Sausage Ragu and Polenta

Dinner Document

Sam’s friend Ben came to stay with us two weeks ago and as a thanks, he secretly rang up the butcher near our flat in Peckham and bought us some meat to cook. What a wonderful present! When he was here, he and I went for a walk and I talked to him about food shopping and the things he liked to buy at butchers and fishmongers where he lives in Edinburgh, and also, about the disappearance of fishmongers and butchers from areas of Edinburgh that are becoming rapidly developed and different. I hadn’t really thought about Ben going to the butcher or fishmonger before and it put him in a different light in my mind, hearing him talk about what he chooses and how he likes to cook. Sausages were something that Ben mentioned he always likes to buy, and actually I don’t often buy, so I thought of him when making this and…

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Fennel-scented Braised Squid with Aioli

Dinner Document

I barely ever cook squid – I can probably count the occasions on one hand. This is not to do with preference, I always order squid if it’s on a restaurant menu. It’s mainly that squid usually requires a special trip to a fishmonger, and I am rarely near a fishmonger at the right moment. I often walk past the fish shops in Newcastle after teaching at the university, but don’t feel I can inflict a fishy parcel on a heated train carriage for 5 hours as I make my way home… and the contents would spoil, too. 

I passed by a fishmonger with a sign saying ‘FRESH SQUID’ in Frinton-on-Sea in Essex when we’d driven there for a rainy Saturday to cheer ourselves up. The man in the shop put 3 handfuls of pre-prepared squid in a bag and I had in mind to use the two bulbs of…

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Sicilian-Style Tuna Pasta Sauce

Dinner Document

A while ago in Sicily I made swordfish pasta from a Mary Taylor Simeti recipe with the surprising (to me), addition of fresh chopped mint. Here, I made a version with tinned tuna and it was great. When I made it I was staying with my parents and chopped off a handful of fennel fronds from an overgrown plant to add to the sauce. Clearly, that’s not easy to find(!) (though they do grow prolifically by some roadsides in the UK, but finding that would be a bit random luck!) – so use a very finely sliced fennel bulb instead, or a teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds.  


4 cloves of garlic, sliced

4 anchovies (salted or in oil)

1/2 bulb of fennel (or a small bulb) and fronds, very thinly sliced

a pinch of chilli

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tin of tomatoes

1 small tin of tuna

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Meal 1 – Baked Chicken Strips

What's for Dinner Moms?

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Even though I make many “different” meals for my family they still want “kid” food once in a while. I am not a believer in that there are kids foods and adult foods. Kids menus and foods began back in the 1920s because prior to that time most parents dined out without children. Starting in the 20s restaurants began inviting children in but letting it be known that they could not eat what there parents ate. Food was bland and considered good for children’s digestive tracts.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that the beige food children’s menu that we know today came into being.

By the age of four strong preferences have been developed in what children will eat. If they have not been exposed to bitter, stronger tastes they will take much longer to acquire these tastes. Our pediatrician had us start both children on the bitter vegetables first…

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Sticky Baked Chicken

What's for Dinner Moms?


After the mess the other night things are now back on track. I had my daughter make the chicken to prove that mistakes happen and we move on. They are not permanent. She did a great job. We were at Western Michigan University yesterday and the kids saw two take-out delivery trucks stopping at the dorms. Both kids began listing the foods they can make or cook so that they will not have to spend their money on delivery. It warmed my heart!


My family really liked the chicken. This dish was super simple to make – 5 ingredients. It takes about an hour to bake but 5 minutes to put together.  They all liked how the flavor was through the chicken not just on the outside.

I had originally planned on serving this dish with rice but we were all out and I refused to go to the…

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Simple Pad Thai

What's for Dinner Moms?

We made this dinner really quick the other night. The hardest part of the meal was mincing the garlic and chopping the onions. Other than that it came together really fast. We were out of rice noodles so I used a thin spaghetti to make it which was fine but it would have been even better with rice noodles. Remember if you don’t have an ingredient to a recipe figure out a work around! You want to have the same amount of liquid or spices but maybe you switch them out by adding a bit more of something else in place of an ingredient you don’t have or don’t like. The more you play with ingredients the more you will like making dishes with your own twists!


This was a hit. I was very skeptical of the dish not having tamarind paste but I really didn’t miss it. I…

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Steak, Roasted Red Pepper, and Feta Pizza with Balsamic Reduction

What's for Dinner Moms?

Steak, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Pizza

Well, the Unofficial Start to summer has come and gone. That four-day weekend seemed to pass by in a flash. From now until Labor Day our little town will be bustling with tourists.  We tend to avoid the local beach and downtown area from now until after Labor Day.  They get so busy and there are few deals as most of these places make the bulk of their income in these three months. So, we will not be going out too much this summer to eat.

We love our pizza though. I am still working on my technique to make better pizza but each time I feel I am getting a bit closer to the best way to make it for us.  This is the one dish that restaurants still make better than I do! I took a piece of steak out of the freezer the other day and realized…

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Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

What's for Dinner Moms?


My children do not like mayonnaise potato salad.  Once in a while I can get them to eat a bite or two if I add lots of eggs and mustard to it.  When I saw this recipe I knew my children would like it.  There is almost no mayonnaise in it.  Plus, it had the added bonus of bacon.  To them, heck to me, bacon is its own unique food group and just makes everything better!

I wish I could get a picture of how this salad tasted.  I started with this recipe for Ranch Potato Salad from (click for link to original recipe)


It was yummy!  My potato salad hating kids each ate two huge helpings of this.  It had a smoky bacon flavor with a bit of crunch from the celery and onion.  There was one serving left for the next day and that was…

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Greek Potato Salad

What's for Dinner Moms?

Time for summer salads! I love potato salads but am always looking for new ways to make them. This potato salad is potatoes mixed with Tzatziki which is a favorite in our house. I tend to add MUCH more dill and garlic than is called for in this recipe but I went light on the seasonings for the recipe because we love it with lots of garlic and dill but when I make it for guests I tend to err on the side of caution.


This is one of my kids favorite potato salads. They are not big on mayonnaise based salads and this has so much flavor that they choose this salad first when picking a picnic side dish.

This goes great with all your favorite grilled meats!

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Triple Tomato Sauce Pasta with Eggplant, Zucchini and Burrata


If you love tomatoes, this pasta has a wonderfully intense tomato flavor from a red vodka sauce, fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.  I added roasted eggplant and zucchini to the dish and finished it off with burrata, basil and parmesan.  You can use any short pasta that you like and serve with grilled chicken if you need a protein, a nice green salad and some crusty bread.

Serves 6


  • 1 lb curly short pasta of choice
  • 1 medium eggplant, 1/2 inc dice
  • 2 zucchini, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, or red is fine
  • 1/2 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes,(drained if using oil brined)
  • 1 4 oz ball of burrata
  • 1 bunch basil, julienned, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, approximately
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons greek seasoning
  • kosher salt and…

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Creamy Sun Dried Tomato and Sausage Pasta


While traditional red sauce is great, this pasta relies on the slightly more intense flavor of sun dried tomatoes for its flavor base. It also has some wine, stock and cream to round it out. At my local market, Central Market, I can buy some very tender sun dried tomatoes that are a perfect texture and not marinated in oil. I prefer these tomatoes to the jarred variety. For the sausage, I like to use a sweet Italian sausage and add some fennel seeds to highlight the flavors. Fresh basil at the end adds a nice pop of color and bright flavor to finish the dish.

Serves 4-6


  • 16 oz paccheeri (or any large tubular pasta)
  • 1 lb sweet (mild) Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 11/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream

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Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Bacon Meatballs with Mushroom Tomato Sauce


This recipe is a change from the traditional meatball recipe. The meatballs and sauce are great with pasta, but taste great over rice as well. The chicken meatballs are a little on the wet side when you roll them, but this helps to keep them a bit more tender during the cooking process. I bake the meatballs which is a bit healthier than frying, but you could fry them as well if you desire. Serve with plenty of extra parmesan cheese for an enjoyable family dinner.

Makes about 24 hearty meatballs, serves 4-6


for meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 3 slices cooked, chopped bacon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 large eggs, gently beat
  • 4 minced scallions
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1 thick slice Italian bread (crusts removed), soaked in milk
  • kosher salt and…

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Creamy Summer Corn Chowder


I love a good bowl of chowder and even as the weather warms up, there is something wonderfully comforting about a hearty bowl of soup. I have based this soup off of a recipe from bon appetit magazine, but have changed that recipe a bit. They key to success for this soup is using the fresh corn to make the stock which creates a wonderful flavor base for the soup and makes all the difference in taste. It does require a bit of extra work, but well worth the effort. You can adjust the amount of cream you want to use and even eliminate it, although your soup will not be thinner in consistency. I have also served this soup with some gulf shrimp top…a great way to complement the dish.
Serves 4-6


  • 8 ears of corn
  • 1 Parmesan rind (about 4 ounces; optional)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay…

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Delicious Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs Recipe

Authentic Italian Recipes from Nonna Box

Polpette are meatballs

Meatballs are served as a main dish or in soups all throughout Italy. Almost every country in the world has their own version of a meatball. Italian-Americans created their own main dish of meatballs served with spaghetti, which is something I had never seen before in Italy.

With this recipe, I remembered how much I loved these little treats that mamma used to make for me when I was a little kid, so I wanted to create something with a little surprise in the middle, that would be fun and delicious for both kids and adults.

Pan fried meatballs are an Italian classic made with beef and/or pork, with Pecorino Romano, parsley and garlic and breadcrumbs. With this recipe, I made them into small oval shapes and filled them with fresh mozzarella, so when you bite into them, they ooze out with the creamy cheese.

polpette in the making

Served with an arugula…

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Creamy Polenta recipe |

I can’t believe I forgot to toss in a recipe for plain polenta for Memorial Day. All US Holidays are opportunities for me to put in cross-over Italian cultural plain dishes and I can just remember thinking every Memorial Day how lovely it was that people could all get together and pray as a nation about being the same people. And I wouldn’t so much each polenta then, I mean, that happens all year long on odd days here and there, (cream of wheat is known as semolina, so yes, I also have a bowl of semolina from time to time, but I prefer polenta), but for the sake of the argument, I think polenta (as well as semolina) could be a solemnized appetizer or breakfast, you know, alongside of a very important breakfast muffin and a BBQ brunch.


Creamy Polenta recipe |

Pasta with cheddar and sausages – Pasta

This is really a delicious dish that makes you think about putting aside your cream of wheat comfort days and taking this on instead before you decide whatever else happens in the kitchen that day.

But for some reason, the recipe naturally assumes everyone knows how to make besciamella (white sauce) and no, this is probably not even a laughable assumption anywhere outside an Italian gourmet kitchen, I mean anywhere in the world.

So beneath this is a link to a besciamella (white sauce) on Saveur magazine online, that, hopefully, fits the needs for this excellent and creamy sausage mac & cheese.


Pasta with cheddar and sausages – Pasta

Besciamella (white sauce) on Saveur


Asparagus and Courgette Risotto for Belinda

Frascati Cooking That's Amore

Today’s post is about every cloud having a silver lining when dinner needs to be made.


The ‘cloud’ in question was the lack of an ingredient – proper, nice locally grown romanesque courgettes/zucchine such as the ones shown in the photo above.  The ‘silver’ turned out to be my having to add asparagus to the recipe, in order to bolster the overall taste, and the result is the recipe I am writing about today.

It is very easy to find the romanesque cougettes where I live, the markets and veggie shops sell them all the time (sometimes even when they are theoretically out of season).  It just so happened that for various reasons of busyness and business, I had to perforce opt for my least favourite place for sourcing vegetables – the supermarket.  You should have seen my face, I was hardly able to contain a surly stance as I…

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Soya Tikki, Indian Snack

Indian Encyclopedia

big_soyabean_tikki-1.jpgSoya Tikki is a popular Indian snack item relished almost all over the country. This mouth-watering snack is rich in protein and fibre. It is easy to cook and can be prepared at home.  Soya Tikki can also be purchased from various food stores.

Ingredients of Soya Tikkisoya.jpg

  • Soya paneer, half kg
  • Soya flour, 100 gm
  • Potatoes, four to five
  • onion (finely chopped), one or two
  • Ginger (grated), two tsp
  • Peas (shelled), half cup
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped), half cuppalak-soya-cutlets
  • Green chillies (finely chopped), two tsp
  • Red chilli powder, one tsp
  • Cumin seed powder, two tbsp
  • Coriander (dhania) powder, two tsp
  • Cloves (ground), one tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil, as required

Read more :Soya Tikki, Indian Snack

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Salmon en Croute

That Cooking Thing

For some reason, wrapping food in puff pastry has become a sign of classy, luxurious, up-market dining. Whilst anything wrapped in puff pastry is clearly luxurious and decadent, I would not go as far as saying it makes a dish classy. There is a bizarre mystique surrounding this pastry, most likely because it is such a nightmare to make, but in a society where we can walk into almost any supermarket and buy it premade (who actually has time to make puff pastry from scratch…) the grand dinners you see at restaurants can easily be recreated at home.


The term “en croute” means in pastry and as such, can really be applied to any food that is cooked in a pastry shell. Boeuf en croute – otherwise known as Beef Wellington – another classic ‘posh’ dish that is incredibly simple to make. Originally, hot water crust or shortcrust pastry…

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Pastéis de Natas

That Cooking Thing

I thought that I didn’t like custard tarts. It turns out that I was just unfortunate enough to have never tried these absolutely divine creations. A rich, cinnamon and vanilla egg custard encased in shatteringly crisp, flaky pastry turns out to be just thing to make you feel better after a stressful day… or anytime to be honest.

Pastéis de nata were born of convenience. Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery used egg whites to starch clothes and, as you may imagine, they got through a lot of them. To avoid wasting the yolks, the monks baked them into cakes and pastries. In an attempt to earn some money to prevent their monastery being closed the monks joined with the local sugar refinery to sell small custard tarts. The monastery still closed (in 1843) and the recipe was sold to the owner of the sugar refinery who opened the Fábrica…

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