Saturday, December 31, 2011

What's in-store for foodies in 2012?

To my 2012 foodies like me, who LOVE American Italian food, are in for a treat!  Apparently, according to experts from the Today Show, it will be one of  the “in” foods this new year.  Which means it will probably show up more often at restaurants and on tables in America....  Since I was raised on it – it's been “in” for me since birth, and particular every Sunday as long as my grandparents were alive.

Sundays now are reserved for me to “make the gravy”.  In an American Italian family, “gravy” is tomato or marinara sauce.  Since I moved to the south nearly 15yrs ago, I have found “gravy” has a definition which I will call #2 here in the South – it's brown and I am not quite sure made from what. That said, we will stick with Italian gravy....tomato.

I make my gravy once a month on Sundays in extraordinarily large batches and then freeze it.  I generally use Darren as an alarm to let me know when reserves are low.  My boyfriend of English, Norwegian & Cherokee decent has become Italian by default and will inspect the freezer and exclaim, “WE ARE DOWN TO ONE THING OF SAUCE!!!”  Then I know .... it's time.

It's not as hard as one would think – since my great-grandmother's time things have changed.  She grew  tons of tomatoes in her back yard and then boiled, crushed and made them into paste and from there made the gravy.  Now – I still grow tomatos, I mean what self respecting Italian gal who has a patch of dirt doesn't?  However, I buy good crushed tomatoes and paste in the can and cut out about 5 labor intensive steps. 

A little garlic, onion, tomatoes and spices and you have something WAY better than anything you can buy in a jar in the grocery store.

I hope to share a ton of, what now I guess is trendy, family Italian American recipes that I have grown up with as well as some other things I might find in 2012.  Maybe I will even make my own pasta for the first time since I got the attachment for my kitchen aid mixer for Christmas...3yrs ago.  :)  I got a new camera this year so my food pictures will be WAY better!  And I got a new microphone, so I may let you hear some singing too!

Other foodie trends for 2012? Layer cakes over cupcakes – which is great for me because I now live in the South, the birthplace of the layer cake.  

Also, meatloaf of all varieties, homemade pickles, which I have yet to master but my cousin-in-law is FABU at,  carbon steel knives over Japanese ceramic ones, which is great b/c they are CHEAPER!  And for your wine glass – I guess our love affair with California is over...I was never really interested but that's me....  I understand from my reading that other US areas with vineyards are on the up and coming  like my home town on Long Island.  Long Island wines have been a well kept secret and if you can get your hands on a bottle please partake because you will not be disappointed.

Happy New Year to all my foodies  & friends and may everything you eat be worthy of the calories and taste FABU YUMMY!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh! I love me some Paula Deen!

O-M-G! Paula Deen & Liza Minelli & German Chocolate cake all in the same's gonna be a good 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My new musical FABU Find! Justin Hines!

Since this blog is about both food & song - my thought for today is..

I'm hoping that the music industry is finally realizing that it is the heart & soul that creates magnificent positive music not the package that it comes new fav to support in this vein is Justin Hines.

So light and uplifting - it would rise a souffle and make fabulous meringue were this a food but maybe listen while cooking!

A totally FABU Music Find!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lemon Cakey-Cookies

Lemon Cakey Cookie

1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup margarine melted but cooled (you don't want to cook the eggs)
1 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degreesPour cake mix into a large bowl.  Stir in eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet and then sift or sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  Bake for 6minutes but watch them b/c they can burn.  The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.

These are super good – very light and fluffy.  You can sub in lemon juice or zest for the lemon extract – I had a hard time finding that and went to three stores to find it – one place it was like $4 and I thought HELL TO THE NO!  So – found it at Kroger & store brand.

Darren liked these so much he ate about 4 when I wasn't looking...I will probably have to make another batch if I want to hand them out as part of my Christmas cookie gift packs....

A very easy yummy cakey-cookie find!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why no new yummies?!

I'm sorry to say that I'm under the weather. With this darn cold - i cant sing and, gasp, am not even soon as I feel better - lots more recipes to come!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Peppermint Chocolate Fudge!

Peppermint Chocolate Fudge
1 box brownie mix
1-15oz can of pure pumpkin
2 candy canes – smashed
2T chocolate chips – lightly chopped
Non-stick spray
Even just the ingredients look good and we haven't even  mixed them together yet!

Mix together the brownie mix & pumpkin.  Spray a non-stick 8x8 pan with cooking spray and then pour in the batter.  Cook for 30-35mins – it might not look done but it is.  While it's cooking chop the chocolate.  Then put the candy canes in a baggie and smack it around a bit to break the candy canes in to chunky bits.  Once the fudge is done pull it out of the oven and while it's still hot sprinkle the chocolate and the candy on top.  Let it cool in the pan fully.  Then wrap it in foil and put in the fridge overnight.  Cut into 36 pieces and serve.

Its like a little peppermint chocolate snow storm!

YUMMINESS FROM HEAVEN!  AND you get more than just the antioxidants from the chocolate – but also from the pumpkin!  I can't say enough about how good this stuff is! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Singin' & cookin' time of year!

Last choir performance - check! One batch of Christmas cookies - check! Half the batch eaten - Darren checked that off while I was out singing. Guess I'll have to find a hiding place for cookies.....

I love my fellow choir members & our beloved director, Mary Combs. Thank you to all of them for sharing their gift of music with me and allowing me to sing with such a fantastic group!

That said, although I am very much looking forward to finding out our Spring choral program, I have to focus on the current task at hand.... Christmas cookies!!!! I will be posting some great healthy cookie recipes that even the most ardent sweets lover will flip over. And maybe....just maybe I will post a few Christmas songs for your listening (hopefully) pleasure! Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Goldilocks Crockpot Chili (it's not too hot – not too mild but just right)

Goldilocks Crockpot Chili (it's not too hot – not too mild but just right)

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 can black beans – rinsed & drained
  • 1 can beans in chili sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatos (if you can find in chili sauce all the better)
  • 1 can tomatos and green chilies
  • 2 packets mild chili mix
  • ½ large jar of medium salsa

This is the only picture I have b/e it got eaten so fast when it was done!
Spray your crockpot with cooking spray.  Put everything in the crockpot stir together to mix well.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8hrs.

Super good!  Super Quick!  Super easy!

You can service this with some cornbread or tortilla chips.  FABU!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

After Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie

After Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie

I love the after Thanksgiving fare – and this is one of my faves.  It's more French than the southern version but we like it better.  You will need your left over turkey and gravy.

  • 2C cooked turkey – cut or shredded into bite sized pieces
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (mine had corn, carrots, peas & green beans)
  • 4T turkey gravy
  • 1 frozen pie shell
  • 1 refrigerated  pie crust (not in the pie dish)
  • 1 egg, beaten

These aren't all the ingredients but to show what I mean about the 2 pie crusts.
Defrost your frozen pie shell for about 15mins on the counter.  Preheat oven to 350.  Put the pie shell on a cookie sheet (or baking stone), prick the bottom about 5x with a fork and then cook it for 15-20 mins – to where it's a little cooked but underdone.  Take your rolled up refridgerated pie crust out and let it warmup a little on the counter while you do the next thing.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, toss together the turkey, veggies and gravy (if you like a touch of sweetness toss in a ½C of dried cranberries).  Pour the mixture into the pie shell so it's in there evenly.

roll out the pie crust on a plate so it's flat.  Then carefully pick it up and place it over the top of the pie so it's the crust.  pinch together the edges so it is sealed.  Take a fork and prick a cross shape in the middle to let out steam.  Then beat the egg in a small bowl and brush it on the top of the pie with a pastry brush.

Bake in the oven for 20mins.  At this point the edges will start to brown.  Take some tin foil (about 3-4inch strips) and cover just the edges around the pie to prevent burning.  Put it back in the oven and cook for another 20mins.  Let it sit and set for about 5 – 10mins before cutting.

This was so pretty when it came out - I almost didn't want to eat it!  Of course we did and it was SUPER FAB!
Serve with the remaining gravy and a nice white wine.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

I want to say happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  May all the calories you consume be worth them (I know mine will!) and may you have a FABU yummy day!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No Fail Thanksgiving Turkey!

Best Thanksgiving Turkey EVER!!!

I have heard some horror stories from my girlfriends, aunt's grandma's and my own ma on the cooking debacle known as “the 1st thanksgiving turkey I ever made” story.  However, mine came out PERFECT – and I have a dead oven to thank for it!  

We had just moved into the house we live in now and I was bound and determined to host Thanksgiving that year – my first.  For my family and Darren's all together.  And about five days before Thanksgiving – our oven that came with the house DIED!  I about had a coronary.

So off to Sears we go.  I love Sears because they have supplied my family with great appliances for three generations, their stuff lasts AND they are girl friendly.   Our normal sales guy was off this day and this older lady who was probably about my grandma's age was working.  She helped me find the oven we needed AND supplied me with a no fail Thanksgiving Turkey recipe!  

She and I talked for a while and I explained I was going to host my first Thanksgiving and she asked me how I was going to cook my turkey.  I said well, with the stuffing inside of course!  She paused, looked at me and asked (as many southerners do from time to time), “Sweetheart, where are you from?”  NEW YORK!  I said.  She says to me, “You yankees always complain your turkeys are dry yet you continue to stick the DRESSING inside the turkey.”  Then she took me to school in the southern way of cooking a Turkey.  

Apparently, you don't stuff the turkey...  WHAT?!  Yes – for nearly 30years my family had been doing it WRONG!  I of course passed this info to my mother who argued with me.  Then we both decided – it's my first turkey – so no one expects it to be good.  So if we screw it up – as long as no one ends up at the ER we are good.

It was THE BEST turkey we all had ever tasted – except of course a fried turkey but that's a whole other bird!

Here is my recipe for you!

  • 1 whole fresh frozen Turkey (calculate your pounds by thinking how many guests you are having and then divide by 2.  Like, you're having 16 people for Thanksgiving – you will need an 8-10lb turkey.  And remember to get a little extra in case extra people show up and for sandwiches and turkey pot pie in the days after Thanksgiving).
  • 4-5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored & sliced into chunks
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 sticks of butter – room temp so it's soft (YES REAL BUTTER – you can use light butter but the package should say BUTTER)
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 2t thyme

Ok – thaw out your turkey in the fridge.  The bigger the turkey the more time you will need to thaw – I have a 15lb one this year and I am taking it out of the freezer on the Sunday before.  Do not believe the package that 48hrs if enough time.  They lie.

Preheat your oven according to the package.

Once thawed remove all packaging, and put Tom in the sink start rinsing and get all the sides out – this is gross so you may want to get your mom or your man to do this if you are weak of heart.  Some people cook these up for the dog – I throw them away b/c they are gross.  Rinse everything and put Tom in the pan you're going to cook him in, breast side up.

In a large mixing bowl put the carrots, apples and cut up 1 & ½ sticks of butter up in chunks.  At the lemon juice & 1t of thyme – mix it all together so it is tossed nicely.  Then take a large spoon and spoon the mixture into both ends of Tom.  To have him full of apples, carrots and butter.  Once full – close him up but tucking his legs around the opening or using some cooking spears – metal is best.

Then salt & pepper him on the outside and sprinkle the other teaspoon of thyme all over him.  Then grab the other stick and a half of butter and massage it into him all over until he is well covered.  Then cover him and put him in the oven.  

Now read the package and do the math to figure out how long to cook him b/c it's based on his weight.  You will based him every 30mins.  Cook him covered for half the time and uncovered for the other half  that way he stays moist.

And you will have a GORGEOUS looking, finger likin', buttery turkey!

Dressing is now made by Darren's mom – in another house so I am not tempted to stick it inside of the turkey and she makes it the best.  So win win.  :)

Tasty Steamed Garlicy Green Beans

I love these and my mom has always made them this way.  You can start with fresh green beans if you can find them at Thanksgiving time but if you can only get frozen - they will have to do.

1 bag steam-able green bean (the natural looking ones)
2T olive oil
2t minced garlic
2T Italian breadcrumbs

Steam green beans as directed on the package.  Then in a saute pan put the olive oil, garlic and green beans and saute for about 5mins.  Then top with breadcrumbs and toss for another 3mins.  Put in a pretty serving dish and serve.

EASY and Tasty!  (And a lot healthier than casserole.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blue Diamond Garlic Mashed Taters Surprise!

Blue Diamond Garlic Mashed Taters Surprise

These are so good that Darren, mister, “I HATE CAULIFLOWER!”, you will get your most anti-veggie person to eat veggies!  I made Darren a bet that if I could make him eat and like cauliflower he had to buy me a blue diamond.  Well, I am still waiting for the diamond but got him to eat them and I think he ate like 3 cups of them b/c so far I have made at least 10lbs of taters for Thanksgiving but I only have about 8lbs to serve....

Anyway...  here you go and they are FABULOUS!

  • 5lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes – skin left on and cut in quarters
  • 1 bag of frozen cauliflower (SURPRISE!)
  • 1 large box fat free chicken broth
  • 5C water
  • 5 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 stick of butter softened cut into 6 pieces
  • ¼ - ½ C skim milk
  • either 1 oven roasted garlic (if you have time to make it) OR 2T minced garlic from the jar
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, put in the cauliflower on the bottom (this gets it out of sight of your household anti-veggie person). Then put the potatoes on top.  pour in the chicken broth and then water to where you have just about ½ in of water above the potatoes.  Plop in the bouillon cube and put it on the stove.  bring them to a boil and then lower the heat to about an 8 so it doesn't boil over – and cook those suckers for 40mins or to where you can stick a fork into a potato chunk and it falls apart.

Drain the potatoes and cauliflower and toss back into your pot.  Throw in the butter & garlic and then take a masher and start mashing.  Once everything is mashed slowly add in the milk – keep mashing.  You want just enough milk so they are slightly creamy and not soupy.  Then add salt & pepper to taste.  

Serve!  You can freeze these – which is what I do.  I make them about a week before Thanksgiving and then thaw them out, put them in a pretty serving dish, put them in the oven 350 for 30mins then put a few pats of butter on top and stick it under the broiler for like 2mins for crispy peaks.  SO easy!

You will get your favorite taters with a lower glycemic impact and a veggie stuck in there you won't know is there.   I PROMISE!  SUPER YUMMY FABU!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving recipes!

I will be sharing some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes , and post Thanksgiving recipes, over the next week.  That way - in case you need a new recipe or this is your first Thanksgiving you are hosting, you will know you are not alone.

I will share a GREAT mashed potato recipe, my perfecto Thanksgiving turkey recipe, and a healthier version of green beans that folks will love just as much as the high fat version of the casserole.

Also, if you have any cooking questions - please let me know and I will try my best to help you out.

Happy Thanksgiving to Y'all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Ricotta Lasagne (or Ziti)

No Ricotta Lasagne – Or Baked Ziti!

Unfortunately, Darren HATES ricotta and being Italian that limits a lot of pasta dishes.  THANK GOD for my friend and yoga diva instructor, Julie (PinkieMcQueen if you want to follow her blog!)!  She gave me a recipe, which I tweaked a little, on lasagne without ricotta – which comes out more like a baked Ziti...  SUPER yummy and Darren LOVES it!

  • 3C of Easy Peasy Healthy Bolognese (see recipe in Nov 2011 section)
  • 1lb of spiral pasta (I use whole wheat or whole grain)
  • 1 brick of either low fat cream cheese or neufatchel cheese
  • 1/2C shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4C grated parmesan
  • 1/4C egg beaters
  • ½ t onion powder & ½ t garlic powder
  • 1T parsley
  • 4-5 slices of mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.  Take cream cheese out and let it come to room temp on counter.  Boil pasta to al dente as directed on the package.  Drain pasta and throw back in the pot.  Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl that is microwave safe, warm the cream cheese in the microwave in 30sec increments till it stirs easily.  Then add in the mozzarella, parmesan, powders, parsley and when the cheese mixture is a little cool – the egg beaters (you don't want the heat to cook the egg).  Pour the mixture over the drained pasta and toss til well mixed.  Then pour ½ of the bolognese into the pot and toss.  Then pour the whole thing into a baking dish (spray the pan with cooking spray for easy clean up later).  Then top it with the rest of the bolognese and place the mozzarella slices on top for decorative but tastey look.

Bake for 30mins.  You may want to make extra marinara for those who like a saucy ziti.  TOTALLY FABU FOOD!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crockpot Cooking Season tip!

It is FINALLY crockpot season! Thank goodness! I heart my crockpot something fierce! Quick tip for quick & easy clean up - non-stick cooking spray! Before you even put one thing into that crockpot - spray the inside of the pot. Then follow your recipe. That one simple step will give you quick & easy clean up when you are ready to clean up for the night.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FABU FOOD FIND! - Meals To Live frozen Entrees

FABU FOOD FIND! - Meals To Live Frozen Entrees! (Should be called Meals to LOVE!)

One of the things I also would like to use my blog for is sharing great food finds whether it be something at the grocery or a restaurant.  

As a busy working gal who wants to save money - $10-$12 a day for lunch is WAY outside my budget . So I try to find things in the frozen food section that I can take to work with me.  They may not be $2.5 but $5 is still half the price of lunch out and probably better for me.

A lot of frozen entrees are very processed, high in sodium, and I can't read half the ingredients.  Even the diet meals have these issues.  They may have less fat – but they are high in sodium and other things to compensate for taste (which I think we all can agree they are eatable but we don't rave about the diet meal we just ate) that can cause other problems, like still being hungry, in the end.  So I have been on a quest to find a healthy meal, whose ingredients I can read, that will keep me full for more than 10mins!

In that search, I recommend, unless you have been put on a specific diet by your doctor for health issues, look for things with reasonable/normal amounts of fat, low carbs, high protein and fiber and that you can read, understand ALL the ingredients on the list – and the shorter the list the better, and will in the end keep you full and satisfied longer!

Here is what the box looks like so you can find them at the grocery freezer section.
Today – I am happy to share that I have found a FABU FOOD FIND!  A new brand (I am guessing b/c I have never seen it before) “Meals to Live”.  I tried the White Chicken Burrito and it was super good!  No preservatives, Quinoa is used in place of rice to keep the carbs low (a whole grain that is the only one recognized as having a protein value.), whole wheat tortilla, black beans, chicken cheese and peppers.  It was spicy but not too spicy and it tastes like what you would get at the Mexican restaurant without the temptation of basket upon basket of chips!  I wasn't left hungry for a while after and it didn't taste like a “diet food”!  The taste is super yummy!  

As for how I cooked it, I think I would rather have used a conventional oven but microwave is fine in a pinch.  

With it's 5g Fat, 58 carbs, 15 fiber, and 17 protein it is a great balance for your body to keep you satisfied for quite some time.  Also there is not one thing on the ingredient list I can't read or understand.  Also, I used my WW points calculator and it only added up to 8pts+ so a great reasonable point value lunch!

Truly a FABU Food Find!  Find these in the frozen food section at the grocery!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two new HEALTHY recipes for baked ziti & mashed taters coming soon!

I'm so excited to share my new ziti recipe (which started with a recipe my friend Julie gave me but I have been tweaking!) and mashed potatoes with a serving of real veggies?! Yes! And Darren - Mr. I eat nothing green - LOVED them! They are healthy versions that still need a little more tweaking by me but even right now i give a FABU Food double thumbs up! Will post in a few days!

Have a FABU Food week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Fall Y'all Carrot-Pumpkin Mini-cakes

Carrot-Pumpkin Mini-Cakes

  • 1 box of carrot cake mix
  • 1 15oz can of Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling just pumpkin)
  • 1/2C water

tools that will help:
  • A stand or hand mixer
  • cupcake/muffin tin
  • cupcake liners
  • 2 tablespoons

Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and then mix on slow for about 30secs and then put it on medium and mix for 2mins.  Line the muffin tins with 24 liners.  Then using the tablespoons (one to scoop and drop into the muffin tins and the other to scrap the remaining batter from the other spoon into the tin) drop a heaping tablespoon of batter into each muffin tin.

Then bake as the box directs.

This recipe smells like fall!  Pumpkin, spices, homey & warm - ahhhhhh.  I love it!  They are so moist and wonderful!  At first when I told Darren what was in them he made a face...then he tasted and about fell over.  I think they currently run neck & neck with a Reeses cup!  He took a bunch to work and one of his co-workers told him to come home and genuflect before me.  I liked that for sure!  HA!  Anyway – between the fact that this tastes totally FABU yummy and there is no added fat, cholesterol or refined sugar makes it healthy too!  

You may want to schmeer a little pumpkin cream cheese on these for a melt in your mouth food-gasm!  (I stole that from my friend Julie!!!  LOL!!).  You can also make these using a regular cake pan but the mini-cake is a perfect portion size are totally aware when you eat 6 of them...  :)

Happy Fall Y'all!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pork Chops in a Cranberry Thyme Sauce!

Pork Chops with Cranberry-Thyme Sauce
½ cup butter melted
4 boneless pork chops 6 ounces each
1 cup white wine
1 cup cranberry sauce
1 small onion(s) chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme chopped
Unit salt and pepper to taste

Who knew you could buy fresh thyme you didn't have worry about keeping alive?!  I got this stuff in a ziplock at Publix!

Lightly brown the pork chops in a skillet.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, cranberry sauce and white wine.  
Arrange the pork chops in the bottom of the stoneware. Sprinkle the salt and pepper, onion and thyme over the pork chops.
Pour the sauce into the stoneware and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours.

I could tell you this recipe was passed down through my Austrian step-grandmother but that would be a lie.  Honestly I was bored and was messing with my Sunbeam crock-pot app  on my iPhone (I actually am on my 2nd Hamilton Beech Crock-pot which I LOVE!) when I found this recipe.  It sounded WAY to fancy to be good – but let me tell you, it is crockpot FABULOUS!  Darren said it smelled like a stew – but I think he mean's Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon.  Let me tell you friends, I wish this blog was scratch-n-sniff because OMG! that stuff smelled SO good it was like pork chops slow cooked in a good port wine all day.  Fruity, buttery, onions and thyme and pork...I am not a big pork lover but good night this smells DEE-LISH!

My 2nd thought , after the euphoria of the sniffing, was what are we going to eat with this?  Rice is too blah...potatoes will suck up the juices and it will be a big mess.  I was thinking polenta but Darren doesn't like that because of the I am making butter fried corn bread.  Heck no! Not from scratch – out of a box.  SUPER easy.  Just pre-heat the oven as directed on the box of mix you prefer, mix up the batch, when the oven is ready put 1/3 of a stick of butter in a cast iron skillet and put it in the oven for 5mins or till melted (don't burn the butter).  Then pour the batter in and cook as directed – great with chili and everything else.  My dear friend Charlotte Bethel Burbank of Louisiana taught this yankee how to make that and it is super yummy scrumptious!

Then I thought this fancy dish needed a fancy veggie and I suggested asparagus...but, Darren said, “ makes your pee smell funny”, so that was out.  Then I remembered I had frozen some fresh green beans from the Richland Park Farmer's Market, which I love to go to.  We will have those – steamed!

Sure does look yummy!

The tasting~
Oddly for the stick of butter it calls for, it was not as rich and heavy as I thought it would be - which for me is a good thing.  It does have a very German flare, so if you like that kind of food – here's to you!  Darren said he liked it even though he's not a fan of German food but that it was ok.  Not something he would want every week.  We both felt the corn bread and fresh green beans were a good pairing to the flavors.  The cool think is that the flavors married in the cooking but you could still taste everything in a good way.

This would make a good presentation to guests.  Also some tips:
  • use ½ the amount of onion
  •  use light butter instead of fully leaded
  • cook no more than 7hrs – the meat stays tender but it gets a little dry.
  • pair it with a white wine like a Pinot Grigio and even though I am not a Reisling drinker that might also work.  Maybe a fancy beer would do as well.

I am sure if I didn't cook it at long it would have tasted just as good as it smelled.  Onward and upward to the next adventure!  Have a recipe you want me to try - send it to me!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Very Cranberry! Coming Soon!

I'm trying out a recipe today in my "test kitchen" called "Boneless Pork Chops in a Butter Cranberry Sauce". If all goes well - I will share! If not I will share Darren's usually funny reaction.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey for $0.79/lb!

Hi all - If you live around Nashville, Kroger has turkeys for $0.79 / lb!  I got a 15.58lb turkey for just $12.31!  That's cheaper than Aldi.  Thought I would pass on the sale tip to you!  Hurry - they may not last! Have a yummy day!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Easy Peasy HEALTHY Bolognese (Meat Sauce) - A Ragu you can do!

Well, its Sunday and that means one thing in an Italian household – TIME TO MAKE THE GRAVY!  Those of you who are not Italian, “gravy” translates to “tomato sauce”.  Today though, I am making an easy, peasy, HEALTHIER bolognese, or meat sauce.  

Normally, Bolognese is made in a saute pan ( a high sided fry pan like thing) and you have to let it sit, and babysit it, for like EVER.  And A. who has time for that and B. you can't leave the house with the stove on.  Plus full fat meats mean calories and cholesterol – who needs any of that?!  Well, this little Singing Tomato has come up with a FABU Ragu for you!

Get out that crockpot / slow cooker and spray it up (see crockpot tip #1).

Ingredients list:
  • 1/4C EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1lb – ground turkey (lean as you can find)
  • 1lb – ground sirloin or super lean ground beef
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatos
  • 1 HEAPING teaspoon minced garlic (from the jar is ok with me but don't tell Auntie M!)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped to near mincing

It don't look pretty in pieces but once mixed together and slow cooked for 8hrs - OMG! SO YUMMY!

Tools that might help:
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • chopper – I HEART Pampered Chef and especially my chopper from them but if you have a similar brand or a good old fashions sharp chopping knife – that will do just fine – just watch your fingers!
  • peeler
  • knife
  • wooden spoon
  • of course your crock pot!

Put everything into the crockpot in the above listed order.  Stir everything together with the wooden spoon.  Cover your pot and cook on low for 8-9hrs.  Then enjoy your wonderful, yummy, Bolognese over your favorite pasta or in a lasagna or ziti!

Saucy Notes:
You will note unlike other tomato sauce-esque recipes I do not call for sugar in my sauce.  I am trying to avoid refined sugars – in this case you're going to use the carrot to create the sweetness needed without the sugar.  Also, this will make about 5 dinner's worth of sauce or 5 pints.  Make sure if you don't already have them to go get some plasticware to store your cooked sauce in – pint sizes should do.  You can then freeze it for later use during the week.

Other benefit – your house will smell like an Italian granny lives there!  Brings me back to our Sunday dinners with my whole extended family!  Mangi!

Here it is all done and ready for topping some al dente pasta!

Based on my WW recipe builder this (w/o pasta) is about 3pps.

Have questions?  Tried this recipe and loved it – leave me a comment to let me know!

Come Sing & Cook in my Kitchen with Me!

Well, I have been thinking for a while, “Maybe I should start a blog...but what do I know about that I'd want to write about?”  I sing but you really can't enjoy that via the written word, and you may not like how I sing – I like show tunes...BUT what was I passionate enough about, besides music, that I could share with you and encourage you to be passionate about too.  Something we can all do with just a smidge of effort.  FOOD!  

We all love food – I consider myself a foodie.  As a foodie in a normal world I have many challenges.  Don't get me wrong – I love me some Paula Dean, Barefoot Contessa, Rachel Ray and all of them but I did say “ in the real world”.  In the real world a foodie cook has challenges, real people we love, calories, TIME...oh my!

My beloved life partner, Darren.  I love him, he loves me and I think my foodieness is both the joy and bain of his existence.  He says he isn't picky but he is like my version of Goldielocks – it's too rich, it's too many flavors going on at the same time, the texture is too odd – and on and on.   So, I try to find new things that I can make and he will like – that they are “just right”.  The good thing is he will try anything once.  Thank God for Darren.

Another challenge is, my weight (I think a lot of us can relate).  I LOVE good food, food made with REAL butter and cream and all those fabulous flavors!  However, due to the blend of my Italian genes, my day job at a desk, and busy life as a woman handling a lot extra time is as elusive as my waistline   I have to lay down on the bed to zip my jeans up!  So I am a Weight Watcher member (I do endorse them as a healthy lifestyle behavioral change program to lose and keep weight off but I know everyone is different – so you must work with your doctor and your life style to pick something that works for you).  I have to take into account what I put in my mouth – but the good part of that is I am continually striving to eat the best tasting healthy food.  I had a Weight Watcher leader in Long Island who's name escapes me but she always said two things.  One, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” - which most of the time is true and when it's not, two, “Is what you are going to indulge in worth the calories you are going to spend on it.  If the answer is yes, write it down, eat it mindfully.  Then embrace and own your decision.”.  To this day I keep those things in mind when I eat and now cook.

My third challenge is time.  Again, you can probably relate.  Who has time anymore?  I work full time, I teach music after work 2x a week and I take care of my small family.  I try to make it to my student's & friends'  theatre productions and performances to support them.  AND I want to sing myself every now and then, outside my kitchen, and be social.  OY!  When you don't even start thinking about dinner until 7pm, who has time to cook?  and at that – Who had time to cook something that tastes good and is worth the calories and the time to sit and eat it.

I think we all have the above issues – surely I can't be alone (I am not alone – AM I?! Hopefully I will get some readers who will reaffirm that I am not alone!)  I call the above “challenges” but really they are blessings...Darren is supportive of my cooking adventures and he is willing to try anything.  So – I make things that sometimes we both look at each other and say the only thing good we learned from that is that we don't want it again (you won't see those recipes or restaurants here – I don't even know you but I like you too much to do that to you!).  Sometimes, however, I hit on something he claims is, “his new favorite!” and that is the BEST!  The great thing about being a Weight Watcher is that it forces me to be mindful about eating and cooking, it provides me support of friends in a healthy lifestyle journey, and new recipes to try! (if I have the Pts+ value I will post!)  All that and sometimes, when I am on track, I actually lose weight.  I have a ways to go but we will do that together too!  And lastly, time.  The ever elusive time to make something that is fabulous, impressive, lovely and healthy. (at least mostly healthy)  

There is time, my friends.  I grew up in an Italian / Irish heritage where food is the Sun that we all revolve around.  My grandparents grew their own tomatoes to make “the Sunday Gravy” (tomato sauce).  Now not only do I not have time to do that but I live in a condo – I have very little space for a garden.  I grow my basil & tomatoes in pots.  There is a way though and I will share it with you here.

Some other things I will probably share with you that revolve around food, restaurants that I find that are FABULOUS, party etiquette as both host(ess) and attendee, table manners, hosting a formal dinner party (who even does that anymore? I do and it is EASY and so much more fun!), and any other idea I may have.  Some posts may be short, others long but hopefully always interesting and useful. I will also share my recipes, friends recipes, and some cooking secrets to make things easier all the way around.

I didn't study cooking formally other than next to my grandma, my aunt and my mom (and sometimes my dad when he would be creative).  I hope you enjoy it and I thank you for joining me in my journey as a foodie!  Come sing in my kitchen with me while we cook up somethin' good!

Love & Hugs 

PS – Have a favorite recipe?  Email me.  Maybe, I will make it and share it here!