A day in the life of a cook in her kitchen

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Sometimes the simplest dinners are the best dinners. I made this macaroni and cheese dish last week. It was a huge hit with all of us…SCORE!! It is perfect for our new Fall daylight savings. It comes together very quickly. … Continue reading

Zuppa Toscana


In need of a great dinner? Look no farther. This soup is so satisfying and takes no time to prepare! If you are not a fan of Kale or Swiss Chard you can substitute Spinach.  A nice salad and crusty bread makes this a perfect meal!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie

 Ingredients:                                                                               

1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage

1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups chicken stock or broth

6  Yukon potato, thinly sliced

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups kale or swiss chard,  chopped

                                                                                                                

    Directions

Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.  Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat. Add potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add Kale and simmer another 10 minutes. Check potatoes. They should be fork tender. Add cream and cooked sausage. Heat until warm.

Italian Vegetable Pie


This week I chose a dinner which I love to make. This is a go-to recipe that comes out perfect and satisfying every time. I also love how versatile it is. You can substitute the vegetables to whatever is your liking.  Also, if you want, you can substitute ground beef, ground sausage, a combination of both, or ground turkey for the tofu. When I make it with meat, I use 1/2 pound ground beef and a 1/2 pound of ground hot Italian sausage. Brown and drain before adding to the vegetables.  Also, a nice add-in is a couple of handfuls of washed and chopped fresh spinach. Stir in after simmering and before assembling. Round out your dinner with a nice tossed salad and fresh bread.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking~
Vonnie 

                                                                                                                                         

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (12.3-ounce) package firm tofu, drained and crumbled * 
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (25.5-ounce) jar fat-free marinara sauce
6 cooked lasagna noodles, cut in half crosswise
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* Substitution for tofu: 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground Italian sausage, 1 pound ground turkey, browned and drained

Preparation:

 
Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, chopped onion, mushrooms, tofu, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Arrange the noodles spoke like in the bottom of an 8-inch round baking dish or 9 inch deep dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Spread 3 cups tomato mixture over noodles. Fold ends of noodles over tomato mixture, and top with the remaining tomato mixture and cheeses. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.

Italian Sausage with Mussels and Pasta


Whenever I vacation to the East Coast, I eat as much seafood as I can.  It just seem like the right dinner to have when I am so close to the ocean.  Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a time in Belmar, NJ with my best friend Kerry and her children John and Claire,  parents Buz and Maureen,  cousin Cathy and Uncle Dan Sullivan(who made me an honorary Irishwoman and was the highlight of my stay)!  Their family heritage is so rich, and I loved hearing Dan tell wonderful stories of the past,  sharing coffee with Cathy every morning,  playing on the beach with the kids and meeting and loving all of Kerry’s friends. We had so many laughs.   One thing I enjoyed with every meal was fresh mussels.  So I dug out this recipe to make here in good old Plymouth and continue my love affair with seafood.

What I love about this recipe, there are no real set ingredients. You can adjust the vegetables to your liking and the flavors of the sausage. If you don’t like mussels, you can use clams.  The possibilities are endless.  I use homemade Italian hot sausage from my local market.  They have wonderful favors and they are made fresh everyday. They also have a wonderful seafood department.  When you are buying mussels have the seafood specialists rinse them.  Sometimes they open up and rinsing them closes them and that’s what you want.  Any that stay open, toss them.  When you bring them home, refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  They should have a salty ocean air smell.

Now to share my Irish heritage:  “May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night”.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                     

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

1# Italian sausage, grilled and sliced or cases removed and crumbled
1 bag of mussels
1 28 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, any color and diced
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
olive oil

Pasta
1# angel hair pasta, cooked el dente
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Coat a large deep skillet with olive oil and heat to medium. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, Stir. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Add mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Keep lid on the whole 5 minutes without peeking! Stir and cover. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Mussels should be opened . Any that don’t open, discard. Stir in Italian sausage and parmesan cheese. Serve on top of pasta.

Pasta:
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Watch closely and stir. When garlic get to a golden color, add to cooked pasta. Toss and add pepper, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Italian Sausage with Mussels and Pasta


What I love about this recipe is there are no real set ingredients. Can can adjust the vegetables to your liking and the flavors of the sausage. If you don’t like mussels, you can use clams. there are endless possibilities. I use homemade Italian hot sausage from my local grocery store. They have wonderful favors and always fresh. Any flavor would work in this recipe. I also get my mussels from there. When you are buying mussels have the seafood specialists rinse them. Sometimes they open up and rinsing them closes them and that’s what you want. Any that stay open, toss. When you bring them home, refrigerate until you are ready to cook. They should have a salty ocean air smell.
 
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                                   
 
 
 
 
Ingredients:1 # Italian Sausage grilled and sliced1 bag of mussels
1 28 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, any color and diced
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
olive oil

Pasta
1# angel hair pasta, cooked el dente
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper, to taste

 
Directions:Coat a large deep skillet with olive oil and heat to medium. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, Stir. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Add mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Keep lid on the whole 5 minutes without peeking! Stir and cover. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Mussels should be opened . Any that don’t open, discard. Stir in Italian sausage and parmesan cheese. Serve on top of pasta.Pasta:
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Watch closely and stir. When garlic get to a golden color, add to cooked pasta. Toss and add pepper, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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