Tag Archives: overnight casserole

Spaghetti and Meatballs the Easy Way



\spaghetti & meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs the Easy Way

Makes 6-8 servings and about 30 golf sized meatballs


Here is a dish that bases itself on simplicity and best of all, can be made one or two days ahead of time and then reheated very slowly. The sauce is extra creamy because of the butter in it and the meatballs are cheesy for a bit of a different twist. There are no added spices except for salt and pepper so that’s why I stress simplicity in nature. I made it for a friend of mine who just finished a brutal series of chemo treatments and could only taste and eat simple food. Pasta helps her settle her stomach and this was a perfect dish for her at this difficult moment in her life.  However, you don’t have to have been through that kind of hell to enjoy this dish. I used my 10 inch wide deep pot (though I wished I had a 12 inch wide pot) and my food processors. Processors make life in the kitchen so very easy don’t you agree? As well, if you wish a saucier dish, either cut down on the amount of spaghetti to use and/or add one more 28 oz. can of tomatoes plus some more butter to the initial recipe. And of course, if you wish to add your favorite seasonings to the sauce, that is always an alternative but it is very delicious just as stated and that also is what my friend requested.



For the Sauce:

  1. 2- 28-oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes in their juice
  2. 1/2 C. unsalted butter (1 cube)
  3. 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and halved through the root end
  4. 1/2 Tsp. salt (or more if you wish)


For the Meatballs:

  1. 1 C. fresh breadcrumbs made in the food processor from crust less French or country-style bread
  2. 1/3 C. whole milk
  3. 8 oz. ground beef
  4. 8 oz. ground pork
  5. 1 C. ground in the processor Parmesan cheese (about 5 oz. of the shaved variety will do the trick)
  6. 1/3 C. finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1 bunch) once again I used the processor
  7. 1 Tsp. salt
  8. 1/4 Tsp. ground pepper
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 2 large garlic cloves that you’ll use your garlic presser to add to the eggs

Spaghetti, etc. 

  1. 1 pound spaghetti (cooked per directions al dente)
  2. Fresh grated Parmesan cheese for serving
  3. More Italian Parsley for decoration


Instructions for the sauce:

  1. In a 10 inch or preferably a 12 inch deep pot, place a strainer over the pot and pour the canned tomatoes into the strainer so that the juice goes in the pot and the tomatoes are reserved. Place the tomatoes in the processer and pulse very briefly—just so that they become finely chopped.
  2. Place the tomatoes in the pot along with the salt and onions.
  3. Simmer for 45 minutes without a top. I used a splatter pan to top my pot.
  4. Taste the sauce and if you feel it needs more salt and ground pepper, go for it.
  5. Also, if you want a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender the process the sauce briefly. But you don’t want a too smooth sauce and you do want to have texture. So, I skipped this step totally and find that my sauce is definitely smooth enough.


Instructions for the meatballs:

  1. Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl; stir till the breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand for 10 minutes
  2. Place the beef and pork in a large bowl, mix the two and add the 1 C. ground Parmesan and parsley. I use my hands for the mixing.
  3. Whisk the 2 eggs in a separate bowl; press the garlic into the eggs along with the 1 Tsp. salt and 1/4 Tsp. ground pepper. Whisk once more to make sure it’s all blended
  4. Add the eggs to the meat mixture and combine it all with your hands. Try not to man handle it too much.
  5. If the breadcrumbs have been soaking for 10 minutes, now’s the time to squeeze the milk from the breadcrumbs and save the milk. My breadcrumbs sopped up all the milk so I didn’t have any to reserve and actually I didn’t need any more to form the meatballs. It all depends on the bread you use.
  6. Add the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture; using the hands, quickly and gently mix the meat mixture just until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Do not over mix.
  7. Place this bowl, covered with saran rap, in the frig for at least 15 minutes but it could be even one hour.
  8. By this time, I think that your sauce has finished its 45 minute simmering gig and you can then take the bowl with the meat out of the frig. and start forming golf sized meat balls to put in one layer in the tomato sauce. If the meat seems to be sticking to your hands, you can dip the hands in some milk and the balls will form easier.
  9. Bring the sauce with the meatballs to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer till meatballs are cooked through—about 15 to 20 minutes.


sauce in pot


Additional Hints:

  1. If you are making this ahead of time, cool slightly and chill in frig. uncovered till cold and then place a cover on it. Re-warm gently before serving.
  2. When you are ready to serve this dish, cook the spaghetti and drain it. I always run cold water over it when done so that it’ll stop cooking.
  3. When serving I use a huge serving dish which has been heated so that guests can help themselves. (You can also individual plate it.) However, for my platter, I remove the meatballs from the tomato sauce to a separate dish, place the cooked spaghetti in the middle of the platter, spoon the sauce over the spaghetti and surround this with the meatballs and some extra sprigs of Italian parsley. You can also throw some shredded Parmesan over it all and/or place a dish with the Parmesan to the side of the dish for guests to help themselves.
  4. Of course, DON’T FORGET the hearty red wine such as Chianti to go along with this dish. A baguette of French bread is also a nice addition. For the green stuff, I actually just make my Original Caesar Salad. Desert? Fresh black cherries and my no-churn coffee ice cream. Bon Appétit.

Winter Greens, Potatoes and Chickpeas Stew


Winter Greens, Potatoes and Chickpeas Stew

Serves 4

Greens, Potatoes and Chickpeas Stew

This is a nice soup for those desiring a vegetarian meal for a cool day’s lunch or dinner. The ingredients can be varied which I feel always adds interest to your dish. It’s also a complete protein meal so you don’t have to worry about having poultry, meat or fish as well.  Bon Appétit.


  1. 1 Lb. Chard, stems removed (I used the rainbow variety) You could also use spinach or Kale or a combination of the greens.
  2. 1 ½ Lbs. Baking Potatoes (I used 2 large ones but 3 medium ones would be OK as well)-Sliced in 3/4 inch-slices
  3. 1-2 Onions, rough chopped or even thinly sliced
  4. 2-3 Garlic Cloves-minced
  5. 3 Tblsp. Olive Oil
  6. 1 Tsp. Paprika
  7. 1/4 Tsp. Turmeric
  8. 1/8- 1/4  Tsp. Cayenne Pepper (depending how “hot” you want your stew)
  9. 1 Tsp. salt (optional)
  10. 4 C. of  Vegetarian Base Bouillon or Chicken Stock, heated
  11. 2 C. (1-16 oz. can) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (you can also use another type of white bean)
  12. 2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Sliced or cut into wedges (optional)
  13. One Tasty Tomato, Sliced (optional)
  14. Shaved Parmesan or Jack Cheese for topping (optional)
  15. Chopped Parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Cook your greens any which way you wish; drain thoroughly and set aside.
  2. In a large stove top Dutch oven or similar kind of pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the potatoes, onions and garlic cloves.  Sauté for 5-10 minutes—watching carefully and stirring quite often—until the potatoes have started to brown. Add to this the paprika, turmeric, salt and cayenne until the mixture smells fragrant (around 1-2 minutes).
  3. Add the bouillon, greens and chickpeas and bring to a simmer.  Simmer with a tipped top for about 15 to 20 minutes—or till the potatoes are tender.
  4. Serve the stew topped with the hard boiled eggs, tomato slices, cheese and chopped parsley.

Bouillabaisse–Quick and Delicious


quick bouillabaisseBouillabaisse-Quick and Delicious

Serves 4





OK—if you don’t like sea food, don’t even bother looking at this recipe. But if you do—well, here’s an uncomplicated (don’t let the 20 listed ingredients scare you) and delicious way to make what many consider the Cadillac of fish stews. There are so many different versions and recipes for an original and good bouillabaisse; many take hours and a huge amount of various ingredients to make. However, the following recipe results in my opinion in a delicious dish that is not complicated, particularly if you can procure all of the few ingredients that I have mentioned. Please know that you can use fresh or dried seasonings but if you use the fresh variety, it’ll take twice as much of the recipe’s called upon amount as it calls for the dried variety. Fish wise, this dish can be a bit pricey to make if you get fresh non-farmed fish from the fish monger, however if you get the frozen variety (and some of it is wild caught) it can be a lot less expensive. So, here’s a dish that you can make fast, fast for guests, for your family or just for your lonesome and then have some delicious left-over’s.


  1. 1-2 Tblsp. olive oil
  2. 1 medium yellow onion peeled and cut into eighths or if you wish, rough chopped by hand or food processor.
  3. 3 large peeled garlic cloves, rough chopped either by hand or in a food processor along with the onions.
  4. 2 celery stalks fine chopped by hand or food processor along with ingredient # 1 and #2.
  5. One 15-oz. can of whole tomatoes rough chopped if you want bigger chunks or even a can of commercially chopped tomatoes. Whatever, be sure to save the liquid to include in the recipe.
  6. 1-2 ears of unshucked corn, priorly soaked in water for about 1/2 hour and then microwaved for 2 minutes (for each ear) and then shucked and kernels cut off cob. Now you can use frozen corn or even rinsed canned corn. (optional)
  7. 3-5 baby red or white potatoes—cut in 2 inch pieces. (optional)
  8. 2 -8-oz bottles of clam juice and/ or seafood stock or a combination of both and actually you may want a bit more if you want a “thinner” potage.
  9. 2 Tsp. ground fennel
  10. 1/2- 3/4 Tsp. ground thyme
  11. 1-2 Tsp. dried parsley
  12. 1 Bay Leaf
  13. 1/2- 3/4 Tsp. dry basil
  14. 1/4 to 1/2 Tsp. Saffron powder
  15. S&P to taste
  16. 8-oz. combination of monkfish, swordfish, halibut, snapper or sea bass cut into large pieces.
  17. 8-oz. clean squid bodies, cut into rings and threads cut in large sections when unfrozen. (I found fresh frozen squid and they were delicious.)
  18. 10 to 15 whole unfrozen cooked medium sized or could even be small deveined shrimp with or without tail on. Sometimes I think it’s fun to present a dish which people have to actually participate in, ie, taking the shrimp tail off. And actually, some people like to munch on the tail.
  19. For last minute topping, freshly chopped parsley or even cilantro.
  20. Crusty French Bread to dip into your fish stew. If you wish, you could broil the bread spread with a bit of butter or olive oil and garlic.


easy bouillaibaisse


  1. If your fish, squid and shrimp are frozen, unfreeze them per package instructions.
  2. In a large deep pot heat the 1-2 Tbslp. olive oil over medium heat. Then add the garlic, onion and celery and sauté till they are soft and slightly golden (about 5 minutes.)
  3. Then add ingredients # 5 to # 15. Also add in the potatoes if you are using them. Stir well and bring to a slow boil. Place a top on the pot, turn the heat down to medium and simmer with a top on for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the cut fish when the sauce is ready and cook covered for an additional 5 minutes or till the fish is fork ready.
  5. For your very last minute or two of cooking over medium heat and with a top on, add the squid and shrimp and the optional corn.
  6. You can top this all, when serving, with additional freshly chopped parsley or even cilantro.
  7. And don’t forget the crusty French bread and wine, like a rose(accent over the e).


Pommes de Terre a la Provence


Pommes de Terre a la Provence

One medium sized one will fill two 4 inch ramekins and will serve 2

Many of you may already know this, but Pommes de Terre in French literally means apples of the earth—and so what would that be?—a potato of course.  I just have always thought that’s such a cute name.  This is a very delicious dish and so easy to fix.  I’m sure it’s not light in calories or cholesterol, but every now and then a splurge is OK.



  1. 1 medium sized baking potato (Idaho of course), peeled and sliced relatively thin.
  2. Crème Fraiche- 1/2 C. total will do.  *see below for recipe you can make yourself–much better and more economical however you have to start making this the day before making this dish.
  3. S&P to taste.
  4. Chopped Italian Parsley for topping.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pam oil or butter spray the ramekins
  3. Place some of the potato slices on the bottom layer. It’ll probably be around 3 slices.
  4. Spoon the Crème Fraiche over this layer, sprinkle lightly with S&P and continue doing this for however many layers will fit in the ramekin. You might need to make some more Crème Fraiche.
  5. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour.
  6. Top with chopped parsley.
  7. If you wish to add a cheese to this mixture to accompany a meat or fish dish that has no sauce involved so that it wouldn’t conflict with a more complicated potato sauce, that would be very easy to accomplish.  You might think of Parmesan, Cheddar or Blue Cheese mixed in with the Crème Fraiche. You don’t need much to make a culinary imprint.  Also, spread a little on the top before putting in the oven.


You can also make this dish with other types of potatoes and/or just using  one large dish.  You will have to adjust your cooking times of course and I think for a larger dish, it could be as long as 2 hours or until tender.

  • Creme Fraiche-homemade: Easy but start making it the day before you make this dish. In a small bowl whisk 1/2 cup heavy wipping cream with 1/2 cup sour cream.  Cover well and leave out in a warm place for 12 hours.  Then stir and place in the refrigerator for another 12 hours.  At this point it should be perfect–thick, creamy and delicious.
  • Fresh Herbed Cream Sauce: No cooking here — simply blend 1/2 cup creme fraiche with 1 teaspoon each finely sliced chives and fresh tarragon. Add about 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serves up to 6 people. Streak a little over pieces of grilled, baked or poached salmon, sole, or scallops. Herbs could be pureed with a little shallot and stirred into the cream for a pale green color.
  • Pan Sauces: Stir a generous tablespoon into defatted pan sauces after pan grilling poultry, fish or vegetables. Bring to a simmer, taste for balance, and pour over foods.
  • Soups: Reduce the amount of cream called for in your favorite creamed soup by half and substitute creme fraiche.
  • With Fruits: A few spoonfuls of creme fraiche lift fruit flavors. Try over berries, ripe peaches or nectarines, or on sauteed pears. The cream could be lightly sweetened, flavored with a little lemon, orange or vanilla.
  • Imagination is everything. Try creme fraiche in other dishes as well. Streak it over mousses and jelled sweets or savories. Finish an appetizer plate of marinated leek or grilled scallions and asparagus with a zig zag of creme fraiche. It is classic in Beef Stroganoff instead of sour cream.


Bon Appetit

Mini Macaroni and Cheese alla Italiana


Mini Macaroni and Cheese alla Italiana

Makes 6 Ramekins (4 ½ inch variety)


I heard this recipe on NPR—it’s that of the beautiful Nigella Lawson-and I thought that it would go beautifully as part of one of my catered dinners. So, thanks go to NPR and Nigella. Everyone loved this dish as I also did.  And I think you also will. It’s a delicious twist on our ole’ Mac & Cheese.



  1. Butter spray for the ramekins
  2. 1 C. grated Gruyere
  3. 1 Tblsp. cornstarch
  4. 4 oz. fresh mozzarella (not buffalo) chopped
  5. 8 ounces pennette, or chifferi or elbow macaroni (I found some small pasta made by De Cecco—but Barillo also makes some)
  6. Salt for the pasta water
  7. 1/4 C. white vermouth or wine
  8. 1 ¼ C. chicken broth
  9. 1/4 C. mascarpone

10. 1 Tsp. truffle butter/paste or a few drops truffle oil (very expensive so actually I ground up some fresh mushrooms and along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, mixed these ingredients with some soft butter and used that. It seemed to work).

11. 3 Tblsp. grated Parmesan

12. Ground white pepper or black is OK too


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray butter the ramekins.
  3. Toss the grated Gruyere with the cornstarch in a bowl.
  4. Boil the pasta according to the package directions, however, cut the cooking time by several minutes—so that the pasta is very al dente but still eatable. I watched it very carefully. Drain it and keep it in your colander for later.
  5. In a very large pan that will eventually hold the pasta in it, heat the vermouth to a boil and then add the chicken broth.  Let it come to a boil again and take it off the burner and whisk in the cornstarch-tossed Gruyere.  This mixture will melt into a mass of gooey cheese strings.  Add the Mascarpone and whisk again. Then add the truffle oil/butter stirring it in the sauce. Lastly add the pasta and the chopped mozzarella.  Stir once again to make sure everything is well mixed.
  6. Ladle the cheesy pasta into the sprayed ramekins trying to get an even amount of pasta and sauce in each. (The sauce will seem very liquid but don’t worry; the pasta will suck it up in the oven. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the top and then with pepper.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the hot oven.  Let stand 5 minutes before eating.  (I filled the ramekins with the pasta, etc. but left most of the liquid out because I was not going to serve them right away. I saved the liquid in a separate container. Several hours later, when I was ready to bake the ramekins, I put in my saved liquid in each ramekin and then baked them.  They turned out just fine.)
  8. Lastly, Nigella says that you can broil these ramekins as well but I thought that baking them would be better.

Oh Hale to the Ole’ Pot Roast- 7 Different Ways


511px-BeefCutChuck.svgOh Hale to the Ole’ Pot Roast- 7 Different Ways


The poor relative of a better cut of meat, the pot roast was always considered a non guest dish.  I want to disagree with this image because truly, a good pot roast is not only an art to make but also a delicious dish to serve—for your family and guests. A good pot roast takes a bit more effort to make because the meat is not from the more elegant cut of the animal. However, this is what can make a pot roast more delectable because of the special seasonings used, the sometimes tender and time staking marinating and the always cautious cooking that it takes. The main trick of presenting a superior pot roast is to not overcook it, make sure about the heat used and to be able to spend quality time checking in on it.  Here are several recipes I have always enjoyed in regards to the potting of the roast.  PS—in regards to making your gravy, remember to thicken the liquid at the end of cooking by either using corn starch mixed with water (2 Tbsp. to 1/4 C. cold water for about 2 C. cooking liquid) and then whisk it slowly into the hot liquid; or if you don’t want to use corn starch, in a different skillet, melt some butter and then add some flour—whisk it till smooth and then stir in some of your hot liquid, a bit at a time. ( For the flour method the approximate correct measurements to use are the following: 1 ½ Tblsp. butter, 1 ½ Tblsp. flour to 1 to 1 ½ C. liquid.)

  1. 1.    The Basic Pot Roast


  1. 1 (3-4 lb.) piece of chuck or rump roast (tied if necessary)
  2. 2 bay leaves
  3. 1 or 2 garlic clove—peeled and chopped fine or slivered
  4. Sea Salt and Ground Pepper
  5. 2 or more Tblsp. unsalted butter
  6. 2 Tblsp. olive oil
  7. 3 Tblsp. chopped raw bacon in small pieces
  8. 3/4 to 1 chopped onion—rough chop
  9. 2 large peeled and chopped carrots in small slices
  10. 3 celery stalks chopped in small slices
  11. 1/2 C. chopped parsley-add at the end
  12. 2-3 Tblsp. flour to add to the veggies at end
  13. 1/2 C. wine
  14. 1 to 2 C. chicken, beef or vegetable stock-I like a good beef stock
  15. 3/4 Tsp. of your favorite dry blend of spices
  16. Optional: 3/4 warm sour cream


  1. Salt and pepper the roast and insert 1/2 of the garlic slivers as well as 3/4 of the bacon into several slits that you have made in the roast. ( For a different kind of roast, rub the meat with 1 Tblsp. of mild chili powder- if you like hot use cayenne.)
  2. Heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot that can be later lidded; brown the roast on all sides—take your time to do this and make sure the heat is not high.  You do not want the fat to burn.
  3. Remove the meat to a side platter and in the oil/butter, still over medium high heat, brown the vegetables-stirring frequently. Stir them until softened and somewhat (not too much) browned—about 10 minutes. Add the parsley towards the end. Before adding the stock, add 2 to 3 Tblsp. flour to the vegetables and stir it till you can’t see any white of the flour left.
  4. Add about half the stock (and warm sour cream if you wish) and the red wine, your blended spices and return the roast to the pot, and turn the heat to very low however the liquid should be simmering at all times. (Save the other half of the stock to use if you find the stock disappearing).  There should be at least 1/2 inch of liquid in the pot at all times.
  5. Here’s where you need to spend time with this recipe. Every 15 minutes or so, turn the meat—and cook it until it is fork tender which means that your fork will pierce the meat without pushing too hard and the juices will run clear—about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours—but it may be longer if the roast is higher than it is long.  A very thick roast can take as long as (sigh) 4 hours. (You can also bake a roast, covered, in a slow oven—300- 325 degrees—but you need to turn and look at it every 15 minutes just as if you cook it on top of your range. I prefer to do it stove top)
  6. If for some reason your roast seems to be dry (oh no) your heat has been probably too high.  DO NOT OVER COOK THE ROAST. Believe me, when the meat is tender, it is done and remember, even when you remove it from the heat—it still will cook for 15 minutes or so.
  7. The Final Step: Remove the meat to a beautiful platter and keep it warm with some aluminum foil.  Skim the fat (if any) from the juices in the pot and turn the heat to high.  Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the liquid is thick and almost evaporated.  Adjust for seasonings.
  8. Serving: slice your meat and serve the juices on the side.  Or if you wish, pour the juices over the meat.
  1. 2.    Pot Roast with Tomatoes

Prepare and cook meat as above except:

  1. For the liquid, use 1 C. stock and 1 C. canned tomatoes. There should be about 1/2 inch of liquid in your pot.
  1. 3.    Pot Roast with a Sour and Sweet Gravy
    1.  When the roast has been set aside, in your stock, you can add 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 ½ Tblsp. lemon juice or vinegar.


  2. 4.    Pot Roast with Cider
    1.  Soak your meat for 12 hours in this marinade and also use this marinade in the stead of the liquids mentioned above and cook as in the basic recipe:

Cider Marinade Ingredients:

  1. 2 C. cider
  2. 2 small sliced onions
  3. 1/4 Tsp. ginger
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 1/4 Tsp. cinnamon
  6. 2 Tblsp. sugar
  1. 5.    Spiced Pot Roast

Spiced Beef Marinade ingredients:

  1. Cider vinegar or dry wine
  2. 2 sliced onions
  3. 1/2 Bay leaf
  4. 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
  5. 1 Tsp. allspice
  6. 1 tsp. cloves
  7. 1 ½ Tsp. salt
  8. 1 Tsp. pepper

Vegetables to use for the last 1/2 hour of cooking

  1. 2 onions
  2. 4 large carrots
  3. 1 medium large turnip
  4. 1 stalk celery
  5. Marinade the roast in the above marinade for 12 hours or more.
  6. Take the meat out and place it in a roasting pan. (Save the marinade)
  7. Heat the following to a boiling point and pour it over the roast which you’ve placed in a pot that has a lid: 1/2 of the marinade and 2 C. water.
  8. Cover the pot and roast it in a slow over, 275 degrees, for 3 hours.
  9. Process the vegetables to a small grind and sauté in butter till golden brown. Add these ingredients to the roast for the last 1/2 hour of cooking.
  10. The sauce can be thickened with flour or corn starch.
  1. 6.    Pot Roast with Cranberries

Follow rule for basic pot roast and substitute for the liquid water and after 1 hour of cooking, add 2 C. of raw cranberries and additional boiling water if needed.

  1. 7.    Sauerbraten


  1. 3 lbs. roast
  2. Bacon which you have larded in the meat
  3. Pepper rubbed on meat
  4. Garlic inserted in slits made in meat
  5. Equal parts mild vinegar or white wine and water
  6. 1/2 C. sliced onion
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. 1 Tsp. pepper corns
  9. 1/4 C. sugar
  10. For the very end, 1 C. sour cream or sweet cream


  1. Place prepared meat in a crock like pot
  2. Heat but DO NOT BOIL the ingredients e through i and while hot, pour over the meat.
  3. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 days but preferably 7 to 10 days.

Turn the meat once a day.

  1. When the meat is well marinated, take it out and place it in a pot.
  2. Use the vinegar mixture in place of the stock.
  3. Cook as in the basic recipe and when the meat is tender, remove it from the pot.
  4. Thicken the gravy with flour and add 1 C. sweet cream or sour cream

Any of these recipes are delicious served with potato dumplings, noodles and a hearty red wine.

Bon Appetit

Asparagus and Prosciutto Strata (an overnight casserole dish)


Asparagus Prociutto Stratta

I used black forest ham in this picture and it reacted a bit like bacon so it’s a bit crispy and very browned.  However, it was delicious, much more economical than prosciutto and still very tasty—always trying to be economical here in my kitchen. This dish was made in an aluminum pan for a friend who had just injured herself in a down hill ski accident.

Asparagus and Prosciutto Strata (an overnight casserole dish)

Serves 8

It’s always such a great pleasure to host a breakfast for a group of people and have them enjoy your cooking efforts with big smiles on their faces.  That’s part of what was so rewarding in having been an inn keeper at my B&B and now that I have the privilege of writing articles for our wonderful local Weekly Sun, they allow me to play inn keeper every now and then.  That’s what just recently happened at our January get together and this is one of the items which I prepared.  Of course I want to share this with my readers as well.

Here though, before you get to the recipe, are a few little known facts about the asparagus that might be of interest to you.  In France, Louis XIV had a special greenhouses built for growing it.  The finest texture and the strongest yet most delicate taste which is in the asparagus tips, were called, once again in France, “Les points d’amour (love tips)”. Leave it to the French to make a love connection to the asparagus tips.  They were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour.  Asparagus was pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 B.C.  Romans would even freeze this healthy vegetable high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus.  Emperor Augustus reserved the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. As well, asparagus is often grown in conjunction with tomatoes because: the tomato plant repels the asparagus beetle while the asparagus repels some harmful root nematodes that affect the tomato plants. So here’s a salute to that “Point D’Amour”.


  1. One Lb. asparagus, tough stem ends snapped off and the remainder cut in 2 inch pieces.
  2. 1 loaf 3/4 lb. crusty artisan style bread, cut into 1 inch pieces.  I use a French bread loaf
  3. 3 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto cut into 1/2 –inch thick strips
  4. 1 ¼ C. shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  5. 1/2 C. chopped chives
  6. 1 Tblsp. grated lemon peel
  7. 6 eggs
  8. 3 ½ C. milk
  9. 1/2 Tsp. salt
  10. 1/2 Tsp. pepper


  1. In a medium pan bring about 2 quarts water to a boil; add asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes-till they are bright green and barely tender. Immerse them in cold water to stop them from cooking more.
  2. In a lightly oiled or sprayed 9 X 13 Pyrex or other oven proof dish spread half of the bread cubes.
  3. There will be 4 layers. Top the first layer of bread cubes with 1/2 of the following ingredients:
    1. Prosciutto or some sort of thin sliced ham–smoked or not
    2. Asparagus
    3. Chives
    4. Shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
  4. Now place the other half of the bread crumbs on top and layer again as above in #3.
  5. In a blender blend the eggs, milk, S&P and lemon peel and pour over the layered ingredients.
  6. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 and bake until center of strata is set and the top is lightly browned (40-50 minutes).
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Zucchini and Mushroom Casserole


Zucchini and Mushroom Casserole

8 serving


This is a good, easy and nutritional dish to serve.  Zucchini and mushrooms are so versatile so it’s nice to see them meld together.  Enjoy.


  1. 1 ½ Lb. zucchini, trimmed and scrubbed
  2. Pinch of chopped or dried dill
  3. S&P to taste
  4. 1-2 cloves of garlic
  5. 3/4 Lb. mushrooms, sliced
  6. 4 ½ Tblsp. butter
  7. 2 ½ -3 Tblsp. flour
  8. 1 ¼ C. sour cream
  9. Bread crumbs dotted with butter
  10. Up to 1/4 C. chopped parsley (optional)
  11. Up to 1/4 C. shredded Parmesan (optional)


  1. Cut the zucchini crosswise into one-inch slices.  Place in a pot with salted water to cover. Add the dill and garlic and some S&P.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the vegetable is barely tender (about 8 minutes).  DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  2. Drain, reserving 2 Tblsp. of the cooking liquid, and discard the garlic. Set the zucchini aside.
  3. In a skillet, sauté the mushroom in the butter (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally till they glisten; then stir in the flour. Cook about 2 minutes longer till flour is well absorbed.
  4.  To the mushrooms in the skillet add the sour cream and zucchini and the reserved 2 Tblsp. zucchini cooking liquid stirring constantly.  DO NOT BOIL but heat thoroughly.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a buttered or Pam sprayed casserole dish and top with some buttered bread crumbs.  If you wish, you can mix the crumbs with chopped parsley and/or some shredded parmesan.
  6. Brown quickly under the broiler.

Lamb Shanks with White Beans-A Dish to Comfort


lamb shank with white beans

Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Serves 2-8 if you don’t concentrate on the meat only

Newtown really got me down.  I needed some comfort; so I turned to this recipe.  First of all, it took me awhile to make but yet didn’t take too much concentration so that I could think and meditate about what a tragedy and horror had just happened.  Second of all, once made, it soothed me and helped me heal a bit.  We need recipes like this every now and then—and sadly enough, more often lately than not.  I hope that maybe you may take some solace in this recipe as well——

Ingredients for the White Beans:

  1. 1 Lb. dried white beans (I used the little ones but the larger variety are fine as well)
  2. 4 Cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  3. 1 C. Cored and chopped tomatoes—(canned and drained are fine)
  4. 1 Bay leaf

Herbs to be used for both the beans and the shanks: 

  1. 1 Tblsp. fresh sage leaves or 1 Tsp. dried sage and some left over for extra seasonings
  2. 1 Tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 Tsp. dried thyme
  3. A dab more thyme leaves for browning the veggies.

Ingredients for the Lamb Shanks:

  1. 4 Lamb shanks—3/4 to 1 Lb. each (mine in the picture was almost 2 lbs. WOW—what a lamb!)
  2. 1/3 – 1/2 C. olive oil
  3. Flour for dredging
  4. 1 Medium onion rough cut
  5. 3 Stalks of celery rough cut
  6. 2 peeled  carrots rough cut
  7. 1 clove garlic rough cut
  8. S&P to taste
  9. 1 Bay leaf
  10. 3/4  C. red wine
  11. 3/4  C. beef stock
  12. Minced fresh parsley or sage leaves or thyme sprigs for garnish


Cooking the Beans

  1. Quick boil or soak the beans overnight (according to package directions).
  2. Place the beans in a deep pot and cover the beans with water.
  3. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil; skim the foam if necessary.
  4. Turn the heat down so that the beans simmer and add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, and 1/3 of the herbs mentioned in this recipe.
  5.  Cook 1-1/2 to 2 hours —till they are tender.

Cooking the Shanks:

  1. Blender or Osterize chop the celery, carrots, garlic, onion into a small chop.  I do leave aside a couple of carrots and celery large cut just for the look of the dish-but doesn’t feel obliged to do this.
  2. Mix the remainder of the seasonings in enough flour to dredge the shanks a bit and rub it on the shanks.
  3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and brown the shanks on all sides. (About 8-10 minutes). If you have a lot of shanks, you may have to do this in more than one session.  When browned, set aside on a separate plate.
  4. In the remaining oil (if you need more, pour a bit in), add and stir the veggies with a dab more of thyme over medium heat until they are glistening. (about 7 minutes)
  5. Put the shanks back in the pot on top of the veggies, add the wine and beef bouillon and a bay leaf; simmer covered on very low heat for 3 to 3 ½ hours or till when you insert a toothpick in the fleshy part of the shank, it’ll go in and come out easy (that almost sounds “risqué” doesn’t it.  Oh dear.
  6. Keep an eye on the shanks just to make sure they don’t need more wine or bouillon.

lamb shank with white beans

The Finished Product:

  1. At this point, I like to have a lovely country styled platter to take my beans out with a slotted spoon and some or all of its liquid as well and top it with my lamb shanks, veggies, sauce and all. I then garnish it with the parsley, sage, or thyme.
  2. There are 2 more ways  of finishing this dish so here it is:

Way One

  1. Don’t cook the beans till they are too soft because you are going to place them in an oven proof dish.
  2.  Pour the shank’s sauce among the beans and some or most of the bean’s liquid (depending how much is left), a bit more dried or fresh sage; then nestle the shanks in. Put the dish uncovered in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes.  Then garnish and serve.

Way Two

  1. Cook the lamb as directed; then take it all off the bone and shred it.
  2. Stir it back in the beans and top it with bread crumbs.
  3. Broil it carefully in the oven till the crumbs are light brown.
  4. Voila Cassoulet?


Feliz Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Egg Casserole


Mexican Egg CasseroleFeliz Cinco de Mayo

Mexican Egg Casserole

Sat., May 5th will be the celebration day of the festive Cinco de Mayo.  Many people do believe that is the day of Mexico’s Independence; however, no indeed, Mexico’s Independence Day is on Sept. 16.  May 5th is the day that a very brave small Mexican army fought against the invading much larger French army in Puebla, Mexico in 1862.  The Mexican army won that battle. At the same time the beginning of our American Civil war was going on so it’s also a day to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy here.  On June 7th, 2005, the US Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the US to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the US to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.  That day is therefore celebrated here in the USA and in Puebla, Mexico.  Herewith I present for your eating delight, a dish I hope that for both our Mexican community as well as for those of us from other parts of the world will enjoy.


Serves 8 to 12 depending on portion size

One Dozen Eggs

2 Cups Sour Cream

1-14 oz. Can Chopped Green Chilies

3 C. Grated Mexican Style Cheese Mix or straight grated Jack or Cheddar

1. In a blender, blend eggs with sour cream. Place this mixture in a medium size bowl and mix in the cheese.

2. Put half of the mixture in a 9” X 13” baking dish which has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. Then layer the chilies; then place the other half of the mixture on top.

3. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes; cover with foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

4.  If you wish, before serving, sprinkle over the top some salsa or when serving, pass around a three some side of salsa, guacamole and sour cream.


Bueno Apetito


  Are you a frustrated, overworked or timid cook? Call Margot for help @ 721-3551

& please feel free to email her @ TempInnKeeper@mindspring.com or to visit her blog for more recipes including these: http://blog.TempInnKeeper.com

Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.