April 8, 2011

Spaghetti Bolognese

This recipe is my version of Bolognese made with ground turkey and turkey sausage. I decided to skip on some of the vegetables that many recipes incorporate into Bolognese, and added a salted pork instead. I did add onions and garlic because I love their flavors and instead of topping with Parmesan I used shredded Asagio Cheese!
(There is Asagio in the sauce too!)


2 T olive oil
4-5 slices of salt pork chopped
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 lb turkey sausage, cooked and chopped 
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 stalks celery chopped
14 1/2 oz. tomato puree
6 oz. tomato paste
1/2 c. beef broth
1/2 c. of half-n-half
1 T Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 c. shredded Asagio cheese


Heat olive oil in pan and add salt pork  (I used bacon but you could use pancetta or even prosciutto) and cook for about 4 minutes. Then add the onion, celery and garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Add turkey to pan and cook until brown. Add the sausage and heat through. Then add the puree, broth, half-n-half, and paste along with the thyme and Italian Seasoning and the nutmeg and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper and let cook on low for 40 minutes until it thickens. Then blend in 1/2 cup of the Asagio cheese.

In the meantime bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add spaghetti. When spaghetti is cooked to your liking strain and plate. Top with the Bolognese and remaining asaigo cheese


April 7, 2011

The Skinny on Beef

Grass-fed Beef     

ore natural flavor thus eliminating the need to season or marinade before cooking. The taste of the beef will vary depending on what type of grass the cow grazes on and the region of the country it is raised in, but overall grass-fed beef is the wiser healthier choice.Grass-fed beef is part of a new trend or revolution if you will, moving some cattle ranchers away from the long time standard method for which their cattle meat is raised and processed. Cattle are being fed grass instead of soy, corn, anitbiotics and the accidental consumption of pesticides. Grass-fed beef is not only healthier for us from the standpoint of not containing all the unwanted chemicals, but what it does contain is less saturated fat than conventionally processed beef and is higher in omega 3 fatty acids, the healthy fat found in fishes like salmon. And because there is less water in the grass-fed beef, less meat needs to be eaten in order to satisfy hunger. The beef also contains m

For mor information on this trend check out Time Magazine’s article titled The Grass Fed Revolution at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200759,00.htm

Cuts of Beef

1. Tender cuts: These cuts are suitable for roasting, grilling, sautéing or broiling.
          Delmonico, New York, Porterhouse, rib roast, rib eye, sirloin, T-bone, tenderloin.

2. In-between cuts: With a little bit of preparation these cuts are good for roasting, grilling,  sautéing and broiling.They are also suitable for pot roasting, braising or stewing.
 Cross-rib, hanger steak, shoulder, sirloin tip, skirt, tri-tip, flat iron. 
 3. Least tender cuts These cuts are only suitable for roasting, braising or stewing.
Arm roast, Bolar roast, brisket, bottom round, round, rump, and stew.

Tips for Cooking Steak 

Now that we are coming to the time of the year when we start firing up our grills for outdoor cooking, check out this video from America’s Beef Producers on how to cook a steakhouse steak in your home!


April 6, 2011

Tara's Toasted Coconut Cupcakes

These little treats are made with lots of coconut! There is coconut in the cakes themselves and then I topped them with little tuffs of toasted coconut!

I named these coconut cupcakes after my 9 year old niece Tara because they are as sweet and warm as she is!


3/4 c. butter softened
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c buttermilk
3/4 c. sweetened flaked coconut plus
 a little extract for toasting

For the Frosting:
6 oz cream cheese softened
1/3 cup butter softened
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar


In automatic mixer or using a hand mixer, blend together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Beat in the extracts. Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder and salt and add to creamed mixture alternation with the buttermilk. Beat well after each addition. Fold in the coconut and fill baking cups until 2/3 full. Back in oven set at 350F and bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the Frosting...
In a large bowl or automatic mixer beat together cream cheese, butter and the extracts until smooth. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar mixing well. Toast the coconut in oven proof dish until it turns golden, let cool. Frost cupcakes and top with toasted coconut.

Makes 18 cupcakes

Inexpensive Bolar Roast with Butternut Squash

Cooking on a budget is a must these days with almost everyone having to tighten up their purse strings, and I am certainly no exception.  Although my family and I tend to eat more chicken and fish than anything else, we do once in a while enjoy a nice roast beef. The eye roast is my favorite, but again, it is typically a more expensive cut of beef so unless I find it on sale I don’t buy it.  The other day I was in the super market hankering for a good roast and found something called a Bolar roast. The Bolar roast is a blade cut and is considered to be a rather tough cut of beef. After doing a little research on Bolar roast I found that acidic marinades coupled with the method of slow cooking the roast is the best way to go about tenderizing the meat. So I decided to marinade the roast in balsamic vinegar overnight and then cooked it in a slow cooker for 7 ½ hours the next day. The result was one tender piece of meat. It did not come apart in the cooker as I thought it might, instead it was intact and you really didn’t need anything more than a butter knife to cut it!

1 c. balsamic vinegar to marinaed the roast
2 ½ lb Bolar Roast
3T canola oil for browning the meat
2 medium onions sliced thin
1 green pepper sliced thin
Medium butternut squash seeded and cubed
2 15 oz cans diced tomato drained
½ c. beef broth
1 full T curry powder
Salt and pepper
3 T cornstarch for thickening


 Season the roast with salt and pepper and in a large pot or pan pour the oil in and heat. Once pan is hot place the meat in and brown all sides and then remove from heat. In slow cooker place all the vegetables on the bottom and sprinkle the salt, pepper and curry on top, then put the roast on top of the vegetables and cover with the tomatoes and beef broth.  Set slow cooker on high for 2 hours and then cut it back to low for the remaining time. About an hour before the roast is done take ¼ c. of the broth and blend it with the cornstarch and return to cooker. You can add more cornstarch if you desire a thicker gravy.

After approximately 7 ½ to 8  hours of cooking time remove the roast from slow cooker and let stand for 5 minutes before carving. I served the roast and vegetables over fettuccine noodles but you can also use the extra wide egg noodles as well.

Other variations on this dish can include adding sour cream for creamier gravy or even using a small amount of coconut milk to play off of the curry flavor.

April 5, 2011

Seared Salmon with Charmula

A couple years ago a friend and I attended a cooking demonstration by Chef Paul Ingenito of The Perryville Inn  located in  Union Township New Jersey. The Inn has been a long time establishment which has received critical from The Star Ledger and the Courier News for both it's ambiance and food quality.

The night we were there Chef Ingenito made for us a seared Atlantic salmon with charmula served on a Waldorf salad. The charmula on the salmon was excellent and when I made the recipe for my husband he said that "The charmula is steak sauce for fish".

This is a heart healthy dish too with all the omega-3 fish oils, the cholesterol lowering olive oil and the anti-hypertensive garlic and hot pepper. I decided to have this dish for lunch over the Spicy Cuban Salad I made yesterday and it was delicious!

This recipe makes 4 servings.


Salmon Filet 4-6 oz  each
½ cup Cilantro, coarsely chopped
½ cup Parsley, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp coriander, ground
½ cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 450 F. Lightly season fish with S&P. Sear fillets in hot pan with olive oil. Note: the pan oil must be hot before placing the salmon into it.  Once the fish is seared on both sides, roughly 3 minutes each side, place in baking dish and set aside.
Mix the next 10 ingredients in blender or food processor. Gradually add olive oil to form emulsion. Generously coat fillets with charmula. Cook salmon in oven until medium rare about 6 minutes. Tip for knowing if your salmon is cooked correctly...place a fork prong into the fish and then lightly touch it to your lip. The prong should be only warm to the touch for medium rare. The fish should flake and be moist inside.  

Store extra charmula in frig for up to 4 weeks.

For more information on the Perryville Inn go to http://www.theperryvilleinn.com/

April 4, 2011

Spicy Cuban Salad with Black Beans and Mandarin Oranges

Now that the weather is beginning to get nice, I start to think about summer picnics and barbeque's and all the wonderful salads that go along with those get-togethers. This colorful and spicy salad is one I make for almost all my parties. The best part is that it is very low in calories and fat, but high in the good nutrients plus loads of flavor!


 15 oz can Mandarin oranges drained
1 c. shredded carrot
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1T sugar or 1 packet of substitute
1 tsp. chopped fresh jalapeno
15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed


Combine all ingredients and set in the refrigerator for 30 -245 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Serve on top of mixed fields greens or endive.

Travel - Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clair, Ireland

No matter where you look in Ireland, all you see is green! It truly is the Emerald Island. The Isle is completely breath taking as you visually absorb all the beautiful colors of the flora and of the landscape. Chris and I rented a car after landing in Shannon and we drove north through Donegal, Sligo, Derry and then down through Belfast and finishing our tour in Dublin. The people of Ireland are probably the most welcoming folks you would ever want to meet. As we traveled this northern route we stayed at Bed and Breakfast’s along the way and we were always met with a kind smile and hello by the various innkeepers. At one point while we were staying in Sligo, Chris wanted to do a little ancestor search. We drove to the region where Chris’s mother’s ancestors were from and we ran into a number of characters like Barney Gallagher and Jim Fergus whom we found sitting in a bar near Sligo. They regaled us with many stories about the area and Jim even invited us to his nephew’s home to take a look at a census he had from 1859.

View from our B & B in Sligo

Home in Shannon

We also saw the Giant’s Causeway and took a tour at the Old Bushmill Distillery in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I did the whisky taste test there and although I chose the politically correct sample of Irish whiskey, I couldn’t help but to favor the peated scotch. Then when we were in the airport in Dublin I bought a peated single malt Irish whisky Connemara, named after the County of Connemara in the West of Ireland, and when I got it home I fell completely in love with its smoky peat flavor.

Typical country side scene

The food in Ireland was a bit different from what we typically eat as Irish fare here in the United States. The first dinner I had in Ireland is one of my favorites, beef and cabbage. However, the beef is not the salted beef we eat here on St Patty's day, but more of a boiled version mixed with cabbage and covered in thick white gravy which is has a very different flavor from what I am use to! Salmon in Ireland was plentiful, fresh and delicious, so I ate a lot of salmon. But I think my favorite meal of the day was probably breakfast. When we stayed at the B & B’s I would always look forward to the breakfast selections each morning. A traditional Irish breakfast consists of sausages, black and white pudding, bacon, fried eggs and juice.

Doorways of Ireland

April 3, 2011

Quick and Easy Strawberry Trifle

If you are looking to impress your guest then this incredibly easy trifle recipe is a sure fire way to do just that! Last evening I had a few friends over for dinner and this is what I served for dessert. I was running short on time but I didn't want to serve a store bought item for dessert, so instead I bought an angel food cake, strawberries, instant pudding, sour cream and Cool Whip topping and in about 15 minutes times I had created this beauty!


1 angel food cake
1 lb strawberries hulled and sliced
Instant vanilla pudding
1 c. milk
8 oz sour cream
1 regular size container of Cool Whip topping
1 Tsp. grated orange rind


Cut the angel food cake into bite size pieces and place half in the bottom of your bowl. (You can use the trifle bowl as I did or you can used any type of clear glass bowl.) Then add the milk to the pudding, blend and let sit for one minute until it thickens. Then add the sour cream and orange zest and mix well. Blend in all but 2 full tablespoons of the Cool Whip...this you will reserve to use as topping.
Next layer one half of the pudding mixture over the cake pieces and then top with half of the strawberries and then repeat. Once the rest of your strawberries have been added top with your dollop of reserved whipped cream. You can top with one whole strawberry!


Here's another idea...to create a festive look for either Memorial Day or Fourth of July gatherings, you can add blueberries for a patriotic look!

And you can lower the fat and calories by using skim milk and both low fat sour cream and whipped topping!

Trip Advisor