Monthly Archives: August 2011

A holiday dinner table staple…..Lasagna

A holiday dinner table staple…..Lasagna

Basil, three cheeses, meat sauce and plenty of yummy noodles!

When our family has something to celebrate and a dinner is planned you can bet the table will include a pan of my homemade lasagna. The meat sauce is hearty and flavorful and the cheeses are rich and add enough salty flavor you don’t even need to add salt. This dish can grace a family table or can please hungry tailgaters on a brisk fall day.


For the meat sauce….
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 lb of Italian Sausage removed from the casing
1 lb of ground veal
1 onion diced
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup grated pecorino/romano cheese
1 Tbsp.Dry Oregano
1 Tbsp.Dry Basil
1 cup of good red wine

For the cheese filling…
1 large container of Ricotta Cheese
4 cups of shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup of grated Pecorino/Romano Cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
Fresh ground pepper

1 lb box of Lasagna Noodles
Fresh Basil

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil and add diced onion. Saute until just turning a little gold in color and add the minced garlic. Cook the garlic long enough to allow the flavor to be released.Then add the ground meats. Break up the meat as it browns into crumbles. Once the meat has browned, drain any excess fat and add the tomatoes, spices, wine and grated cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer on low until it bubbles continuing to stir occasionally. Turn to simmer for about half and hour until the sauce is thick and yummy!

While the sauce is simmering prepare the cheese filling AND place a large pan of salted and oiled water on the stove and turn it on high till it comes to a boil for the noodles. For the filling, place the ricotta cheese in a large bowl along with the beaten egg, salt and pepper. Set aside. Prepare the noodles dropping them in the boiling water. Cook for time suggested on the box. Do not overcook! Once the noodles are done, drain and lay them individually on a dry towel.

You are ready to build your dish!
In the bottom of a pyrex rectangular pan place about a cup of meat sauce. Place a layer of noodles, overlapping each one until you have six noodles covering the bottom of the pan. Next take one third of the cheese filling from the bowl and spread it on the noodles. Take one third of the shredded mozzarella cheese and spread it over the ricotta mixture. Now lay basil leaves randomly on top of the mozzarella. Repeat with the sauce, the filling, the mozzarella and the basil until you have three layers. End with a sprinkle of grated pecorino/romano cheese and fresh ground pepper.

At this point you can refrigerate for later use. When you cover the dish, be sure to place a sheet of wax paper on top before the tin foil. Seal and place in refrigerator or freezer.

When you are ready to bake, allow the dish to reach room temperature, remove foil and wax paper. Place in preheated 350 oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes. The top should be golden but not burned.

Once done, remove from oven, allow to rest for 15 minutes or more. This will allow you to slice easily.
Garnish with a sprig of basil. Serve with additional meat sauce and grated cheese.


Flatbread pizza… a snap

Flatbread pizza… a snap

Crumbled Speck, goat cheese, red onion, rocket rosemary flatbread.

1 lb. pizza dough (homemade or purchased from your local bakery)
1 red onion, sliced into rings and sauteed in olive oil until tender
4 slices of speck (Italian Smoked Prosciutto) fried in butter, drained and crumbled
4 ounces of goat cheese crumbled
2 rosemary sprigs
a drizzle of olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground pepper


Rockett (Arugula)

Spread the dough on a pizza stone or jelly roll pan with layer of parchment paper beneath. Brush with olive oil. Crumble the Speck and goat cheese around the dough. Add the sauteed onion rings. Sprinkle rosemary, sea salt and ground pepper.

Place in a 400 preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the sides are golden. Garnish with fresh rockett. Slice and enjoy!

Any toppings can be changed depending on what you have in the refrigerator!

Crunchy Banana Bread…nothing like it hot from the oven

Crunchy Banana Bread…nothing like it hot from the oven

Nothing says comfort food like the smell and taste of crunchy banana bread or muffins. Whenever I see I have three ripe bananas in the fruit bowl I take a few minutes to prepare a loaf of banana bread.


Dry ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup of fresh milk

Optional ingredients
1/2 cup Chopped walnuts OR
1/2 cup Chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 and prepare muffin cups or 350 and grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and set aside.

Place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and form a well in the center.

Combine the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and add to the dry ingredients by folding in until they are moist. (Don’t use a mixer for this batter.)

Stir in the nuts if you choose to.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups or the greased loaf pan.

The muffins should bake at 400 for 18 to 20 minutes.
The loaf should bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Pour a cold glass of milk and make someone smile! Just another way of saying “I love you”.

I can change the world!

I can change the world!

When I pick up the paper and read about the latest crime wave, weather catastrophe or of a frustrating and clearly un-Godly decision our elected officials have made I have a choice. I can become angry, stomp my feet and lash out….put myself in a place that more destruction comes from rather than building up. I can become silent, depressed, overwhelmed. Or, I can acknowledge there is indeed a negative force working to destroy all that is good and positive. And, make a conscious decision to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I do not put my head in the sand and pretend life is nirvana. But, I do look for a way to do my part to make a positive difference today for maybe even just one person.

How I would love to thank the person who taught me that lesson. I would like to think it was through the Holy Spirit I came to live this revelation. Those bible studies do slowly mold and shape me, convict me. I give them credit for making me a better person. So, “thank you Lord!”

I truly believe that if God leads me to do something, I should not second guess it. I need to fully embrace it. He will see that each piece of the plan falls into place, to use my energy to move forward rather than looking back over my shoulder.

It all boils down to trust in the Lord. I want to give my worries up to Him. I want to live my life as an example of all that is right, positive and good. I will be the first to admit I have a long road ahead of me, but, I will not be disheartened. I know I can change the world.

In sickness and in health.

In sickness and in health.

Sunflowers from my friend!

Two days now we have been blessed with a soaking rain. I lay upright on my bed and peer out the shutters at the overflowing gutters and enjoy the darkness the cloud cover has brought in this early August afternoon. Such a respite from the scorching sun and steamy humidity of a mid summer day in Coastal North Florida. The rain will quench the thirsty plants and turn the stiff thick grass a deeper green, and I am thankful.

Exactly seven days ago I underwent surgery on my ailing ankle to remove a small benign tumor that was causing a stress fracture of my fibula. I lay with my bandaged and splinted leg elevated…per Doctors instruction…and enjoy the down time this injury has afforded me. It has been six months since I have biked or power walked the beach…per Doctors instruction…attempting to repair the injury with a conservative approach to no avail. The Doctor advised the injury should have healed by now. The tumor must come out and the bone must be scraped. A bone graft must be done to repair the bone. “Your life will change, more than you will know.” he said. “Six weeks in a cast and no driving because this is your right foot.”

Surgery was smooth and I was given pain meds to help me through first few days and antibiotics to insure no infection. He forgot to tell me about the pain of the bone graft!! Geeze. But, severe pain only lasted one night. By Thursday, I was done with the strong meds.

Tomorrow I have my post-op appointment and the plastic splint will be removed and replaced with a plaster cast. The results of the pathology report will be discussed and I will have my first glimpse of the incision.

The refrigerator is filled with containers of yummy food provided by caring friends and neighbors. Beautiful flowers adorn the family room and bedroom. It is wonderful to see the love they show us.

My sweet husband was my nurse, my housemaid and my biggest supporter.Even through a weakening upper respiratory infection caught on an airplane, and poison oak patches itching and oozing all over his body, he never left me for more than a couple of hours. He cooked, he cleaned, he did laundry! He showed his love for me in such a tender and compassionate way. I will never forget this. In sickness and in health….

I am blessed!