Sunday, March 30, 2014

Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms

If you are looking for a lovely way to elevate ground beef to a tasty dinner entree,try Olivia's salisbury steak recipe.    It is very simple yet rich and full of flavor.  The gravy on it is rich and great on mashed potatoes or rice if you like.  When you are tempted to just make hamburgers or a meatloaf, consider this salisbury steak recipe.  You can also pair it with a springtime vegetable for a great meal.


1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups beef broth
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1.Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, chopped onion, egg, salt, and black pepper in a bowl until evenly mixed. Shape beef mixture into 4 patties, about 3/4 inch thick.
2.Fry patties in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Add beef broth, onion, and mushrooms; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until patties are no longer pink in the center, about 10 minutes more. Transfer patties to a platter and keep warm.
3.Bring onion mixture to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into onion mixture. Cook and stir until onion gravy is thickened, about 1 minute. Pour over patties to serve.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tales of the Asparagus

Tales of the Asparagus

Sadness always comes to me when I ask someone if they like asparagus and they reply with "I've never tried it."  I grew up eating asparagus and I love it to this day.  My mom often steamed it and that's a lovely way to cook it. (Mom was great at NOT overcooking it into a mushy mess!)  However, my fondness of asparagus has grown over the past several years when I prepare it by roasting it.  Nothing is as good as roasted asparagus.

To roast asparagus, you take the woody ends of the stalk off by cutting the lower 1/4-1/2 inch of the stalk off and discarding it.  Wash the asparagus, place on a lined baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast the asparagus in the oven in an even layer for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees until the stalks are starting to shrivel and the tips are gently browned.  This is truly the best way to eat asparagus!  If you've never had asparagus or you remember some mushy, overcooked, gross version from yesteryear, you owe it to yourself to try roasted asparagus!

Asparagus is usually well over $2.30 a pound here.  Since asparagus is a Springtime vegetable, it is now in season!  I've seen prices recently between 99 cents and $1.49 a pound.  This past week it was as low as 88 cents a pound.  With that being said, I had to take advantage of this sale!

I bought 11 pounds of asparagus...

The asparagus in the container to the left is about two pounds worth that we're roasting up for dinner tonight.  The asparagus pieces in the colander were roasted up for the dog.  Yes, our dog, Annie, loves roasted asparagus.  According to my husband who researched it, asparagus is good for dogs.  The cut up pieces in the front were roasted and canned into an "Asparagus Soup Base".  (That's another story for another day...) The pile of asparagus to the right is the pile I blanched.  Blanching asparagus is so easy and it's an enjoyable way to save money while enjoying the yummy veggie year round!  Here's how to do it...

Cut the ends of the asparagus off and discard.  Wash the veggie.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stove.  Place the asparagus in the boiling water for 90 seconds, making sure you don't allow it to be in the water any longer than 90 seconds.  This is called "blanching".  If you allow your asparagus to go much longer than 90 seconds, you'll end up with mushy one likes mushy asparagus, but we've established that already. 

When you remove the asparagus from the pot of boiling water, immediately place the stalks in a bowl of ice water.  This stops the asparagus from the cooking process and keeps it from becoming mushy.  Mushy is an evil word when it comes to asparagus.

After the asparagus spends a few minutes in its icy bath, remove the stalks to a cookie rack placed over a cookie sheet.  This allows the water to drip from the stalks.  You can leave it on here to cool completely.

All that's left to do now is to place the asparagus in freezer bags.  I have a Food Saver, so I used that to prepare it for the freezer.  Normal gallon-sized freezer bags would do the trick though!  Place only the amount in each bag that you want to prepare for a meal at a time.  When I want to cook this, I will allow a bag of it to thaw slightly and then roast it in the oven as mentioned above.

If you try to roast asparagus and/or blanch asparagus, please let us know how you like it.  This vegetable doesn't get enough time in the spotlight.  Not just because it's so yummy, but also because it's so very healthy for you! 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oatmeal Scotchie Cookies

I had some butterscotch flavored morsels left over from Christmas that had been hanging around in my freezer begging to be used.  I found this recipe on the Nestle website and decided to use it but alter it slightly by using one cup butterscotch and one cup milk chocolate morsels.  I baked for the shorter time period because I like a softer cookie.  They were popular at a card making workshop at Olivia's.  Hope you like them.



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
  • 3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Olivia and I are both very fond of Italian food.  When Olivia was a young girl she had her own hand cranked pasta machine and made every variety imaginable of homemade pasta.  It was great!  That is just how much we like Italian.  Olivia and I both have bread machines too and enjoy making a wide variety of breads.  This recipe is definitely worth making to accompany your favorite homemade pasta dish.  The ingredients are common items you probably have in the pantry anyway.  The taste will be anything but common!  Enjoy!



    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 4 cups flour
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning 
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast


  1. Add ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer.
  2. Mine is water first, then flour, then seasonings and cheese, lastly yeast.
  3. Run on basic or delay cycle.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage and Ricotta

Olivia and I have always been partial to Italian food so when this beautiful creation caught her eye on the Food Network, she decided to make it.  It is easy to assemble and features a wonderful creamy blend of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and romano cheeses.  I have to admit I am a sucker for anything that includes fresh basil.  In the summer, Olivia and I both keep a pot of it growing within reach of the back door so it is always available.  I have been known many times to just pick a leaf of it and crush it to smell it or just chew on a small leaf to enjoy the fresh taste of summer.  Where we live, a fresh taste of summer would be most welcome right now.  We hope you enjoy making this and sharing it.


1 12 oz. box jumbo shells, cooked al dente
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 pkg. Johnsonville® Mild or Sweet Italian Ground Sausage, or one pkg links
2 25 oz. jars marinara sauce, or 5-6 cups of your favorite sauce
2 large eggs
1 15 oz. tub ricotta cheese, whole or part skim
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.

In a 10" skillet cook sausage on medium heat, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Allow it to cook through then set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a pastry brush, coat the sides and bottom of a 15 x 10 x 2" baking dish with olive oil. Pour half the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, set aside.

In a large bowl beat the egg, mix in the ricotta, 2 1/2 cups of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, basil, ground pepper and the cooked sausage.

Fill each cooked shell with the sausage mixture and nestle them in sauce. Once all the shells are filled, top them with the remaining sauce, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

Bake covered until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking about 5 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.