Wednesday, August 27, 2008

1st Grade

Today is Max's first day of school.
What happened to my little one?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Block Island

We spent the past weekend in Block Island. We were invited by some of our oldest & dearest friends. It was a wonderful weekend, but way too short.

Our ferry ride.

This is where we stayed,

the views we had,

and the beach.

Miles even got a ride with Uncle Alex for donuts.

Maine 2008

We just returned home from a wonderful vacation.
We spent 1 day in upstate Connecticut, visiting family on their lake.
Then it was on to 6 days in Maine...and after that a long weekend on Block Island with friends. Everyone in this house is suffering from an end-of-summer depression...

I did cook some awesome food on our travels. But, none of it was documented, due to my vacation bliss state of mind. But, I plan on re-creating some of them here at home in the coming weeks.

This is where we stayed in Maine, with my Dad, Stepmom, and a few of my sibs.

I love this shot my sister, Emily, took of our back from the beach mess in the yard.

Miles, ready for the beach.

Max & my sister, Elizabeth barely got out of the water.

Miles too, once he got a hang of the raft.

Dh & Max making a drip castle.

My sister, Olivia.



Our view from the porch at night.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Signing off to spend a week here.
See you when we return...

Grandma Betty's Meatballs

Of the many lessons in life I count as blessings, having the chance to stand alongside my grandmother while she taught me how to make her meatballs is high on my list. I can picture the day clearly in my mind. Her worn, green Pyrex bowl filled with torn bread, ground beef, grated cheese, and chopped parsley. Two perfect egg yolks sitting at the top of the pile.
She always mixed them with her hands, forming each handful into balls exactly the same size as the first. Something that came with ease after years of honing her skill. There was no recipe involved, because like her method, the ingredients were committed to memory.
The meatballs served when I was a young child and the ones I was served as a teenager had minor changes along the way. The basis of what made them amazing was the same, but like most cooks, she catered to her audience - which for her was four hungry grandchildren. When I was little she would sometimes add pine nuts and raisins to them {something that might seem odd, but is actually quite popular in Southern Italy}. But I suppose after one too many dinners witnessing her grand kids picking out each and every one, she stopped that practice.
Another, quite significant change came much later down the road, when my grandmother decided that frying meatballs wasn't the healthiest way to prepare them. Quite frankly, I don't remember ever noticing a difference in how they tasted, but it was at that point when she began baking them in the oven and never looked back.
On a special occasion I might spend an afternoon frying a few dozen meatballs and let them simmer in 'gravy' all afternoon, but in my opinion, for everyday purposes the extra effort is simply not worth it. I can do without the grease and sauce splattered stove, walls, floors, and counter tops. But for those who might think any other method but frying is sacrilege, I've included my method for frying in the recipe as well.
While I wanted to note some of the evolutions, there are a few components to making great meatballs which will never change {at least not in my world}. I've made them with ground turkey. I've used them in soup. I've served them on toothpicks as a party appetizer. But what makes them taste so good no matter how I've served them is a generous proportion of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. None of that silly ground beef/veal/pork combo nonsense. No aromatics, like chopped onions or garlic {sorry, but once you add those to meatballs, you've got meatloaf}. And certainly, no dried oregano. This is one of those instances where keeping it simple really does pay off.
Meatballs for dinner is something I can count on every member of my family eating with enthusiasm. It can be relied on when I need a guaranteed-to-please meal for company. And I'm fairly certain that the person who first uttered the words "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was suggesting you serve him meatballs.
I'm also sure that my grandmother knew exactly what she was giving me when she told me how to make them.
Note: This post was originally written in August 2008, but was given a facelift and update on July 12th 2012 - Enjoy!
A few more of my Italian favorites - Baked Pasta with Mini Meatballs | Tomato Sauce with Onions & Butter | Italian Style Mini MeatloavesHomemade Italian Salad Dressing | Zucchini Blossom Fritters | Ciambotta | Spaghetti with Braised Kale

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Turkey Meatloaf

Yet another Ina recipe. But, I just love that woman & everything I have ever made, from any of her cookbooks, has been awesome.
Her Turkey Meatloaf is a standby in our house. Both the bozos absolutely love it!
The proportions she gives make a huge meatloaf. So, I always halve it.

You will need 2 1/2 pounds of ground turkey breast, 2 eggs, some ketchup, chicken stock, an onion, some fresh thyme, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Chop 1 large onion. I try to chop it pretty small, so that the bozos do not detect any onion pieces in their meatloaf.

Then heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan, over medium-low heat.

Add the onions, along with about a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves,

a teaspoon of kosher salt, and some freshly ground pepper.
Saute for 15 minutes. You want the onions to be soft, but not browned.

Then turn off the heat and add 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of tomato paste, and 1/3 cup of chicken stock.

Stir to combine and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture is cooled, place the ground turkey breast in a large mixing bowl. Add 3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs,

2 eggs, and the onion mixture. Gently mix everything together until it's well combined,

and form evenly into a loaf pan, that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Or, form a loaf on a baking sheet.

Spread 1/2 cup of ketchup over the top, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Slice and serve.