As every Italian American cook knows, the basis of a great Sunday dinner in Italian homes is the tomato sauce or gravy as it is lovingly referred to. Our grandmothers from Naples & Sicily both called it gravy. When we were teenagers we questioned why was tomato sauce called gravy as we thought it should be called sauce. I guess it depended on where you grew up and what the custom was for each family. We chose to call it “sauce”. Whether you are making lasagna or spaghetti, a good sauce makes all the difference in the world.
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes (break up with your hands or an immersion blender)
1 lb Italian sweet or hot sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1/4 tsp dried oregano
fresh basil leaves (cook in sauce plus some for garnish)
Pour 2 tablespoons EVOO in heavy-duty 8-quart pot
When the oil is hot, add sausage links and brown both sides
Remove browned sausage links and set aside.
Add onion and cook until lightly browned and translucent
Add garlic and stir well for 1 minute
Add tomatoes, butter, oregano, and a few basil leaves, and the browned sausages.
Stir well and often to prevent burning on the bottom while simmering for at least 3 hours in order for the sausages to be nice & tender (the longer it cooks the better).
When done, remove the sausage links that can be saved for a different meal or serve with your favorite pasta dish.
Note: Whenever we have leftover pieces of pork we add them to the pot. If you are making meatballs, add them to the pot during the last 20 minutes of cook time.
Since we're going to be home for a while during our stay-at-home mandate, we decided to try a decadent, dessert-style drink. For anyone who loves chocolate, our chocolate martini is heavenly. Mmmm, Mmmm good. These just might be the best liquid dessert ever...give it a try...it's delicious. Stay safe & healthy. ❤️ 🍸 😋
3 oz Godiva original chocolate liqueur
3 oz Cream de Cacao (dark)
1 oz Absolute Vanilla Vodka
5 oz heavy cream (substitute with half & half optional)
5-7 cubes ice
2 well-chilled martini glasses
Torani chocolate syrup to dust rim of a martini glass (optional)
Rim the glasses in the chocolate syrup and chill.
In a shaker, place the ice cubes, vodka, Godiva liqueur, half & half, and cream de cacao. shake well for at least 30 seconds.
Remove chilled glasses and strain the martini into each glass. Enjoy!
Note: Can be garnished with chocolate curls, chocolate shavings, fresh raspberries or strawberries, or drizzles of chocolate syrup on top. Get creative with your favorite toppings.
Lately we have lots of time on our hands due to the current shelter at home mandate across the country. This was the perfect time for us to experiment with some cocktails to add to our Cocktail segment. We know you’ll find this drink to be refreshing and delicious. Give it a try. Enjoy!❤️ 🍸😋
3-4 oz vodka
1/4 cup fresh raspberries + more for garnish
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice + slices for garnish
4 Tablespoons caster sugar (granulated sugar is fine to use also)
1/4 cup lemon/lime seltzer
5-7 ice cubes
In a small bowl, muddle the raspberries with the sugar. Press through a mesh strainer to remove seeds, pressing down to release as much raspberry juice as possible.
Using a cocktail shaker add the raspberry purée, vodka, seltzer, lemon juice, and ice.
Shake at least 30 seconds then pour into a martini glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist and raspberries on a bamboo cocktail stick and enjoy.
Note: If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic cocktail, you can make it alcohol-free by substituting the vodka with lemon seltzer.
Barbara and I have been in a breakfast rut lately...sick of the same old oatmeal, cereal, plain eggs or just a cup of coffee. During these times of social distancing and staying at home, more than ever we need to be creative in the kitchen and treat ourselves to some fun ways to enjoy breakfast. While making chicken parmigiana for dinner the other night we had some leftover egg mixture, breadcrumbs, and some baby spinach leaves. Just by adding a few simple ingredients, we came up with a make-ahead breakfast meal we could enjoy the next morning. It was so easy and is sure to please. Any leftover cooked vegetable will work in this recipe...zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, peas or any combination of your favorite veggies. You can make these as a side for any meal too. Be creative and Enjoy! ❤️😋
4 large eggs
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon milk (any milk will do)
6-7 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs (substitute Gluten-Free seasoned breadcrumbs if gluten is an issue)
3 tablespoons Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed, chopped into medium size bites
1-2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp salt + /- to taste
black pepper to taste
1 pat of butter
1-2 Tablespoons of EVOO
In a medium bowl add 4 large eggs and the milk. Whisk until scrambled well.
Add salt, pepper, onion powder, thyme, oregano, garlic, bread crumbs, and grated cheese. Mix well and set aside for 10-15 minutes for the breadcrumbs to absorb liquid. You should have a medium liquid texture, not a thick paste.
In a large skillet heat butter & EVOO until hot on medium heat. When oil & butter start to sizzle, using a large tablespoon, drop mixture into the hot skillet. No more than 4 at a time. Cook 1-1½ minutes until golden brown. Flip over and cook another 1-1½ minutes until golden brown. If browning to quickly lower the heat a bit.
Remove from skillet and place on paper towels to drain & cool completely.
Once cooled pack in an airtight glass or plastic food storage container and refrigerate. These fritters will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator if they don’t disappear on the first day!
These can actually be served cold or heated in a toaster oven or microwave.
Notes: These fritters can be made gluten-free by substituting with gluten-free seasoned breadcrumbs.
With just three simple ingredients (aside from seasonings) you & your family can enjoy this juicy, flavorful chicken fajita meal any night of the week. If it weren't for the time it takes to properly caramelize the onions, this dish would go from prep to table in less than 30 minutes. The extra time it takes to slowly caramelize the onions is worth every extra minute. Enjoy! ❤️😋
1¾-2 lbs. skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
3 x-large onions (sweet or yellow), sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano (optional)
dash of red pepper flakes
3 pats salted butter
In a large skillet heat butter & EVOO until hot. When hot enough place the sliced onions in the skillet and lower heat to low. Sprinkle with salt. Slowly cook until caramelized, approximately 45- 50 minutes, turning occasionally with a pair of tongs. When done, onions should be beautifully golden brown and soft, not burnt. Remove from skillet & set aside.
In the same skillet add a little more EVOO. Add the sliced bell peppers and cook over high heat about 2 minutes to slightly char, then lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking covered until soft. Add cooked peppers to caramelized onions and set aside.
In the same skillet add another teaspoon of EVOO. Heat on high then add the salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Add the chicken to hot skillet and sear on both sides. Lower the flame and add the onion and pepper mixture to combine well. Heat until chicken is cooked through.
Serve with heated flour tortillas (use gluten-free tortillas if gluten is an issue). Garnish with your favorite toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, guacamole, or salsa.
Notes: This meal can be gluten-free by substituting with gluten-free tortillas.
The Best Gluten-Free New York Style Black & White Cookies
Servings: 12 medium 3-inch cookies
If you grew up on Long Island or anywhere in NY, then you remember how delicious Black & White cookies are. They came in all different sizes from large to super large & then the mini's, with half vanilla and half chocolate glaze. To save on calories we decided to go with the medium 3-inch size. They can be found in just about any bakery or deli in NY. No one really knows their origin but some folks think Glaser's (Bavarian) brought them over when they came to the US in the early 1900's. Glaser's of Yorkville, opened up their bakery in 1902 (closed in 2018), Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York, opened around 1925. If you're a Seinfeld fan you will remember the 'Look to the Cookie Elaine' from Season 5 Episode 13 Dinner Party. Regardless of their origin, they are a staple cookie of New York and loved by all. I love the white half so I eat the chocolate side first saving the best for last while Teresa loves the chocolate so she eats the vanilla first (go figure). For years no one has really perfected a gluten-free version of these iconic NY cookies until now. We are happy to bring you the best Gluten-free black & whites ever. You would never know they are gluten-free. Enjoy! ❤️❤️
1¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill One to One Gluten-Free Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation)
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract (not imitation)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
For Vanilla Icing:
1½ cups confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation)
1-2 Tablespoons hot water
For Chocolate Icing:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (we use Dutch processed cocoa)
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation)
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-2 Tablespoons hot water (add extra to get the correct consistency)
Place rack in the middle of your oven. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mats.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large measuring cup, stir together the well-shaken buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon extract.
Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, beat together the butter & sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and beat until well combined.
Beginning with flour mixture and ending with flour mixture, mix in flour mixture & buttermilk mixture alternately in batter at low speed until smooth.
Place batter into a piping bag. Snip off the first 1-inch of bad to make a round hole.
Starting in the center, pipe counterclockwise to about 2-inches diameter for medium size cookies. For larger cookie, pipe larger diameter.
Place cookie sheet in preheated oven and bake 15 minutes for medium. Do not brown. Cookies are done when they spring back when touched.
When done transfer to a cooling rack. In the meantime prepare the icings.
Once completely cooled they are ready to ice.
Icing Directions Vanilla:
Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 Tablespoon hot water in a small bowl until smooth.
Icing Directions Chocolate:
Combine hot water, melted butter, vanilla and corn syrup in a small bowl.
Whisk together the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
Slowing pour the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, whisking continuously until smooth. (Add a tiny bit of hot water if needed)
Turn cookies over as you will ice the flat side only.
Using a tablespoon, take a spoonful of vanilla icing and start in the center and push spoon towards the edge, covering half the cookie. Place cookie on rack with paper towels underneath to catch drippings.
When set, do the same for the chocolate side. Let set completely before serving.
To speed up the setting, these can be refrigerated for about 30 minutes.
Beat softened butter & sugar
Beat in egg
Add flour mixture & alternate with buttermilk
pipe onto silicone mat or parchment paper
flip over to flat side and place vanilla icing down the center and spread to edge
Once vanilla icing is set, use tablespoon to go down the center with the chocolate and spread to opposite edge
Let set in refrigerator at least 30 minjutes.
Serve & Enjoy!
Notes: If you don’t have buttermilk you can use 1 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar.
Our cookies are medium size, about 3 inches round. You can make about 8 large 6-inch round cookies with this recipe.
When it comes to side vegetables, broccoli is probably our go too choice. It's delicious with oil and garlic, lemon juice or just butter. It can get boring so why not kick it up a notch or two? Since we love broccoli and cheese, making a broccoli gratin was the perfect way to combine both and get rid of the boring. This is a creamy, delicious side dish that's very satisfying. It's always a big hit with our family and friends and we think you'll love it too. Enjoy!❤️❤️
2 lbs. fresh broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 heads or 8 cups)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to grease baking dish
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole milk
Pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1½ tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese, divided
1/4 – 1/2 cup flavored bread crumbs (for a gluten-free version, substitute bread crumbs with gluten-free bread crumbs)
Place rack in the middle of your oven. Pre-heat oven to 450ºF.
Butter an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish
On medium heat, melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan.
Whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Add the milk, salt, and nutmeg then bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the white sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes, maybe less.
Season with pepper and remove from heat.
Bring about 1-inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Set up with a collapsible steamer on top. Place the broccoli in the steamer and season with salt. Cover and steam until crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes, less if florets are very small.
Place the broccoli in the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
Pour the white sauce over broccoli & cheese then top with remaining shredded cheese.
In a small skillet melt the remaining Tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and cook, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the gratin then bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Notes: You may use all cheddar cheese if you prefer or mix cheddar with swiss. Experiment with your favorite soft cheeses.
The time is now to get creative with some delicious cocktails to enjoy after dinner (or while cooking)! I was first introduced to a Lemon Drop Martini at one of our local restaurants (which escapes my memory right now). To my surprise, it was so delicious! On my next visit to the same restaurant, I again ordered their signature Lemon Drop Martini only this time I was disappointed. I guess it's true, the bartender/mixologist makes all the difference. Maybe he/she was off the night of my second visit. So Teresa and I set out to make the perfect Lemon Drop Martini. Through experimentation we found adding our homemade limoncello was the key ingredient for us. If you're not inclined to try making your own limoncello, you can buy a good quality bottle from your favorite liquor store. If you're like us who love anything with lemon, then this martini is for you. Give it a try...it's delicious. Enjoy!❤️ 🍸 🤣
We would like to express our sincere wishes that you and your loved ones stay safe & healthy during this unprecedented pandemic with Covid-19. If you’re like us you’re doing everything recommended by the WHO and the CDC to do your part in stopping the spread.
Our Governor, Roy Cooper, has just issued an Executive Order to “Stay at Home” for 30 days. It might get hard but we will try to post new recipes as ingredients are available. Don’t forget, some of the best meals are not following a recipe at all but taking what’s in the fridge & pantry and throwing something together.
We’re all in this together so stay connected to loved ones, check on your neighbors & keep exercising. We wish you all good health.
Greek Chicken Souvlaki with Yogurt Honey Mustard Sauce
When I was working, we frequently ordered lunch from a wonderful nearby deli that made the best chicken souvlaki. Whenever I went out for Greek cuisine, it was their souvlaki & tzatziki sauce I used as a comparison. This recipe is delicious, easy to make & definitely worth including in your dinner rotations. Enjoy! 😋 😋
2 chicken breasts
200 g brine
1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 large onions, thinly sliced & carmelized
grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped
Kalamata olives, sliced
Feta cheese, small block (crumble into large pieces)
Add all the ingredients for the brine in a medium saucepan. Stir & bring to a boil. Remove from heat once it comes to a full boil and set aside for 1 hour.
Strain into a bowl once completely cooled. Discard all but the liquid.
Chop the chicken into small bite-size pieces and add to the brine. Soak for 30 minutes but no more than 1 hour.
Cooking the chicken on skewers:
Remove chicken pieces from the brine and drain well. Dry off completely with paper towels. All the moisture needs to be drained.
Thread the chicken onto wooden skewers that have been soaked in water. Add a drizzle of EVOO onto a very hot griddle, place skewers of chicken onto hot griddle and brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes.
Once browned place the griddle with the chicken skewers directly onto the center rack in the oven for 5 minutes. (Make sure your griddle is oven-proof, if not place on tin foil)
At the same time, place the prepared Greek Pita Bread on the bottom rack after drizzling the pita bread lightly with EVOO. Season with salt & pepper. Bake 5 minutes.
Yogurt Honey Mustard Sauce:
While the pita bread & chicken are warming, combine all the ingredients for the yogurt honey mustard sauce in a small bowl.
On a large serving platter, place the warmed pita bread and serve the chicken souvlaki with chopped tomatoes, caramelized onions, lettuce, feta, kalamata olives, and the yogurt honey mustard sauce. You can also try it with tzatziki sauce in place of yogurt honey mustard or combine both together.
Notes: Homemade Authentic Greek Pita Bread is by far the best tasting you can have and it’s so easy to make yourself…really! Give it a try.