Archive for April 11th, 2009

It was one of those days. 

1.  Prepare and decorate Easter Cake for Bonnie’s family.  Snuck in some Easter M&M cookies as well.


2.  There were some ugly brown bananas on the counter and they were screaming for help.  We made an Easter Banana bread. For an Easter Banana bread, you just HAVE to add chocolate:

Easter Banana Bread

Easter Banana Bread

  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup strong, brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp apple pie spice (or allspice or other)
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
  • A handful of Easter  (pastel colored) M&M’s

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a large bread pan with non stick BAKING (has flour in it) spray.  In a small bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. In another bowl, mix sugars and applesauce. Add the egg. Combine those two bowls into one and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate small bowl then add to the wet mixture, just to combine.  Add in your chocolate chips. Pour into bread pan. Sprinkle with M&M’s and bake approx. 1 hour or until your knife comes out clean when checking for doneness.

3. Feature recipe:   Mrs. K’s Spaghetti Sauce. Makes 5 Qts.

Why ‘Mrs. K’s”?  There was a time in my life when I knew the most industrious Polish lady.  She was very pretty, very funny, and MAN could she cook!!!  Three of her best recipes were: 1. Cabbage rolls (Golabki…sounds like  “gwumpki”). 2.  Cabbage soup.  3.  Spaghetti Sauce.  She had fantastic desserts and every roast, every dinner was cooked to perfection.  Obviously that was back when I ate meat.  So here is my adaptation of her Spaghetti sauce which was cooked today for Ted, Sammy D, and Stef.  I’ll just have to find something else to eat because these days, no meat for me and this sauce is LOADED.


  • 3 29 oz cans Whole Tomatoes
  • 3 29 oz cans Tomato Puree
  • 2 6 oz cans Tomato Paste
  • 1 TBS each: Italian seasoning, oregano, basil
  • 1 Crushed bay leaf
  • 2 Whole bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 fresh parsley sprigs
  • vegetable oil (enough to cover bottom of pan)
  • 1 lb medium Italian sausage, cut into 1″ slices(casing removed)
  • 1 lb country style pork spareribs (boneless)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS chopped parsley
  • 1 TBS BQ sauce
  • 2 TBS sugar

Put whole tomatoes in large pot and crush with clean hands.  Add pureed tomatoes and put on med-low heat. Add seasonings, bay leaves, and onion. Add cleaned parsley sprigs.

In saute pan, add oil to cover bottom and when hot add sausage, cook thoroughly. Add 1/2 of sausage to tomatoes (keep other 1/2 of cooked sausage to do whatever else you want with) and add 2 whole cloves of garlic to saute pan, add the pork and brown on all sides.  Add to tomatoes and throw away garlic cloves.  Remove 1/2 of the oil from the saute pan and set aside…you will need some of it in a minute.  Mince the remaining garlic and add to the remaining oil. Cook only 1 minute.. don’t burn or it will turn sour. Add the garlic and the oil to the tomatoes.  Put 2 cans of tomato paste in saute pan and 2 6oz cans of water. Add 1 tsp of the left over oil you set aside, heat to boiling then add to the sauce.

Make your meatballs:  Mix the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley (you can also add dried minced onions, powdered garlic if you like), and the BQ sauce. Mix it all up and form into balls. Saute meatballs in a little of the left over oil, add a little water, and brown meatballs on all sides. Add to sauce.  Simmer on low for 1 hour. Add 2 TBS sugar and simmer another 2 hours.  Serve over our favorite pasta.

4.  To go with that pasta and sauce, one must have some really good bread.  Herbed Italian BreadI used the breadmaker recipe for this bread.  For a 1.5 lb loaf on the “French” light crust setting.  1 cup + 1 TBS warm water.  2 TBS oil. 3 TBS sugar. 1 1/2 tsp salt.  3 1/4 cup Bread flour. 2 tsp Italian seasoning. 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast. 



5.  When you have young people in the house, you must have dessert. Hmmm… what to do at the last minute? I know!!!  I’ll call this an Open Puff Cannoli Pie.


  • 1/2 lb Fillo Dough
  • 1 Stick butter, melted
  • 2 TBS Cinnamon
  • 2 TBS Brown Sugar
  • 16 oz Ricotta
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1  tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced
  • 6 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 35o F.  Brush the bottom of a glass, square baking dish with a little melted butter.  Add 6-8 sheets Fillo Dough. Brush with butter and spinkle with 1 TBS cinnamon and 1 TBS brown sugar. Add 6-8 more sheets of Fillo Dough. Repeat with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar.  Add the remaining 6-8 sheets of fillo dough and brush with remaining butter.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until brown.   It may rise in the middle, when it has cooled a bit, you can gently press it down. 

In the meantime, while that is baking, prepare your mango and strawberries and put into a bowl with 1 tsp sugar. Set aside.   In a glass bowl, add the ricotta, powdered sugar, almond extract and mix. Add the chocolate chips and chill.

When the fillo dough has cooled. Spread the sweetened ricotta mixture over the top. Now arrange the mango and strawberries on top of the cheese.  Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Cut into squares.

All the above hasn’t been served yet.  I’ll let you know tomorrow if anyone walked away hungry.  Since its Saturday night and we scored a really neat case of different beers at the store today, I may force everyone to do a beer tasting before dinner tonight.  Again, tune in tomorrow for dinner and beer tasting results. If you don’t tune in tomorrow because it’s a busy Easter Sunday…then Happy Easter to you and yours. Take care.


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This is why we love New York State.

11.5 oz Crispin Apple

11.5 oz Crispin Apple

New York State has the biggest, juiciest, sweetest apples you could wish for.  This Crispin weighed in at 11.5 oz.  That’s one big apple.  Just to compare, the Braeburn from yesterday was 7.0 oz. 

The beautiful crispin was enjoyed after a 5.2 mile run with Shane. What a DOG he was today!  He did NOT want to run.  It was like running with a parachute attached trying to drag him along.  We did play a lot of frisbee yesterday and he was all excited when young Sammy D arrived so maybe he was a bit over tired. I felt sorry for him so we cut it short this Saturday morning. 

About Last Night….

As mentioned yesterday, my dinner date for Friday evening was my lovely nephew, Sammy D

dscn0604Sam wanted a fish fry so we went to “The Hook Line & Sinker”.  It was crowded but they managed to seat us within 10 minutes. 

Sam started with his  favorite beer, Heineken.  As for moi, a Lodi Red Zindscn0608fandel.

The “Hook” used to have some of the most tasty bread.  They changed it to sourdough rolls about 3 or 4 years ago and I just can’t find anything good to say about them.  What a shame.

The restaurant does have a nice salad bar which features, tossed salad, marinated cucumbers, marinated button mushrooms, carrot/raisin salad, bright red beets, potato salad, coleslaw, fresh mussels with cocktail sauce, and a choice of 5 different dressings. 


The atmosphere is far from elegant. The table is lined with a big, white sheet of paper.  So when Sammy squirted his cherry tomato all over the table (seriously, seeds and juice went flying  Lot of laugh:11667 ), we really didn’t feel too bad about it.

Sam ordered the fish fry but didn’t manage to eat it all, saying it was too buttery and rich.  He couldn’t taste the fish.

As for me, I had the Seafood Fra Diavlo which comes with mussels, scallops, clams, shrimp, calamari  over pasta. Of course I said “no pasta – just vegetable please”.  The vegetable was asparagus.  Now brace your self for this next picture and then I will explain…..

dscn0611Eeewwww!  What is it? …you ask?

Well, that was my dinner. However, Sam and I were deep in conversation when the meals arrived and dove right in.  As I sat back feeling quite full, it suddenly dawned on me no picture had been taken.  The conversation that followed…

“OH NO! I forgot to take a picture”.

Sam:  Ya, I was wondering about that but didn’t say anything.

“WHY! You should have reminded me”. 

Sam:  Well just take a picture of another one. There’s one right there.

“No. I’ll just pile up my left overs and see if I can’t create a meal out of  it”.

Sam:  SERIOUSLY, Aunt Jo. There is another one right behind you. LOOK!

“Oh”…. she takes the camera and prepares to snap. In the meantime, the waitress comes from behind and as I lean forward to snap, she moves forward to grab the dinner, lets out a yelp and leaps back.  “Sorry” I said.   The waitress said “no..go ahead”.   I just couldn’t do it.  I know you were thinking that a horrible accident was going to happen which involved someones dinner going all over the floor or the waitress going topsy-turvy.

Sam:  Look. She put it in front of that guy. Ask him if you can take a picture. 

Well, I just COULD NOT see my amateur little self going up to some strange guy, hovering over his dinner, taking a photo.  It just didn’t seem like it would appeal to him nor his wife, nor his friends.  So, there you have it. A black and white of my left over Seafood Fra Diavlo, which was quite good…. the taste of the meal that is, obviously NOT the picture.

When we got home, Sam and I watched “Step Brothers”.  He was laughing through the entire movie. I however do not appreciate Will Ferrell and only managed a chuckle here and there. Recommendation:  If you like THAT type of humor, rent it.


There is an Easter cake to prepare.  There is banana bread to bake as well as “Mrs. K’s” Spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight. Fresh bread will be made.   We hope to entertain Sammy D, Stefanie, her friend Jen, Jen’s baby girl, and Teddy for dinner.   It should be fun.

Hope you enjoy this wonderful Saturday.

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