Pesto – Simple and Delicious

This is my go to pesto recipe.  LOVE it!!


May 26 2013 010May 26 2013 011


1-2 cloves garlic – If you like the garlic flavor add another clove! (you can toast if you like.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  If you toast, don’t take out of skins.)
1/4 cup toasted almonds (pine nuts are most popular but we don’t like that taste. You can use any nut you like.)
2 cups basil (I usually use 2 small or 1 large package.  The stores around here usually have the smaller packages.)
3/4 cup Olive Oil (Less or more, depends on the consistency you desire.)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (You can use less if you like.  We like the cheesiness.)
1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (You may want to try 1/2 teaspoon salt and taste as you go)


1.  If you toast – Toast the garlic in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until softened and spotty brown.  It take 5-8 minutes.  When cool, remove and discard skins.
2.  Personally, I would take the time to toast the nuts – Toast the nuts in a medium, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently (Pay attention or you may burn and have to start all over) until golden and fragrant, 4-5 minutes.  Cool the nuts.
3.  In a food processor place all ingredients but the olive oil.  Pulse until mixed together.  Pour in the olive oil slowly.  I use 3/4 cup and let it process for 3-5 minutes.
4.  Transfer the pesto to a small bowl. Done!!

We like to mix with pasta or use as a base for pizza.  What about YOU?


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!

Chicken Riggies

Went to Syracuse over the weekend.  Mom’s FAVORITE meal is Chicken Riggies.  We went to Nestico’s, a restaurant in North Syracuse and she was able to get her Chicken Riggies.  Mom and I had a nice conversation and enjoyed our lunch together.  Kent and I got back yesterday.   I was loading up my photos and saw this one; img_4548Reminded me of our lunch together.  I took this photo to send to Eric while we were eating lunch.  She hates to have her picture taken but she sure looks smug about her Chicken Riggies!  I had a meatball sandwich.  I still can’t find a restaurant that makes meatballs as good as mine. 😉  I decided to make some Chicken Riggies for my lunch tomorrow. I updated my recipe and this one is a winner.  (By the way, I didn’t have any Rigatoni so I ended up using Mostaciolli.)  Martin and Sean had some tonight and really enjoyed this Central New York, local Italian pasta dish.  Hope you will give it a try!

Chicken Riggies




1 – 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite size pieces (I use chicken thighs)
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (you could use diced or crushed, too)
1/2 cup hot cherry peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell peppers, chopped 1 inch pieces
1 large roasted red pepper, chopped 1 inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, crush
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano (or whatever Italian hard cheese you enjoy)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 # Rigatoni (cook the Rigatoni while you are simmering the sauce.  You can use another pasta too.)


  1. MARINATE CHICKEN Combine chicken, 3 tablespoons cherry pepper brine, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in zipper-lock bag and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add chicken. Cook until chicken is browned, 4-5 minutes.  Remove from  Dutch oven and set aside.
  3. In Dutch oven add 4 Tablespoons butter.  When butter is melted, add onions, roasted red and green bell peppers, 1 teaspoon salt and saute until onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes  Add garlic and stir into vegetables.
  4. Add tomatoes, chicken, hot cherry peppers, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to boil. Crush the tomatoes. (You could crush with your hands before adding to pot). Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5.  Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  6. Add rigatoni to the sauce, add cheese and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Now is that Simple and Delicious?!  I would say so!!  Buon Appetito!!

Puttanesca Sauce

I saw this recipe sitting in my ‘folder of recipes that I will do someday’. Bet you have one of those folders too!  There are a lot of good recipes in that folder.  It was a nice, rainy Saturday with  a tiny hint of autumn in the air. I made fresh tomato sauce last weekend with a enough left over to replace the can of tomatoes in this recipe.  I also love olives and capers. Simple and Delicious!

Puttanesca Sauce
(compliments Cook Country)



2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
4 anchovy fillets (You could use anchovy paste, also. I added more olives. I am not an anchovy fan. If you want suggestions for substitution of anchovies, check here. If you love anchovies, then you are all set!)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped (Since I did not have anchovies I used 1 cup chopped olives.  I used Kalamata, green and black.)
3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced (I forgot this step. The capers I had were quite small so no need to mince.)
1 Tablespoon olive oil


  1.  Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. Add onion, anchovies (or extra olives), pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high and bring to simmer.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Off heat, stir in olives, capers, and oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and  serve over pasta.

This is a quick recipe to do during the week.  Mangiare bene!

Farmers Market Tomato Sauce

I was out and about Saturday and decided to stop at a roadside stand.  I bought some tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil.  I thought it would be nice to make a fresh tomato sauce for the week.    Here is my recipe:

Fresh Tomato Sauce


3 pounds fresh tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic (I love the summer, the local garlic is awesome!)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano (or whatever Italian hard cheese you love)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (remember the parmesan cheese will add salt flavor – TASTE it)


1.  I prepare the fresh tomatoes by removing the skin and partially deseeding.  I remove the skin by coring the tomatoes and placing  in boiling water for 60 seconds. august 016 Take them out of the pot and place in ice water to prevent the tomatoes from cooking.  Remove the skin.  Cut in half and take out seeds, if you want.  I remove the seeds from half of the tomatoes.  If you don’t want to de-seed that is fine too.

2.  I chop the tomatoes in 3/4 inch chunks. august 018I then place about 3-4 cups of the diced tomatoes in my food processor and pulse 4-5 times.  The tomatoes have are the consistency of a tomato sauce. (I like having some chunks of tomatoes in my sauce.  You can put all in the food process or none at all. It is your sauce, do what you want.)

3.  2 Tablespoons of olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the red/white onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic and mix with the red onions about 30 seconds.

4.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan.  Mix together.

5.  Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes than add the cheese.   Mix together and let simmer uncovered over medium to low heat for 1 hour.  Add the basil and parsley and let cook for another 30 minutes.  I like to let it simmer on low heat. **You may need to add 1/2-1 cup water. Depends on the consistency you desire.** (Also, be sure to watch it so the sauce does not burn on the bottom of the pan.  august 019When I get distracted that has happened to me.)

That is it!  You will have some delicious sauce for dinner.  You can also freeze what you don’t use.  Sauce is my favorite meal.  Hope you enjoy.  I have a couple of tomato sauce recipes on the blog.  Fresh or made with cans of tomatoes.  Whatever works for you!


Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce – Simple and Delicious

All I can say is Simple and Delicious and under an hour!!

Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce
(compliments of Epicurious)

February 011


February 008

1 – 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 anchovy fillet packed in oil or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (I had the anchovy paste.  Worked great.  Anchovy flavor is an umami flavor.  What is umami?  Umami is a quality of meaty savoriness that brings depth to many dishes, is widely considered the fifth taste. So, don’t be afraid to use it.  It really makes a difference.)
1/2 stick butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for serving
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
12 ounce spaghetti or linguine or buccatini
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese for serving


1.  Preheat oven to 425°.
2.  Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes in a 13×9” baking dish; season with salt and black pepper.
3.  Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35–40 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes.February 009
4.  While tomatoes are roasting, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
5.  Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. (Oops, I did not see this step.  Guess my lecture the other day to Martin about reading a recipe before you make it didn’t quite work for me. 😉  I will do step 5 next time.  There will definitely be a next time!!)
6.  Serve topped with Parmesan and more red pepper flakes. (I topped with Parmesan but did not need any more red pepper flakes)

FYI:  Tomato sauce can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before mixing with pasta.


Rice Pilaf – Simple and Delicious

How many times have you bought rice pilaf in a box?  Once you make this recipe you will not want to buy a box again!

Rice Pilaf
(courtesy America’s Test Kitchen)

February 010


3 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted (I toast in frying pan over medium high heat on top of stove.  Just toss them around as they toast.  Takes 3-5 minutes)


  1.  Melt butter in large saucepan over medium high heat.  Cook onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt until just softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until edges begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook stirring constantly, until fragrant.  About 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes.  Discard bay leaf and fluff rice with fork.  Stir in almonds.  Season with salt.  Serve.

So simple, delicious and takes no time at all.  Enjoy!!

Cilantro Lime Rice

This rice goes great with the Chipotle Restaurant chicken and black bean recipes.

Cilantro Lime Rice

May 039


2 cups water
1 cup white rice, long grain (I used Basmati)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 FRESH lime juice
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped


1.  Add water, rice, oil, salt and bay leaf to large pot.  Cook over medium heat.
2.  Bring water to boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover pan for 15-2o minutes.
3.  Remove bay leaf.
4.  Add cilantro and lime juice, mix together and serve!

Again, Simple and Delicious!!

Sausage, Peppers and Onions – My favorite!

I LOVE sausage, peppers and onions.  This is a really quick meal you can make under an hour when you get home from work. I love it over rice, Kent loves it on a roll.  You could have in a roll, serve over pasta, rice or by itself.  Whatever works for YOU!

Sausage, Pepper and Onions

May 012


May 001

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (I like hot)
2 red bell peppers, sliced 1/4 inch thick slices
2 onions, sliced (I like Vidalia onions)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregan0
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (no fresh, try 1 teaspoon dried – that is what I had to do tonight)
2 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup beef broth (or chicken broth or water or marsala wine – whatever works for you!)
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4-6 Italian rolls


1.  Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.May 003
2.  Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. May 005Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
3.  Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the broth, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.
4.  Cut the sausages into 1/2-inch slices. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. May 009Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.May 010
5.  Serve in bowls alone or over pasta or rice. Or, if serving as a sandwich, split the rolls in half lengthwise. Hollow out the bread from the bottom side of each roll, being careful not to puncture the crust. Fill the bottom half of the roll with sausage mixture. Top and serve sandwiches immediately

Fresh Pasta – Simple and Delicious

Eric requested sauce with meatballs and fresh pasta this weekend.  I decided to make this recipe for the pasta today;

Fresh Semolina Pasta

may 013


2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups semolina flour
6 large eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt


I use a stand up mixer for this recipe

1.  Mix together flours and salt in stand up mixer bowl.  You will use the dough hook.  In a separate bowl mix eggs and olive oil and whisk together.  Add egg mixture to flour/salt.  Mix together on medium high for 5-8 minutes. (you can mix and knead by hand.  That is not the way I do it.)
2.  Remove from bowl and wrap tightly in plastic.  Allow to rest at room temperature for no less than 30 minutes.
3.  Roll out dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin to desired thickness.  I have a pasta attachment for my stand up mixer.  may 012I used this to make my pasta.  It certainly makes it much easier!
4.  Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 Tablespoon salt.  Cook pasta until tender, 1-8 minutes depending on thickness.  Drain and toss with your favorite sauce.

Rachel opted for pesto today.  may 005 (Pesto is very simple to make.) The rest of us went with tomato sauce and meatballs.  I will be bringing fresh pasta and pesto to work for lunch tomorrow.  For me, sauce and meatball is the best meal ever!  Simple and Delicious.  Ciao!!