Baked Ziti

Here is how simple Baked Ziti is to whip up!

Baked Ziti

April 06 2013 021

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1# ground beef or 1# italian sausage or 1# ground pork (Whatever meat works for you.  Or, if you don’t want meat, don’t use it.  Personally, no meat is my thing.)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 small red onion or shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup shredded parmesan or romano or pecorino romano or whatever hard italian cheese you like
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil is fine)

1# Ziti (or any pasta you care to use.  I like to use medium shells too.)

1.  Fry ground beef in medium to large pot.  When browned, remove from pot and set aside.
2.  Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to pot.  Add diced onions or shallots, saute until opaque.  Add garlic and saute about 1 minute.
3.  Add crushed and diced tomatoes, brown sugar, parmesan, salt, oregano, thyme.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add basil and simmer for 10-20 more minutes. (You don’t have to cook sauce on the stove all day long.  30-60 minutes is perfect!)
5.  While the sauce is simmering, boil a large pot of water for the pasta.  Don’t forget to add salt to the pasta water.  I add 1-2 Tablespoons of salt.
6.  When pasta is done (don’t overcook!), drain and set aside.
7.  Spray casserole dish with vegetable spray.  (I use a 9×13 casserole dish) Add a ladle or two of sauce in the casserole dish.
8.  Add the pasta on top of the sauce.   Add more sauce on top of the pasta.  Be generous. (I used most of the sauce.  I had 1 cup of sauce I did not use.)
9.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  Until top is golden brown.  (Today that took 45 minutes)

Enjoy this simple and delicious meal!

Pork Dim Sum

Kent enjoys Dim Sum.  The last time I made this was 2013!!  The reason is because it may be simple but it is time consuming.  Sometimes I am lazy.  I guess 5 years is being really lazy.  This time I used all the filling which ended up being 48 wonton skins.  It took 2 hours between filling and steaming.  They were delicious. You could use duck sauce or sweet/hot chili sauce for dipping.

Pork Dim Sum



1 pound ground pork
3 green onions, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped cabbage (any cabbage will do. Of course, Napa would be first choice.  Today all I had was red cabbage and it was just fine.)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (if you don’t have try 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar (you can use rice vinegar)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Wonton skins


1.  Place ground pork, green onions, shredded carrots, chopped cabbage, ginger soy sauce, sherry or rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, salt and beaten egg white in a large mixing bowl.  Mix until all ingredients are combined.

2.  Stir in cornstarch, mixing until completely incorporated with the other ingredients.

3.  Spread out wonton skins on your counter.  Place a heaping teaspoonful of pork mixture in center of each wonton skin. Lightly brush edges with water.  IMG_8583Bring sides of skins together in the center of the filling.  Pinching firmly together (it will look like a little purse).

4.  I placed the dim sum on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and covered with a damp cloth while I continued to fill the skins.  That way they won’t dry out.

5.  Line a steamer with a clean, DAMP tea towel (or you can use lettuce or cabbage leaves) and arrange wontons inside.  IMG_8585
6.  Cover and  steam for 5-7 minutes, until dim sum are cooked through.  Serve immediately.

You can always do a few at a time and then freeze the filling for later.  You can also freeze the wonton skins.



Chicken Doner Kebab (Bulgarian Gyros)

Martin is home for a visit.  He moved to NYC and can have gyros everyday, all day long.  I thought I would make our family’s gyro recipe for Sunday dinner before he heads back.  I always double this recipe and there are rarely leftovers.  As always, a very simple and delicious meal.

Chicken Doner Kebab!

choco pb banana 003


June 8 2014 012

1 # chicken thighs (lamb, pork, beef would work too.  It is up to you!)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon paprika
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon

For the Doner Kebab/Gyro
Pita Bread
Cabbage, shredded
Tomatoes, diced
French Fries

1.  In a large bowl or food safe bag, add the above ingredients with 1 pound chicken thighs.  (I cut into strips) Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.  (Don’t forget to make the tzatziki.)
2.  After you allow to marinate, heat frying pan at high heat. I don’t add oil,the oil from the marinate is enough.  Drop the chicken pieces into the pan and leave untouched for 1 minute. (Don’t use a non stick skillet.)
3.  Turn the chicken pieces and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes, until browned.   (I have grilled the chicken on a skewer also.)  The chicken tastes great grilled and fried.  So pick your way and go from there!
4.  Chicken is ready for the gyro!
5.  When you wrap your doner kebab you will use pita bread or flour tortilla, meat, tzatziki, diced tomato, shredded cabbage and a few french fries.  (Believe it or not the french fries are a nice addition.)  That will be your Bulgarian Doner Kebab.  It is truly simple and delicious!

Sloppy Joes – Simple and Delicious

I keep forgetting to post this quick weekday recipe.  Under an hour and you will have a delicious Sloppy Joe Sandwich.  One thing I do during the week is chop my veggies and set out my ingredients in the morning before I leave for work.  No prep work when I walk in the door from my 8 hour day.  Everything is out and ready to go. All I have to do is prepare the meal. Simple and Delicious!!

Sloppy Joes
(compliments Allrecipes)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped bite size pieces
2 cups water
3/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (I have used yellow and brown mustard too)
1 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1.  Place ground beef and onion in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook and stir the mixture constantly until the feef is browned and forms small crumbles, about 10 minutes,
  2. Stir in garlic and green bell pepper; cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add 1 cup water and stir, scraping the pan to dissolve any brown flavor bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Mix in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup water and return mixture to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick, about 40 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.  If you want a bite add cayenne to taste.

That’s it. Serve on a roll.  For myself, I serve over rice.  Kent has as a sandwich.  Salad is our side.  ENJOY!



Chicken Paprikash with Buttered Noodles – Hungary

How many of you out there make the same chicken dishes over and over again?  I know I do.  The last few weeks I have been looking for different dishes to make.  Main factor for me to even consider the recipe – they have to look like they are SIMPLE and delicious.  Simple to me means not too many ingredients. I know the delicious part won’t happen until we taste it.  During the week it is most important that it is SIMPLE.  I really like recipes that don’t leave me in my kitchen until 9pm on a weekday.  Also, sometimes I have to improvise.  I did not have any noodles in the house so I used Fettuccine.  (I always have pasta!) Here is a SIMPLE and delicious recipe from Hungary.

Chicken Paprikash with Buttered Noodles


2 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs (6-8 larger sized.  I had boneless, skinless thighs.  I pulled a couple of bone in, skin on thighs out of the freezer.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
3 Tablespoons sweet /Hungarian Paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream, warmed to room temperature
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped


  1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Take sour cream out of fridge – it needs to come to room temperature.
  2. Chop your onions and garlic.  (I also measured out all ingredients.  Makes it a lot easier when you have everything all set out to go.)
  3. Place chicken thighs on a plate and pat dry with paper towels.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium hight heat.  Add 1 Tablespoon butter swirl to melt.
  4. Add chicken to pan skin side down.  4 minutes per side.  Remove to plate.  Pour excess fat in heat proof bowl.  Leave a little oil in the pan for the onions and garlic.
  5. Add chopped onions and garlic and saute until translucent.
  6. Add paprika and cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix together.  (Have the tomatoes near by.  You don’t want to burn this combo.)  Once mixed all together add the tomatoes.
  7. After adding the tomatoes, add another 1/2-1 teaspoon salt and some pepper along with the 2/3 cup water.  Mix together.
  8. Add the chicken thighs back to the sauce, nestling into the liquid but not submerging (you want the skin exposed sit it stays crispy.)
  9. Transfer skillet into oven and roast until fully cooked.  35-40 minutes.
  10. Halfway through cooking start a pot of water on the stove and make your noodles.  Drain the noodles and add 2 Tablespoons butter and toss to coat until the butter is melted and the noodles are coated.  Add some salt and pepper along with 1/2 of the chopped parsley.
  11. Remove skillet from oven.  Take out the chicken and place on a plate.  Take 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and put in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and mix together.  Add to tomato sauce and stir until fully mixed.  Taste the sauce to see if you want to add any more salt.  Arrange chicken thighs along with juices back in the skillet and top with remaining chopped parsley.  Serve over noodles.IMG_E6635

Simple and Delicious.  Enjoy!!

Thanksgiving 2017 – My 2 cents

It has only taken me 3 months to post my Thanksgiving 2017 memories.  This post is more for me than anyone else.  Thanksgiving is my absolute, favorite day of the year.  I didn’t take too many pics but the memories are always in my mind.  This was the first year of my life without either of my parents to visit or call and wish a Happy Thanksgiving and tell them how much I loved them.  I am thankful every single day for the love of my parents.  They are the ones who made me realize family is so important.  The many Thanksgivings spent with the Caruso’s leave fond memories.  I am also thankful for the love of my husband and my kids and their partners.  I am a very fortunate lady, that is for sure!

As far as the day, this was a very smooth running year in my kitchen.  With help from the kids; Eric brought the mashed potatoes, Martin made a fruit salad, Paige brought sweet potato crisp and Rachel brought apple pie. Their help made it a much less stressful day in my kitchen.  Thank you guys!!

Thanksgiving 2017



I ended up getting a Butterball turkey at a local grocery store instead of getting a Heritage turkey.  You know what?  It was delicious.  I used an herb butter recipe that I rubbed on the turkey before putting it into the oven.  Delish!

As always I lightly stuff the cavity with stuffing. Kent likes stuffing from the bird. If I didn’t do this he would not be a happy camper.  I also bake the stuffing in a baking dish separate from the bird.  For the stuffing this year I made with a mix of Pepperidge Farm White, Wheat and Marble Rye.  Cut into cubes and toasted the bread in the oven versus letting them sit out over night.  That worked out just fine.  fullsizeoutput_399No need to leave out for 3 days to get stale!!

One thing I did differently this year was I made the stock for the gravy and stuffing the night before.  5BC22325-6B41-44ED-9E8C-C48B10AF2E79That was a great idea and I will do that every year.  I never realized how much time that takes.

I made a Butterflake Herb Loaf bread.   IMG_6387 This was a hit.  I found that recipe on King Arthur Flour website.  It takes some time but well worth it.

Our Thanksgiving table had great conversation, food and family.  We all agreed dinner was delicious and we are very thankful for each other.  It’s a new year. Let’s see what next Thanksgiving will bring. Ciao!!




Pizza Dough – My 2018 Go To Dough

I make pizza almost every Friday.  I have a couple of ‘go to’ recipes for pizza dough.  Any pizza dough I make I throw into a food processor.  It is quick and painless.  Here is one I have been using a lot lately.  It is a great recipe for 1 pizza.  You could split in half for 2 personal size pizzas.  Here it is;

Go To Pizza Dough 2018



  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 ounces warm water (105 degrees F – 115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornmeal or semolina, for the pizza peel
  1. Mix ingredients in food processor bowl until small ball forms.
  2. Place some oil on counter and place ball of dough on counter.  Roll in the oil and form into a small ball.
  3. Place dough in 2 quart bowl sprayed with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.
  4. At this point you can put in your refrigerator overnight and take out 2-3 hours before you plan on using it. (When I put in the fridge overnight I use a gallon storage bag.)
  5. Or, put in draft free area, let rise 2 hours and use that day.

Put on your favorite toppings and bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes.

Simple and Delicious!  Enjoy!!


Salmon with Sesame-Soy Glaze

I have been making this recipe for years.  Martin is the one who enjoys salmon in our family.  I figured I better get this recipe posted when he told me he checked our blog and he couldn’t find it. YIKES!! His new diet craze thought of the moment is Pescetarian. What’s that you ask? Yeah, I did too.  A Pescetarian is someone who eats fish and no other meat.  Whether you eat meat or just fish you will enjoy this recipe;

Salmon with Sesame-Soy Glaze


Ingredients for Glaze

1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (Don’t have on hand? Use 1 teaspoon ginger spice.)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (I do this if I am in the mood or should I say – not often)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 filet, salmon


  1. Mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat until hot.
  3. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant but not browned (30 seconds).
  4. Give the soy mixture a quick stir and pour it into the saucepan.  Bring to a light boil and reduce the heat to low; cook another minute or until the glaze is thick and clear.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl.
  6. Stir in sesame oil (and the seeds if you toasted them.)
  7. If you decide to toast the sesame seeds; place them in a small skillet over medium heat and toast for 7-10 minutes, or until the become golden and fragrant.

Cook your salmon anyway you want; grill, pan fry, bake.  Add the glaze, both sides at the last couple of minutes. Serve.

Simple and Delicious!  Enjoy!!

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Once again listened to The Splendid Table podcast.  This week their podcast was ‘A Guide to Eating Filipino in the US’.  This recipe was so simple and delicious.  Here it is;

Filipino Chicken Adobo



8 Bone in chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 6 skinless boneless thighs and 2 bone in skinless thighs. That’s what I had.)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 (13 1/2 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons pepper
1 scallion, sliced thin
2 onions, sliced
1 Tablespoon butter


  1.  Toss chicken with soy sauce in large bowl.  Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Remove chicken from soy sauce allowing excess to drip back into bowl.  Transfer chicken, skin side down, to 12 Inch nonstick skillet; set aside excess soy sauce. (I used skinless chicken pieces.)
  3. Place skillet over medium high heat and cook until chicken skin is browned, 7-10 minutes.  (I know, I used skinless.  That’s okay too) While chicken is browning, whisk coconut milk, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and pepper into left over soy sauce.
  4. In the meantime; Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in saute pan.  Add sliced onion and saute on low until translucent.  10-15 minutes. (I added this step after looking at other Filipino Adobo recipes.  Onion is always a great addition to a recipe.)
  5. Transfer chicken to plate and discard fat in skillet.  Return chicken to skillet, add coconut milk mixture and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  Flip chicken and continue to cook, uncovered, until chicken registers 175 degrees, about 15 minutes. (If boneless, less time) Transfer chicken to platter.  Add onions.  Cook until sauce thickens.IMG_6581
  6. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with scallion and serve. (Kent does not like scallions so we skipped this step.  I do like them and think you should go for it!)
  7. We served over rice.  You can do whatever you want!



Rustic Dinner Rolls/Bread

I have been baking this recipe for a few years now.  Found on America’s Test Kitchen website.  It takes some time and attention.  Give yourself 3 hours and it should be enough time to bake this delicious bread.  You can do rolls or a couple of loaves of bread.  I generally make the rolls.  Today I made loaves of bread.  There are no leftovers.  Here is the recipe;

Rustic Dinner Rolls/Bread



1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon water (12 1/2 ounces -I always weigh my ingredients if the recipe calls for it), room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons honey
3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon bread flout (16 1/2 ounces), plus extra for forming rolls
3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour (1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt


  1.  Whisk water, yeast and honey in bowl of stand up mixer until well combined, making sure no honey sticks to bottom of bowl. Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until cohesive dough is formed, about 3 minutes.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
  2. Remove plastic wrap and evenly sprinkle salt over dough.  Knead on low speed (speed 2 on Kitchen Aid) 5 minutes.  Increase speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute.  If dough is very sticky, add 1-2 Tablespoons flour and continue mixing 1 minute.
  3. Lightly spray 2 quart bowl with nonstick cooking spray; transfer dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise in warm, draft free place util doubled in size, about 1 hour.  (I use my microwave for a draft free place.)
  4. Fold dough over itself; rotate bowl quarter turn and fold again.  Rotate bowl again and fold once more.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.  Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let dough rise until doubled in volume, 30 minutes will be enough time.
  5. Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  6. Transfer dough to floured work surface, sprinkle top with more flour.  Using bench scraper or knife, cut dough in half and gently stretch into 16 inch cylinders. (Or cut in half and make 2 small loaves.). If making rolls, divide each cylinder into quarters, then each quarter into 2 pieces.  You should have 16 pieces total.  Dust top of each piece with more flour.  With floured hands, gently pick up each piece and roll in palms to coat with flour, shaking off excess and place in prepared pan. Arrange 8 dough pieces in each cake pan, placing one piece in middle and others around it, with long side of each piece running from center of pan to edge and making sure cut side faces up.  Loosely cover cake pans with plastic wrap and let rolls rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  30 minutes before baking, adjust racks to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  7. Remove plastic wrap from cake pans, spray rolls lightly with water, and place in oven.  Bake 10 minutes until tops of rolls/bread are brown; remove from oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees; using oven mitts, invert rolls from both cake pans onto rimmed baking sheet.  When rolls are cool enough to handle, turn right side up, pull apart, and space evenly on baking sheet.  Continue to bake until rolls develop deep golden brown crust and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 10-15 minutes; rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. (If baking 2 loaves of bread check at 10 minutes.  That should be enough time. 15 minutes is maximum for bread.)  Transfer rolls to wire rack and cool to room temperature; about 1 hour. (We never cool to room temperature.  We give it 5 minutes, slice it up or take a roll, slather with butter and we’re good!)

You have to pay attention and set your timer so you keep on task.  It is well worth the effort.  Whether you make the rolls or loaves of bread you will be happy you spent that time wisely.  Simple and Delicious!