One of my mom’s favorite dishes to make is her meaty tomato sauce. She uses Italian sausage as her meat of choice. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of sausage (I would eat white meat, fish, and veggie meals any day of the week over sausage, red meat, pork, etc), but I do have to admit her sauce is good. Together, we make a sauce that includes store bought sauce (to add some simplicity), Italian sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. It’s great! (and I get my veggie fix).
We ended up tossing it with some angel hair pasta (the pasta we had on hand). Usually we do penne, but realized we didn’t have enough.
Meaty Pasta Sauce
Italian sausage links (I think our package had six)
favorite jar of tomato sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
mushrooms, sliced (as much as you want)
– Cut up and brown Italian sausage in skillet on medium heat. (Don’t need to add oil to pan–the sausage has its own natural oils)
– When browned, remove sausage from skillet (place in separate bowl).
– Add oil to pan, if necessary. Saute onions, pepper, and mushroom until softened.
– Add sausage and tomato sauce into skillet and let simmer a couple minutes so all the flavors meld together.
– Toss with favorite pasta and enjoy!
What’s your favorite pasta sauce?
My mom’s 50th birthday was this past weekend and I told her any dessert she wanted, I would make. She asked for me to make a lemon dessert, which left things pretty wide open. I scoured the internet and found a TON of different lemon desserts–cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bars, cheesecake, and so much more! I finally decided on making cake pops for two reasons: 1) my Nana (my Mom’s mom) makes delicious lemon bars that I have been instructed to not even attempt to compete with, and 2) my mom said she had lemon cake mix in the house so I could use that.
I went to the story to get the rest of the ingredients and struggled to say the least. Typical cake pops have of course those lollipop stick things which I couldn’t seem to find. I then decided to make these cake “pops” into cake “balls.” My mom had never had either and I knew she would still appreciate the effort and taste of the cake balls. Another typical ingredient for cake balls/pops is a bag of vanilla candy melts, which I also couldn’t seem to find. I had read that almond bark and white chocolate could also be substituted. I decided that I would go with white chocolate since I had worked with that before. Unfortunately, I had extreme technical difficulties melting the white chocolate…it simply wouldn’t melt! It would start to melt, then when I would stir it just seized up and turned into a blob. So there I was, at 9:00pm on a Friday night, driving to the grocery store to pick up some almond bark (my mom’s birthday was Saturday and I HAD to have them done Friday night). Also, at this point I had already formed the cake balls and I had no clue how they would hold up in fridge/freezer/out over night and I didn’t want to take ANY chances after all I had already been through.
Almond bark in hand, I got back home and finished the dessert. They ended up turning out well, but I would just warn anyone making these that they take a LOT of time and are very messy too. There is probably a more efficient, less messy way to create these desserts, but I had neither the time or patience to figure it out.
Lemon Cake Balls
1 box lemon cake mix
20 oz vanilla almond bark
sprinkles or other decoration
store bought frosting OR make your own (recipe below for vanilla frosting)
– Bake cake according to package directions. Let cool.
– While cakes cool, make frosting (if you are using store bought, then you’re all ready to go!)
– Put cooled cakes into a large bowl and crumble into bits.
– Mix frosting in with the cake. I started with small amounts of frosting to make sure the cake was moist enough. (I used a 2 forks to mix cake and frosting together).
– Start rolling cake into balls (about 2 tablespoons big). If they start to crumble, add more frosting. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
– Once finished, place baking sheets in a freezer for at least 2 hours.
– Melt vanilla almond bark according to directions. (I did about 3 squares at a time).
– Roll cake balls in the almond bark, then set on sheet of wax paper. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top. I would recommend taking only a few cake balls out of the freezer at a time so that they don’t warm up to room temperature before they get doused in the almond bark–it’ll make your life much easier.
about 2 cups powdered sugar (rough estimate)
1 stick margarine (room temperature)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– Beat margarine, milk and vanilla together in stand mixer.
– Gradually add in powdered sugar until you get a thick consistency and not shiny appearance.
Now I realize these directions are horrible because they are so vague. I learned how to make frosting from my mom and am still not quite sure when it is actually “done.” I usually just ask her because she has the eye for it, but from what she had said, “thick and not shiny” is what you’re looking for.
What’s your favorite way to make vanilla frosting?
cream cheese frosting? buttercream? whipped? which do you think is best?
One of my mom and I’s favorite meals to make is risotto with shrimp and vegetables. We usually throw in whatever vegetables we have in the house. This week, my mom started the risotto, then when I got home from work, we walked to the local farmer’s market. We picked up some tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, and zucchini. The first day we made the risotto, my mom was too hungry to wait for the mushrooms and zucchini to cook, so we didn’t add it until day two. Both dishes were delicious, but day two was much more colorful! Also, for those who think risotto is hard to make, it’s really not!
Shrimp and Vegetable Risotto
About 24 shrimp, pealed, deveined and shelled
1 small onion, diced
1 cup risotto, uncooked
3 cups chicken broth
2 medium tomatoes, diced
10 cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
– Coat large skillet with extra virgin olive oil and toss onions into skillet. Saute until softened. (Make sure to use LARGE skillet)
– Put risotto into skillet. Add one cup of chicken brother and stir. Keep stirring until almost absorbed, then add another cup of chicken broth. Repeat again with the third cup. Keep stirring until the rice is puffed up, soft, and chicken broth is FULLY absorbed.
– Toss chopped tomatoes in with the risotto.
– Chop shrimp up into 3 pieces per shrimp (or keep whole, however you like to eat your shrimp).
– Remove large skillet from heat and place medium skillet on heat. (Or if you’re good at multitasking, you can complete these next steps while the risotto is cooking. Either way, you still need an additional skillet otherwise the large skillet will be too overcrowded for the shrimp and veggies to cook properly). Coat the medium skillet with extra virgin olive oil.
– Toss the shrimp into the medium skillet, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp is pink.
– Toss in the mushrooms and zucchini. Saute until softened.
– Toss the ingredients from the medium skillet into the risotto in the large skillet.
This dish is so versatile because you can add in whatever you have on hand. If you add garlic, add it in with the onions in the beginning. For all other vegetables or add ins, do that after the risotto cooks.
I spent part of Memorial Day Weekend at my Grandma’s lakehouse in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A lot of my family was there, so I decided to bake some chocolate peanut butter brownies from a recipe I found here. They were simple to back and turned out well! The batter was pretty thick, so I really had to spread it in the pan. I got a little lazy with appearance, so the top isn’t super smooth and pretty, but taste is more important, right? They tasted good enough that I couldn’t take a picture once they were cut because they were already eaten!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8X8″ pan with cooking spray. (I only had a 9X9″ pan, so I used foil to make a smaller pan).
– Combing flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
– Combine sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until just blended.
– Mix in peanut butter and chocolate chips by hand.
– Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of center with just a few crumbs. Cool on wire rack completely before cutting.
What’s your favorite brownie recipe?
I have found a new obsession: english muffin pizzas. I haven’t been this excited about something I’ve been in awhile, but these are awesome! I had very low expectations, but I just loved how they tasted on how easy they were! They’re so customizable too! You can add whatever you want to them. I add some jarred tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
English Muffin Pizza
1 English muffin per person
favorite tomato sauce
toppings of your choice! (I did green peppers, mushrooms and onions)
– Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
– Cook your toppings. (If following my pizza, dice green pepper, mushroom, and onion. Cook onion in pepper in skillet over medium high heat. Add mushroom about 5-7 minutes later. Cook until all veggies are tender.)
– Split English muffins in half and place on baking sheet. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Take out of oven and top with tomato sauce, then sprinkle with cheese, and top with rest of ingredients. (Make sure not too add a huge amount of tomato sauce–the crust might get soggy). Cook 11-13 minutes until English muffin is crispy and cheese is melted.
Personally, I don’t like that much cheese, but my mom does like it, so I added some more cheese to hers on top of of the veggies.
They tasted delicious! Just the write serving size. I had some extra veggies and tomato sauce, so I’m going to serve those up with some pasta tomorrow.
One of my mom’s favorite dishes at restaurants is chicken piccata. I’ve attempted to make it a few times, and finally had some success! I was in such a frenzy cooking it, though, that I forgot to take pictures! Luckily, the dish made enough that we had leftovers, and I was able to take a picture of the reheated plate. It doesn’t look as spectacular as it did day one, but it tasted just as great! I would highly recommend using low sodium chicken stock. We didn’t have any in our pantry (we just had regular chicken stock) and I find it to be a little salty.
Chicken Piccata with Pasta and Mushrooms
6 oz whole wheat angel hair pasta
5 teaspoons flour + more for dredging
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
10 oz sliced mushrooms
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons parsley
– Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
– While pasta is cooking, whisk flour and 2 cups chicken broth until combined.
– Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour. Heat 2 tsp oil in large skillet over medium heat, and cook chicken until browned on both sides and no longer pink in the middle (about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness).
– Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm. Add 1 tsp oil to skillet and heat on medium-high. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet.
– Add 1/2 cup broth and garlic to skillet and cook about 2 minutes. Add flour-broth mixture. lemon juice, and sprinkle of salt. Cook about 5 minutes, until broth is thickened.
– Stir in capers, butter, parsley, and mushrooms. Toss the pasta in with the sauce.
– Serve the chicken on top of the pasta and sauce.
Like I said, it looked much prettier day one, but it tasted great both day 1 and 2!