This Week’s Meals

This week we spent $149.47 at the grocery store and will be making these delicious dishes.  What’s on your menu?  

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup Recipe

Taste of Home’s tortellini soup – I subbed beef broth and beef tortellini for the chicken & cheese called for in the recipe.  

Ina Garten’s perfect roasted chicken with roasted carrots & onions, garlicky collards, and Caesar salad.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Simply Recipe’s butternut squash soup, with the addition of some heavy cream. Served with kale chips

Elodia Rigante’s pasta e fagiole with sausage from this awesome cookbook.

chili nachos

Fridays during soccer season alternate with homemade pizzas and homemade chili nachos. 

homemade broth

I’m making a giant pot of chicken stock for a sick friend, for a meal for us, and to stock our freezer.

penne with sauce

And finally, I will simmer a pot of sauce (aka: gravy!) for an entire weekend day.  The house will smell like the Italian countryside and our family will look forward to our evening fall supper.









This Year’s St. Patrick’s Day Menu

My in-laws enjoy St. Patrick’s day because they’re partly Irish.  I enjoy it because I’m mostly hungry.  Here’s what’s gracing our menu this weekend, along with some boiled veggies:

Irish Beef Stew


Shepherd’s Pie with Scallion-Cheddar Crust

Shepherds Pie with Scallion-Cheese Crust Recipe : Michael Chiarello : Food Network


Corned Beef with Creamy Mustard-Wine Sauce


Chocolate Stout Cake

Recipe photo


Green Tea Cookies


Irish Cream Cheesecake

Festive Irish Cream Cheesecake recipe

Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

Since the northeast’s winter has been so brutally cold, we were thrilled to welcome in a 55+ degree day with grilling.  The chicken satay turned out to be a winner, so I’m adding it to the 5 Petey Thumbs Up list.


Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce
This dish has a nice Thai flavor, but the chicken skewers are good enough to eat without the peanut sauce if you prefer.
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For the marinade
  1. 3-4 lbs of chicken breasts
  2. 5T soy sauce
  3. 4T lime juice (from approx. 1 lime)
  4. 3t turmeric
  5. 3t cumin
  6. 5t coriander
  7. 3T vegetable oil
For the peanut dipping sauce
  1. 1/4-1/2 c peanut butter (depending on your peanut-y preference)
  2. 3T brown sugar
  3. 3T soy sauce
  4. 1t coriander
  5. 1t cumin
  6. 1/2t turmeric
  7. 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  8. 1/4 c hot water (adjust amount to get desired consistency)
  9. 3T cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  10. Lime wedges for garnish
  11. Skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
  1. Chop chicken into even skewer-sized pieces and place in seal-able gallon bag. Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl, whisking in oil at the end. Cover chicken pieces with marinade, seal bag, and put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but several hours is better.
  2. Put all dipping sauce ingredients in a food processor, except water. Add the hot water, more or less, to get the consistency you desire. Taste and adjust any of the seasonings you prefer.
  3. Remove chicken from bag and place 3-4 pieces on each skewer. Grill for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and garnish with lime wedges. Pass the dipping sauce.
The Excellent Wife

Sausage-Apple Cornbread

Here’s a recipe that I made when my children were younger.  Recently my husband recalled and requested the meal.  What a perfect suggestion for the fall!


Sausage-Apple Cornbread
Sausage, apples, and thyme top this delicious cornbread!
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 1 small red onion, diced
  2. 2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
  3. 1.5 lbs sausages
  4. 1T olive oi
  5. 1/2t thyme
  6. 1c yellow corn meal
  7. 1/4c all-purpose flour
  8. 1T baking powder
  9. 1t salt
  10. 1 jalapeno pepper, diced {optional}
  11. 2 large eggs
  12. 8oz sour cream
  13. 8.5 oz creamed corn
  14. 1.5c grated cheddar cheese, separated
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil.
  3. Add the sausage, breaking up as you cook it. When cooked through, add the apples and thyme.
  4. In a bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In another bowl whisk eggs, sour cream, creamed corn, 1 cup of the cheddar, and jalapeno.
  6. Add the dry cornmeal mixture to the wet ingredients and stir till just combined.
  7. Spread cornbread mixture into a greased 9" cast iron skillet. Top with the sausage mixture, then the remaining cup of cheddar.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 45 minutes.
  1. Serve with a fancy green salad.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine ~ August '99, p.74
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine ~ August '99, p.74
The Excellent Wife

Pretzel Rolls. Finally.

Pretzel Rolls 

We have a bakery near our church that we like to frequent for one reason:  pretzel rolls.   Not quite a pretzel and not quite a roll, these soft bread-like treats are perfect for breakfast, snacks, or even as a bun for a gourmet burger.  But at nearly a dollar per roll, there had to be a better way to have these in larger quantities.  

I tried a variety of recipes – of which none came close to a real pretzel roll.  After many attempts, I came up with the one below.  Finally.

Pretzel Rolls


Pretzels/pretzel rolls 



Pretzel Rolls
Yields 16
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
For the dough
  1. 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  2. 1.5 cups very warm tap water
  3. 1 pkg yeast
  4. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  5. 4.5 cups flour
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. Pot of water
  8. 2/3 cup baking soda
For the egg wash
  1. 1 egg
  2. 2 tablespoons water
  3. Coarse salt
  1. In a mixer with dough hook attached, add the butter, water, yeast and brown sugar. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Turn on mixer and knead for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove dough from mixer,shape into a ball and put into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise 1 hour in a warm location.
  4. Boil a large pot of water with the 2/3 cups baking soda. This is the step that makes a pretzel roll pretzel-y! Remove dough to a working surface and divide into 16 small pieces,trying to shape each into a ball. With a serrated knife,cut an “X”in the top of each roll.
  5. Boil rolls a few at a time for 30 seconds. Drain with a slotted spoon to remove and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment and also sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (Or just grease your sheets very,very well)
  6. Bake in a 425 oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and brush rolls with an egg wash (1 beaten egg and 2T water) and top with coarse salt. Return to oven and bake till browned nicely all over,about 6-8 minutes more.
  7. If you eat them hot they will be doughy. Self control. Wait till they are mostly cool and then dig in!
  1. Experiment with different shapes if you want!
Adapted from kevin {&} amanda
Adapted from kevin {&} amanda
The Excellent Wife

Chocolate Mug Cake with Caramel Center

Ooey, gooey chocolatey`caramely goodness.

After seeing dozens of these mug cakes on Pinterest, the children and I finally got around to making some.  The recipe was so easy for the kids to manage that they were thrilled with their chocolately creations.   My daughter cut the sugar in her mug by 1/2 and we couldn’t taste a difference.

Here’s the recipe:

In a small bowl, combine 4T flour, 4T sugar, 3T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4t baking powder, and a pinch of salt.  Combine.  Now add 1 egg, 3T oil, 3T milk, and 1/4 t vanilla.  Mix well and pour into a regular sized mug that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Push two unwrapped caramel candies just under the surface of the batter.  Microwave for about 1 minute 30 seconds.  You might have to adjust a bit less or more depending on what results you like.  We like gooey, so 1 minute 20 seconds sufficed.



Asian Beef Salad

I have leftover grilled steak so I’m making an Asian Beef Salad. I love this meal & thought I’d share it.

Leftover London Broil












Asian Beef Salad

For the salad layer:

Chopped, fresh spinach leaves
Any combo of: snow peas, broccoli, string beans, red peppers

For the noodle layer:

Cooked thin spaghetti or rice noodles
Sesame seeds, toasted
Olive oil (or sesame)

For the dressing:

1/4c lime juice
1/4c soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic (or more!)
1/3c olive oil
1/2t sesame oil (if you have it)
1/2t minced ginger

For the beef:

Leftover sliced steak OR;
Steak marinated in lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and cilantro, then grilled & sliced

So here’s what you do: Mix up the salad ingredients. Toss them with enough dressing to coat. Plate them. Toss the noodles with the noodle ingredients & enough oil to prevent sticking. Plate noodles on top of salad. Place the sliced steak on top of noodles. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds and/or cashews. Pass extra dressing on the side.

Thanksgiving with Children at the Table

Time consuming, but adorable {and delicious}!

Healthy lunch the Wednesday before:

Fun “kid table” ideas. Draw on the craft paper table cloth.

Source: via Alisha on Pinterest

Fringe craft paper tablecloth for Native American look:

Use for napkin holders, place cards, or just fill with candy:


Turkey stuffed with popcorn as a healthy snack:

And, finally, a little something to keep the conversation going:

It’s Fig Season!

If you own or live near a fig tree then you know that it is fig season

and likely have an abundance of these sweet gems.

Today I am dedicated to making a few different treats using the dozens & dozens of figs on my kitchen table.

Simmering on my stove top is some Fig & Honey Compote.


And also some Balsamic Fig Jam with Black Peppercorns


And soon-to-be-baking some homemade Fig Newtons

And by the time we get to these Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped,Blue Cheese & Candied Pecan Stuffed Figs, we’ll have had our fill.   {Maybe.}



What do you do with fresh figs?

Our Father’s Day Weekend


And let the wife see to it
that she respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33

     Honor your father and mother.
Ephesians 6:2

We spent Father’s Day with my dad, affectionately known as Pop Pop to our children.  He’s an avid golfer.  So along with watching the U.S. Open and eating a delicious dinner, we also enjoyed this cute little golf cake.

Chocolate cake, vanilla butter cream. Nothing fancy, but very cute.

Our menu was very simple and not necessarily coordinated:  Colletti burgers and homemade vegetable spring rolls.  What’s that?  Never heard of a Colletti burger?  Well, it’s just the most incredible burger you’ll eat this side of heaven.  And it’s created by our famous chef cousin, Michael Colletti.  Hence the name!  You can find a recipe here.

Applewood smoked bacon, homemade smokey chipotle bbq sauce, bacon, cheddar, and onion rings top this burger served on a potato bun.

It was my first time making spring rolls, but boy were they SO easy to make!  So long as you can find spring roll wrappers you can have these tasty, yet healthy, beauties made in no time.  We found ours at our local Asian market.  The wrappers can be made of rice or flour and are usually found dried in the noodle aisle.  Fill them with whatever veggies and, if desired meats or shrimp, you have on hand. I used this recipe, with a few modifications.

Serve with dipping sauces like sweet & sour, or Thai peanut, or sesame-garlic.

Of course I am not creative enough to make up that cute cake.  You can find the recipe & instructions, where else? Pinterest: