Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Everyone thinks their mom is the best cook.  But seriously, when it comes to spaghetti and meatballs, if there was a contest held, my mom would win.  She makes the sauce and meatballs all from scratch, and lucky for me, this weekend she taught me how to do it.  I don’t think I’m willing to share this recipe, but I know the pictures will make you drool (and maybe give you some hints how to make it).

Have I mentioned how much my cat loves food? In fact, I think she’d kill for it.  While things were simmering, we found her, whiskers and all, covered in tomato sauce.

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Pasta with Chicken and Peas

My mom sent me this beautiful pasta for Valentine’s Day.  I knew I would have to use it for something that wouldn’t cover it, it was too pretty to change!

This is an easy recipe that you can throw together quickly as long as you have some basic ingredients in your cupboard and freezer.  And I came up with it myself!

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, fully cooked and cut into small cubes (I boiled mine about 15-20 minutes right out of the freezer and it was fully cooked)
  • 1 1/2-2  cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • extra cheese and red pepper flakes to garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook chicken according to instructions.
  2. Put water on to boil for pasta- once ready throw pasta in.
  3. Meanwhile, saute garlic and olive oil in large skillet.
  4. Add chicken broth and peas to garlic/olive oil.
  5. When chicken is fully cooked and cut, add it to the chicken broth mixture, then add red pepper and cheese.  Cover and let simmer while pasta finishes cooking.
  6. When pasta is done cooking, stir it into the broth, chicken, and peas.
  7. Serve and top with lots of extra cheese.

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

I love pasta.  Maybe a little too much.  I could eat it every day. Maybe even every meal.  I found this recipe on A Full Measure of Happiness, tweaked it a little bit, and now have a new dish in my top five favorites.  It is so good, I wish I had more!!!!

Also, I discovered a new vegetable through this recipe-broccoli rabe!  I had seen it at the grocery store but didn’t know much about it.  I can now tell you that it is quite yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 big bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed of the tough ends and cut into two-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb dry pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 t dry oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 hot Italian sausages
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 14-oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • Peccorino Romano to garnish

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside.
  2. Steam or boil the broccoli rabe for a few minutes until tender, drain, and set that aside, too.
  3. Over medium heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two.
  4. Toss in the salt, oregano, red pepper flakes, and the sausage–either crumble it or cut it into slices, it’s all up to you.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, juice and all, and give it a quick stir.
  6. Add the drained broccoli rabe.
  7. Stir in the cooked pasta.
  8. Top with cheese.
  9. DEVOUR

Berry Cheesecake Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Sorry it has been so long since my last post- I have been super busy and sick so it has been a challenge to find the time and energy for anything.

This year for Valentine’s day I wanted to try something I had never done before.  I had never made cheesecake so when I found this recipe on Epicurean Mom I was so excited because not only was it a cheesecake recipe, it was perfect for the occasion!  I followed the recipe exactly, except that I didn’t have a 9×9 pan.  I used an 8×8 so mine came out a little taller than the original, but they tasted SO good.  I was very proud of myself, as I had expected cheesecake to be a huge challenge.  Though, I may have cheated a little bit with this recipe since I didn’t have to use a spring-form pan or anything.

I hope this post finds you happy, healthy, and abundantly loved!

Ingredients and how to:

For Raspberry Puree:
  • 9 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon juiced lemon
  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook down, stirring occasionally, until syrupy, about 10 minutes.  Let cool slightly and pour mixture through a sieve.  Set aside.
For Graham Cracker Base:
  • 11 graham cracker sheets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted plus more for greasing
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9 x 9 baking pan with butter.  Lay parchment paper over the top of the pan, leaving a slight overhang, repeat with other side.
  3. Crumble graham crackers in a bowl of a food processor, pulse until mealy.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, pulse until well combined.
  5. Pour the graham cracker mixture into the lined baking dish.  Evenly and firmly pat down with the bottom of a glass.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just set.  Set aside.
  7. Leave oven on for cheesecake hearts!!
For Filling:
  •  16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • raspberry puree
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries, rinsed
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of food processor, process until well combined.  Consistency should be very smooth.
  2. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust.
  3. Place blackberries onto filling and poke down until partially exposed or completely covered.
  4. Bake in already preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until set and middle jiggles just slightly.
  5. Let cool for at least an hour at room temperature then cool in fridge for 3 hours.
  6. Using the parchment overhang, carefully remove cheesecake from pan and cut into bars or cut into cute shapes (hearts!!).

 

 

Sloppy Joes for Superbowl XLVI

Sadly, I won’t be watching the Super Bowl this year because I have work, but in case you still aren’t sure what to make to eat during the big game, try these!

Not everyone knows this, but football is more of a family thing for me than anything else.  You see, back in the day my grandpa, Poppy (who I mentioned in my last post), played (no pun intended!) a big role in the NFL.  He started out as the publicity director in 1961, became the league’s executive director in 1968, and president of the Jets in 1977. You could say he was one of the inventors of the super bowl, actually!  He even has his own chapter in the book The Making of the Super Bowl!  So in a way, this post is really for him.

 

 

On a note unrelated to the Super Bowl, I would also like to dedicate this post to my best friend, Megan- four years ago we celebrated Valentine’s day together and made sloppy joes for dinner (very romantic, right?!).

 

 

Anyway, back to food.  This recipe is adapted from one I found at Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.  It is pretty easy to make, and turned out really yummy.  My boyfriend who previously swore he didn’t like sloppy joe’s even enjoyed them!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 onion , chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 8 slider hamburger buns or 4 regular sized hamburger buns
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and salt and stir until coated with oil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 10 minutes (if onion begins to burn after 5 minutes, reduce heat to low).
  2. Add garlic and chili powder and cook, uncovered, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until just cooked, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add pepper, brown sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, water, and hot sauce. Simmer until sauce is slightly thicker than ketchup, 8 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings.
  4. Top with avocado slices (or anything else that may sound good to you).
  5. Serve

 

Aunt Lucille’s Brownies

This is the only basic brownie recipe I will ever need or use.  It is simple, easy, delicious, and can be doctored to your liking in many ways.  I usually make them just like this, but in the past I have added chocolate pudding, which made them a bit fluffier/cake-ier, as well as chocolate chips which makes them more chocolatey!  You could also add nuts, or whatever else your heart desires to the recipe to personalize them.  This recipe makes a brownie that is moist, but not too rich.

I first experienced these brownies when I was only five years old… In 1997 my Grandfather, who us grandkids called Poppy passed away due to complications from a recent heart attack.  My younger brother, Matthew, who was only two, and I were deemed to young to attend an open- casket funeral ( I am now very thankful for this for several reasons) so instead we were sent to the house of my mom’s life-long friend, our “Aunt” Lucille to play with her kids who were around our age.  It was a strange and confusing experience.  I was dressed up in all black because once the funeral was over, my brother and I would be picked up and brought to the dinner that followed.  I knew Poppy had died, but I didn’t understand it- here I was being sent out for a play date!

Cousin Jack, Cousin Brian, Poppy, Matthew, Me, Meagan

Well, as we played, Aunt Lucille made us brownies from scratch.  I can still remember clearly how good they smelled coming out of the oven, and watching her cut them into perfect squares.  They were (and are) SO GOOD.  We were all allowed a taste, and then the next thing I knew I was leaving, paper bag full of brownies (and the recipe!!!) in hand.  Matthew and I were reunited with our big sister Meagan, parents, and the rest of the family at an Italian restaurant.  Everyone was dressed nicely, in dark clothes, and I knew something sad had happened and Poppy wasn’t there, but everyone seemed happy as they reminisced over Poppy’s life.  Needless to say, I did not understand what was happening, but I did understand that there was a bag of brownies waiting for me to gobble up later.

In psychology there is a lot of debate about so-called “flashbulb memories.”  The most common example used is September 11th.  Basically they are memories for emotionally impacting or important events, which people often have very detailed and vivid memories for.  There is empirical controversy over whether these memories are actually better than normal memories, and I haven’t formed much of an opinion myself, but the events of that January day fifteen years ago are still fresh in my mind, and the same brownies are fresh in my belly!  Though I wish Poppy had been around for more of my life, I will never be sad that I inherited this brownie recipe (Thank you, Aunt Lucille!!!).

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
  2. Grease an 8×8 pan with vegetable shortening and set aside.
  3. Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl, then add eggs one at a time.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa, and baking powder together.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture in even increments.
  6. Pour into greased pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!!