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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Restaurant Recommendation-Bradenton Beach, FL

This week, I am vacationing on the Gulf Coast of FL near Anna Maria Island and luckily escaped the wrath of Irene back home in NJ (lost power for a few days but no flooding, thank goodness!). I love coming here during the summer when the "snow birds" are still up north and you can really enjoy the peacefulness of the island and explore new places. This trip, we happened upon a new restaurant, Bridge Street Bistro, that just opened up this past February. For those of you reading this that live in the vicinity or might vacation here, I highly recommend this restaurant. It is located across from the beach with beautiful views of the sunset where you can either choose to eat indoor or out. The waitstaff was attentive but not intrusive (which totally rubs me the wrong way) and it was an overall great dining experience. Attire suggested is smart casual. 

I love eating out just as much as I enjoy cooking and of course, I had to sample everything! For starters, we tried the Black Bean Cakes with Guacamole and Salsa and Artichoke Spinach Dip. This dip was by far one of the best versions I have ever had. It was loaded with whole quartered artichokes, fresh spinach and the dip part was made with stone ground mustard and topped with what tasted like a white cheddar cheese that they broiled until bubbly and light brown. For dinner, I had the Filet Mignon with Au Poivre Sauce (Cognac Peppercorn Sauce) and my husband had the Ribeye Steak with a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce... both of which were cooked perfectly. To finish off the meal, we shared the Zabaione with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in an almond shell (picture above).

The entire meal, including a nice bottle of Super Tuscan wine, was absolutely delicious from one course to the next and moderately priced. They also offer a lunch menu and early bird specials. So next time you're in the area, check them out!

Sea Salt Steak Fries

Once again, during one of my earlier posts, I had posted these fries with "sliders" but my earlier filing system was a little confusing. Since I happened to make these again recently, I figured they deserved a picture of their own. AND, since I recently learned that one of my daughters friends thought that french fries only came frozen in a bag, I had to set the record straight! These are SO easy to make and take even less time than cooking frozen fries in the oven. Though I'm sure the extra grease doesn't bode well (which is why I opt for Canola vs. Vegetable oil), it won't hurt you every once in a while and they do taste 10x better than frozen!  

Sea Salt Steak Fries
6 Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/2" strips
1"-2" Canola Oil, for frying
Sea Salt, as desired

In a large, deep frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook approximately 6-8 minutes; until they start to turn golden brown. Flip the potatoes over and cook another 6-8 minutes. Drain cooked potatoes on a brown paper bag (helps remove more of the excess grease) and sprinkle with salt. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken Thighs in a Lemon Thyme Wine Sauce

I posted a while ago that I had received a Dutch oven as a gift from my Mom a while back but hadn't used it that often. So this past weekend, I decided to take it out of hibernation and try to make something else in it. We were having my husband's parents over for dinner so that we could watch a video I had put together for them of our trip to Europe last month and didn't want to be slaving away all day in a separate room. I really like cooking in the Dutch oven and I'm surprised I hadn't wanted one earlier; though with my hectic schedule before, I was lucky enough to even get any food on the table! I'm sure you could also make this in a slow cooker (which might be nice to try with the upcoming cooler weather). I also don't know why, but I can't stop cooking with lemons lately. Maybe it's the summer and they're just so light and refreshing... and they certainly didn't disappoint in this dish! The chicken was EXTREMELY tender and was practically falling off the bone. I happened to throw in the lemon peel after extracting the juice but if you're not a huge fan of lemon, it might be a little too much for you. 

Chicken Thighs in a Lemon Thyme Wine Sauce
12 Chicken Thighs, skin removed
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1 Cup White Wine
1 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Scallions, chopped
1-10oz. Package White Button Mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley
1 Lemon, juice and zest
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Butter

In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Allow to brown on each side for approximately 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a Dutch oven. In the same pan, melt the butter and add the mushrooms, scallions, thyme, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Saute until the mushrooms start to get slightly softened. Add the wine and chicken broth and simmer 5 minutes. Add the liquid mixture on top of the chicken. Cover and bake at 300°F for 2 hours. Serves 6. 

And...speaking of lemons! I thought I'd share a picture with you. This is my youngest daughter, Gabrielle, holding an actual lemon from a cart in Sorrento, Italy. YES, it was that large and you can't really appreciate its massive size until you actually see it up against a person. No wonder why this region makes the best Limoncello!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Fiesta Chicken Spinach Dip

Many years ago, my then boyfriend (now hubby) and I would like to go out for dinner at this mid-sized restaurant in our area. They had this appetizer there that we both loved. So one day, I had decided to ask them what they put in it and go figure...they wouldn't tell me! So the next time we went, we ordered it again but this time I really tried to hone in on my sense of taste alone to try to figure out what was in it. Well, I'm happy to report, my taste buds haven't failed me yet and I have been making this hot dip ever since! It's really quite easy to prepare and over the years, I've learned to opt for the reduced calorie versions of the cheese and sour cream. It's certainly different and not one that I've ever seen anyone else make. In fact, that restaurant still happens to be standing BUT they haven't served this dip on their menu for over 18 years.

Fiesta Chicken Spinach Dip

  • 1 Boneless Chicken Breast or 5 Chicken Tenders, cut in 1/2" pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1-10oz. Package Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1-15oz. Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 Cup Scallions, chopped
  • 1 Plum Tomato, diced
  • 8 oz. Sour Cream
  • 8oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Bag Tortilla Chips
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt


  1. Add 1 tsp. of chili powder to the flour and dredge the chicken pieces. 
  2. In a nonstick saute pan, heat the oil and add the chicken. Brown the chicken pieces until they are cooked through; remove from the pan and let drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. 
  3. In a large bowl, add the beans, spinach, scallions, tomatoes, 4oz. of the cheese, sour cream, the remaining 1 tsp. of chili powder, the cooked chicken pieces, and salt. Mix well. 
  4. Add the mixture to an 8x8 oven safe cooking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbly. Serve hot with tortilla chips. Serves 8-10. 


Shared on Baking Bad Foodie Friday 1/14/12

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spinach and Havarti Frittata

As I've mentioned once before, a frittata is simply a fluffy omelette partially cooked in an oven-safe frying pan then finished off in the oven. I actually prefer to make my eggs this way when we are in the mood for an omelette.  I like that you can make a large quantity and serve many people with one type of egg dish instead of making scrambled eggs for one and dippy eggs for another (our term for over-easy because you can dip your bread or bacon into the yolk). If you're like me and my family, we eat a light breakfast during the week (cereal, toast, fruit, etc) but on Sunday mornings, we splurge and want a big breakfast. I usually do most of the cooking myself which is another reason why I like to make this because I can start it off then while it's in the oven, I can prepare our toast or cut up some fruit to go along with it. 

Spinach and Havarti Frittata
5 Eggs
2/3 Cup Chopped Frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
2 oz. Havarti Cheese
1/3 Cup Milk (I use 2%)
1 tsp. Butter
Preheat oven to 350°F. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk until all of the yolks have broken. Add the spinach and the milk and mix well. In a small oven safe frying pan (like stainless steel), melt butter over medium heat and add your egg mixture. Add in your cheese and gradually scrape the eggs towards the center of the pan until it is halfway cooked. Place the entire pan into the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven using a pot holder (handle will be hot!). Serves 2. 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Top 10 Back-to-School Food Trends

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend so far. While I was searching online this morning, I came across this great article on about the top 10 back to school food trends. We haven't started school yet (still another few weeks of summer left to go) but I'm sure there are some of you out that have already started with the school routine. 

It's that time of year again, parents. The kids are leaving the house. But that doesn't mean your work is done. Breakfasts need to be made, lunches need to be packed, snacks need to be prepared, and they all need to be fun but nutritious. In order to keep abreast of all this year's schooltime food trends, we've rounded up a top ten. While we can't predict the next iCarlyspaghetti taco-type craze (though we have a hunch it's something Bieber-related - Canadian bacon soft-serve, perhaps?), we can let you in on what's happening in the real world when it comes to food and your kids.

1. Breakfast is Back (Now with Chocolate!)
This past year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack named March 7-12 National School Breakfast Week as a way to demonstrate the administration's desire to provide school children with nutritious meals to prepare them for the day. "A nutritious breakfast will help our children learn better and have the energy needed for academic success," said Vilsack, according to the 
USDA blog. Taking a cue from the Top Ten Breakfast Trends for 2011, include real, steel-cut oatmeal as a favorite healthy cereal. Chocolate is even appropriate for breakfast in the form of chocolate Belgian waffles, chocolate granola, and even chocolate tea. Breakfast pizza, once solely a college student staple, is now appearing on morning menus. Kellogg's is releasing an Eggo-brand fruity breakfast pizza in two flavors.
2. Artificial Colors Be Gone!
Kara Nielsen, a trendologist at the Center for Culinary Development, has seen a rise in food companies leaving artificial colors in the coloring box and keeping them out of kids' foods. "Although foods for everyone have been getting "cleaner" and more natural, the U.S. food industry hasn't shared Europe and the rest of the world's disfavor for artificial colors, especially for children," Nielsen said. "One positive back-to-school trend would be for parents to eliminate all artificial colors from snacks, beverages, cereals, and candy." Though the FDA recently decided that dyes do not have a negative effect of the behavior of typical children, they did allow that children with preexisting behavioral problems may see their symptoms worsened by the artificial dyes, according to 
The New York Times.
3. School Cafeterias Get a Healthy Makeover
Last December the government passed the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act, which required the USDA to update school nutrition requirements and increased federal subsidies to school meal programs. Some new, healthy additions to the cafeteria include more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk. In order to keep calorie levels down, some schools have taken to baking their French fries instead of frying them, while others have been including whole grains in lunchtime favorites such as pizza, as reported by
QSR Magazine.
4. Healthier Lunches on the Go
Cafeteria lunches aren't the only lunches getting healthier. As reported by, the LUNCHABLES Lunchroom Monitor Survey, conducted by KRC Research, polled 1,000 moms and 1,000 kids about their packed lunch preferences. When packing a lunch, 47% of moms chose foods to pack based on the nutritional content. Though chips were a favorite snack of 42% of older kids, more and more moms have found ways to make veggies a part of their kids' diets from an early age by making vegetables fun. According to the survey, vegetables are second only to chicken nuggets as a favorite food to dunk. Including low-fat dressings, dips, or sauces with a bag of dip-able veggies is a great way to add pizazz to a healthy snack.
5. Foodie Kids on the Rise
More and more, kids are developing discerning and adventurous palates. Through watching the Food Network or the Cooking Channel or idolizing Anthony Bourdain's antics on the Travel Channel, children are craving foods more sophisticated than a classic PB & J. One school in North Philadelphia attempted to inspire schools all over the country by serving camp goers gourmet cafeteria food. Chef Marc Vetri and his partner Jeff Benjamin, run three of the top Italian restaurants in Philadelphia. They also have started to dabble in school cafeterias. In an effort to reinvent the federal school lunch program, Vetri and Benjamin designed menus that included beef lasagna made with homemade tomato sauce, sautéed shrimp with gazpacho, tomato panzanella, and lemon granita. "My goal?" Vetri told, "is to have every single school in America serving a fresh, family-style lunch. There is no reason it can't be done."
 6. Healthy Sweets Are on the Menu
Many parents have found that even if you keep sweets out of a child's lunch, they will find sugar anyway. So instead of denying them, give them sweets that are good for them and still satisfy that sugary craving. Many companies are making all-natural, organic candies. Natural gummy bears such as those from Surf Sweets that pack a vitamin C punch, organic jelly beans, and even big companies like Jelly Belly are jumping on the health wagon with their superfruit mix, which is made with fruit juice and puree. Even children with allergies are able to enjoy the sweeter things in life. Indie Candy has launched Back-to-School Buckets for parents with children with food allergies. Both teachers and parents alike can use the buckets of natural and Big 8 Allergen-free candies to treat their children. Or take inspiration from the buckets and stock up on your own gluten-free oreos, earth dots and fruit-friendly lollipops.

7. Chocolate Is in Style
Don't tell your kids, but chocolate is good for them, according to researchers at Pennsylvania State University as reported by Chocolate (and we're talking pure chocolate here made with a good portion of cacao - not the milky, waxy stuff) is a great source for phosphorous, which helps bones and teeth form and helps to keep bones strong, and magnesium, which helps maintain muscle growth and keeps an immune system healthy. This sure makes those chocolate Belgian waffles sound like a great idea for both kids and parents alike! It's best if the chocolate is organic (try Moo Kids organic chocolates for kid-friendly ideas). Chocolate milk is also a tasty way to get kids the calcium their bodies crave.
8. Milk All Around
Speaking of milk, it's the new energy drink for kids. When packing a lunch, skip sugary juices or sodas and instead pack a handy mini-milk (along with an ice pack, of course, to keep things safe). A recent Canadian study found that milk was actually better than water for keeping kids hydrated, according to
CTV Montreal. Grab-and-go containers such as Dean's Milk Chug make milk fun and easy to drink on the go.
9. Lunches Get a Sense of Humor
Even if your kids want the same sandwich day after day, that doesn't mean you can't spice up their lunchtime. Put a bug in the lunch bag. Not really, just a 
Lunch Bug sandwich bag, which takes an everyday sandwich bag and adds a very realistic image of a creepy crawly such as a cockroach or fly. (They're not just for the kids. Try using one for your lunch at work. We're pretty sure no one will steal your sandwich from the fridge.) Another way to give some character to an average lunch is to give your child's sandwich a personality - literally. Parents all over have begun cutting sandwiches into fun animal shapes or other creations. Try digging up those Christmas cookie cutters and using them to create turkey sandwich trees or grilled cheese stars. Take a look at some of the creations over at for some tasty inspiration.
10. The End of the Lunch Lady?
While some schools are getting more hands-on with their cooking, others like some in the Miami-Dade region in Florida, are going high tech, according to 
The Miami New Times. They are installing vending machines that will be offering up not junk food, but healthy lunch options made from locally grown ingredients. Some items up for selection include yogurt parfaits, Caribbean wraps, and other local chef-approved items.

For more information, check out Delish yourself! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Limoncello Strawberries with Fresh Basil

I love fresh strawberries and eat them year-round. So when I went to the market and purchased a fairly large container of them, I couldn't wait to dig in. Days went by and I had tucked them so far in back of my refrigerator that I completely forgot about them.  And if your home is like mine, if I personally do not clean and cut them up when I get them, no one else will take it upon themselves to do it and I wind up throwing it away. So before they went bad, I decided the only way they were all going to be eaten (and quickly) is if I made a dessert out of them; preferably one that wasn't too complicated.

I washed them, threw in some basil, lemon zest, Limoncello (that fabulous lemon liquor that  we purchased from the farm in Sorrento, Italy where we visited last month), and Blue Agave syrup. Blue Agave syrup is sweeter than sugar and has a thinner consistency than honey. I had never used it before and wanted to try it out to see if there was a difference. It was sweet but what I also learned that while it has pretty much the same nutritional value as sugar, it doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar like regular sugar does. The combination of all of the flavors was refreshing and needless to say, the entire container of strawberries disappeared!

Limoncello Strawberries with Fresh Basil
2 pts. Fresh Strawberries, stems removed and rinsed
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. Blue Agave Syrup
2 Tbsp. Limoncello

Remove stems and slice strawberries. Add the lemon zest, basil, agave syrup and Limoncello. Gently stir together until all of the strawberries are well coated. Chill. Serves 4.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Cupcakes with Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Ok, I normally DO NOT BAKE! There I said it big and loud. BUT, when I saw these ice cream cupcakes on the Desserts in My Kitchen blog by Cheryl Davis, I had to try them! One. They only contained 3 ingredients...seriously! Two. I was looking for a dessert idea for our next Bunco gathering which I happen to be hosting next month. My theme is going to be Apples. I know. A little bit odd for a theme, but what else is there really in September besides Back to School  or football ( thanks).  For those of you who do not know what Bunco is, it is a dice game, played generally by 12 women(in my experience anyway..I've never actually have seen a man play the game unless you want to count "Brad" our Kung Fu Panda Shi Fu character stuffed animal that had to fill in as a substitute a few months ago because we were lacking players...don't ask!). Anyway, with the theme, we try to incorporate specialty drinks, food and desserts into the evening to change it up each month. I thought these cupcakes would be simple enough to make but wanted to add a little twist to Cheryl's recipe to incorporate my theme. I also wanted to do a trial run, just in case they weren't what I had anticipated. These cupcakes were simple to make and tasted incredible! You can use any type of ice cream you wish but I chose Vanilla Bean. For the icing, you can even go an easier route than whipping up your own cream by using Redi Whip or Cool Whip for a quick snack children and adults will love. The only disappointing part is having to wait another month to try these again!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Cupcakes with Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream
2 Cups Edy's® Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, slightly melted
1 1/2 Cups Sifted Self Rising Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream(see below)
Cinnamon, garnish

Mix the ice cream until it is creamy. Add the flour and sugar and mix well. Do not over mix. Pour into cupcake pan and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until tops spring back when you touch them. Let cool and add whipped cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Makes 8 cupcakes.

Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 tsp. DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker(or any other type of apple liquor)
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
2 Tbsp. Confectioners Sugar
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Add all ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix all ingredients on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. 


Friday, August 12, 2011

Coconut Martini

By no means would I ever wish harm or sickness on ANYONE, especially those that I love. That being said, after three full days of being a human taxicab for my children, carting them back and forth to camp, work, and cheering practices, I secretly did a little "happy dance" in my head when my oldest daughter really didn't look well after working yesterday (she has a sinus infection that keeps coming back and the doctor FINALLY gave her some antibiotics to help fight it). 

Now why would I be happy about that you ask?

For those of you who don't know the area I live in, let me explain why this would cause some bit of angst after a while. For starters, each one-way trip into the center of town from where I live is 10 miles. That is backroad miles with stoplights (one of which happens to be the longest stop light in NJ and was recently featured on a news program), random bear sightings and crossings (you have to be extra careful and have your eyes scanning the woods on the sides of roads at all times), and takes you 15-20 minutes to drive each way (depending on whether or not you get someone in front of you that is unsure of the area and goes 15 miles under the speed limit). So, in three days, I have driven approximately 200 miles and spent 6 1/2 hours just driving in the car to get the kids where they need to be and home again, not including the time I have to sit around and wait for them to be done (I stay so I don't have to make the trip back and forth in between..trying to save on gas ya know!). 

So, my point is, after the three days, I was relieved that after my youngest daughters cheering practice ended at 6pm, I was able to go home for the night since my oldest daughter wasn't going to go to her practice (that would have ended at 8pm), sit on my deck for the first time in over a month and enjoy the gorgeous 73 degree sunny, non-humid weather we had yesterday here in NJ with a nice Coconut Martini. I learned how to make this drink from Susie, our favorite bartender on the ship, where we would go every night for a drink before dinner. I normally do not like martini's, simply due to the fact that most martini's are made with vodka or gin, but being this one was made with Malibu rum, I figured I'd try it out one night. To my surprise, it was very good. It is a little sweet but that's probably why I liked it. This recipe makes 1 martini but if you're making it for several people, it is equal parts of all four ingredients. 

Coconut Martini
*Adapted from Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas Champagne Bar
2 Shots Malibu Rum
2 Shots Di Saronno Amaretto
2 Shots Pineapple Juice
2 Shots Orange Juice

1. Fill shaker with ice. 
2. Add all of the ingredients and shake well. 
3. Pour in a martini glass. 


*Adapted from Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas Champagne Bar

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Italian Sunday Dinner...Angel Hair Pasta with Neapolitan Ragù

As one of my fellow bloggers commented yesterday, it's never too early to start thinking about the weekend (Thanks Coop!) and by that he meant what else but...FOOD! I know it's only Wednesday, but now is the time to start thinking about what it is you may want to cook this weekend so that you have time to prepare and shop for the items you may need.  And, as weather has it this weekend, Sunday looks like isolated thunderstorms in the northern NJ area which is the perfect kind of day to make this Italian Sunday dinner!
According to Wikipedia, Neapolitan ragù is one of the two most famous varieties of meat sauces; the other one being Bolognese sauce. Like Bolognese sauce, the Neapolitan veresion is also made from meat and tomato sauce; however, a major difference is how the meat is used. The Bolognese version uses very finely chopped meat, while the Neapolitan version uses whole meat, taking it from the casserole when cooked and serving it as a second course or with pasta. 
Now, THIS is the type of sauce I'm talking about when I make my sauce! Thanks to my Southern Italian Stepmother (Thanks Michele!), this was the ONLY way to make a red sauce. And, when we made it, we made sure to use the largest pot we had so that you could freeze the leftover sauce and meat for other meals during the month (mainly because over the years, it was harder and harder to get everyone together for the traditional Sunday Italian dinner with duel household working families). This is also the perfect time of year to start preparing some meals to freeze now that sports season is approaching. And if you're like me, you're lucky to be home for 1/2 hour to feed the kids before heading out. 
So that brings me to my pot of sauce I made this past Sunday. While visiting Southern Italy and hearing about how they eat pasta at least once a day and had the full 3-5 hour meal on Sundays, I got a little nostalgic and realized I hadn't made a pot of sauce (this way anyway) for quite a few months. Now, before you venture out and make this sauce, you need to be prepared to sit tight at the house for at least 5-6 hours the day you're making it. WHY you ask? That's where all the flavor comes from! (that and you need to stir it every 15-20 minutes so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn). By letting the sauce simmer with all of the meatballs, braciole, pork chops(I didn't use this time but normally would throw in some of those on the bone too), and sausage, those flavors intertwine with the sauce to give it that deep, red color. And, I promise you that you will never forget the smell that wafts through your home for as long as you live!
First, I prepare the meat I want to put in the sauce so that it is nicely browned and partially cooked. You don't want your meat to boil in the sauce and the browning helps add to the deep red color and flavor. I cheated on the pork products and purchased them at a local Italian market called Corrado's. I like to go there every month or so and find new items to try and they never disappoint. I used Pork Bracciole, Fennel Sausage, Bronx Sausage (which was  stuffed with eggplant and Pecorino Romano cheese), and Santa Lucia Sausage (which was stuffed with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, basil, broccoli rabe and roasted peppers). I cut the bracciole in half before frying as the pieces are usually quite large and wound up with 16 pieces of bracciole and 12 pieces of sausage. 
In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp. Canola Oil over medium heat. Add your bracciole and sausage and cook until all sides are lightly browned. Remove from pan. 

While your pork is cooking, prepare your meatballs. 
Italian Meatballs
1lb. Ground Beef
2Tbsp. Red Onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp. Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs
Mix all ingredients together and shape into 2-3" meatballs. Add to the frying pan, and lightly brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Depending on the size you prefer, this will make approximately 15-18 meatballs. 
Next, it's time to make your tomato sauce. Generally, I will just use the canned products but luckily, I had a full basket of Roma tomatoes to use up from my garden so I added them to my sauce as well.  When using fresh tomatoes in your sauce, you must first steam them to remove the skins. Steam them in a steamer pot until the skins start pulling away from the flesh of the tomato. Cool the tomatoes, then peel the skins and remove any blemishes or stems. Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. 
Now, this makes quite a bit of sauce, enough to feed a family of 4 approximately 4-5 times, but like I said, it freezes well!
Neapolitan Ragù
4 Cups Pureed Fresh Tomatoes (I used approx. 20--they were small as you can see)
3-280z. Cans Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
18oz. Hunts Tomato Paste
3-28oz. Cans of water
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
1 Tbsp. Canola Oil
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and add garlic and basil. Saute until the garlic starts to release smell and add your tomato products, water, parsley, and pepper. Stir until the paste dissolves completely. If it still looks a little thick, add a little more water (while cooking, the sauce will thicken and reduce further). Add in your par-cooked meat and stir well; making sure it is all submerged. Lower heat to very low and simmer 4-6 hours; stirring every 15-20  minutes so that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns your sauce. (trust me, once you get something stuck on the bottom, it ruins the entire pot!). 
Serve with cooked pasta(I happened to use Angel Hair). 
Well my family dinner turned out to be a little different than I had anticipated as my eldest daughter went to her friends house and my youngest daughter had one of her friends come over by us, but all in all it was a great relaxing day and everyone loved it.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ground Turkey Product Recall

Cargill, which produces ground turkey under many names including Honeysuckle White, Shady Brook Farms, Aldi Fit & Active, and more, is recalling 36 million lbs. of meat with the product code Est. P-963.

Salmonella is a bacteria that is responsible for a large number of food-borne illnesses. Typically, the bacteria is found in meat, poultry, eggs and milk states the World Health Organization. Chicken products become contaminated with the bacteria during slaughter when fecal matter, which contains salmonella, makes its way onto the items before packaging. Thoroughly cooking chicken products and practicing safe handling techniques can reduce the risk of salmonellosis, or salmonella infection. 

The most common symptoms of a salmonella infection are known collectively as gastroenteritis. The symptoms of gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, muscle pains and blood in the stools. In some cases, the diarrhea can cause severe dehydration, requiring hospitalization, intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medications and antibiotics. In more severe cases, the infection may spread from the intestines to the brain and spine, known as meningitis, or the bloodstream, known as sepsis.

For the complete list of products being recalled, click here