Saturday, January 26, 2013

Zuppa Toscana

This is a copy cat recipe for my favorite soup from Olive Garden, Zuppa Toscana, which literally means "Tuscan soup." It is basically an Italian sausage and kale soup, but I added some red Swiss chard to give it some nice color. Also, I did 2 lbs of sausage, which ended up being a little much, so I suggest doing either 1.5 lbs or even just 1 lb, unless you like your soup super meaty & hearty.

1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb hot italian sausage, casings removed
5 red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1/2 bunch kale, cut into 1 inch strips
1/2 bunch red Swiss chard
2 cartons (32 oz each) chicken broth
1 cup cream (I used half-and-half)
Shredded parmesan, for garnish

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Meatball Subs

I wasn't planning to post this recipe, because I've been making meatballs since I was seven (I think it may have been the first recipe I ever mastered). I thought it might be too simple for the blog. However, due to requests from my readers who want to know how I make them, I'm posting this recipe. I don't have step by step photos because you basically throw the stuff in a bowl and mash it together with your hands. Pretty easy.

I tend to double or even triple the recipe and freeze a lot of meatballs to use later. Easy to reheat for a quick dinner and you can put them over pasta with sauce, or even make a basic mushroom or beef gravy.

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef (you could also use a mix of beef, pork and/or veal)
1 clove garlic
1 egg
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 tbsp parsley
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk

For the sauce*:
1 can diced, roasted tomatoes
8 oz can tomato paste, and equal parts water (use the can)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil

For the sandwiches:
Hoagie rolls
Shredded mozzarella

*You can use a jarred pasta sauce instead of these ingredients, if you want.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Soft & Chewy Snickerdoodles

People always ask me what is the secret to my cookies, why they always come out chewy and stay that way after several days, and I tell them from my 25 years of experience with baking, that the most likely culprit of two flat or too round cookies is the temperature of your butter.

I never resort to microwaving my butter because for me that always spells disaster. I leave it out and let it soften at room temp. You don't want your butter melted, especially for snickerdoodles, because they will come out really flat, hard, and extra crispy. A good snickerdoodle is slightly chewy and soft, and only a tad crispy on the outer edges. At least that's how I prefer them!

Some people also swear by using shortening for snickerdoodles, but I always use butter. Shortening will give you a fluffier cookie, and there's nothing wrong with that either, but my personal preference is thin, chewy, buttery and cinnamon-y yumminess.


1 cup butter, softened at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Buttercream Frosting

These cupcakes always seem to be a winner when I bring them to parties. When I first made them they seemed to be all anyone requested from me. I hadn't made them in awhile so I brought em back for a New Year's party because I had some overripe bananas I needed to use up.

For the cupcakes:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 large bananas (the riper the better)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

For the frosting:
2 tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp creamy peanut butter