"Emergency" Red Beans and Rice

Today is the day we've all been dreading: the arrival of Sandy. I sit here, still with power, while others close to me are without.

I wanted something to sustain us through the storm, should we lose power, but I didn't have the time to use dry beans to make this meal "authentic". But, I pulled this together in about an hour, and WHOA is it good. It's not good just for an emergency, but I'd definitely make this any day. Kiddo loves it too.

Olive oil (to coat the bottom of the pan)
1/2 lb smoked turkey sausage
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 cans red beans (Goya)
1 can of chicken broth
1 TB Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
Hot sauce (optional)

In a large dutch oven, coat the bottom with the olive oil and heat over med-high. When hot, add the smoked sausage and brown. Set aside.

In the same pot, add the bacon and cook til translucent. Add the pepper, onion, celery. Saute til soft. Add the garlic, seasoning, basil, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in the beans (do not drain), and the chicken broth. Add the sausage back in. Bring to a boil, then turn down to med-low and simmer until it boils down to a nice, thick consistency. Mine took about an hour. Serves 4.

Serve over white rice. Don't forget your beer to get you through the storm!

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Eggplant Parm Stacks

These stacks are so easy, it's almost silly to write a "recipe" to go along with it. Once you make these, you won't have to follow along again. They are so good, and even more flavorful the next day! A great option for any "Meatless Monday".

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 jar of your favorite sauce (I used a container of Scaramuzza's sauce, found in the frozen section So good!)
  • 1 log of fresh mozzerella cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil leaves
  • panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg + 1 TB water
  • kosher salt & cracked pepper
  • olive oil
Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Grab some paper towels, and spread the slices out evenly on the towels. Sprinkle with some kosher salt on both sides. This will draw out the moisture of the eggplant. Let sit for about 20 minutes, and then collect the moisture with a dry paper towel.

Whisk the egg in a bowl and season with a little salt & pepper. Add a tablespoon of water, then whisk.
Add a cup of panko crumbs to another bowl. This is your dredging station.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with the olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, Begin your assembly. Dip an eggplant slice in the egg mixture, then into the panko to coat. Place on the skillet and fry on both sides until brown. Repeat with all slices. As the slices get cooked, allow them to drain and cool on a dry paper towel.

Once all the slices are cooked, you can start to build. Grab a cookie sheet (with edges) or a 9x13 pan. Starting with the biggest slices, start stacking in this order from the bottom, up:
  1. Large slice of eggplant
  2. Dollop of sauce
  3. Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
  4. 1 slice of mozzerella
  5. 1 basil leaf
  6. smaller slice of eggplant
  7. Dollop of sauce
  8. Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
  9. 1 slice of mozzerella
  10. 1 basil leaf
Build these until all the slices are used, then bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is good and melty.

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Porkette with Broccoli Rabe

If you're from the Northeast, you've probably heard of Tony Luke's pork sandwich. It's a an icon in Philly, and I've missed it terribly! It reminds me of summer, too...when the St. Anthony's Italian Festival would serve up Porkettes, Spazzato, Smelts, and Panzaratti. This is nostalgia for me, and I just had to try it in the kitchen. It couldn't have been easier! The wait was the worst part!

The pork:

  • 1/2 Pork Shoulder (picnic cut)
  • 3 TB chopped garlic
  • 2 TB fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 TB kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 TB olive oil

The broccoli rabe:

  • 1 lb broccoli rabe
  • kosher salt
  • water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TB chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
Use a large crock pot and set it to HIGH. Place the pork in the crockpot. Combine the other ingredients, and rub all over the pork. Cover and cook on high for 20 mins, then turn to LOW. Cook for 8 hours or until the pork is falling off the bone and there is a good amount of liquid. If it's rather dry, add less than a 1/4 C water. Discard the bones, fat, and shred the pork with 2 forks.


When the pork is done, get a large pot of boiling water going. Add salt to the water. Trim the ends of the rabe, about an inch. If there are very stalky parts, discard them. Chop off the florets. Drop in the leafy parts in the boiling water and boil 2 minutes, then add in the florets. Boil about 5-7 minutes more. Drain, but save about a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Start a deep skillet on med-high heat. Add the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic, a pinch of salt, and the red pepper flake. Saute, about a minute. add in the broccoli rabe and some of the cooking liquid. the mixture should be somewhat soupy. Don't overcook the rabe.

Assemble on an italian roll, with some sharp provolone! Summer is here!

P.S. Don't even bother with a breath mint. It just has to work its way through the pores. :P

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Lilly Belle Barkery is in bizness!

My kid has her own Etsy shoppe! Lilly Belle Barkery makes homemade all-natural doggie treats. She is excited to be open for business, and is having a blast filling orders. 33 bags of treats sold in the first weekend. Sales will go toward her college education, and she will donate to a rescue of her choice each month.

Her first recipe is Peanut Butter & Bacon treats! Get some for your furry friends today. Be sure to "Like" her FB page here:

And visit her Etsy shoppe here:

Hi, I'm Lilly Belle! I'm 7 years old and I love my dog Ace. I also love cooking with my mom in the kitchen. One day, Ace ran out of his peanut butter treats, so I asked my mom if I could make some more. Now I make homemade treats for your dogs!

My mom thanks you for helping me understand the importance of cooking for the ones you love, while using all-natural ingredients. It also helps me understand what earning money means.

A portion of these sales will go to an animal rescue of my choice (I have a few I love!) and the rest will go toward my college education. Thank you for choosing Lilly Belle Barkery for your dog!

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Spaghetti with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Weekdays are hard. Violin lessons, derby. I *almost* just called in a pizza tonight. But then I channeled little 'ol Giuseppina in Acquavella, Italy and said, "What would Giuseppina do?"

Another "pantry meal"! I know I say this a lot, but you really can get creative with whatever you have in the fridge/freezer/pantry.

I had some left over broccoli rabe from Carlino's prepared foods. You can certainly saute regular broccoli in some garlic and olive oil to substitute this.

Break it down...

  • 1 lb of thick spaghetti
  • small container of broccoli rabe (or saute some broccoli)
  • 2 links of chicken sausage (or whatever you have)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • red pepper flake
  • parsley
  • parmesan cheese

Start the pasta water in a large saucepan.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic, salt, red pepper flake, and sausage. Saute til sausage is done. Add the prepared broccoli rabe. Saute til heated through. If the pasta isn't done yet, turn the mixture on LOW.

When pasta is done, drain then add to broccoli rabe mixture. Toss and serve. Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese.

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Orrechiette Arrabiata with Cod

One of those "whadda we have to eat?" meals. This was another "pantry meal" made from stuff I had, plus the leftover cod from the fish taco recipe! Score. I love when stars align.
  • 1 pound of Orrechiette pasta
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 can of whole Italian style plum tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 cod fillet, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Asparagus, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • parsley, chopped for garnish
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Open the tomatoes, and blend til smooth. I use a hand blender right in the can. 

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Saute for a minute, but do not brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flake. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, add your asparagus.

Before your pasta is done, add the cod and parsley to the pan. The fish will cook rapidly. Stir gently or it will flake apart. When pasta is done, drain and toss gently with the sauce. Top with parmesan cheese.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

I'm not Irish by any stretch, but in my younger years, I was surrounded by them. A year never went by where I didn't play hooky from work to celebrate St. Patty's Day with my friends.

Getting an early start at Kid Sheleen's, then watching the parade, then walking over to the Logan House to dance Irish jigs. At some point hunger struck, and we ate Corned Beef and Cabbage in order to sop up the alcohol and continue the shenanigans. Those were the days! I certainly can't hang like that anymore, but I do love to have this traditional meal every year.

I love it because you throw it in the crockpot and get on with your day. So this *is* the perfect meal for those long days of imbibing.

Here we go:
  • 1 beef brisket (with spice packet)
  • 3-4 golden potatoes
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1/2 head of cabbage (or more if you can fit it)
  • 1/2 onion (not chopped)
  • 1 pony bottle of beer (or half a beer)
  • 2 cups of water
Set crockpot on LOW.

Add the beef brisket with the packet of spices to the crockpot, plus the water and the beer. Let cook for 2 hours then add the potatoes and carrots and onions. Let cook for 2 more hours and add the cabbage in quarters. Cook for 2-3 more hours or until meat/potatoes are tender.

(You can certainly put all of this in together and leave it all day, but the potatoes will be extra soft this way, and may not maintain shape.)

Serve with Irish Soda Bread! I got this beauty from Big Sky Bread Co.

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