Friday, December 31, 2010

Scratch.Love Lasagna

The key to good lasagna is quality ingredients. Homemade sauce, homemade noodles and the highest quality ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Don't forget to use fresh parsley- that really makes a difference. This dish is perfect for feeding a large group. This recipe is tailored for my large All-Clad lasagna pan (length is 14.5 inches, Width is 12 inches and the depth is 2.5'). Quantities might be slightly different for a smaller pan. My family just loves this homemade lasagna, and I love making it for them. I make it every year as a wonderful Christmas tradition.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Homemade Pasta Dough

There is absolutely nothing like homemade pasta. I do not make it too often because of the time investment and because I do not usually use white flour. I know you can make pasta with whole grain flour but I am never really too impressed with it. So, I just save the pasta for special occasions. Making homemade pasta dough is easy, but it is also a little time consuming (and more so when you have two little curious kiddies underfoot). The result is worth the effort! In my fathers Italian family they call homemade pasta "homemades". You know it is a special occasion when the homemades are being served. I am not an expert pasta maker, nor do I claim to be. I am sure others may make it differently but this is how I make mine.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scratch.Love Meatballs

My Grandmother, Antoinette, made the best meatballs. Oh, how I loved them! Every year she would come on vacation with our family to the Jersey shore, and every year she would bring meatballs. They would be gone in a day or two around my family! My Grandmother has long since passed away and the meatball making has become my responsibility. I never got my grandmothers recipe (I doubt it really was a recipe, just a little of this and a little of that) but this is how I make them. You will notice that instead of pan frying these I am cooking them in the oven. I am not exactly clear about why, or when she started doing that- all I know is it is certainly cleaner and easier (and absolutely no difference in taste that I can perceive)! It gives me great pleasure to continue this tradition. Last year I made 15 lbs of meatballs for our yearly beach trip. Insanity! Of course our crew has grown from 7 back then to 12 now. Here is my recipe, I hope that you enjoy it and I hope that if my Grandmother was still here with us that she would approve. These meatballs are amazing just on their own but are also great on top of pasta, spaghetti squash or tucked into a meatball sandwich.

PS- I just got off the phone with my cousin who told me that my Grandmother used veal, pork and beef in hers and that she did not use onions. Interesting! Come to think of it, I do remember that she used all 3. I think at one time I did as well, but laziness and frugality must have led me to only using beef.

PSS- Memory is such an interesting thing. I just spoke to my Uncle who thinks (but is not sure) that Grandmom did use onions. I also spoke to my Aunt who said my grandmother puts the veggies into the blender so that there are no chunks in the meatballs. She is calling me back with more details later.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Scratch.Love Marinara Sauce

Italians take their marinara sauce (or "gravy" as my Grandmother called it) very seriously. It seems like everyone has their own recipe and they are all different. Some are kept top secret, some are shared with friends or anyone who asks. This is my version and I am happy to share it. This is very similar to the one that my mother makes (which is my favorite of all time!). Homemade sauce is so easy and delicious, there is no comparing homemade to the stuff you get in a jar at the grocery store. It also freezes beautifully so I always keep some in my freezer. Good marinara sauce is key to making other Italian dishes delicious, so do not skip this step if you want fantastic meatballs, lasagna, etc!

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas! I hope that you all had a wonderful day filled with love and laughter. We had a lovely day here at the Scratch.Love House, and we have so much to be thankful for.  It was an especially beautiful Christmas because it was also a White Christmas! So beautiful to have snow! The only thing that could have made this Christmas better would have been if the entire extended family could have been together.

I usually cook an Italian meal for Christmas and there was no exception this year. We had homemade  marinara sauce, lasagna, "homemades" (which is what my family calls homemade pasta), meatballs, garlic rolls and asparagus with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Look for the recipes soon! January will be my Italian recipe month, I have lots to show you! I will also be taking a little breather and enjoying the family so there may not be quite as many new posts in January as there have been the past two months. Let me know if there is anything you would like to see on the blog or any questions you would like answered.

After the jump I have a few pictures from this December when we went to the tree farm and cut down our own Christmas tree and then the tree decorated. Enjoy!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Soft Molasses Oat Cookies

The other day, when I was at the grocery store getting more nuts for the Sweet and Spicy Nuts that I was making for the neighbors, a jar of molasses caught by eye. I have never before cooked with molasses or really ever thought about molasses. For some reason I decided to buy a jar. When I got home I decided I should make some cookies to go with the other gifts in the bags. I looked at so many recipes on line, most used so much sugar and molasses I thought they would be sickening sweet. Some were for hard cookies, which I did not want for this cookie. I do not consider myself a great baker and was really hoping to find a recipe to follow as is. I ended up making one up to suit my wants. The first round of these cookies were made with white flour. They were a huge, huge hit. Everyone that tried them loved them. As it happens, that evening my lovely mother brought me a bag with several different types of flour for me to try.  One of them was oat flour. I had the idea to replace the white flour with oat for a healthier cookie. I think that they came out great! Soft, chewy, sweet (but not sickly sweet) and a great little crunch from the raw sugar.

Note: I usually avoid sugar, but during holidays and special occasions I find it perfectly acceptable to indulge a little!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrub feels so wonderful to use on those rough patches of skin like the elbows, feet and winter hands. This exfoliates and moisturises beautifully. Packaged in a reusable mason jar, this makes a great gift! Goes perfectly with the Homemade Bath Salts for a cute gift set.

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Homemade Bath Salts

I happen to think that homemade gifts are the nicest kind. This year I wanted to make some gifts to give to our neighbors, doctors, teachers etc. I decided on these Homemade Bath Salts, Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Scrub, Sweet and Spicy Nuts, and at the last minute added some Molasses Cookies. Wrapped up nicely I think these make a fantastic gift, and I hope that the recipients agree!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tomato Basil Coconut Bisque

I have been on a bit of a soup kick lately. There is nothing like a nice, warm, filling cup of soup on a cold winter afternoon. I made this dish dairy free because a friend of my cousins is avoiding dairy and I wanted to think up some easy dishes for her. I made this soup with coconut milk, and I have to say that I do not miss the dairy one bit. In fact, it really does not taste any different from a normal creamy tomato soup. The coconut is very subtle. As usual, this makes a big batch so feel free to reduce the quantities if you desire. This is another one of my crock pot low and slow dishes. You can start the night before if you want it for lunch the next day or you can start it in the morning for dinner.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Simple Pleasures : Winter Morning Sunrise

Simple Pleasures : Winter Morning Sunrise 

I had never really considered myself a nature person until we moved to the country. In reality, I think we were just too busy and had too many distractions to notice the glory of nature. A perfect example is this beautiful sunrise we woke up to. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Venison Stew

I sometimes talk about eating local and in season because I think it is important. Well, you can not get more local or in season than this venison! My friend Jenny's husband is a hunter. It is deer season (or it may have just ended) so many people around here have freezers full of venison. Jenny kindly gave me this deer roast. This is my first time cooking with venison meat. I was interested to see how vastly different the color of this meat is, a rich garnet color. And also very, very lean. I decided to make a stew much like how I would make a regular beef stew. This is another overnight stew (or start in the morning for dinner). Instead of the fairly common potato, I went with the sweet potato. This stew turned out great. It is so hearty that it is a meal in itself. I like knowing where our food comes from (especially our meat) and think it is cool to have the opportunity to use this meat. If you do not have access to venison, I am sure a beef roast would make a fine substitute.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

No Sugar Added Crock Pot Apple Butter

If you have kids (or even if you don't!) apple butter or applesauce may be a favorite in your home. I know it is easy to just pick up a jar at the grocery store, but when you see how simple this is to make I hope that you will be converted to making it from scratch. Start right before you go to bed, wake up with fresh apple butter! Great to use in all kinds of recipes or as a sweet little snack.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

French Onion Soup with Parmesan Herb Crisp

Last weekend while we were wine tasting we tried a wonderful white wine from Sugarleaf Vineyards. The 2008 Monticello Petit Manseng was absolutely delicious. We were told that it was served at the White House once, and they happened to have a framed copy of the menu. I was curious what they had paired it with so I took a look. French onion soup! Inspired choice. I can see how they would pair well together. We bought a bottle and I decided that I must make the soup to go with it. Kelly the Kitchen Kop had a recipe  (you should look at hers, too!) that looked good to me but I wanted to make a few changes. I like onions (and she does not!) so I added much more. I also like my soups to cook low and slow, so I decided to make it the night before and let it simmer in the crock pot all night. I made a few more small changes due to what I had on hand and my taste preferences. Using homemade broth made a huge difference. I do not think this soup would have been half as good without that rich and delicious broth I made from the short ribs.My husband was blown away by this delicious soup. It was so good that the poor guy burned his tongue eating it because he did not want to wait for it to cool off!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beef Stock (Bone Broth)

If you made my Braised Short Ribs with Chipotle Red Wine Sauce, I hope that you reserved the bones. Making broth is so very simple and there are so many uses for it. I am going to use mine to make French Onion Soup! Homemade broth is heads over anything you can buy in a can or a box. Once you see the difference in your homemade soups and sauces you will never want to go back.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Braised Short Ribs with Chipotle Red Wine Sauce

Confession: I have never in my life made short ribs before. The reason I wanted to make short ribs is two fold. One, I wanted the bones to make soup for an idea I had while wine tasting last week. Two, I saw on Facebook that Whole Foods was having a sale on beef short ribs. So. I was sold! Short ribs, it was. I looked around online trying to find the perfect recipe. There are so many variations that it made my head spin.I kind of took a little from here and a little from there, but my main inspiration is found here at I was pleasantly surprised at how good these turned out. I admit that I think this might just be my best dish yet. If you have not tried short ribs yet, please know that it is a fattier cut of meat.If this is not really your thing then you probably will not enjoy it as much. If you do like it, braising makes these so tender. Fall off of the bones tender. Do not need a knife kind of tender. These take some time, but it is worth it. Plus, after you make the meal you can use the bones for beef stock. And with that beef stock you can make soup! Win, win, win!

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Steakhouse Style Creamed Spinach

Rich, creamy, delicious! Have you been looking for the perfect recipe for steakhouse style creamed spinach? Look no further. This recipe for Creamed Spinach will leave you wanting more. Each bite was better than the last. Pairs perfectly with almost any meal!

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Mashed Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic and Lime

Yesterday my friend LeAnn asked me if I could come up with another very savory sweet potato dish, similar to my Sweet Potato Home Fries. After thinking about it for a little bit, I had an idea. Coincidentally, I had all of the ingredients I needed and it happened to be close to dinner time. This is a very savory and very unusual dish. My husband said he has never tasted anything like it before. The lime flavor is distinctive and because we roasted the potatoes before mashing the flavors are highlighted even more. Simple, quick and easy one dish side!

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Real Food Feedback : Okay Yellow

The idea for this new segment came from my friend Linda. She asked if I could perhaps have my husband or children rate each recipe. Since my husband loves everything I make (bless him!), and the children are really too young to have much of an opinion, I did not think that would be too helpful to anyone! After thinking about it for a little while an idea came to me. Why not bring my real food to a group of regular people and give them questionnaires (which would remain anonymous) to find out what they really think about the recipes! Thus, Real Food Feedback was born!

Real Food Feedback : Okay Yellow

My first taste testers are the fine people of Okay Yellow, an amazing advertising company based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Cheddar and Green Onion Almond Flour Muffins

Here are some gluten free and grain free muffins to go along with the Low and Slow Beef Chipotle Chili! A few months ago I was looking for a grain free option that would taste like cornbread.  A google search brought me to a low carb blog (which looks like it has been dormant for a while) and a recipe for Green Onion Cornbread. I tried the recipe as is but thought that I would like it better with a few modifications. The result is this recipe.

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Low and Slow Vegetarian Chili

I was making chili for a group and since one of the guys is a vegetarian, I wanted to make a hearty option that he and anyone else could enjoy. This version of low and slow chili is almost the same as the meat based chili, but instead of the meat it has 3 different types of beans and corn. I start this the night before to be ready by lunch the next day.

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Low and Slow Chipotle Beef Chili

In my opinion, the best way to make chili is low and slow. This dish takes a little planning ahead but it is well worth it! Although it does take quite a while to make, most of the time it is just simmering in the crock pot. Give it a try, I bet you will not go back to the fast way! I am starting this the night before to be ready for lunch the next day, but you could also start in the morning for dinner at night. This makes a big batch because I like to have extra to freeze in individual portions for future use. Feel free to reduce quantities.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Virginia is For Lovers : Blenheim

Virginia is For Lovers (Wine Lovers!) : Blenheim

Sunday was my husbands birthday so we decided to do a little wine tasting that day. Although it was cold and overcast we still had an enjoyable time visiting Blenheim and Sugarleaf. We love the tasting room at Blenheim, it is so beautiful. All of the pictures are from Blenheim. I hope you like the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them!

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Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf Burgers with Balsamic Glaze

Have you ever tried Bobby Flays recipe for Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze? It is absolutely delicious! I have made it several times (with some modifications) and we have really enjoyed it. This was my inspiration for these burgers. I served them with my Sourdough Whole Spelt Herb Buns. To say that these burgers were a hit would be an understatement. My husband had the highest praises for them!

Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf Burgers with Balsamic Glaze:

For the Burgers:
(makes 8)
  • 2lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 Yellow Zucchini
  • 1 Green Zucchini
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon White Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Teaspoon Parsley
For the Glaze:
  • 1 Cup Ketchup (No Sugar Added)
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes


Take your zucchini and garlic and grate.

Very, very finely chop onions and red bell pepper.

Add to a pan with a little bit of cooking oil on medium heat.

Mix together and add spices.

Continue cooking, stirring frequently. It is VERY important to cook until all of the water is eliminated.

When finished cooking, place onto plate lined with a paper towel to drain any remaining water. Set aside.

Take the ketchup and balsamic vinegar and put into a pot.

Combine. Add spices.

Bring to a simmer and then turn off heat.

In a large bowl combine meat, half of balsamic mixture (reserving other half for later use) and vegetables.

Form into patties. I used a measuring cup (3/4 Cup Size) as a guide.

Place onto a baking rack (under the rack I have a tin foil lined baking sheet for easy clean up) and brush with remaining balsamic glaze.

Place into the oven at 400 degrees.

Cook for about 25-30 minutes.

Place on Bun  and if you wish top with grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

This recipe was submitted to Real Food Wednesday, check it out for other great recipes from real food bloggers!

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