Braised Short Ribs

Let your oven do the work so you don’t have to.  So good, so tender and great to share with company.

4-5 lbs. beef short ribs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground mustard
3 peeled, sliced carrots
1 tsp. celery seed
1 cup water
1 can tomato soup
1 pkg. beef or brown gravy mix

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place the ribs in a heavy Dutch oven or pot with an oven proof lid.  Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and mustard. Then place everything else in and around meat. Cover and bake for 3 hours.  Check occasionally to see if it’s drying out and you should add about 1/2 cup water – it makes its own juices, so you normally do not have to add this extra water.

Baked Ziti – II (Another Version)

Gooey, and so delicious.

1 lb. box ziti or penne pasta
1 lb. bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
32 oz. of marina sauce – I used Barilla – or your own homemade
1/2 lb. grated mozzarella cheese
1 full cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan, set aside. Cook the pasta, drain & set aside. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil then add the meats until almost fully browned over med-high heat. Add the onion and spices, stir, add the sauce and keep warm until pasta is drained.

Place about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of your pan and spread out. Plop some ricotta cheese in dollops on top of the sauce – use half of the ricotta. Mix pasta and suce together then spread into the pan. Plop the rest of the ricotta on top then sprinkle the mozzarella on top of that. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and top is browned.


Deli-Style Potato Salad

This is a simple, straight-forward potato salad, which is how we like it at our house. Feel free to add more or different veggies as you like or a bit of chopped up dill or sweet pickle/relish.

5-lb. bag of potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil (Not olive oil)
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

1 cup mayonnaise (I only use Hellman’s Regular)
1 tsp. celery salt
1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped carrots – (optional, sometimes I just omit)

Place the potato chunks in a large pot and just cover with cold water. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt in. Boil until they’re JUST tender – approximately 12-14 minutes. (You don’t want them mushy). Drain and gently mix and then spread them out on a cookie tray to cool down a bit; if you leave them in the colander they will definitely get mushy.

While the potatoes are cooling off somewhat, whisk the sugar with the vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil, and salt & pepper. Set aside.

Place the potatoes into a large bowl. Pour the vinegar & oil mixture over the warm potatoes and mix very gently. Let them sit like that for about 30 minutes. When 30 minutes are up – whisk together the mayo and celery salt.

Gently stir the carrots and then the mayo dressing into the potatoes. If you like your potato salad semi-room temperature, then serve now; otherwise place plastic wrap over and chill until serving time – chilling makes for a much better taste.

Lemon Pie


Spring & Summer mean lemon pie! What’s great about this pie is that it’s started on the stove top then placed in the fridge for a few hours. Make it in the morning to enjoy after dinner.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 Cup (about 3/4 stick) melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; Grease a 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs, cinnamon and melted butter and stir with a fork until blended. Press this mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake this for 10 minutes. Let it cool completely.

2 Cans (14-oz each) sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh is always better, if not strain it first)

In a medium pot, whisk the milk, yolks and lemon juice until smooth. Cook this custard over medium heat until very hot – this take about 8-10 minutes – stirring it occasionally with a wooden spoon. Do not let this boil.

Strain custard filling through a sieve into the pie crust shell. Smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.

Serve with whipped cream on top (or, use Redi-Whip).

Potato Soup

A hearty potato soup recipe.

8 medium red potatoes – peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled & diced
6 celery stalks, diced
2 quarts water
1 diced onion
6 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups milk

In a large pot, cook the potatoes, carrots & the celery in cold water to cover until tender – this takes about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid and placing veggies aside. In the same pot, melt the butter & saute onion for about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt & pepper; gradually add milk, stirring constantly until it is thickened.

Gently stir in the cooked veggies. Add 1 cup or more of the reserved cooking liquid until the soup is to your desired consistency. You will probably need to add more pepper & maybe salt – taste test. Ladle into bowls or cup/mugs & serve.


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The Best Chicken & Dumplings

img_0012.JPGIt really is the best we’ve ever tasted. Simple wins again.

2) 32 oz. boxes chicken broth (I used a kosher brand)
1/2 bag baby carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, diced
2 small-medium, peeled & diced turnips
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 heaping Tbsp. minced garlic (from the jar is fine)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. thyme
4 poached chicken breasts, cooled & sliced into small chunks
2 double-handfuls of uncooked egg noodles

Get out a large dutch oven or soup pot – use one that has a tight-fitting lid. Empty the 2 boxes of chicken broth in, then add 2 cups water, all the veggies and spices – add everything up to the chicken. Let this simmer for 30 minutes. (Perhaps you can prepare the chicken while this is simmering). Add the chicken and let simmer for 10 more minutes; add the egg noodles and simmer again for 10 more minutes.

Prepare the dumplings:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. Crisco shortening

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and sift or whisk. Cut in the shortening with 2 knives, fork, or pastry cutter until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the milk. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the hot meat or vegetables in the boiling stew – do not drop dumplings directly onto liquids. Cook uncovered 10 minutes; cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

You just made more friends.

Best Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is a true, chocolate birthday cake. Because it needs to be stored in the fridge it’ll taste  just like a Sara Lee chocolate fudge cake.

2 sticks softened butter (not margarine, please!)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take out a 9 x 13 x 2 pan and grease, set aside. Place the butter, eggs, and buttermilk out onto the counter to come to room temperature while your oven preheats. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and allow to cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, with a handheld or electric mixer, combine the butter and sugars for 3 minutes; add the eggs and beat well after adding each, add the chocolate and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift/whisk the flour and baking soda then add it to the batter alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla and mix well. Spread into the pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool completely then frost.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 stick softened butter (not margarine, please!)
2 tsp. milk
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

With a handheld or standing mixer, cream the butter for about 3 minutes, add the milk and the chocolate and mix well. Add the vanilla and cream for 3 minutes. Add the sugar (taste for sweetness) mix until desired consistency. Spread on cooled cake.

Dilly Bread

img_0141.jpgWhat’s great about this recipe is that you don’t have to knead it. You mix it all with a wooden spoon in a large bowl then place in a casserole dish to bake. It smells great and you can have it alongside almost anything you’re serving. What more could you ask?

2 1/2 cups flour (approximately)
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. dried, instant, minced onion
2 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 cup (8 oz.) creamed cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. butter – divided
Coarse salt (sea salt) optional

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, sugar, onion, dill, salt, baking soda, & yeast. In a saucepan, place the cottage cheese, water and 1 tablespoon of the butter and heat until very warm. Add this warm liquid and the egg to the flour mixture. Beat well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining flour – about 1 1/2 cups – till it forms a stiff batter.

Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour. Stir down the dough then place in a greased 2 quart casserole dish. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the bread with Pam cooking spray or with a little melted butter, then sprinkle the coarse salt on top. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove it immediately from the dish and cool on a wire rack.

Pasta & Sausage Bake

img_0146.jpgI never cooked with chicken sausages until I tweaked a recipe I found, and came up with this marvelous creation. Although you will need to spread out and use several pots and pans, it’s well worth it.

1 lb. of rigatoni (I use Barilla)
1 lb. chicken sausage in links (or pork sausage, whatever works for you)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 minced garlic cloves (or more, to taste)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
Sprinklings of parsley – or fresh if you have it
About 6 fresh, torn basil leaves
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1+ cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Get our your large pot and begin cooking the pasta. As that is getting ready, pierce each of the sausages a couple of times with a fork then place in a large skillet pan. Add about 1-1/2 inches of water and pour in about 1 Tbsp. of oil. Bring this pan to a boil, then reduce it to a slight boil/simmer. Let the sausages cook until and the water boils away- this takes about 10+ minutes. Take the sausages out of pan and set aside to cool a bit; slice into coins – set aside.

Then get out another skillet – a deep one – (I know there’s a lot of pans and a colander involved, but it’s worth the extra dishes) and add 2 Tbsp. oil. When that gets hot, add the peppers, onions, garlic and salt & pepper. Add your sliced sausages and cook this for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and stir in the can of tomatoes, bring to a low boil, then reduce to low heat. Keep simmering for another 10 minutes to meld the flavors.

Now, preheat your broiler

Back to the pasta – drain it and place back into the warm pot you cooked it in. Add the ricotta cheese and salt & pepper to your taste. Then add the parsley, basil and the 1 cup of grated cheese.

Last but not least, get out a large baking dish. Put half of the sausage & sauce mix on the bottom, top with all of the pasta and as gently as you can spread it around, then add the remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top, then place, uncovered, under the broiler for about 2-5 minutes. The cheese slightly browns and it sets the dish.

Dig in!