Friday, February 20, 2009

Mama Mora's "Gravy" (Spaghetti Sauce)

This recipe was sent to me by my then, MIL from Sturno, Italy. back then I spoke no Italian so my DH had to translate it for me. There are a couple of nuances that IMO make this recipe taste wonderful. According to what another chef friend told me, the Northern Italians use sugar to cut the acid in the tomatoes, but the Southern Italians use the seeds of the herb, "fennel", to sweeten them.

Another thing that is important is to use " plum" tomatoes. Mama called for POPE brand crushed tomatoes and they are very hard to find anymore, I have been able to find a brand called, CENTO , but look for the small plum tomatoes on the label picture, those are the ones you want to use. I have used other brands of just regular crushed tomatoes and they're not as good.

I also always use fresh herbs ( basil and oregano & parsley) and I use only the leaves of the herbs, never the stems. Dom interpreted the "spaghetti sauce seasoning" as dried Italian seasoning so thats what I use.Oh, and if you use the Italian sausage it already contains fennel seed, so I usually only use about 1/2 teaspoon and I smash them with a rolling pen.


Use half ground pork and half ground veal or " Hillshire brand" Italian sausage, mild or hot. ( Gauge this by how much meat you want in the gravy, I usually use equal ammounts of all three.

1 large can "Cento brand" crushed tomatoes ( just make sure they are "plum" tomatoes.

2- 6 ounce cans tomato paste ( the Cento brand I found had a 12 ounce size )

2 ounces olive oil

6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 sweet onion ( I use texas sweet)

1 bunch, leaves only, fresh oregano

1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only, minced

half as much fresh parsley as basil, leaves only, minced

Italian seasoning ( I use about 1 teaspoon)

Fennel seeds ( I use about 1/2 teaspoon and smash them with a rolling pin)

1 teaspoon paprika

Mix crushed tomatoes, fennel seed, basil, parsley,oregano, paprika and Italian seasoning in large pot and simmer.

Fry in the olive oil, the fresh garlic and minced onion, but do not brown, then add meat and cook till done.

Strain out the meat and add to the simmering tomatoes.

In the remaining grease in the skillet, add the tomato paste and cook until it changes color, then add to the simmering mixture. Simmer on low 3-4 hrs. I've been usisng a crock pot so I don't have to watch it and letting it simmer all day on low.

I make all the italian dishes that call for "sauce" ie... spaghetti, ziti, lasagna, eggplanat or veal parmesan,etc... with it.

NOTES: Dried herbs may be used. I just prefer to use fresh ones as I think it makes the "gravy" taste better.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese like Boston market

Mac & Cheese has always been a favorite of mine and now I've found a new way to make it that is the best I've ever had. The addition of Chicken broth really sets it off.

Macaroni and cheese like Boston Market

2 cups of elbow macaroni (cooked)
4 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk or (sometimes I use a large can of Pet evaporated milk)
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube in 1 cup of boiling water
1 1/2 cup shredded Mild Cheddar
1 cup cubed Velveeta type cheese
1/2 tsp salt (according to how salty the bouillon and cheeses are, you might not need the extra salt.)
pepper to taste

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour til smooth. Gradually add milk and bring mixture to a boil,
add bouillon and stir for 2 minutes (or until mixture starts to thicken). Lower heat to a simmer
and add cheeses and salt & pepper. When the cheese is melted mix together with cooked macaroni.
Place in a greased casserole dish & bake 30 min @ 375ยบ (I like the top of mine brown & bubbly).
You could easily put this in the crock instead of baking it.

Makes about 6 servings.

NOTE: If you want thicker mac and cheese, just add the chicken bouillon cube to the milk and omit the water.

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN With Lemon Pepper Gravy

Fried Chicken has always been on of my favorite dishes, but frying is just not the best way to eat food anymore. This is so close to the taste of fried chicken you'll hardly be able to tell you cooked it in the oven. And one of the best things about it is not having to deal with the grease or the clean-up when you're done. I love the flavor of lemon pepper on my chicken but if you want just plain ole' country fried chicken, omit the lemon/pepper seasoning.

Oven Fried Chicken With Lemon Pepper gravy

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon garlic powder over chicken and place in a ziplock bag. Let sit at least two hours in fridge or overnight. I let mine sit overnight.

Place 1/2 stick butter and 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a shallow baking dish and put in a 425 degree oven to get hot.
(Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces without any of them touching each other and make sure the oils are good and hot before you add the chicken pieces)

Combine 1/2 tablespoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a large ziplock bag.
Rinse chicken parts and pat dry with paper towels and place in bag with flour mixture. Shake well to coat all pieces.
Remove hot pan from the oven and arrange the chicken in the pan, skin side down, making sure none of the pieces touch each other.This is an important step to make sure the meat stays crisp and doesn't make any steam.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turn chicken so that the skin side is up and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes more, until nicely browned and juices run clear.Remove to a platter and let cool at least 10 minutes. Make gravy.

Lemon Pepper or Country Gravy

Scrape baking pan and place 3 Tablespoons of the accumulated cooking fat and browned bits into a sauce pan. Add 1/2-2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning. Stir in 3 Tablespoons flour and cook 1-2 minutes until well combined.
Stir in 2 cups cold milk and continue cooking and whisking until gravy boils and thickens. Cook about one minute. Season with salt if necessary.

NOTE: If making plain country gravy, omit the lemon pepper seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


And you will too. They're a cupcake with the icing inside instead of on top! Actually it's a cheesecake filling. You can use this recipe for the cake or use a cake mix of any kind. The cheesecake filling can also be flavored/tinted to any color desired. Flavor the white with coconut or use red food color( to make pink) and strawberry flavoring for Valentine's day, Lots of possibilities.Even a white cake mix and chocolate flavored filling. Just mix in a teaspoon of cocoa or some melted chocolate chips into the filling. Have fun with this one!

MOON ROCKS (350-35 minutes)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all together and fill cupcake tins 1/2 full. Add 1 teaspoon
filling to each cupcake and top with rest of cake mixture.

FILLING: Cream together, 1 pkg cream cheese, 1 egg and
1/2 cup sugar

NOTE: When I make these, I use the "Texas size" muffin tins and it makes exactly 1 dozen perfect cupcakes.