Seriously, who puts ketchup and raw onion in their ground beef?   I hated onions as a kid and putting ketchup on anything grossed me out – just ask my cousin how her dad tortured me with that one.  As meatloaf was a favorite of my father, it was in mom’s weekly rotation.   Gosh how I remember feigning sickness every time it came around on the menu.

When we were first married, my husband mentioned to me that he liked meatloaf.   I thought I had escaped this meal, but it was rearing it’s ugly head again.  I said I’d look around at some recipes and see what I could find.   I hoped he’d forget all about it, but he brought it up again a few weeks later.   I knew that I loved meatballs, so there had to be a way I could like meatloaf.  I vowed to have an open mind and give this meal another try.

We don’t eat meatloaf often around here, maybe once or twice a year.  After a lot experimenting I found a recipe we both can agree on.  Thankfully, it doesn’t require ketchup or raw onions, though that likely wouldn’t bother me as much anymore.   This recipe is very simple to make and we have had many different variations of it.   Depending on your tastes and side dishes you can change the filling to whatever you’d like.  Be creative and have fun with it.

My version of meatloaf is more or a stuffed meat log.   We’ve used chopped turkey or beef, but both prefer beef.   When we are in the mood for roasted potatoes, I fill the log with feta cheese and spinach.   When, like today we want a little sauce I fill the log with mozzarella cheese and spinach. Either way you make it, there’s likely not going to be much left.

This recipe as written was enough for two, with a care package for my dad.   Even though it’s not my mother’s meatloaf, dad still really enjoys it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup flavored bread crumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese chopped
  • Fresh organic baby spinach

Directions

  1. Pour a glass of Malbec and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen. 38B1C00C-2345-4189-9151-2AE4F8E082AE
  2. Mix ground beef, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and crushed tomatoes in Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. Spread mixture onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  B82B5BD3-BF30-4D98-9274-6F4A5490E813
  4. Put layer of chopped mozzarella and baby spinach on top of beef, spreading evenly.  Leave about 1/2 in border clear.  85D6CDAF-953B-4CCF-8664-90E812C620D9
  5. Lifting parchment paper, begin rolling beef into a log. End with seam down.  E4F405A6-549F-4622-BD21-349725389C57
  6. Place on greased, lined baking sheet. Be sure the tray has a lip to prevent grease from dripping in oven.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately with or without sauce.082BBFE8-6021-492E-803A-B79ACDF915F4

We ate ours tonight with homemade potato gnocchi and a touch of Sunday sauce. Delicious!

Recipe for homemade gnocchi can be found here – Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi

Recipe for Sunday sauce can be found here – Sunday Sauce

Let me know if you try any of these recipes.  If you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share, send me a note below.

 

Pete & Kathy’s Garlic Parmesan Shrimp Scampi Pasta

I had some dental work done yesterday and really needed something soft, comforting and delicious to eat today.  I have a few recipes my cousin Kathy sent me from her home in Italy to try out and there was one that I definitely had my eye on.  Yesterday, while my mouth was still numb, I went shopping.   I was worried that today I might not be up to going out, so I picked up some nice, fresh shrimp.  I was planning on making Kathy & Pete’s  Garlic Parmesan Shrimp Scampi Pasta dish.  It had caught my eye when I received her recipes.

This morning, my husband and I decided to take a ride to see my mom and dad at mom’s nursing home.  I was feeling better and we wanted to see them before the coming snowstorm.  I had some meals prepared for my dad and wanted him to have them for the week.  On the way home, we stopped over in Williamsburg to see our daughter.  It was a great day.  It’s always so good to see my family – true medicine for the soul.  There’s nothing like spending time with my family to cure all that ails me.

I thank God everyday for my family.  I was so fortunate to be raised by two people who know the definition of unconditional love.  My parents, George and Else, have been married for over 60 years.  They are totally devoted to their marriage (in sickness and health) and their family. Dad was a policeman and was on the job for over 30 years.  Mom was a homemaker most of her life, but she was a hair dresser prior to marriage. This career fit her well as she was always so stylish and beautiful.  Both of them taught my two brothers and I so much about life.  They worked extremely hard and saved to make sure we were well provided for growing up.  We didn’t have a ton of money back then, yet we never felt poor.  My parents supported us in many ways and always encouraged us to try anything we wanted to do.  They were always there for us and I appreciated that support, especially as a young stay at home mother of three children.

MomandDad
Mom and Dad, 2016

As soon as we got home today from our visit, I pulled out the recipe I wanted to make.  I made a batch of pasta dough and while it rested I did the same.  This recipe is quick and delicious and carries a slight kick.  It was cooked and on the table in 30 minutes, so it will make a nice addition to our work week rotation.  One change I made to the recipe was to put a small amount of fresh baby spinach in at the last minute.  I felt I needed a vegetable and thought this would be the perfect addition.

Pete’s Garlic Parmesan Shrimp Scampi Pasta

  • 8 ounces linguine ( I made homemade pasta noodles)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine OR chicken stock if you don’t want to use alcohol
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I did not use)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

*Slap Ya Mama All Natural Cajun Seasoning from Louisiana, Original & Hot Blend, 8 ounce canisters, 2 Pack

Directions:

  1. Pour a nice cold beer, as it goes great with this meal.  Turn Alexa on for dancing in the kitchen.image
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions and drain well. (Homemade takes 2 minutes)
  3. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter over a medium-high heat.
  4. Add in the shrimp, cajun seasoning, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.009E5D62-9489-40FD-B01A-067042E93434
  5. Stir periodically, until fully cooked- about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in wine OR chicken stock and the fresh lemon juice; season with salt and pepper
  7. Lower to a simmer; remove from heat and stir in pasta, lemon zest, HALF a cup of the parmesan cheese and mix until fully incorporated.
  8. Top with the last half cup of parmesan cheese & chopped parsley
  9. Serve immediately

CECA0FD2-2AE9-49E0-A216-A38CBE32C791

This was just enough for two with no leftover.  Sorry, I took the picture before I decided to add the baby spinach.  Thanks to Pete and Kathy for sharing their favorite recipes.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!  Please drop me a note if you would like to share a story, or recipe from your family.  I’d love to feature it on an upcoming blog post.

 

Spicy Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato Gnocchi

This weekend my husband and I are both under the weather.  Bob has the flu and I had a root canal, neither pleasant or fun.   We made the decision Friday to stay home this weekend and forego our visit to Queens.  Neither of us want my dad or mom to catch the flu and my mouth is still sore from my date with an endodontist.

I look forward all week to cooking on the weekend and even though eating is hard right now, I need to prep meals for the week.   I cooked a few meals for lunch and dinner for the week and made a nice pot of soup for the two of us for today.   It was a perfect day for cooking, dreary, rainy and quiet.

When I was a kid my mother always made lentil soup.  It was in her weekly rotation of meals.  I was not crazy about lentil soup back then.  In our house you were not allowed to leave the table until your plate was empty.  When my dog Pierre was alive this was no problem, as I merely put it on the floor while mom was busy washing dishes.   Pierre was my childhood dog,  a black French Poodle that was bought by scraping together our money.   My brother George paid the most, as he was the oldest and had a coin collection we could cash in.

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The dogs of 72nd Street – Loretta & Rusty, Lianne & Rumple and Me & Pierre

Pierre wasn’t always the nicest dog to others, but he was sweet with me and he always ate what I didn’t like.  He lived for 16 years, happily eating all the foods I hated.  After he passed away it became tougher for this picky eater to finish her food.   I remember many a stand-off at the dinner table over finishing my lentil soup.  Who knew that all these years later it would become one of my favorites.

A few years ago, as an adult, I had a small bowl of lentil soup when out to lunch at Carrabba’s.  This version was so different from the plain lentil soup I grew up on.   It was super spicy and had a great kick to it.   After that lunch, I experimented to get my lentil soup to taste similar.   The recipe I use today is as close as I can get it.  It’s hearty, spicy and just what we needed today.   I paired it with homemade sweet potato gnocchi, adapted from my cousin’s husband Pete’s recipe shared last week.   Usually, I serve this soup with small pasta noodles but wanted something a little heartier today, aka comfort food.   It was quite delicious!

Spicy Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Yellow onion chopped
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2-3 hot Italian sausage links (removed from casing)
  • 1  ham steak cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small can Muir organic diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp. thyme
  • Red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Pour a glass of Chardonnay and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen. F737CB1E-B104-4EAF-993A-DA29A6E86892
  2. Remove hot sausage from casing and break apart in soup pan using wooden spatula.  Cook until brown then remove from pot.
  3. In same pot, sauté onion, carrot and celery over medium heat in olive oil 4 minutes until tender.
  4. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the chopped ham, can of tomatoes, water, chicken broth, vinegar and lentils.5BEB173E-FA8A-49BD-9C40-FA71AC404468
  6. Add salt, pepper, basil and thyme and stir.
  7. Bring to boil.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. About 60 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 4 Sweet potatoes halved
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil sweet potatoes until soft.
  2. Rice into large bowl using potato ricer.
  3. Add eggs, salt and flour48639EC5-7432-43AD-9666-3C8E52BDDA43
  4. Mix with hands until it no longer sticks. Add flour as needed.
  5. Roll pieces into tubular shape the size of your finger and cut into one inch pieces. 7EBAAB62-FC90-420D-BDAC-41DAF51460E0
  6. Boil in salted water until they rise to top of water, under 10 minutes.
  7. Serve on top of bowl of lentil soup.

E2A15A4F-1A37-41CE-9256-EC2A2BCA6351Stir together and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan.  This makes enough to freeze, or eat for lunch during the week.  Either way, it’s delicious.

Do you have a recipe to share?   Would you like to have your family recipe featured?   Contact me to discuss sharing your favorite recipe on a future blog.  It’s a great way to honor your loved ones.

Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi

My grandmother Catherine married very young and by the age of 17 had two children.  When her parents passed away, she took in her younger brother George who became more like a brother to my dad than an uncle.   When Uncle George married my Aunt Rose, they moved into the apartment directly across the hall from my Nanny.  Literally, their doors faced each other and you could walk across the hall in two steps.  Aunt Rose and Uncle George had two daughters, my cousins Kathleen and Rosemarie.  Kathleen and I were the same age and graduated from the same high school.

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Aunt Rose, Uncle George, Kathleen & Rosemarie

I have so many fond memories of family life on Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood, NY.  My family was all in the same building, with other family members living in the next building over.  It was so cool to be able to roam the apartment building and visit different homes during our many visits.  I liked the sense of freedom we had there as a kid that I just didn’t have living in our one family home.  With all apartments in the same building, there was no need for us kids to go outside to visit each other.  This made our parents feel secure and we were allowed to go across the hall and downstairs to my Aunt Catherine’s apartment.

Kathleen married her husband Pete and for many years they lived in the neighborhood.  When Pete retired, they returned to his homeland of Italy and have lived there ever since.

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Kathleen & Pete, Italy

Kathy and Pete live in Lucca, Italy these days and have quite a beautiful place with a huge parcel of land.  Pete has an extensive garden which is quite impressive and grows most of his own produce.

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Pete in his garden

 

Most recipes Pete cooks use ingredients fresh from his garden, including tomatoes when making Sunday sauce.  This chicken recipe calls for dried basil and lemon and is quite simple to make.  The result is a light, refreshing lemon chicken sauce that will leave you wanting more.  Pete’s recipe called for bowties and broccoli, which I substituted for his homemade gnocchi recipe and peas.  This substitution fit what I had in the house and personally, I thought the peas would add a nice sweetness to the dish.  It was delicious and light, leaving us feeling full but not bloated.  I can’t wait to see how this tastes tomorrow when I eat the leftover for lunch.

This recipe is simple enough for a weeknight meal, taking about 30 minutes from start to finish.  The gnocchi obviously adds more time, but is so worth it!  I hope you give this one a try.

Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¾ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ lb bow tie pasta or homemade gnocchi
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets or fresh peas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (I used 1/8 c and 1/8 c chicken broth to soften the lemon taste)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Pour a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.420B3D4B-CBB6-4F04-B31E-642EE4916B5D

2.Fill a large pot half full of water then bring to a boil over high heat. While you wait for the water to boil, season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper and dried basil then set aside.E4B810C1-4543-44F3-87D0-06A495F4B039

3.When the water reaches a rolling boil, add a large pinch of salt then cook pasta, or gnocchi, according to directions—until it is tender but still firm. Roughly 2 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add broccoli florets, or peas to the pot, allowing them to boil with the pasta for the remaining cook time and before draining everything in a colander. After draining, return the pasta and broccoli to the pot to keep it warm.

3.Place a skillet over medium heat then add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add chicken breasts then allow to cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through—about 8–10 minutes depending on thickness. When the chicken breasts are cooked through, transfer them to a plate and set aside to cool slightly.

4.Reduce the heat to medium-low then add garlic to the oil that remains in the skillet. Cook for about 1 minute to soften the garlic slightly. Remove the skillet from heat then add lemon zest and juice. Using a wooden scraper, scrape any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan then pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli.

5.Chop the slightly cooled chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks then add them to the pot—stirring gently to combine. Sprinkle the entire mixture with Parmesan cheese then stir gently once more to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper then serve immediately. Enjoy!

This dish has a strong lemon flavor. If lemon’s not your thing and you would like to tone it down a notch, leave the zest in but replace the lemon juice with chicken broth. This will give it just a slight hint of lemon.  I did 1/8 c lemon juice and 1/8 c chicken broth and found it to be just perfect.

PETE’S GNOCCHI

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of FLOUR
  • 8 medium POTATOES
  • 2 EGGS
  • SALT

Directions:

  1. BOIL POTATOES TILL COOKED COMPLETELY.
  2. MASH THEM WITH A HAND POTATO MASHER (NOT AN ELECTRIC MIXER) OR PUT THEM THROUGH A RICER. 97BAEE11-9DD7-4E1C-A884-A03375AE7568
  3. PUT THE MASHED POTATOES  ON A BOARD. ADD FLOUR, EGGS AND SALT.
  4. MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER AND CONTINUE TO MIX BY HAND UNTIL EVERYTHING IS INCORPORATED AND SMOOTH AND YOU ARE ABLE TO ROLL THE DOUGH INTO DOWEL STRIPS. ADD FLOUR UNTIL YOU REACH THAT CONSISTENCY .
  5. BREAK OFF PIECES AND ROLL INTO DOWEL STRIPS THAT ARE APPROXIMATELY AS WIDE AS YOUR THUMB. 1842ED12-3F22-43FE-A010-07FC7511BA91
  6. CUT APPROXIMATELY 1 INCH PIECES OFF THE STRIPS.  (I didn’t get fancy with the cutting as they taste just as good shaped like soft pillows.  You can press them, or shape them any way you’d like.)10B99899-5FF6-4891-AF5C-15A06901C42D
  7. COOK IN SALTED BOILING WATER FOR APPROXIMATELY 10 MINUTES.
  8. DRAIN WELL.

Serve chicken and pea sauce over gnocchi and top with fresh parmesan cheese to taste.

D0D374AA-A306-4770-8CF6-DA853A83BEF7

Diana’s Veal & Peppers

Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a person goes through in their life.  Losing two parents and an only sister within three years is unimaginable to me.  When one suffers such a loss, memories are often where they find solace.  Photographs, songs, letters, scents and recipes keep us connected to those we miss the most.  An old friend of mine, Joan often cooks childhood dishes to reconnect to happier times with her family. Living in Buffalo now, Joan’s food photographs pop up on my Facebook feed, often when she can’t sleep.  On those days, I feel like I can smell her cooking right through the computer and wish she still lived nearby.

I met Joan back when our boys were little.  Our boys attended elementary school together and were two peas in a pod, especially when it came to leaving their books at school.  My son Robert used to inform me that Gary’s mother would go and make photocopies of missing homework pages at the nearest drug store.  I told my son that was way too complicated for me with three young children, besides he needed to learn responsibility, right?

Joan was one of the first ladies I met when our children started Kindergarten.  She was hysterically funny and a realist when it came to raising her children.  We shared many laughs and cocktails together as our children grew up.  When Joan’s children went off to college in Buffalo, she and her husband decided to pack up and move up there.

A few years back, Joan lost her mom and dad within one year of each other.  When her mom was dying of cancer, Joan and her sister Barbara moved back into the family home in Brooklyn to care for her.  Joan’s posts were often like Seinfeld episodes, in which she described going back to the old neighborhood.  Throughout this most difficult time, Joan kept her sense of humor and helped her mom Diana keep her dignity.  Anyone who has gone through this knows that is not an easy thing to do.  Not long after Joan’s mom died, her only sister Barbara passed away unexpectedly.  This came as quite a shock to all as Barbara was a healthy woman and left Joan understandably devastated.

Joanandmom
Joan, Diana, Barbara

Yesterday, Joan commented on my sausage and peppers post.   She shared how she too, cooks foods from her past to feel closer to those lost.  She said she tries to make her mother’s recipes to hang on to her childhood memories.  Her mother’s veal and peppers recipe was her favorite as a child.  Every year for her birthday, her mom would let her request a special dinner and this is the one Joan picked.  As she celebrates her birthday this weekend, Joan made her mom’s treasured recipe and kindly shared it with us.

Like most women of her time, Diana never wrote anything down.  Joan said she often has the urge to pick up the phone when cooking to ask her mom how to make certain foods.  I’m sure many of you know that feeling all too well.  Here is Diana’s recipe as Joan makes it today.

Diana’s Veal & PeppersJoansmom

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 red peppers sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs veal cubes for stew
  • Flour
  • 2 small cans of DelMonte Tomato Sauce
  • Red wine

Directions:

I usually make the peppers in advance just to make life easier.

  1. Slice up 4-5 red peppers and 1 onion. Place in pan with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes. Mix it coating the peppers with oil. Cover with foil and cook at 400 hundred oven till almost soft. (15-20 minutes)
  2. Mix flour, salt and black pepper in dish. Coat veal cubes in flour.
  3. Brown veal in large frying pan with olive oil and minced garlic.
  4. When brown add splash of red wine to deglaze the pot.
  5. Then add 2 small cans of Del Monte tomato sauce and a little bit of water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer about 1 to 1 1/2 hours till veal is fork tender.
  6. Add peppers and onions and heat all together for 5 minutes or until hot. That’s it.
  7. Serve on rice
  8. Leftovers, if any, are great on Italian hero’s the next dayE974E165-6B44-4A51-AF72-1C9663CD0B1D

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment in the section below.  We’d love to hear how you liked it.

If you’d like to share a special recipe from your family, please leave me a comment and I’d be happy to feature it here on the blog.

 

Sausage & Peppers

My husband brought home some freshly made sausage yesterday, hot and sweet.  I happened to have some gorgeous organic red peppers waiting to be cooked.  Today, we spent the morning in Queens visiting my dad at my mom’s nursing home.  When we got home we had a light lunch and I began to think about what to make for dinner.  One of my husband’s favorite quick meals is sausage and peppers and since I had all the ingredients on hand, why not.

My husband and I have been married for over 30 years.  We’ve known each other since we were 18 years old.  F725EDD3-6ED5-48B0-8060-0AF546F425C7We met in Glendale, NY, at a local hangout through mutual friends.  For those who grew up in Glendale, this hangout was the hot spot of the early 1980s – The Bulkhead. My husband was friends with one of the owners and my best friend and I would go there weekends to hang out and dance.

When we were married, I realized that my husband never really ate any of the Italian meals I loved.  He grew up on meat and starch and not much in the way of pasta or tomato sauce.  I, on the other hand, could eat pizza, baked ziti or chicken parmesan every night of the week.  Thankfully, he now loves these staple meals just as much as I do. Believe me, it was no coincidence he brought these sausage home, knowing I had red peppers.  This meal was so easy to prepare and the biggest decision was – bread, rice, pasta or potatoes.  Tonight, pasta won out as we had rice and bread already this week.

This recipe has evolved over the years from when we were first married.  I was not a huge fan of sausage meat and would never eat peppers back then.  I remember making sausage and peppers for our first family gatherings.  They were always a hit and super easy to make.   Back then, I didn’t make my own sauce.  Rather, I used something in a jar like my mother had.  Back then, I didn’t know that the type of cookware you use impacts the taste of your food – think aluminum pans. Back then, I just wanted something that would taste good and could be prepared ahead so I wouldn’t be stuck in the kitchen when my company arrived.

As my cooking improved, so too did my sausage and peppers.  I never really had a recipe to follow on this one.  I just kind of threw things together and cooked it super long in the oven.  I still experiment with the ingredients, but the version I made today is my latest favorite.  Your house will smell so good when this is cooking.   It’s a nice hearty meal for a Saturday night at home and tastes even better the next day.

Both of us have changed into lounging clothes and have no intention of going out tonight.  He’s watching a movie and I am finishing a good book.  This is not a meal we eat often as it’s not the healthiest.  To lighten it up we have used turkey sausage in the past and it tastes just as good.  With Super Bowl Sunday right around the corner, this may be one dish you might want to try.

Laura’s Sausage & Peppers

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Pour glass of Merlot and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.A525CE1E-46D4-465D-9252-65FEBC84DB2A
  2. Slice each sausage link into 3 pieces (use sharp knife)
  3. Place 1 tbsp butter in cast iron pan and add sausage links.  Cook over medium heat until they brown nicely on outside.  Remove to oven pan.B0FE1B82-5EE4-4142-BFF2-F2D6A7D53394
  4. In same cast iron pan, add few drops of olive oil, onions and peppers.  Add red pepper and brown over medium heat (about 4 minutes).
  5. Add chopped garlic and cook 1 minute74A54DEA-CC67-47C6-B648-AADA1020D31F
  6. Remove onions and peppers to the same pan as sausage.
  7. In same  pan you cooked onions, add wine and cook down, using wooden scraper to deglaze the pan.
  8. Once the alcohol cooks down, add the chicken broth and tomato paste.
  9. Add spices and stir.  Cook over low heat for about 5-7 minutes.
  10. Pour over sausage in pan.  Cover and cook in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  11. Uncover and leave in oven for 30 minutes as you prepare your pasta or rice.
  12. Serve over rice, pasta or potatoes. (I usually cook the potatoes right in with the sausage and peppers)

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Sunday Gravy

I know on this island there’s a long-standing debate going on – Is it called Sunday Sauce or Sunday Gravy? Me, I really don’t care what you call it as long as it tastes good.   I tend to call the regular version I make sauce and the version I’m making today gravy. What’s the difference?  For me, the heartiness of the sauce is what puts it in the gravy category.  Remember, this is a German lady cooking Italian every Sunday, so I do not claim to be an expert.

Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money.  My dad was a Police Officer and my mom was a stay at home mother raising three children, many times alone.  Mom was left alone with the three of us as my dad worked rotating shifts.  I can still remember his shift schedule. Two nights (4-12), two days (8-4), two overnight (12-8) followed by two days off if he was lucky.  I never thought much back then about the fact that our mom always had a hearty meal on the table every single night.  As kids, we had a hot meal (meat, vegetables and starch) every night and rarely, if ever, ate fast food.  We actually only ate out once a year, for the New Year, and ordered pizza when our house flooded, which unfortunately (or fortunately) was often.  How my mom managed that feat, I really can’t say as I sure didn’t when my three were little.   We ate a lot of fast food and macaroni and cheese from the blue box.

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Dad at his Seneca Avenue home, 1956

My dad always liked good quality food.   I used to think this was because he grew up poor.   I thought he saw it as some kind of confirmation that he “made it” and didn’t have to settle for less anymore.  But, when mom was diagnosed and he started cooking, I realized that wasn’t it at all.  Dad was really a foodie at heart.   One day, I asked him why he didn’t cook more as he loved it and was quite good.   His answer made me sad.   He said my mom never let him cook because she didn’t want a big mess.   Mom was quite the clean freak in her day and the thought of pots and pans all over her kitchen likely stressed her out.   Now that he was doing all the cooking and cleaning, he was able to cook and experiment with many new recipes.

My Dad always knew the best places to get quality meat.   He often brought home special roasts for our holiday meals and they never disappointed.  Still, we weren’t often able to get expensive cuts.  Thankfully, mom was great at slow cooking so we really couldn’t tell.   I actually never tasted a Filet Mignon until I was in my thirties!  Another cut of meat I had for the first time about a year ago was short ribs.  Crazy, right?  We went to lunch one day with my son and his fiancé and I ordered beer braised short ribs.   I instantly fell in love with the softest, tastiest stew meat I’d ever tasted.   I’ve been hooked on it ever since.

Today, we were in the mood for Sunday Gravy so I knew just the meat I’d be adding in.  Short ribs cooked in tomato sauce turn it into a hearty ragu, hence why I call it gravy.  I hope you’ll give this one a try over some homemade, hand cut spaghetti as  I promise you won’t be sorry.   You need to get an early start with this recipe though as it needs to cook long and slow.

For our pasta today, we were in the mood for some homemade ravioli.   You don’t need a fancy machine to make it and like other pasta, once you eat homemade you’ll not go back to frozen.  My pasta recipe was shared in this post – Sunday Sauce

For ravioli, I follow the same recipe but use “00” Flour instead of all-purpose.  This helps keep the dough thin and light, which is exactly how ravioli dough should be.

 

I use this ravioli cutter and it’s super easy to make.  Just do not overfill them as they will explode if you do.
Bellemain Large Ravioli Maker

Sunday Short Rib Gravy

Ingredients (For 2 with leftovers)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pounds short ribs
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • dash of wine or broth to deglaze the pot
  •  Sat and pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • tsp red pepper flakes
  • olive oil and 1 tbsp sweet butter

Directions:

  1. Pour cup of coffee as it will be way too early for wine.  You can still turn Alexa on low and dance in the kitchen.
  2. Your pot choice matters a lot when cooking.  Please, use cast iron for this recipe.   I used to be a Le Creuset snob, but was not happy with the customer service I didn’t receive when my expensive pot’s white inside lost its luster.  I recently purchased a new cast iron pot from Anolon and am loving it!  If you’re looking to try cast iron cooking, you may want to check this pot out for far less money.    The insides are black and the lines of the pot and handle are sleek and modern.
  • Brown the short ribs in tbsp of olive oil.  Remove from pot.878C5103-82E7-40BC-A023-4E61A4513593
  • Mine left very little oil in the  pot, so I added tbsp of sweet butter to brown my chopped onions.   Cook gently on low heat for about 4 minutes.  Do not allow them to burn.
  • Add chopped garlic and red pepper and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add splash of wine to deglaze the pot.  I had white on hand. Use flat wooden scraper and get all those wonderful bits off the pot.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir.  Cook for a minute
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and pinch of sugar.
  • Add sat and pepper to taste.
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  • Cook for at least 5 hours until meat falls off the bone.
  • Remove bones and carrot and discard.
  • Shred meat if needed, but mine usually just falls apart.
  • Serve over spaghetti with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.02F8F623-B328-4DB5-A6D9-09A4B7885D0A

If you make this gravy, drop me a note.  I’d love to hear how you liked it and what tweaks you made.  It comes out so thick and delicious.  Enjoy!E0981176-9577-4899-A7BC-B6DB5AFE41FF