" I truly think it is best to be a robin lightly dressed concocting soup inside my nest" ~Maurice Sendak

So Cheesy

My girls adore macaroni and cheese.
They liked the instant out of a box type until they tasted my homemade version.
Now they are hooked and may never go back to the other kind.
This really is easy and can be made in under half an hour.
You can use whatever kind of cheese you like. I used old Cheddar and Mozzarella here.
You may also omit the spices and bacon  if you wish.

Did I mention how easy this is?
I'll bet after one bite you will be hooked too.
Now really...who needs "instant dinner from a box"?

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1/2 package  elbow macaroni
  • 4tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups mixed strong shredded cheese
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg 
  • 1/4 cup Bacon crumbled
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375F In a large pot boil pasta in salted water.
Meanwhile in a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter.

Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk and whisk until thickened.
Add the mustard and nutmeg.

Add salt and pepper to taste
Add 2 cups of cheese and stir until blended.

Drain cooked pasta and return to pot add sauce and  mix well.

Place in oven proof baking dish and sprinkle with bacon and breadcrumbs over top.
Bake in oven till top is browned and cheese is bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Tasty Taters

Think now.
Out of all the summer barbecues and parties you may have been to how have the potatoes been served?
I'll bet it was either baked or yet another potato salad.
This side dish is something different.

It is also extremely easy and can just sit on the top rack of the barbecue while you are grilling the meat.
This is a great dish for the cottage or camping as it just cooks in tin foil.

You can adjust the amounts here to suit however many people you are serving.
For very large crowds you may need to make multiple packages.

Layered Potatoes Package

  • sliced potatoes
  • diced red or sweet onion
  • cracked pepper
  • salt
  • dried oregano, basil and parsley
  • olive oil

Place potatoes and onion on a large piece of oiled tin foil.
Add seasonings and olive oil and toss until it is all coated.
Wrap tightly and place on grill.
Turn halfway through cooking time.
Cook until potatoes are soft and starting to brown on the edges. (You will have to undo a side to peek inside.)

Remove from foil and serve.


Pucker Up!

A television chef once said that one of the hardest things to prepare is long grain rice.
I definitely agree.
For me it either comes out too sticky or burnt on the bottom.

One way to ensure perfect rice is to bake it in the oven instead of boiling it on the stove.
The water is absorbed slowly and the oven heat envelopes the dish instead of being concentrated on the bottom, as it is on stove top.

This is a perfect dish for entertaining and pairs beautifully with pork and fish.

Oven Lemon Rice
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 41/2 cups hot chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel(zest)
Preheat oven to 375F. In a large casserole dish with lid combine rice and broth. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Cover and place in oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until all broth is absorbed.


Dark and Delicious

This recipe was given to me by a friend who has a passion for dark, preferably French.. chocolate. When I made this I realized at the last minute that I didn't have dark chocolate chips on hand.
I used a dark chocolate bar (yes it was French!) crumbled instead.

Thank you Adriana!

Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 8oz of melted butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (melted with the butter)
  • 1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 300F
Butter and flour a 9x13 pan
In a sauce pan over low heat melt the butter and chocolate.
In a bowl beat eggs until fluffy.
Add Sugars and mix well.
Add rest of ingredients in order . Mix until smooth.
Pour into pan and bake for 45 minutes.
Cool and slice into squares.

She bets nobody can eat just one!


So Jammy

It is an ongoing effort to keep up with my over abundant tomato garden.
It is to early to make chili sauce as the local peppers are not in yet.
This is close but more versatile. You can peel the tomatoes if you like but I prefer to just leave the skins on.
This sweet and sour relish is wonderful on burgers, steak or eggs. It's even good paired with cream cheese on crackers.

Tomato Jam

  • 1 pound of small tomatoes such as plum or Juliet chopped.
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and allspice
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
In a nonstick pan over high heat bring all ingredients to a boil.
Immediately reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 min or until it has begun to thicken and caramelize. Stir occasionally breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon.
Let cool and place in airtight jars. Store in fridge for up to month or freeze.
Makes 2 jars.

You can also use this jam to make a delicious appetizer. Takes all of 5 minutes to put together.
I guarantee this dip will be a success at any gathering!

"Red and White Dip"

  • 1 tub of whipped cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of Miracle Whip
  • 1 small jar of tomato jam
  • minced basil
In a bowl mix cheese, sour cream and dressing until fluffy. Spread on a serving platter Top with jam and minced basil. Serve with crackers, baguette or pita triangles.


Fire Me Up!

A cool and rainy Sunday, the kind of weather that has me thinking about fall, and all the dishes I love to make.
The perfect kind of day to make Chili.

I have many variations of this popular dish that I will be posting over the fall and winter. This is the basic beef and bean type. You can substitute ground veal for the beef.
Adding the spices before adding the liquids allows the flavor to soak into the meat instead of getting lost in the liquid.
Adjust the cayenne and chili powder according to your own taste. Some people like it very mild others like to get a good sweat going!

Tex Mex Chili

  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • canola oil
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 can each of kidney beans, black beans and diced tomatoes all with juices.
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne sauce or powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
In a large pot heat oil and add diced pepper and onion. cook until soft
Add beef and cook until brown .
Add spices and mix until meat is coated.

Add beans, tomato paste and tomatoes.
Combine and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 21/2 hours.

Stir occasionally . If getting low on liquid, cover with lid.
Adjust spices before serving.

Wine/Beer Suggestion: Waterloo Dark Ale.


Totally Tomatoes

My garden is overflowing with tomatoes!
I have so many ripe ones I cant keep up with them.
A great way to use them up is to slow roast them in the oven. Roasted tomatoes can be used in soups, pasta , pizza, and salads.
It is so easy, as as they roast your whole house will smell like an Mama Rosa's Italian Kitchen!!

Slow Oven Roasted Tomatoes

  • Small tomatoes such as Roma, Juliet or large cherry cut in half.
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano, basil or Italian blend
Preheat oven to 200F On oiled cookie sheets spread out halved tomatoes face up.
Liberally drizzle olive oil over top.
Scatter herbs , salt and pepper over top and toss lightly.
Roast in oven for about 4 to 5 hours.
Keep an eye on them. When they start to brown on the edges and shrivel they are done.
Cool and keep in fridge for a week or freeze for 8 months.


On The Side

This is one of my signature side dishes.
I often get asked to prepare it at the homes of friends and families.
The secret is to let the mushrooms cook slowly over low heat. That way the mushrooms have time to soak up the sauce.
This side dish is wonderful as a topping for grilled steak or mashed potatoes.

Skillet Mushrooms in a Red Wine Reduction

  • 1 pkg of fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp butter
In a skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Add mushrooms and cook until softened.
Add the wine, worcestershire sauce and pepper.
Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half (about 15 minutes) stirring occasionally.
Spoon over steak or vegetables.


It's Better the Second Time Around

After a dinner party last night I found myself with leftover potatoes and Moroccan Merguez Lamb Sausages.
So I put them to good use this morning. I created a variation of a wonderful brunch or light supper dish , Frittata. It was a total hit with my family.
This is a great way to clean out the fridge and crisper of leftovers . It takes minutes to prepare but tastes like you have been cooking for hours.
The variations are endless..instead of sausages you can use bacon, ham, Italian sausages, Genoa salami, diced roast beef, diced bell peppers, onions, ..you get the gist....be creative. Go wild!

Moroccan Style Frittata

  • 2 cups of sliced cold cooked potatoes
  • 8 sliced Merguez Lamb Sausages
  • 6 sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (any type you prefer)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a bowl whisk eggs and milk together and set aside.
In a large wide deep oven proof skillet heat olive oil and add diced sausages and tomatoes cook until tomatoes are softened. Add sliced potatoes, garlic, spices and cook until potatoes begin to lightly brown .
Pour eggs evenly over the contents of the skillet. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
Place in oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and eggs are set. Remove from oven.
Let stand for 3 min. slice and serve with buttered toast.

For a light dinner simply add Greek salad and crusty bread .

Wine Suggestion: Rose Grenache


Variation Italian Style

Make Me Blush

It has been incredibly hot and humid here this week.

We have literally been staying in all week in the comfort of the air conditioning. It has been too hot to barbecue and sit outside, but thats ok...
I have missed cooking in my kitchen! Especially one of my favorite dishes..pasta.
This is a summery blend of crab and shrimp in a blush sauce. My kids sauce of choice.

For the budget conscious imitation crab can be used instead of regular. The evaporated milk instead of cream makes this dish virtually fat free!
A real bonus when we are smack in the middle of bikini season!

Pasta with a Seafood Blush Sauce.

  • 1 pkg small peeled cooked shrimp(raw can be used as well)
  • 1 can or package of crab meat
  • 1/2 diced each of red pepper, green pepper and onion
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of fat free evaporated milk (or small carton of cream if you wish)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of Italian herbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 a bag of Penne or other pasta of choice
  • Olive oil for sauteing
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot of salted water boil pasta.

In a large wide sauce pan heat olive oil and add onions and peppers and cook until softened.
Add crab and shrimp and cook until done (if using raw seafood)

Add minced garlic, spices and tomatoes, stir in evaporated milk and cheese.
Simmer over med/ low heat until slightly thickened.
Drain pasta and serve with sauce ladled over top and garnish with more cheese.

Wine Suggestion: White Italian Colli Albani