March 30, 2009

Milos Tsatsiki

Brad and I love to try new restaurants in the city. Our list of "to visits" is constantly growing, and I think we would probably have to eat out every night for the next month just to scratch off all the ones we currently have down. That being said, more often than not, we are constantly revisiting our favorites. We have our favorite brunch spot, local Italian, 24-hour diner and even our favorites for special occasions. I love trying new places, especially with the amazing press that many of the ones here in the city get, but I also crave the dishes from our most frequented spots.

One of the restaurants that we find ourselves at quite often is Estiatorio Milos. Milos is a Greek restaurant with a focus on seafood. Everything is super fresh, from the tomatoes, which they use for an unbelievable tomato salad, to the fish, which is actually laid out on ice for you to go up and select. We frequent Milos often in the summer for a light dinner and a bottle of white wine. We are especially fond of the Milos Special - which is thin cut and lightly fried pieces of zucchini, eggplant and saganaki cheese served with a phenomenal tsatsiki.

When I saw the recipe for their tsatsiki in the May 2008 Gourmet I almost screamed! It tastes exactly like it does in the restaurant, and is super simple to make. We put this on all kinds of veggies and even topped whole pitas with it for lunch. It has a creamy and tangy base thanks to the Greek yogurt, but the cucumber keeps it light and refreshing. I made a double batch of this and enjoyed pulling it out for a snack all week long. This would be an absolutely perfect dip with a big veggie plate.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes from last week! We are feeling much better now and are excited that it is finally warming up!

Milos Tsatsiki
Courtesy Estiatorio Milos 

1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Toss cucumber with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a colander and let drain for at least 15 minutes.
  • Mash minced garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt, using back of knife, until it forms a paste.
  • Whisk together garlic paste, EVOO, yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Using hands, squeeze out any excess moisture from cucumbers, then fold into yogurt.
  • Season with salt if necessary.

March 26, 2009

Grape and Rosemary Foccacia

This is going to be a real quick post today, because we are a house of sickies! Brad and me both have a bug, and even little Suki is sick. Taking care of sick dog when you yourself feel like your head is going to explode -- is this a prep course for kids, or what?! 

But on to the fun stuff - I've been saving this recipe for a while to show ya'll, and was hoping I would have a chance to make it again and take better pictures, but oh well, I think you will get the gist. I have made this so many times and it has always come out perfect. It is great as an appetizer or a snack, and our guests love it. It's so easy to throw together, I know you'll love it too. It's essentially just pizza dough dotted with grapes, rosemary, shallots and olive oil. And if you use store bought pizza dough, all the better and easier on you. I've used homemade and the stuff from the can, and it was awesome with both.

The grapes look like little jewels and get all juicy and delicious when they heat up. The rosemary also adds a nice woodsy flavor that is a great contrast to the sweet grapes. Also use good sea salt on this, as it is a really important flavor component. The focaccia is best served warm, but you can assemble it and slip it in the oven when you are ready.

I also want to give a huge THANK-YOU to Kendra of Homegrown Housewife for this award. So sweet!! Kendra has a great blog, and a really awesome recent post full of household tips. Please be sure to check her out! I want to pass this one along to the duo of Jessi and Michael over at Chef Fresco for their amazing blog. They have some really gorgeous food, and I think it's even better that they like to share the kitchen with each other!

I'm now off to the vet for the furry sick one, but hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and is hopefully getting some glorious spring weather!

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis (that's 2 in a row from Giada - I love that girl!)

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons EVOO
coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup green grapes
1/2 cup red grapes
  • Preheat oven to 400℉.
  • Shape pizza dough into a rectangle, and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Brush the dough with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic, shallot and rosemary.
  • Arrange grapes and gently dress into dough.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Slice into squares, and serve warm.

March 24, 2009

Chicken Saltimbocca

I will be the first to admit that I'm not exactly a huge chicken fan. I just think it's a bit bland, and would much rather be eating its red meat counterpart. That being said, I am currently in serious need of a detox. I visited one of my nearest and dearest in Nashville this weekend, and literally ate my way through the city. From BBQ and cheap and greasy Mexican to lots of gravy and late night taco bell - people, it's amazing I even made it to the plane without having a heart attack.

That being said, full on healthiness at this point would be way too much of a shock to the system. So, I give up the read meat and get a little cheese/prosciutto. Not too terrible a trade off. And, because the chicken is pounded out nice and thin and loaded with yummy tasting stuff, it was anything but bland. In fact, it was so filling that I didn't even crave dessert (I did have a glass of wine though - like I said, I don't want to totally throw myself into a tizzy).

I have reined in the recipe a bit to 4 servings of chicken (from the original 6), but Brad ate more than one piece, so if you have hungry guys (or gals!) at home, you might want to make a bit more.

Chicken Saltimbocca
Slightly Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

4 (3-ounce) chicken cutlets, pounded out thin and even
salt and pepper
4 thin slices prosciutto
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
juice from half a lemon
  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Place one piece of prosciutto on top of each chicken cutlet.
  • Strain thawed spinach, and squeeze with hands to remove excess water.
  • In a small bowl, combine spinach with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper.
  • Place a thin layer of seasoned spinach on top of prosciutto.
  • Evenly sprinkle Parmesan over all 4 cutlets.
  • Roll each cutlet up like a jelly roll and secure in the middle with a toothpick.
  • Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet over high heat.
  • Brown chicken on both sides (just a few minutes per side).
  • Add chicken broth and lemon juice, and scrape browned bits off bottom of pan.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium for 8-10 minutes.
  • Set chicken aside and tent to keep warm.
  • Turn heat to high and simmer liquid until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup (about 5 minutes).
  • Season liquid, if desired.
  • Place chicken on plate and remove toothpicks. Top with sauce and serve.

March 19, 2009

Housewife's Banana Bread

I'm pretty sure that everyone already has their favorite banana bread recipe. I know I do - my mom's. This is not a post for hers though, because see the thing about my mom's banana bread is, that it's simply hers. It's what she's known for and I'm pretty sure that if I ever tried to make it, there would be no chance of it tasting as good as when she does. Guess it just has that extra little "mom factor." So, I'll stick with having her mail us loaves and loaves (seriously, the UPS guy knows her by name).

For this same reason, I usually steer clear of most banana bread recipes. This one piqued my interest though (when I first saw it on Noble Pig, but actually got it's origin from Leslie at The Hungry Housewife -- love both of them!), because of the ingredients. Essentially, Leslie took a plain jane banana bread and gussied it up into something really different and special. It has coconut and blueberries, in addition to walnuts, if you're into that sort of thing. This was entirely different than my mom's, and in the end I decided was even more like a blueberry bread. And it was delicious! My only mistake was forgetting to set the timer (or I actually set it on the microwave and someone -- ahem -- messed with it!), so it got a little overcooked on the edges. Nothing a little doctoring couldn't fix.

So even if you have a go-to banana bread recipe, I would encourage you to try this one for a change. I mean we all have black bananas in the freezer, right? I liked mine best slightly heated in the microwave with a big smear of butter.

Please click HERE to get the recipe and to pay Leslie a little visit. The only change I made was to add a few more blueberries (which I highly recommend!). I think I would also leave out the walnuts next time as well, but that is entirely up to you and yours. 

March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We had a fantastic time at our little St. Pattie's Day/board game party this weekend. Every one enjoyed the food, company and hysterical games. If your old Taboo box is gathering dust, be sure to bust it out the next time you have company over.

On to the menu! To start, I set out a plate of mini-shepard's pies, an Irish cheese plate (with green grapes, of course) and a zucchini carpacio. The shepard's pies were a big hit, and even ended up getting reheated once the party dragged into the wee hours. For the main course we had this lamb stew and a side of my grandma's cabbage and noodles. I tend to use a light hand with the salt when we have guests over, since I don't know their preferences, but I think these both could have used a little more seasoning. For dessert we munched on the Oreo truffles, which everyone LOVED. We also had tons of Irish beer and this green punch. The punch is dangerous, since you can't taste the alcohol at all, so be warned!

Also a big thanks to Debby over at A Feast for the Eyes, for this very sweet award:

I always enjoy Debby's blog and her comments. She has been a great friend! This award is for the following:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated."

I want to pass this along to Foodie with Little Thyme. She is a mom, wife, runner, and of course, is always full of great recipes and delicious food. Please go check her out!

Hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Go kiss someone Irish!

Lamb Shank Stew with Russet Potato Top
Slightly Adapted from Tyler Florence

1 cup AP flour
salt and pepper
3 lamb shanks (appx. 24-oz.), cut into pieces
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 bunch of thyme
2 cloves
3/4 bottle (750ml) red wine
4-5 cups low sodium beef broth
1 cup barley
6 russet potatoes

Garlic-Parsley Butter:
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Place flour and a liberal amount of salt and pepper on a plate.
  • Dredge lamb pieces in flour and shake off excess.
  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Brown lamb pieces on all sides, the set aside.
  • Add garlic, carrots, onion, bay leaf, thyme and cloves to pot, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until veggies are slightly browned.
  • Add beef stock, wine and barley.
  • Add lamb back to pot, cover and roast in oven for 2 hours.
  • Garlic-Parsley Butter: Make while stew is cooking.
  • Using the back of a knife, mash together garlic, salt and olive oil, to form a paste.
  • Mix with parsley.
  • Melt butter in a sauce pot and add garlic-parsley mixture.
  • Cook over low for 5 minutes, then set aside.
  • Peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise (submerge in cold water if not ready to use immediately, to keep from turning black).
  • After stew has cooked for 2 hours, remove the lid and place potatoes on top (you may have to cut the potatoes to make them all fit).
  • Place pot back in oven to cook for 45 minutes.
  • Baste the potatoes with the garlic butter, and return to oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until potatoes have cooked through.

Green Punch

2 (12-oz.) cans frozen limeade concentrate
2 (12-oz.) cans frozen lemonade concentrate
3 liters sprite
1 (750ml) bottle rum
2 quarts lime sherbet (All I could find was rainbow, which didn't affect the flavor, but I did add in a few drops of green food coloring to intensify the color)
  • Combine first 4 ingredients, then stir in sherbet.
  • Serve cold.

March 13, 2009

Festive Oreo Truffles

How fun and adorable are these?! I got this idea last year from Barkerella (I'm sure you all already love her site, but if you haven't visited, be sure to!), and thought they would be perfect for our little get together this weekend. They are made with mint Oreos (which taste just like thin mints), which are ground up and combined with cream cheese, then dipped in colored candy coating. You could really make them for any holiday depending on what color candies you used. 

These would be fantastic to make with your kids. They are a lot of fun, and you use your hands for most of the work. Mine weren't dipped perfectly, but when you pile them all together, I doubt anyone would care. And they are so good! Really sweet, really addictive. The little ball form makes them way too easy to just eat one right after another. And if you aren't a mint fan, go ahead and use the plain Oreos. I'm sure those would rock as well.

I still have more recipes for the 17th to come, including a kicked-up lamb stew and a fun green punch. Who knew St. Pattie's day could be so much fun, even before the drinking starts?!

Mint Oreo Truffles
Courtesy of Bakerella
Makes appx. 4 dozen (So be sure to share!)

1 package Cool Mint flavored Double Stuffed Oreos
- use 22 whole cookies
- use 10 cookies with cream centers discarded
8-ounces cream cheese, at room temp
chocolate bark or candy coating (I used Wilton's Brand, which you can order online)
  • Place all cookies in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. You could also put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
  • Stir together crushed cookies and cream cheese. I found it easier to get in there with my hands like you are making meatloaf.
  • Roll into 1-inch balls (I used a mini-melon baller gadget) and place on wax paper lined baking sheet.
  • Place balls into the fridge or freezer to slightly harden.
  • Melt candies according to instructions.
  • Dip chilled balls into melted candies, then place back on wax paper to dry. (You might need to stick balls back into fridge for a few minutes to keep them chilled, which will make them easier to work with).
  • Once candy coating has hardened, you can drizzle or decorate with a contrasting color.
  • Keep refrigerated.

March 11, 2009

Perfect St. Patrick's Day Appetizer

We are having a few friends over this weekend for a pre-St. Pattie's Day/board game night. I'm cooking up a bunch of Irish or green food and everyone else is required to bring a board game. There will be tons of food, Guinness and green punch. All that coupled with some corny games (and maybe a few Rock Band sessions) should make for quite the evening!

I'm hoping to do most of the cooking before anyone gets here, so that way I can enjoy the party as well. I decided to make these cute little shepard's pies before hand, refrigerate or freeze them, then throw them in the oven right before people get here. Since I hadn't made these before, Brad and I gave them a test run the other night, and they turned out fantastic! Really flavorful, and actually pretty easy to eat with your hands, which is a big sticking point I have for finger food.

These all start with canned biscuits, which you shape into muffin tins and partially bake, forming little biscuit cups. You then fill them with mashed potatoes and a delicious meat and veggie mixture, and top the whole thing off with cheddar cheese. They bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Since there are a few steps and these would certainly need to be made before guests arrive, I'm quite happy to say that they are just as yummy after being in the fridge then heated in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350℉. I also made bite-sized versions, using half a biscuit and a mini-muffin tin.

I could not think of a more perfect appetizer for a St. Patrick's Day celebration! Stay tuned for other Irish goodies coming later this week!

Mini Shepard's Pies
Slightly Adapted from Big Daddy's House - Aaron McCargo, Jr.

cooking spray
12 canned biscuits (I used Grands Homestyle)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons AP flour
1/2 cup beef stock
1 cup frozen mixed veggies
1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes (I used the frozen version and just heated them up)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 425℉.
  • Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently increase the circle size of each biscuit.
  • Mold the biscuit into a cup shape inside each muffin tin.
  • Partially bake biscuits for 6-8 minutes, then set aside.
  • Brown beef in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onions, salt, pepper and garlic, and cook for a few minutes, letting the onions soften.
  • Stir flower into meat until a pastey consistency.
  • Add beef stock and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add vegetables and herbs and cook just until veggies have been warmed.
  • Meanwhile, reheat potatoes in microwave for 5-6 minutes, or until warm, then stir in garlic and onion powder.
  •  Spoon equal amounts of potatoes into the biscuit cups (it will look like it's filled to the top).
  • Top with beef mixture and push down with the back of a spoon or hands.
  • Top with mounds of cheese.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then gently remove each cup, using a knife if necessary.

March 9, 2009


Emily, over at Sugar Plum, always has the most creative and decadent looking goodies. She is constantly coming up with savory and sweet treats that I instantly want to try. This is exactly what happened the other morning when I strolled over to her site and saw these. Donuts! Bananas! Peanut butter glaze! OMG! Needless to say, 30 minutes later I was devouring these little bundles of deliciousness. I dipped half into the peanut butter glaze and half into powdered sugar. Both were totally amazing.

She entered these into a Top Chef/Quaker Oats competition, and she was chosen as one of the finalist! Yay! Congrats Emily! To vote for her and to see the recipe, please click here. Honestly, anyone who can make oats taste this good, is a winner to me!

Also a huge, huge thanks to Donna-FFW (firefighter wife) of My Tasty Treasures for this award!! She is absolutely hysterical, and if you aren't already completely addicted to her site, you must go check it out! Not only does she have amazing food, but she will keep you in stitches the whole time you are there. There is no filter with Donna!!

With this award you are supposed to list 10 facts about yourself. So here it goes:

1) I have really strong political and religious opinions. So much so, that I know better than to air them out here!
2) I love to run, run, run! The NYC half-marathon is my favorite race ever.
3) In my totally unbiased opinion, I have the cutest dog in the entire world. Isn't she adorable in her birthday dress?!
4) I graduated from Ole Miss with a 4.0 GPA and a finance degree (and still partied like a rock star!).
5) Most days I feel like I'm playing house, and can't believe I'm actually an adult.
6) I'm a total shoe and bag addict. Recession or not, I love me some Louboutins!
7) I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
8) Almond Joys are my favorite candy of all time.
9) I'm a Kappa Kappa Gamma and spent some of the best years of my life in that sorority house.
10) I'm clueless with computers and am amazed that this little blog is even up and running!

I want to pass this award along to Debby over at A Feast for the Eyes. Debby has so many wonderful dishes on her site, you just won't know what to do with yourself! She's a wife and a mother, and one heck of a lady. Please go check her out!

March 5, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

As most of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know, I like to follow recipes. I make little tweaks here and there to fit my own personal tastes or for convenience sake, but in general, I'm a stick to the rules kinda gal. I think of cooking like playing the piano. It can be a wonderful, creative outlet for some people (my husband being one of those talented beings), but you gotta learn how to read the music before you will ever be able to create songs of your own.

It's the same thing with cooking. You have to know the basics before you start tossing things together, or else you risk coming out with something so bad the dog won't even eat it. Most of the time, I'll let the professionals do the heavy lifting. Then I will happily take the credit for their hard work. :)

Last night though, I got this mad crazy idea to do my own soup recipe. I must have read like 6 recipes for soups that all had one ingredient in common - butternut squash - then I took what I liked from all of them, threw it in the pot and said a little prayer to the big guy. Let me tell you, I should be sure to play the lotto this week, cause Lady Luck seems to be paying me a visit! The soup was good! I mean really pretty darn tasty. I'm probably more shocked than anyone. Except for maybe Mom (she was the one I used to call when I couldn't figure out how to make scrambled eggs).

This soup blends together roasted butternut squash, apples, sage, chicken broth and Marsala wine. Nothing too fancy going on, and I stuck with classic combinations (like clinging to the pool wall when you are learning to swim). Oh, and this starts with bacon. How bad can something be when it starts with bacon?! If nothing else, having this soup come out so delicious felt like moving up from the Little Tikes Big Wheel to a pair of training wheels. Not quite to the big girl two-wheeler just yet, but I'm headed in the right direction!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

5-6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed (this was 2 small squash for me)
olive oil
salt and pepper
3-4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 sage leaves, or a whole sage sprig
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Preheat oven to 400℉.
  • Place cubed squash on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix together.
  • Roast squash for 40-50 minutes, then set aside.
  • In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon through, then set aside. Leave oil in pot.
  • Add additional olive oil if necessary, then add onions and cook till translucent (8-10 minutes).
  • Add garlic, sage, apples and squash and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add broth and simmer over medium for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Lower heat to low, add Marsala and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove sage leaves or sprig.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Take the soup off the heat, and puree using a immersion blender or by transferring soup in batches to a blender. (We like ours a little chunkier, so I left some pieces of apple. This worked well and the apples had that baked apple texture).
  • Stir in cream.
  • Top individual servings with bacon.

March 3, 2009

Apple Brown Betty

Whenever I'm at the store and throw a bag of apples in my cart, I give myself a little mental pat on the back. I mean apples are loaded with fiber and nutrients, not to mention the whole "keep the Dr. away" thing. But, deep down, I know this is not the way the story is gonna play out. Inevitably, I cut them up and top them with cheese or peanut butter. Or I bake them in the oven with butter and cinnamon. Or I make this brown betty. Cause once you make this, well, it's just impossible to be satisfied eating a plain old apple ever again.

We aren't reinventing the wheel here or anything, but this dessert is a classic for a reason. In fact, I'm going to finish off some of the leftovers and continue my day of hibernation. As a girl from FL, I just don't comprehend how anything is supposed to get done when there is snow everywhere. Enjoy!

Apple Brown Betty
Southern Living Best Recipes Vol. 4

8 white bread slices, chopped
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
1 cup apple cider
  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Lightly grease a 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
  • Place bread in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  • Stir together bread crumbs and butter.
  • Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Lay 1/2 apple slices in bottom of baking dish and top with 1/2 brown sugar mixture and half of the bread crumbs. Repeat for a second layer.
  • Pour apple cider over top (allow to sit for 15 minutes if desired).
  • Bake for 55 minutes, and let stand for 10 minutes prior to serving.

March 1, 2009

Rao's at home!

Recently, Brad and I had the pleasure of having dinner at Rao's of New York, a virtually impossible reservation to come by. Rao's, for those unfamiliar with the iconic East Harlem establishment, has been around for over a hundred years, serving out traditional Italian fare. The restaurant is tiny to say the least, with only 10 tables, all of which sit one party a night. When you get a reservation at Rao's it doesn't come with a particular time. You show up when you like, and leave when you like. The staff is incredibly friendly, treating every one that walks through the door with the same kind of hospitality one would extend in their own home. Reservations are made literally months in advance and are extended only to a very few lucky individuals.

One of our good friends is one of those lucky people, and invited Brad and myself, along with a few other friends to join him at his treasured table. Now, Brad has been to Rao's a few times before thanks to some work connections, so I have been left at home to sulk and pout. The very first time he went, he brought me back the Rao's cookbook as a sort of consolation prize and his ticket back into the house. It is filled with a number of delicious looking pastas, meats and vegetables, and I had marked a number to cook before going there myself. After eating there though, that list has grown exponentially. We tried so many wonderful dishes, I simply can't wait to see if they will translate onto our own table as well.

This sausage, cabbage and penne dish was the first on my list. It was delicious at the restaurant, and came out exactly how we remembered it. It is simple in concept, but the homemade marinara sauce, which requires hand crushing and treatment of tomatoes and a watchful eye as the sauce bubbles and thickens away, paired with the savory sausage and unique flavor of the cabbage makes for a very memorable dish. It's like taking your average pasta and completely amping it up. And I can't say enough about the sauce. Let's just say I now understand why so many people are completely appalled by the idea of canned versions.

Not everyone can go to Rao's, but it's so nice to know that their signature dishes are just a few ingredients and a little bit of time away from being on your own table.

I also want to extend a huge "Thank-you!" to Lori of Lori's Story and Southern Delights, for this award. So sweet of you!

This award is for very creative blogs, so I would like to pass it along to Janna of Honeyed Hashette. I've just recently found Janna's site and she is always full of creative and completely delicious looking goodies. Not to mention that she is a fellow Aussie puppy lover. Please go check out her site!

Rao's Marinara Sauce
Courtesy of Rao's Cookbook

2 28-ounce cans imported Italian plum tomatoes with juice (I used Rao's brand)
1/4 olive oil
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 fresh basil leaves, torn
pinch dried oregano
  • Using your hands, crush the canned tomatoes removing any hard core or skin, and set aside along with juice.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and saute onions for 3 minutes, or until translucent.
  • Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes, juice and salt to taste.
  • Raise heat and bring to a boil.
  • Immediately lower heat to a low simmer and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes (sauce will thicken the longer it cooks).
  • Stir in basil, oregano and pepper to taste, cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat and serve.
Penne with Cabbage, Sausage and Marinara

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Italian sausage meat, cut into bite sized pieces or taken out of casings
1 pound cooked savoy cabbage, cut into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper
marinara sauce
1 pound penne
Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Place cabbage in a large saucepan and cover by 2-inches with cold water.
  • Bring water to a boil, then lower and simmer cabbage for 5 minutes.
  • Place cabbage under cold water to stop the cooking.
  • Drain cabbage well on paper towels and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, heat oil and garlic over medium heat.
  • Add sausage and cook through.
  • Add cabbage and salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile cook penne until al dente.
  • Add pasta and sauce to sausage mixture and cook for a few minutes, until flavors are combined.
  • Remove from heat and serve. Top with cheese if desired.