Friday, April 30, 2010


HAPPY FRIDAY ALL! With this post I have officially finished 2 of my 12 months of The Year of the Cook!!!!
Here is some good news about food that you might not know.
1. EGGS RAISE YOUR CHOLESTEROL - not so fast. Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body. Your body makes its own cholesterol so it doesn't need much of what you eat. Saturated and trans fats fuel the cholesterol-making in your body and eggs contain just a small amount of saturated fat. One egg about 1.5 grams which is a fraction of the amount of fat in the butter used to cook your EAT EGGS!!
2. ADDING SALT TO THE POT ADDS SODIUM TO YOUR FOOD. Salt added to boiling water may actually make your vegetables more nutrient-rich. While watching your intake of salt is very important, when you boil vegetables in salted water two things happen: first the salt helps the vegetables retain more of their nutrients and also helps the vegetables cook faster so they lose less of their nutrients.
3. FRIED FOODS ARE ALWAYS TOO FATTY. Healthy deep frying is not an oxymoron!!!! The most important thing when frying foods is to make sure your oil is hot enough. When you fry at lower temperature oil, the oil tends to get absorbed into the food. When foods are exposed to the right temperature oil moisture from the food leaves and creates a barrier which makes oil absorption much smaller. Overcooked fried foods will also start absorbing keep it hot and only cook until done.
4, THE ONLY HEART-FRIENDLY ALCOHOL IS RED WINE. Of course this is my personal favorite. Beer, wine and liquors all have the same health benefits!!! The lovely French
made us all believe that the antioxidants in red wine protected the foie-gras cheese-loving French from heart disease. Most recent research has shown that antioxidants aren't the answer at all. Alcohol, the ethanol itself, raises levels of good cholesterol which helps protect against plaque buildup in arteries helping prevent heart attacks. Any kind of beverage consumed in moderation (what????) helps reduce heart risk!!!
So I am off to deep fry some eggs in salted water with hot oil and DRINK!!!
Maybe I should have called the blog Two Months with the Cook...I am getting weird!! Happy weekend

Thursday, April 29, 2010


If you love tomatoes like I do, you will make this dish often. When shopping for the tomatoes buy large tomatoes that are ripe but still firm. These tomatoes can be served as the entree for a lighter meal or as a side with broiled chicken or a steak off the grill.


1 cup of basmati brown rice or a short grain white rice
6 tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 shallot chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
5 tbl olive oil
3 tbl fresh chopped basil
2 tbl fresh chopped italian parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground pepper

Cook the rice per package directions and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut a slice off the top of each tomato and save the tops. Scoop out all the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes and save about a 1/2 cup in a bowl. Toss the rice with the tomato seeds and pulp. Add shallot, garlic, olives, peppers, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese, 3 tbl olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it well.

Pour remaining 2 tbl olive oil in the bottom of a 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Place the tomatoes into the pan. Spoon the rice mixture into the tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Replace the tops onto the tomatoes. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked and rice is hot about 20 minutes.

I know my sister Nancy will make these NOW!!!!! one LOVES tomatoes like she does.....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I LOVE butternut squash. The flavor is sweeter than pumpkin and it has such a wonderful smell when it is cooking. These are so easy to make because I just use store bought won ton wrappers instead of trying to make my own pasta. It cuts out a lot of prep time. The amaretto cookies can be found at an italian or specialty grocery store. You can substitute pumpkin and so many other fillings to this experiment!!!


For the Tortellini

1 butternut squash (about 3 cups) peeled and cubed
3 shallots roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 cup whole milk ricotta
4-5 small amaretto flavored cookies crushed
4 tbl + 2 Tbl olive oil
1-1/2 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 pkg small won ton wrappers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix squash cubes with 4 tbl olive oil, herbs de provence, salt and pepper. Bake until fork tender - about 25 minutes. Let cool

Heat other 2 tbl olive oil in a saute pan and cook shallots and garlic until shallot is translucent. In a food processor combine squash, shallot mixture and ricotta cheese. Pulse a few times. Add cookies, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until smooth.

Place a won ton wrapper on a plate. Put 1 tbl squash mixture in the middle of the wrapper. Brush all sides with water. Gently fold the wrapper in a triangle shape making sure all sides are secure so no mixture will leak out. Brush 2 longer corners with water and squeeze them together. Put stuffed wrapper on a baking sheet. Repeat this process until squash mixture is gone.
For the Sauce:
1-1/2 sticks of butter
3 tbl fresh roughly chopped sage
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
parmesan cheese
While you are making this sauce, heat a pot of water on the stove to cook tortellini. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sage, walnuts and cranberries and cook about 4 minutes. Turn off heat and taste to see if you want salt and pepper.
Gently drop tortellini in boiling salted water. Cook about 3 minutes or until they float to the top. Remove them from the water to a platter. Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve with parmesan cheese.
So wonderful.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Today's Tips are ones that will undoubtedly save you money and keep all your produce the freshest it can be for the longest amount of time. I hate when I end up throwing produce away because I forgot to eat it and I didn't store it properly to add staying power. Here are a few tips to extend the life of your produce:

Wash and dry the produce you buy when you get it home. The exception to this rule is all berries, cauliflower and broccoli. Reason - bacteria accumulates on produce when it goes from farm to market and promotes rot. So washing slows the bacterial growth.

Store all your produce separately in sealed bags. Don't just toss it all together in a drawer. Produce releases ethylene gas as it ripens....sounds weird to me too.... If you store it all together gases from one item can accelerate the spoilage of another. I use resealable bags and line them with paper towel to absorb extra moisture. Target sells bags called "Green Bags".

Tomatoes, radishes, potatoes, all squash, onion and garlic are more sensitive to cold so they should never end up in the refrigerator.

Any of you who know me might wonder why I don't look like this photo since I eat soooooo much broccoli. Pretty frequently it seems you hear of yet another wonder of broccoli for our health. Yesterday I read that broccoli spouts protect your nasal airways from irritating pollutants and pollen, which is very important during this spring allergy season. It acts as a natural anti-inflammatory in your nasal passages.

Oh and asparagus is very beneficial at breaking down alcohol in your body....okay ya I eat a lot of that TOO!!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010


This mouthwatering dish brings out the best flavors of shrimp scampi all stuffed into a big beautiful pasta shell. It may look like they are in tomato sauce, but each shell gets slices of tomato added and the juice runs into the scampi sauce....marvelous!
1 box large pasta shells
5 tbl butter
5 tbl good olive oil
2 shallot sliced
6 cloves of garlic diced YES!
1 lb cherry tomatoes sliced
1 lb 20-24 count shrimp peeled and deveined
3/4 cup white wine
juice of one lemon
dash of red pepper flake
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the pasta according to package directions, but take them out of the water a few minutes earlier than recommended since they will finish cooking in the oven. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
In a large saute pan heat 3 tbl butter and 3 tbl olive oil at medium high heat. Add shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until shallots are soft and garlic is not burnt. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Only cook the shrimp until they have turned pink on both sides and then remove them from the pan and keep warm. To the pan add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add remaining 2 tbl butter and oil. When the butter has melted return the shrimp to the pan and add pasta water if you think the sauce is a little thin. Don't add too much. Stir so all the flavors are incorporated.
When pasta shells have cooled put one or two shrimp in each (depending on size) and add a few slices of tomato. Place in a 13 x 9 pan. When all the shells are full, pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the shells and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 -25 minutes until cheese is golden. To serve, place shells on a platter and pour remaining sauce over the top. Serve with parmesan cheese.
This can also be served as an appetizer as well. So delicious to get all the flavors of the scampi in a nice little package!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Dave got this recipe from Bernie, affectionately called "The Cousin" around these parts. Bernie always served this before his dinner parties with cocktails or simply as the star of his many cocktail galas.
Who doesn't LOVE brie. Over the years, we have added different fresh and dried fruits depending on what's in season and what would best compliment the rest of the meal.
A round of brie
sliced almonds
1 granny smith apple thinly sliced, or
1 fresh pear thinly sliced, or
1 fresh Asian pear, or
dried cranberries, or
dried apricots
1 tbl olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
You can certainly choose one of the fresh or dried fruits above or a combination of them, but don't use too much as you don't want the fruit to overpower the brilliance of the brie.
In a oven proof clear "pyrex-type" dish, drizzle the olive oil in the pan, coating the bottom. Cut the round of brie in half or quarters (depending on the size of the round) and place the pieces in the pan and drizzle the top with olive oil. Arrange the almonds and your fruit(s) of choice on top of the brie and around it on the bottom of the pan.
Bake until the cheese is melted and gooey. Serve immediately with sliced baguette so the cheese doesn't start to reset.
This recipe should serve about 6 people as an appetizer, and you will find it is gone in an instant. You will be a star with your guests! Thanks Bernie - hope we have done you proud!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This is for you Mary Ann!!!!!!!

How sweet is this! If you like sitting down to a nice hot cup of black tea you will love this. Proceeds from the sale of Absolut Boston go to the Charles River Conservatory environmental cause. Absolut Boston is the third city Absolut has featured for their charity vodkas - New Orleans is a spicy peppery and mango version and Los Angeles is a light vodka with the natural flavors of blueberry, acai berry and pomegranate (sounds healthy doesn't it?)

Here are two cocktails that can be made using Absolut Boston.

Boston Tea Party Martini
3 parts Absolut Boston
2 parts lemon juice
1 part simple syrup
Simple syrup is just 2 parts sugar mixed with one part water. Boil to dissolve sugar in the water and let cool.

1 part Absolut Boston
2 parts white grape juice
top off with some ginger ale

as a little aside - Dave and I were out being stupid yesterday and were coerced by a great bartender to have a shot of blueberry vodka and red bull. At least I got to have it over was interesting....

Friday, April 23, 2010


The photo speaks for itself...light refreshing....scrumptious....perfect way to start the weekend. For this cocktail don't buy expensive champagne but make sure it is a brut, the driest of champagnes.
If you want to sugar the rims of the glasses just rub a lemon wedge around the rim of the glass and roll the glass in sugar....NICE!!!!
For each cocktail , cut a lemon rind and roll it to make it curl and place it in the bottom of the glass. Add a shot glass full of Limoncello (this is an Italian lemon flavored liqueur) to each glass and a dash of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Then fill 'er up with champagne.
Very refreshing! Here's a toast to you Rachel!!! Happy Friday All!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Okay, so I made this last night. I hemmed and hawed over ingredients and how to put it together. In the end it was so delicious, we ate it before I remembered to take a picture of it. So this picture I just got off the internet somewhere.
I can bet we have all tried some kind of Chinese chicken stir fry dish when we were out to eat. Some were bland and some too heavy. This was PERFECT!
1 boneless chicken breast cubed
1 red pepper diced
1 orange pepper diced
3 celery stalks diced
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
1/4 cup cashews (optional)
1 tbl garlic minced
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbl canola oil
1/2 cup + 3 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl fresh ginger cut in half
1 tbl salt
1/2 tbl sugar
2 tsp honey
1 tbl + 3 turns cracked pepper
2 tbl hoison sauce
dash of cayenne
dash of red pepper flake
2 tsp corn starch
brown rice
In a large ziploc bag combine, 3/4 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup soy sauce, ginger, 1 tbl salt, sugar, honey, 1 tbl pepper and cayenne. Make sure all ingredients are combined then add the chicken. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Heat canola oil in a wok or large saute pan. Add chicken while discarding the marinade. Cook chicken until almost done. Add red pepper, orange pepper, garlic, celery and water chestnuts. Cook 4-5 minuytes until chicken done and vegetables still firm but cooked. Add 3 tbl soy sauce, hoison sauce, 1/2 cup chicken broth, red pepper flakes, and 3 turns of pepper. Add cashews and let simmer for 2 minutes. Mix together 2 tsp of cornstarch with either water or chicken broth. Slowly add and stir. The mixture will start to thicken. Don't overdue this step, you don't want it too thick.
Turn off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes and serve over rice. If you like it a little spicier just add more cayenne or red pepper flakes. Serve over brown rice.
It is delicious and clean up is so easy...just toss the ziploc bag and clean the wok....!!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Here are some fun facts that I have recently found in print. Some are amazing.
1. Bananas - bury dried or cut up banana peels a few inches deep around your rose bushes and they will deter aphids.
2. Alka Seltzer - remove burned food from your cookware by filling it with warm water and dissolving 5-6 tablets and let it sit for an hour or so.
3. Aluminum Foil - to keep birds out of your fruit trees, hang twisted strips of aluminum foil with cheap fishing line. I need this to cut down on the bird crap on my deck.
4. Baking Soda - if you soak dried beans in baking soda and water they will be more easily digestible.
5. Beer - get rid of garden slugs by filling a shallow bowl with beer and put it into your soil up to the lip. The slugs get stuck in it...SWEET. You will need to refill the bowl daily.
6. Dryer Sheets - you can repel bees and bugs by tucking dryer sheets in your picnic basket, or under lawn furniture or heck rub it on your bare skin.
7. Honey - My personal favorite - you can help your hangover by putting a few spoonfuls on toast. The fructose speeds up the metabolism of alcohol...YES!!!!!!!
8. Lemon - you can remove soft cheese or other sticky food for your cheese grater by rubbing the pulp of a cut lemon on the grater.
9. Mayonnaise - you can remove bumper stickers by rubbing them with mayonnaise. Let it sit for a few minutes then wipe it off. This also works with tar and tree sap.
10. Milk - if you get ink stains on your clothing, soak it in milk overnight and stain gone.
11. Olive Oil - have a stuck zipper - apply some olive oil to the zipper teeth with a cotton ball.. work the zipper gently.
12. Soda - you can clear a slow drain by pouring a 2 liter bottle of cola down it....wonder what it's doing to my throat???
13. Vinegar - if you have price tags stuck to glasses, dinnerware or cookware - put several coats of vinegar on them and let it soak in for about 5 minutes and wipe them away.
14. Wine Bottles - put them in your tall boots to prevent creasing. I NEED MORE BOOTS!!!!
Hope these were fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Who doesn't love this combination...Italian sausage and grilled peppers. We have made them by the truckload for our friends and our kids' friends and there are never any leftovers.
The smells of the sausage and peppers cooking is intoxicating. Personally I add grilled onions to mine and Dave adds marinara sauce. One of the keys for me is the right cheese and there is no doubt that Land O' Lakes White American is the best by far.
When you cut open your hoagie roll dig out some of the bread and create a bowl-like space so the sausage and peppers sink into the bread and then the whole filling won't fall out of the roll.
4 tbl olive oil split
1 lb italian sausage (mild or hot)
1 red pepper thinly sliced
1 green pepper thinly sliced
1 medium onion thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 lb thinly sliced Land O'Lakes white american cheese
1 jar of your favorite marinara or homemade
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Heat 2 tbl olive oil in a large skillet over medium - high heat and saute the sausage until almost cooked through. In another skillet heat remaining oil and add peppers and onions. Season the vegetables with pinches of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, do not burn.
When the sausage is almost cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and slice into thin coins. Return sausage to the same pan and add enough marinara sauce to coat all the sausage and cook until done.
In the meantime, slice your baguettes and trim some of the bread out of them. Put two slices of cheese into the baguette. Add some of the sausage mixture and some of the vegetable mixture. Place another piece of cheese on top and bake in the oven until cheese starts to melt.
My mouth is watering......and to think I am having salad tonight...aauugghhh....

Monday, April 19, 2010


This dish is so full of flavor and so void of calories. Portabella mushrooms have lots of fiber so you tend to feel fuller after you eat them and they are fat free and cholesterol free so you can feel so good about indulging.
2 tbl olive oil
2 shallots diced
3 garlic cloves minced
12 oz portabella mushroom caps diced
1 tsp dried thyme
15 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes crushed
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and add shallots and cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Keep heat to medium so the shallots and garlic don't burn. Then add mushrooms and thyme and turn heat to high. Cook until mushrooms are soft and their juices have reduced, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until thick about 10-15 minutes.
This dish doesn't need pasta for you gluten free folks. It is plenty all by itself. A 3/4 cup serving has only 90 calories. Of course as an Italian, I want pasta with every meal so I do serve with pasta. You can refrigerate this sauce for 4-5 days too!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I have been asked by many followers, including friends Holly Kimbrell and Olivia Reilly Carter, for Gluten Free recipes. I think more importantly those who need gluten free options need to find substitutions for the ingredients in recipes containing gluten. So here are a few suggestions......
When a recipe calls for Italian or panko breadcrumbs in foods like crab cakes, meatballs etc., try substituting Betty Crocker Potato Buds, some other brands of potato buds contain gluten so make sure you read the label....
When a recipe for crispy chicken or fish cutlets calls for ingredients to make a breading....try grinding Rice Chex in a food processor and coating the chicken or fish with that and then frying.
Finally for any recipe that suggests flouring the protein like steaks to make a crustier outside, try using garbanzo bean flour, flaxseed meal, white rice flour or potato flour...the rice flour and potato flour make a much crispier crust so start with those.
For all you gluten free followers, if there is a specific meal you are craving and would like a gluten free me at and I will work on that recipe and blog it for you...
Hope these tips help!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Hello from St. Thomas!!!!! We are having a wonderful time relaxing with friends.
These delicious mushrooms are an appetizer that can be served warm or chilled.
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb cremini mushrooms with the stems cut off
1/2 cup good white wine
1/4 thin sliced fennel
chop a few fennel fronds
2 tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
2 cloves of chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a saute pan. Add all the other ingredients and cook stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender about 8-10 minutes. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and refrigerate covered for at least an hour and up to a 4 days. Serve either chilled, room temperature or warm them in a low temperature oven
Guests love this little delight.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Days shy of 45 years since he invented boxed wine, Australian winemaker Thomas Angove died at age 92. He was also the first winemaker to use stainless steel to store wine in bulk.

His son runs the business now and admits that when he was 15, his Dad brought home a prototype and he said...."That's ridiculous Dad, no one is ever going to buy wine out of a carton box or a plastic bag...but my Dad persevered, didn't listen to me and was determined."

Ironically in is will, he asked to be buried in a glass bottle!!!!!

So raise a glass and toast the man who has changed (be it for better or worse) wine history. On a side husband and I have tried many of these boxed wine. I am a Kendall Jackson drinker true and true so it was pretty hard to find one that compared. Overall the best I tasted was Black Box. However, for me it has to be opened in the refrigerator for about 24 hours to get a little mellower....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


This week one of the last surviving Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz passed away. He was 94. Meinhardt Raabe was the munchkin who so eloquently spoke these coronoer I must aver, I thoroughly examined her and she's not only merely dead she is really most sincerely dead......
After the movie's release Raabe toured the country in the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile promoting hot dogs as "Little Oscar" the world's smallest chef.....
In 2005 he wrote a book...Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road.
So now you are saying to yourselves...she's blogging about a munchkin...a small chef...Bernie he was a munchkin not a kids are not surprised...I love the Wizard of Oz....favorite movie...
Let's face it I am on vacation in St. Thomas...the sun just came out...a bloody mary has my name on to you all

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am slacking today....if you have any suggestions or questions for this blog and cannot "follow" or "Comment" email me your suggestions or questions to

I am in St. Thomas and am not cooking today...spent too much time in the sun...but really can you spend too much time....took some pictures FUN FUN FUN


Saturday, April 10, 2010


I always have ingredients for this appetizer on hand because it is so easy and who doesn't love ravioli...fried sauce.....REALLY?

I buy my favorite frozen raviolis. There are so many flavors, from traditional cheeses to pumpkin and portabella mushroom. I also always have glad containers in the freezer of my homemade marinara sauce or you can keep jars of your favorite marinara sauce on hand.


1 pkg raviolis

2 cups marinara sauce

2-3 egg yolks

3/4 cup italian breadcrumbs

2 cups canola oil

Take the raviolis out of the freezer and thaw on the counter.

In a shallow bowl whisk eggs together. In another shallow bowl add breadcrumbs. Dip raviolis in the egg wash and drain and then coat with the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a pan and add a few breaded raviolis at a time. Don't overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels and serve with warm marinara sauce. A perfect appetizer. Every guest will think you have spent hours in the kitchen.



I am not a big pork chop fan I have to say, but this recipe makes them so moist and the filling is a perfect compliment to the texture of the pork chop. The pork chops are brined first. Brining came into fashion with holiday turkey but I brine most bone-in chicken dishes and all pork dishes because the meat always stays moist. Nothing worse than dried out chicken..makes me drink more wine.....haha
Brine Ingredients (for 4)
4 bone in pork chops thick 1-1/2 in
2 quarts of water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 salt
6 fresh thyme sprigs
10 cloves of garlic YES
1 tbl whole allspice
Combine these ingredients in a ziploc bag and mix. Add the pork chops and refrigerate for one hour.
8 slices of prosciutto
4 slices of gruyere cheese (thick)
1 carton cherry tomatoes diced
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Take the pork chops out of the brine. Dry with a paper towel. Cut the chops horizontally to the bone to make a pocket. Stuff with two slices of prosciutto, a slice of cheese and some tomatoes. Pinch together the sides of the chop and secure with a toothpick. In a saute pan heat 4 tbl of olive oil add two pork chops at a time. Cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes. Turn chops and cook for about 2 minutes. Put pan in the oven and cook chops until done and cheese melted about 5 minutes. Take pan out of the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes and serve.

Friday, April 9, 2010


My family has been visiting York Beach Maine for the last 10 years. My husband and his siblings and parents have been visiting for his entire life (which in years I am not allowed to disclose) and beyond to his grandparents.

During most of that time we have had the opportunity to choose to eat at the taffy joint, the pizza joint, the local tavern and a few breakfast joints unless we wanted to get in the car. To our surprise in November of 2006 a renovation began on an old run down building. While there was talk of an upscale restaurant and one quite believed it would get off the ground. To our amazement the restaurant and hotel opened a couple years ago. From the photos you can tell this is a cozy upscale dining room. The chef is a renowned chef from Boston named Lydia Shire. I love Lydia because she shares her Kendall Jackson with me when we are both at the bar!!!!!

The menu has so many wonderful delicacies from the waters of New England; clams, mussels, wonderful fish and an entire section of the menu devoted to lobster including pizza.

I love the lamb pizza, yes I said lamb and the spaghetti carbonara.

The restaurant has been featured in Gourmet Magazine, Bon Appetit, Metropolitan Home, Taste and Portland.

So when you come to visit us we'll all pay a I didn't say I'd pay for your visit...we will all visit this small town treasure.

Rachel who worked downstairs from the restaurant at the hotel never ate there only drank their LEMON DROPS!!!!!

And a toast to Bernie and Donna!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Many of my followers have watched me make this and commented on the wonderful smells. I am thinking of you Bernie up in Maine on New Year's Eve. Dave and I were having about 8-10 people for dinner and everyone wanted this lasagna. We had a lot planned for the day, so I woke at about 7am and by about 9am I had two big pans of this in the refrigerator and I felt great knowing all I had to do was bake it and New Year's Eve dinner would be served. Bernie thought I was crazy as I recall......

It may look like a lot of components, but you can make one component while another one cooks on the stove. It is a little unconventional - there is no spinach and no ricotta cheese....that my friends is a personal preference because I don't like either one of those foods. I experimented with other things I could use as a "layer" and this became as Tyler Florence would say "The Ultimate".
While you are making the meat sauce, bechamel and cheese filling, cook the lasagna noodles not completely but about 8 minutes, drain and separate on wax paper so the strips stay intact and let cool. This makes putting the dish together MUCH easier.
I roughly chop my vegetables because after they cook, I puree them in a food processor because a lot of my friends and family don't like to bite into chunks of vegetables. If you like chunks, just more finely chop or dice yours.

First - 2-3 boxes of lasagna noodles cooked as directed above. I use 3 boxes in case some break or fall apart in the water.

Meat Sauce
5 tbl oilve oil
3 tbl unsalted butter
6 oz of pancetta chopped
1 cup sweet onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup carrot chopped
1/2 lb 95% ground beef
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1 cup dry red wine
2-1/2 cups crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked pepper
3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat and pancetta and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft. With a slotted spoon take all vegetables and pancetta out of the pan and puree in a food processor and return them to the pan with the olive oil and butter. Stir in the beef, veal and pork and cook until meat turns pink, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the wine and raise the heat to high. Cook until the liquid from the wine and meats reduces by half. Add the tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn heat to low and simmer uncovered about one hour stirring occasionally. Check the thickness and make sure the sauce is not too thin. If it is, cook longer. This sauce can be made a day ahead.
Bechamel Sauce
1 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
While the meat sauce is cooking make this bechamel. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat and add flour. Using a whisk, mix the butter and flour so there are no lumps of flour left and the mixture gets smooth and light golden brown. Raise heat to medium high and add milk, salt and nutmeg. Cook over medium to low heat stirring/whisking constantly so it becomes thicker and doesn't burn. When it becomes more like a gravy consistency remove from the heat and cover.
Cheese Filling
16 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese grated
2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
Combine these in a bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the dish.
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Reserve about 3/4 cup of bechamel for the top of the lasagna. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 pan with unsalted butter. Spread a layer of the bechamel on the bottom of the pan. Place strips of lasagna lengthwise in the bottom of the pan slightly overlapping them. Spread another layer of bechamel on top of the noodles. Ladle a layer of meat sauce on top of the bechamel. Sprinkle a layer of the cheese filling over the meat sauce. Make three to four more layers of this - pasta, bechamel, meat sauce, cheese. Cover the top with a layer of pasta. Try to tuck the corners into the pan so it doesn't leak over or burn. Ladle and spread the remaining bechamel over the top. Add a thin layer of meat sauce and take about 3-4 tbl of unsalted butter and cut small pieces and spread around the top of the pan. Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until top layer gets crispy, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest about 15 to 20 minutes. Cut and serve.
Sometimes I make a double batch of the meat sauce and serve some so guests can add more sauce if they like. I also freeze some so I can just take it out, cook some pasta and top with's delicious.
This may seem hard, but it is really quite simple. I just LOVE this!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I think the hardest thing about entertaining for me is determining menus for the various types of parties I have in my home. My husband and kids may love a particular dish, but how am I to know that same dish will be a hit with my guests?

Well this dish traveled around a lot this past weekend and I heard from almost EVERY guest at the parties how scrumptious it was. I brought one batch to a luncheon wedding shower for 18 women and I brought another batch to an evening "Wildly Fun Bash" at my sister's house for about 30 people of all ages. At the end of the night, I brought home two casserole dishes that had been scraped clean.

Again it is easy and can be prepared ahead of time. It is served with a nice italian bread or ciabatta bread warmed in the oven, but not completely toasted.


12 oz of artichokes drained and rinsed
6-8 oz jumbo lump crabmeat (I use canned)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbl horseradish
3 tbl fresh lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
5-8 turns of a peppermill
3 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1-1/2 cups shredded white american cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine first nine ingredients. Make sure you buy regular cream cheese (not whipped). Just leave it on the counter for about an hour or so for it to soften. You can certainly add more crab if you like. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle top with cheeses and then Old Bay seasoning. Bake 30 minutes. I make this while I am having a nice glass of it must be simple. Serve with bread, crostini or even heated tortilla triangles.

Everyone at the recent parties I attended begged me to post this!

I know...I know...I already posted a crab dip about a month ago. That blog was a recipe using a MUST HAVE pantry item from Stonewall Kitchens.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I love this hors d' very flavorful and unbelievably easy and quick to make. You can make it the day ahead. While you can make it in a log (photo), I like to make them in individual serving balls atop a crostini. You can even bake off the crostini the day ahead and store in a tupperware container at room temperature. If you have a food processor this recipe could be even easier. You need to use fresh herbs for this not dried.
12 oz goat cheese
1 tsp fresh basil minced
3 tbl fresh italian parsley minced
2 tsp fresh rosemary minced
3 tsp fresh thyme minced
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
5 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 baquette
Mix together the herbs, salt, pepper and zest. Use a melon baller or a tsp and form cheese into small balls. Roll the balls in the herb mixture and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle the balls with 2 tbl olive oil and refrigerate. If you like a more lemony flavor, use a lemon flavored olive oil or squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top as well. Nice to garnish the plate with some fresh sprigs of the same herbs.
For the crostini, slice the bread, drizzle with 3 tbl olive oil and bake in a 375 degree oven until golden.
So simple, flavorful and makes a great presentation.

Monday, April 5, 2010


In a countryside villa in New Hamphshire, Dave and I spent a night with his good good friend. In the morning I was asked if I wanted a gooey egg sandwich..thought it was a prank. I said sure and the rest is history...thanks Simpson family. We had a party once where several guests spent the night. In the morning I made everyone these gooey egg sandwiches and they kept asking for more until I ran out of english muffins. Now we make them for all our overnight guests.

Let's face it, the secret to making a good breakfast egg dish is all in the timing. What is worse than getting served your breakfast at a restaurant and the toast is cold, but the eggs are great. If you ask for better the time you get it the eggs are cold....and forget about cold undercooked bacon...gag me. I have watched cooking competitions where very high level chefs must compete making eggs at a short order is the most stressful moment for all of them.

Great breakfasts are all about making the components in order, so that it all hits the plate at the right time. So to make these gooey egg sandwiches, you have to make all the components in order...but they are fabulous.

english muffins
sliced white american cheese

First things first, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and make the bacon on the stove and when it is cooked to your desired crispness, drain on a plate with paper towel and put the plate in the oven. The bacon will just keep warm, it won't really cook any more.

You must have the sliced cheese ready. Spray a small saute pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Crack an egg into the pan (no heat should be under the pan yet)...if the yolk breaks toss it....seriously they are about a quarter a piece and if the yolk is broken there will be no "gooey-ness". Put an english muffin in the toaster. You have to check the english muffin a few times. When it is warm throughout but not getting a crust yet...turn the egg pan on high heat.

As soon as the egg white is WHITE gently flip the egg and place a piece of cheese on top. Turn the heat OFF and remove the pan from the burner. Take the english muffin out of the toaster, place the cheesy egg on top, add a few slices of warm cooked bacon and top with other half of the english muffin.

I'll warn you, it is best to squeeze the sandwich a bit to break the gooey yolk onto the plate and soak it up as you go....or you might be wearing the yolk!!!!!

To all my followers who have eaten these over the years and now make them in your own home for your guests let's all know what I'm talking about!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter everyone

Friday, April 2, 2010


One Saturday afternoon we decided that we really wanted to BBQ the chicken I had taken out of the freezer but we didn't have any bbq sauce.... I went online and saw a hundred recipes for sauce and combined them all based on the ingredients I had on hand. This recipe has 13 ingredients and I had all of them in my refrigerator or pantry. It turned out fabulously , I think all these ingredients should be in everyone's pantry.


1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vineger
3 tbl brown sugar
1 tbl worcestershire sauce
1 tbl simple syrup*
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced shallot
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dry ginger
1/4 tsp dry allspice
1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more for spice)

*simple syrup can be made easily by combining a tbl of sugar and 2 tbl water...heat until sugar is dissolved.

Combine all ingredients......DONE...

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Many of my followers have had the pleasure of tasting this legendary dish. Passed on through generations this potato salad is so wonderfully different from all the standard recipes. I have a full night and day tomorrow of cooking to get ready for a wedding shower and a bash at my sister's house so I need to be quick here. This photo is Dave pouring the dressing into the potatoes ...he could be a thumb cute!!!!!


5 lbs russet potatoes peeled and chopped into chunks
Dry Good Seasons salad dressing, mixed per packet directions
1 sweet onion, preferably Vidalia diced
3 large stalks celery diced
1 tbl celery salt
1 tbl pepper
mayonnaise to taste and bind

Cook potatoes in large pot with plenty of salted water. When the potatoes are fork tender, drain the water and return them to the pot. Add good seasons dressing, celery salt and pepper and mix. Leave covered on the counter for at least 3 hours (if you have a hot date and won't be with your potatoes for 3 hours , at least one hour is good). You want to let the hot potatoes soak up all the dressing and spices. Refrigerate overnight.

Next day, add the onion and celery. Add mayonnaise by the tablespoon to taste and make sure the salad binds together. Always taste the salad to make sure you have seasoned it enough. You may want more pepper, celery salt or regular salt.
I hope we make Eileen proud....miss her madly!