Penne all’Arrabbiata

This recipe is a winner. It’s also really easy to throw together.


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pancetta slices, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds plum tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
1 pound penne pasta
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, freshly grated l
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add pancetta and garlic and cook until pancetta is crispy and garlic is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes with liquid, salt and pepper flakes and boil until thick, breaking up tomatoes, about 30 minutes. Add butter.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain.

Add to sauce and toss to coat. Mix in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Servings: 4

Cooking time: 1 hour
Cooking Tips Although the cooking time is quite short for this dish. I do find if you take the time to prepare the sauce earlier in the day and reheat it as you boil the pasta, it vastly improves the flavor of the the sauce. But, don’t cook the pasta until ready to be served.

Mongolian Beef

I found this recipe on 12 (I made it a steak recipe instead of ground beef because that’s my preference. The original title is Mongolian Ground Beef Noodles)


1 lb Flank Steak sliced against the grain
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup beef broth
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flake, optional
10 oz linguine – or rice!
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
4 green onions, sliced

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until no longer pink.
Drain fat as needed, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, ginger, red pepper flake, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons cold water and add to ground beef. Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Once sauce has thickened, add noodles and stir to combine.
Let noodles sit in sauce 2-3 minutes to absorb some flavor. Top with green onions and serve. Enjoy!

Clinton Kelly’s Potato Leek Soup

With a few personal changes

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks (washed and sliced) ** I soak the leeks in the morning before washing **
1 onion (diced)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 cups milk (I use 2% or whole milk)
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
4 Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and cubed)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, fresh (chopped)
1⁄2 cup half-and-half
4 slices country bread (toasted golden brown)
4 slices Irish sharp cheddar cheese
1 Green onion, green part sprinkled on top of bowl

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leeks, celery, and garlic, and cook until all have softened and become fragrant about 5 minutes. Add the stock, milk, bay leaf, and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the parsley and half and half. Allow to cool slightly. In batches, puree in a blender. (I use an immersion blender)
For open-faced cheese sandwiches, preheat broiler and place cheese slices on toasted bread. Broil until cheese is melted and browned in spots, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Slainte mhaith (good health)!

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

When I was in New Orleans in the 90s, I fell in love with Red beans and rice. When I was shopping at the French Market, an older Cajun man said the best recipe was on the French Market bag. So I bought some French Market coffee and it came in the aforementioned bag. Clever marketing? Sure. But this is a good recipe. I’ve changed it throughout the years so it’s a mix of the “French Market” recipe and my own changes. So let’s do this.

It’s time to make Red Beans and Rice – New Orleans style.

(serves 10 or in reality 14)

1 tablespoon olive oil (original recipe calls for shortening – you do you.)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
8 cups water
1 pound dried red beans
1 smoked ham hock
1/2 pound smoked sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 pound of chorizo or Alligator Sausage (I use chorizo, but again – you do you.)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning – (not the same as Cajun seasoning – FYI)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
Several dashes of hot pepper sauce
3 cups cooked white rice

Step 1
Melt oil/ shortening in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion, garlic, and bell pepper and a dash of salt in hot oil until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 2
Combine water, red beans, and ham hock in a large pot; bring to a boil. Stir onion mixture into the water; add smoked sausage and celery to the boiling water; return to a boil. Stir bay leaves, Creole seasoning, thyme, and sage into the boiling water. Reduce heat to low, place a cover on the pot, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 5 hours.

Step 3
Remove and discard ham hock and bay leaves; stir in hot pepper sauce and serve over white rice.

Step 4

Listen to this while you eat:

Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band at Louisiana Cajun Zydeco

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

1 ½ cups butter, softened

⅔ cup white sugar

¼ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

Lavender sugar

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt; mix into the batter until well blended. Divide dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. (Like hearts for V Day)  Cookie stamps will work well on these too. Place on cookie sheets.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Sprinkle with lavender sugar. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Taken from this all-recipe site (I use this recipe and love it.) I removed the mint because I was not too fond of the flavor in this cookie.

Grandma “Gaga” Sugar Cookies

When I was young “Grandma” was too hard to say so I called her Gaga.

Original recipe 

1 1/3 cup Crisco shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar granulated, white
1 tsp almond extract
2 large eggs
2 2/3 tbs milk 2 tbs, plus 2 tsp
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt


So I started playing around with the recipe and with the help of King Arthur’s Holiday Butter cookie recipe, I have made a yummy sugar cookie that makes my family very happy. (Mostly the only thing that’s the same is the almond extract.)

My updated recipe:

Makes five dozen 2-inch cookies


1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
18 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping if desired 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Almond extract
2 3/4 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour

*If you use unsalted butter, increase the salt to 1 teaspoon.


2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk, enough to make a pourable/spreadable icing
food coloring of choice


Combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and almond extract, beating until smooth. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. The mixture will seem dry at first, but will suddenly come together. If it doesn’t, dribble in a tablespoon of water.

Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flattened disk, and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it soften for about 20 to 30 minutes until it feels soft enough to roll. It should still feel cold, but shouldn’t feel hard.

Roll the dough and do your thing with cookie cutters.

Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until they’re set and barely browned around the edges.

Wait until their cool to frost – but pop one of those bad boys in your mouth as soon as you can – they are sooooo good. 

Katie’s Breakfast Smoothie

1/4 cup Frozen Pineapple
1/2 cup Frozen Banana
1/3 cup Frozen strawberries
3/4 cup low-fat high protein Yogurt
4 stemmed, chopped Kale leaves
1 tbsp Flax Seeds
3/4 cup Apple Cider (I add water now but the apple cider gives it a good taste.)
A scoop of your favorite protein powder. (my favorite protein powder is hyperlinked.)

Traditional Filipino Lumpia

My family lived in The Philippines (in Makati if you know where that is!) for three years in the early 1980s. It was wonderful. Hot, but wonderful.

Here is the lumpia recipe we make every year for the holidays.

Actual photo I took of my lumpia! KB

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup minced carrots
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup thinly sliced green cabbage
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Wonton wrappers (I use these instead of Filipino lumpia wrappers because they’re smaller. Better appetizer size)
2 cups vegetable oil for frying (I used peanut oil)


Place a wok or large skillet over high heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Cook pork, stirring frequently, until no pink is showing. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Drain grease from pan, leaving a thin coating. Cook garlic and onion in the same pan for 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked pork, carrots, green onions, and cabbage. Season with pepper, salt, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Place three heaping tablespoons of the filling diagonally near one corner of each wrapper, leaving a 1 1/2 inch space at both ends. Fold the side along the length of the filling over the filling, tuck in both ends, and roll neatly. Keep the roll tight as you assemble. Moisten the other side of the wrapper with water to seal the edge. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap to retain moisture.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil to 1/2 inch depth, and heat for 5 minutes. Slide 3 or 4 lumpia into the oil. Fry the rolls for 1 to 2 minutes, until all sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

I don’t use dipping sauce – but if you want one here is a good dip.

Lumpia Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Salisbury Steak

My version of the Pioneer Woman’s Salisbury Steak
Meat Mixture:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of meatloaf mixture (it typically has ground pork and ground beef) (you can use impossible meat or only ground beef or only ground pork if you want)

1/2 cup panko

2 garlic cloves diced

1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato sauce

2 teaspoons dry mustard

two teaspoons or more of Worcestershire sauce

1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled (or powdered beef base) (if vegan or vegetarian skip this obvs – but check your seasoning)

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil


1 whole onion diced

2 cups beef broth, more if needed for thinning (or veggie broth)

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 teaspoon seasoning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet, (Kitchen Bouquet is vegan)

2 teaspoons or more of Worcestershire

1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional

Salt and pepper

For the meat mixture: Combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, ketchup, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon and some salt and pepper. Knead it until you feel it’s good and mixed. Make 4 nice medium size to large oval patties. If you want to bring back memories of your TV dinners of a lifetime ago (I’m talking to my fellow kids who grew up in the 70s/80s) then make lines across the patties to give them a “steak” appearance.
Cook the patties in a skillet with a bit of oil or even a good spray of cooking spray. (Pioneer Woman says to use butter and oil and I don’t feel it’s necessary to add all of that to an already greasy ground beef. cook on medium-high heat on both sides until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the skillet and pour off any excess grease.
For the gravy: Reduce the heat to medium and add in the diced onions. Stir and cook until golden brown and somewhat soft, for several minutes. Add the beef stock, ketchup, seasoning sauce, if using, and the Worcestershire. Then in a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with a little beef broth, stir it until the cornstarch disappears and add to the sauce. Stir and cook to reduce.
Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and more broth if needed for thinning. Then return the patties to the gravy. Spoon the gravy over the top and let them simmer and heat back up for a couple of minutes.

I make a very simple mashed potatoes with this meal. Here is a recipe that feeds four people:

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
salt and white pepper to taste

Step 1
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes; drain.

Step 2
Add butter to pot and return potatoes to pot as well. Take masher or ricer and do what you do. Then add the cream and mix gently adding salt and white pepper. If you feel that the potatoes need a bit more cream go ahead and add more, but I tend to go back and add some of my 1% milk if I need more liquid.

Limoncello Tart with Amaretti Cookie Crust and Berry Compote

Ingredients for Crust:
8 ounces Amaretti cookies (usually gluten-free, but always check packaging)
1 Tbsp cane sugar
4 Tbsp melted butter

Ingredients for Limoncello curd
4 large egg yolks (for a thicker curd replace two of the egg yolks with one
whole egg)
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Ingredients for Berry Compote:

3 cups fresh or frozen fruit (we used 1/2 strawberries, 1/2 bing cherries)
3 Tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse cookies in a food processor until
finely chopped. Transfer to a tart pan and add the melted butter. Mix well.
Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.
Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown on the edges as oven
temperatures can vary. Remove from oven and cool completely. Then place in
refrigerator to get cold. (Can be made 2-3 days in advance.)
For the curd:

Fill the bottom pot of your double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. Place on
high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water
at a simmer.
Place egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the
top pot of your double boiler. Using a silicone whisk, whisk until completely
blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents
the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick,
resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If the curd
isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then whisk into
the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar
or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the
top of the curd. (This prevents skin from forming on top.) The curd will
continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.
(Can be refrigerated for up to about 10 days.)

Since you’re likely using it right now – let’s move on: If using
immediately, pour into chilled tart shell, cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate until ready to serve. If using later, cover the bowl with plastic
wrap and refrigerate.
Now for the pièce de résistance! The Berry Compote!

Place fruit (We tend to go with blackberries but you do you.) and juice in a
small saucepan and bring to medium heat.
Once bubbling, reduce heat slightly and use a wooden spoon to muddle and mash
the fruit.
Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, occasionally mashing
fruit to combine. Turn off heat.
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to continue to cool thoroughly. Once
the tart and the berry compote are appropriately cool, slice the tart and add
heaps of yummy compote on top. Enjoy! P.S. You can store the compote in the
fridge for up to 1 week or freeze in ice cube molds up to 1 month.