Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I know a lot of people have this misconception that meatloaf is not good and that "mommy" forced you to eat it when you were little along with nasty Brussels sprouts and gross spinach.  Well, while a lot of people still don't like Brussels sprouts, spinach and meatloaf have come a long way.  This recipe has been used in my family since I can remember and there have never been leftovers!  This will be really simple to make and will be a new favorite in your house.  (The ketchup helps the kids to love it.)

I have been slacking with taking pictures, so I don't have any today.  As I thought more about it, though, you might not need to see any since this is so easy and quick.

  • 1 lb. ground beef (ground round is best because you want a little bit of fat...not too much)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz. saltine crackers (one package from the box, crushed)
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce (small can)
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • ketchup
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Using a large bowl, mix the first five ingredients together with your hands.  Go ahead and get messy, but remember to either have the water running, or a paper towel close to clean yourself off. 

2.  Season the mixture heavily with salt and pepper.  (I would suggest about 1 tsp. of each.) 

3.  Press the meat mixture into a loaf pan.  Keeping the dish uncovered, put it into the oven and bake for 1 hour.

4.  When the meatloaf is done, check the temp with a thermometer.  You want to see at least 165 degrees.  (It will probably be higher.)  Let the meatloaf rest for 15 min. 

5.  Now, I use a metal spatula to remove my portion from the pan.  It probably will not be a solid piece, but it will taste much better then your typical dense meatloaf.  Top each slice with a generous serving of ketchup.  ENJOY!!

P.S.-  I have made this recipe with ground turkey, but remember not to use the leanest meat at the grocery store or your meatloaf will be dry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beef Pasta

This is my version of a deconstructed Hamburger Helper.  I like to make this when it starts getting a little cooler outside.  Since I usually keep all these ingredients (except ground beef) in my pantry, this is a really inexpensive meal for us.  Let's get started...

  • 1/2 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 lb ground beef (turkey or pork could be substituted)
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1 c water
  • 1 Roma tomato (chopped)
  • 4 chopped scallions
  • 4 c cooked pasta (about 1 1/2 c raw)
1.  Saute the ground beef in a large skillet until browned and cooked through.  Break up the meat with a wooden spoon as you go.  This should take about 5 minutes on medium heat.  Throw in the onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. 

2.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine and scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan.  Then add the soup mix and the water and mix well to get all the lumps out.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.

3.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.  The soup mix is condensed and pretty salty, so you probably won't need it.

4.  Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes and scallions.  If you would like to cook these ingredients it's up to you, but I like freshness of them being just heated through.

5.  Pour the meat sauce over some cooked noodles and serve with a nice salad and some garlic bread.  ENJOY!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to truss a chicken (without string)

Many people have their different ways to prepare a chicken for that sunburn in the oven, but I think my way is quick and simple. 

First off, I start my basic roast chicken by letting it swim in yummy juices over night.  In a large, freezer size Ziploc bag squeeze the juice from 3 lemons, add 1/2 c of olive oil, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, a small amount of water and 4 sprigs (large) of rosemary.  I take the rosemary and fold the bunch in two and kind of squeeze and twist to release some of the oils. 

One I have unpacked my chicken, taken out any giblets and/or neck, and rinsed it clean I let it rest for a min on a plate, or in the clean sink.  There is no real need to pat the skin dry at this point because you are marinating.  Shove that big bird in the Ziploc bag and zip it up.  I usually marinate it over night, turning it over once in the morning. 

Now to the trussing...  When you remove the bird from the marinade you want to pat the skin dry with paper towels.  This will help your seasoning stick better.  First thing you want to do is get that bird into your baking dish.  I use a medium size dish with high sides.  The chicken fits just perfect inside. 

Take the wing tips into your hand and fold them back behind the shoulder like if the chicken was scratching it's back.  This will keep your tip from burning and the wing close to the body.  Do this to both sides.

On to the legs...  What you want to do is grab the big flap of skin that is under the leg connected to the thigh.  With a paring knife, stab a small hole in the middle of it and use your fingers to pull it bigger.  If one side breaks or does not tear big enough just use the other side.  Take the leg from the opposite side of the tear and punch it through the hole.  Then take the other leg and do the same criss-crossing the legs inside of the hole. 

Now the chicken is ready to be roasted.  Wash your hands well before touching anything else.  Cover the baking dish with foil and place into a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours until almost cooked through.  At this point, take the foil off and raise the temperature to 450 degrees.  Continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes.  Make sure a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees before you start carving.  ENJOY!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Slop, Slop, Sloppy Joes!!

We have sloppy joes a lot in our house.  The kids eat them up and I think I make them pretty healthy compared to some pre-packaged brands.  Now, we do eat them a little differently then one would think.  Instead of sandwiching the wonderful meat mixture in between two hamburger buns we pile it high on soft white bread and top it with shredded cheese.  Quick note, my daughter does not like onions or bell pepper and she has never even noticed they are in this recipe.

Let's get started...

  • 1 lb. ground beef (you can also use pork or turkey if you prefer)
  • 1 small white onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 med bell pepper (seeds removed, chopped)
  • 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. steak seasoning (I use Harley's)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • white bread
  • shredded cheddar cheese
Note: I don't use any oil in this recipe because the meat should give off enough.  If you are using turkey, or a very lean beef you might want to lightly coat the bottom of the pan with some oil before step #2.

1.  Brown the meat in a hot saute pan.  I use a deep dish saute pan so I can finish the entire meal in it.  Break the meat up with a wooden spoon (can also be plastic) so the meat cooks quickly and evenly.  Using a slotted spoon drain the meat onto a plate covered with a paper towel.  This allows some of the grease to drain a little.

2.  In the same pan the meat was just in add the onion and bell pepper and sweat a little, about 5 min.  Real quick...an easy way that I like to chop bell peppers is to cut around the middle seed pods.  This way I don't have to use my hands to pull seeds out and cleanup is a lot easier.

3.  Add the meat back into the pan with the onion and peppers and heat up a little.  Add the next three ingredients and let simmer for a while...about 5 min.  Now is time to taste!  I would recommend adding a small amount of salt and pepper before and then just check for seasoning. 

4.  Here I usually cover the pan and let it simmer for about 15 min.  Just like a good soup, or stew this helps the ingredients to marry together. 

5.  Now the fun part!!  Place one piece (or two like my husband) of white bread down on your plate.  Smother the bread with at least two spoonfuls of the sloppy joe mixture.  Top with shredded cheese. 

**As you can see from the finished product we like to enjoy our meal with some yummy green beans (out of the can, of course).  ENJOY!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I was too busy today to post my menu from last night...  I will post tomorrow.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

I am going to start this food blog with a very simple chicken parmesan recipe.  The chicken can also be substituted with eggplant, veal, or even turkey.  I like to make this often because my husband likes it, and like I said, it is simple. 

I would like to make a quick note and mention the importance of salt.  I tell my husband all the time, salt is used to bring out the flavor of food...not to make your food taste like salt!  I like to use kosher salt, mainly because it is what was used when I worked in restaurants, but also because it has better flavor.  If you have never tried it before I would recommend you pick some up from the grocery store.  You can literally taste it raw and it does not have that stinging bite that iodized salt does.  Kosher salt should be used two to one to iodized salt. 

I also like to use fresh cracked pepper.  Once a spice is ground it starts to loose it's flavor much like an opened bottle of wine.  Test it for yourself...taste the pepper in your shaker, and then taste fresh cracked...totally different!

Back to the chicken parmesan...


  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use breast, but thigh meat is much cheaper and goes farther)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 jar prepared tomato sauce (I use Hunts, 4 cheese)
  • 1 c mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 c parmesan
  • kosher salt
  • cracked pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Take each piece of chicken and pound it out with a mallet, or heavy object.  (I use a can from the pantry.)  Make sure to lay down plastic wrap so you don't mess up the counter.  I like to place the chicken inside a large Ziploc bag and then use the same bag later to flour my chicken.

2.  Crack the eggs into a dish with sides and whisk them until smooth.  You can add a small amount of water here to thin it out if you would like.  Put the flour into that Ziploc bag with lots of salt and pepper.  (Two to three large pinches.)  Don't worry about the amount...you always want to over season your flour.  Add the bread crumbs to another dish and make an assembly line...four, egg, bread crumbs.  (Some people also like to add a little parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs...make sure and use grated.)

3.  Pour the olive oil into a large saute pan on the stove and get that heated up.  It needs to be pretty hot because you don't want your chicken to stick, but you don't want it quite smoking.

4.  Remove each piece of chicken, one by one, from the four and shake off any excess you can.  You don't want there to be too much flour because it won't taste good.  Dip the chicken into the eggs and shake off excess and then dip into the bread crumbs.  Completely cover the chicken so that no flour is visible.  I like to do at least three pieces of chicken before I start placing in the pan so that there is not a long time period between each piece. 

5.  Now it is time to cook!  Sear each piece of dredged chicken about 4 min per side until they become lightly browned.  Don't worry about the doneness because they will be going back into the oven.  When finished drain them on a paper towel.  This will make the finished product less greasy.

6.  When all of your chicken has been seared off lay each piece into a baking dish (I use a glass Pyrex) so they overlap each other just a tad.  Take the tomato sauce you have and pour it down the middle of each piece of chicken.  Top the tomato sauce with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. 

7.  Place the baking dish into the oven, uncovered, and bake for 30 min, or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.  If you pounded the chicken out thin this will be more then enough time to bring it up to temperature.  Always check chicken with a thermometer before eating...it should be 165 degrees. 

8.  I serve this along side some pasta that has been topped with the extra sauce I have from the meal and some roasted broccoli.  ENJOY!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My First Blog

Ok people...I have finally decided (about 10 years after everyone else) to start a food blog.  I have thought about it a lot and since all three of my children now attend Mother's Day Out two days a week I have some extra time on my hands to share some of the meals I cook at home for my family. 

For some reason, most of my family and friends seem to think that since I went to culinary school I must be making huge, elaborate dinners that consist of fancy items and at least 2 hours cook time.  No, I am not Julia Child.  Do you not remember the earlier comment about the three children?  Although I would love to spend the entire day in the kitchen, I just do not have the time. 

I actually cook more like Sandra Lee.  I take ready-made products and play with the ingredients to make what I think is a better meal.  I do cook every night, which is not the norm for most of the population, but I find it fun and a lot of times cheaper. 

What I want to achieve with this blog is to let some of you in on some of my secrets.  The way I cook is very easy, usually takes less then an hour, and (I think) is very tasty.  My only downfall is that I do not like to eat the same things often, so although I have some common meals under my belt, they are usually spread far and few between. 

So, if you would join me twice a week I would love to show you how I cook in my home for my family.  I will be attempting to post twice a week with pictures and recipes.  Hopefully I can keep this up for at least a little while.  Please feel free to let me know if you make my recipes and how they turned out for you.