Crock Pot Beef Shanks

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Beef Shanks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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3 or 4 beef shanks (about 2 ½ pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
1 small onion quartered
2 stalks celery, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, quartered
¾ cup of homemade meat sauce (use jar sauce if you have to)
¾ cup red wine
1 cup beef broth, homemade or canned
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
4 fresh oregano leaves, cleaned
4 fresh basil leaves, cleaned
Salt and pepper

Cavatelli pasta, cooked and drained

Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Step one – Rinse the beef shanks and pat dry with a paper towel.
On a pie plate, place flour and add salt and pepper, mix well.
In a large frying pan, add olive oil, heat on medium high. Dredge the beef shanks
in the flour, tapping off the excess. Place shanks in frying pan, browning quickly,
about 5 minutes on each side, searing the meat.
Transfer meat to a crock pot. Put crock pot on low.
2. Step two – Into the frying pan, add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. If needed add another tablespoon of olive oil on a medium flame. Stir vegetables while cooking for about 10 minutes and get tender. Add meat sauce and blend well for a few minutes. Continue cooking, add wine and using a wooden spoon scrape up and beef bits from the bottom of the pan. When everything is scrapped up and mixed well, transfer vegetables to crock pot.
3. Add beef broth, vinegar, basil and oregano, salt and pepper. Cook on low until meat and vegetables tender to the touch, 6 to 8 hours.
4. Serve hot over Cavatelli or other pasta. Option: Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese for garnish.
5. ENJOY- Slowly goes it, but quickly it’s gone!

©  This recipe courtesy of


One of the gifts I received at my wedding shower was a crock pot. It still works perfectly after all these years, and it is just the right size for me.  Crock pot cooking has made life easier to some degree for us working moms and dads.  You still need to take some time  for prepping vegetables, meat, etc. for a recipe you plan on cooking in the crock pot.  The fact that it is done in advance and cooks slowly for three to ten hours, depending on your crock pot, all together in one pot makes it a great accessory for the kitchen, and for cooks everywhere.

When entertaining the crock pot is great to keep food warm. Many a party, I used my crock pot to hold meatballs in sauce on the buffet table to keep them warm throughout the day.  The crock pot is a versatile tool for all cooks!  So, run don’t walk to get your CROCK POT today, if you don’t have one already.

Sharing is caring – What’s your favorite crock pot recipe?


DSC050011 16-ounce bag of Lentils

4 smoked ham hocks

8 to 10 cups Chicken stock

Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

Celery leaves, chopped

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1 15-ounce can of petite cut tomatoes

Basil, Oregano, Parsley

Salt and pepper


  1. In a flat dish, sort lentils a handful at a time. Remove anything that is hard or a different color. After sorting lentils, place them in a bowl and add water. Rinse and repeat. Set the drain lentils on the side for later. (Option – I soaked my lentils for an hour in water, then drained them.)
  2. In a deep pot, add olive oil to cover the bottom, about 2 tablespoons. On a medium flame, add chopped onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute until tender. Add salt and pepper along with basil, oregano and parsley. Cook a few more minutes.
  3. Add ham hocks and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook 1 hour, until ham hocks become tender.  Stir a few times.
  4. Add lentils and canned tomatoes, continue to cook for another hour.  Serve immediately with bread on the side if desired.  Serves – 8.  Option – garnish with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
  5. ENJOY –  Hearty and Healthy with Lentils a plenty.


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Lentil Soup was never a favorite of mine growing up.  Unfortunately for me, my mom loved it and made it all the time.  I have a vivid memory of me sitting with a bowl of lentil soup in front of me at the dinner table after everyone else had finished dinner and left the table.  My unfinished bowl of soup remained in front of me for a very long time, before I was allowed to leave the table.  

Years later, when I was teaching American cooking, the talk of lentil soup came up.  One of the lady’s husband’s had requested her to learn how to make lentil soup for him.  Mom gave me her recipe and I taught the cooking class how to make Lentil soup.  Recently, I asked my husband if he liked Lentil Soup and he said he did.  In honor of the New Year, I decided to make it for him.  Searching high and low through all my recipes, my mother’s lentil soup recipe was nowhere to be found.   I was saddened by the fact that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my mom for the recipe.  

My memory is pretty good and I knew the main ingredients, lentils, ham hocks, chicken broth and some vegetables.  For sure, I remembered sorting through the lentils first.  When I first did this many years ago, I would find a few tiny pebbles mixed in with the lentils.  Recently, sorting through the lentils I only came across a few, about 12, discolored lentils that I removed.  It is written right on the back of the bag of lentils – “Sort and clean lentils.”  With another statement boldly printed also – “Lentils are a natural agricultural product. Despite use of modern cleaning equipment, it is not always possible to remove all foreign material.  Sort and rinse lentils before cooking.”  Sorting the lentils for me seems very relaxing and in a way a little bit therapeutic. 

After writing up a rough draft of a lentil recipe, I called my sister-in-law, Susan, who is a great cook, for her opinion and advice.  She whole heartily agreed with me on my lentil soup recipe.  With Susan’s approval I felt confident and ready to cook lentil soup.

 Tom, my husband, enjoyed his 2016 New Year Lentil soup.  Lentils for the New Year symbolize money, prosperity and good luck.  All good things!  Another good thing, I ate two small bowls of Lentil soup, and really enjoyed it.   

I miss my mom every day.  Not finding her recipe made me realize how much I want to talk to her and how frustrated I get because I can’t.  Don’t take your mom for granted.  Give her a call, listen closely to her voice and most of all get her recipes, write them down and keep them in safe.  There is no sound more soothing and comforting as a mother’s voice. 

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Somebody Else’s Mom – Lorraine’s Chicken

lorraine chicken 2

Lorraine’s recipe –

Chicken cutlets
Mozzarella cut in slices
College Inn Chicken Broth
Flavored bread crumbs
Jar garlic

Bread cutlets and place a slice of mozzarella on cutlet and roll it.
In a pan saute tsp of garlic and 3/4 stick of butter. Add can of chicken broth and cook for 5 minutes.
Add mixture to pan of cutlets. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Uncover for
the last 10-15 minutes.

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My recipe of Lorraine’s recipe after I prepared it at home –


4 large boneless chicken breasts
8 to 12 ounces of mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
chicken broth, 14 ounce can or homemade
Italian bread crumbs
1 to 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic
4 to 8 tablespoons butter

1. Slice chicken breasts very thin, try to get 3 cutlets out of one large breast.
2. Dredge chicken cutlets in egg and then bread crumbs, set aside.
3. Slice mozzarella into even slices per chicken cutlets, (ex., if you have 13 cutlets, cut mozzarella
into 13 slices). Place one slice of mozzarella onto a breaded cutlet and roll. Place the cutlets
into a 9 x 13 pan to fit tightly.
5. Oven to 400 degrees.
6. In a medium frying pan, add 6 tablespoons butter. Add minced garlic to butter and sauté. When
garlic tender, add chicken broth and cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through.
7. Pour garlic chicken broth mixture over cutlets in pan.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook 15 minutes more.
9. Serve immediately, over pasta or on the side. Serves 8.
10. ENJOY – Chicken and cheese – please!

We met my husband’s cousin, Ricky, and his wife, Lorraine, way back in the day when Tom and I got married over 30 years ago.  Lorraine, Ricky, and their daughter, Melissa, lived together in a two family house in Rockland County with Lorraine’s parents. I always envied and admired their lifestyle; it was all about family. They lived side by side, sharing meals and laughter, all reminiscent of my own childhood in a two family house with my aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandmother. When Tom and I visited, we would join her mom’s dinner table, seated amongst several generations of family.

Fast forward to the present, and the family ties and traditions still hold fast. Lorraine and Ricky now live in a two family house with their daughters, Jennifer, and Amanda and her family. We recently celebrated their granddaughter, Savannah’s, first birthday party with them, and shared a meal and laughter with their extended family. The birthday party was in the backyard, and home cooked dishes were served, including this recipe from Lorraine. The envy and admiration of this close knit family living arrangement still tugs at my heartstrings. To have your children and grandchildren living in the same house together is a very special blessing.  Lorraine is a cook’s cook. Some of the best cooks I know don’t always have a recipe in front of them. They are artists! I believe that you can take liberties with anyone’s recipe and make it your own to suite you/your family’s specific tastes, all without insulting a good cook such as Lorraine.

When I prepared her chicken dish, I cut the butter amount to 4 tablespoons, instead of her suggestion of 6 tablespoons, but then I felt her chicken was juicer and mine could have been a bit more moist, but it was still delicious. In retrospect, I should have paid more attention to Lorraine’s recipe in the first place when it came to the butter, and I will the next time I prepare it. As far as the jarred garlic was concerned, I questioned using it rather than using fresh garlic. Lorraine said she only uses the jarred garlic for this recipe, and fresh garlic for everything else. Go figure…..but that was a good enough answer for me, and jarred garlic it is.

Looking forward to the next family gathering and some home cooking at Ricky and Lorraine’s…..BIG HINT if you are reading this, Lorraine)!

Chicken Skewers

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Chicken Skewer

  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken thighs, skin and bone removedDSC04687
Japanese Yakitori sauce
Bamboo skewers

1. Soak bamboo skewers in a pan of water. Rinse and set aside.
2. Cut chicken thighs into bite size pieces
3. Cut scallions into bite size pieces.
4. Skewer chicken bits and scallion bites alternating.
5. Pour Yakitori sauce over skewers.
6. Grill skewers on medium heat, turning a few times, serve immediately.
7. ENJOY – Is this really cooking?

©  This recipe courtesy of

My good friend and neighbor, Charlie, prepared this chicken appetizer for us one hot summer evening. I loved these chicken skewers. I couldn’t get enough of them. The next time Charlie and Laurie, my other good friend and neighbor, came to our house for dinner, I made these chicken skewers. Of course, Charlie’s tasted better. Why, you may ask? Because Charlie is the ultimate cook and will travel near and far for the best ingredient for any recipe he is preparing. Charlie went to a Japanese food store to purchase his Yakitori sauce, whereas I purchased mine at the local food store. There is a difference. The extra trip to the Japanese food store to buy an authentic Yakitori sauce was well worth the trip in taste. The morale to this story is you get what you yen for, a good Yakitori sauce!

Steak and Potato Pie

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Steak And Potato Pie

  • Difficulty: medium
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4 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 / 2 onion, chopped
1/ 4 to 1/ 2 cup flour
1 cup beef broth
1 cup half and half

2 9-inch deep dish piecrusts, room temperature
2 top pie crusts, room temperature

1 1/ 2 cups cooked steak, cubed
3 to 4 baked potatoes, cooled, peeled and cubed
Salt and pepper

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon half and half

1. Oven 450 degrees
2. In a medium pot, add butter or margarine and onions. Sauté onions until tender.
3. In the meantime, in a bowl, toss the steak and potato cubes. Add salt and pepper and toss again. Place the bottom pie crusts on a large cookie sheet. Fill both bottom pie crusts evenly with the steak and potato mixture. Set aside.
4. Going back to the pot of onions and butter, under a low / medium flame, with a wooden spoon, add flour and make a roué. Gradually add the beef broth to thicken the sauce. As it thickens, gradually add the half and half to the sauce. Continuously, keep stirring until you have a smooth white sauce.
5. Pour the white sauce into the piecrusts, over the steak and potato mixture.
6. Place the top pie crusts onto each pie. Pinch the sides and vent the top pie crusts with the point of a sharp knife with a few stabs all over.
7. Mix the egg yolk and half and half together. Brush the entire top of the two piecrusts, with the egg wash.
8. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 35-45 minutes longer.
9. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.
Optional – Put whatever add ins you want into your pie, example – steamed broccoli, green
pepper, or substitute the onion with scallion, etc. Make it your own.
10. ENJOY – Steak and Potato Pie, tastes good today, but tastes even better tomorrow!

©  This recipe courtesy of

Meat and potatoes men are what this pie is all about. The best thing about this recipe is that this is a meal made from leftovers. The plan: make extra steak and baked potatoes for dinner one night so that you’ll have enough leftover to prepare steak and potato pie the next night. While you’re at it, consider making even more so you can bake 2 pies, one for dinner and the other for the freezer!

My son and his roommate lived in a small 1 bedroom cottage on campus during his freshman year of college. I was told by college personnel not to purchase a meal plan because my son had a kitchen in his cottage. So, we brought our son to school with a large amount of food from the price club warehouse. While steak and shrimp were not part of this care package, we did bring tons of pasta, drink mixes, cereals, frozen meatballs and hamburgers, crackers and various junk foods of his choice. This sustained him for quite a while. Then he started to really miss my home cooking. For his birthday in November, I told him I would make food for him to take back after Thanksgiving. Anything he wanted, he could have, and he was craving steak and potato pie. My son, Tom, loved meat and potatoes. These were some his favorite foods, so I made 3 pies for him. He ate one at home before he even went back to school! I told him to share the remaining 2 pies with his friends, but I can’t swear that they got any of the bounty. Every time Tom came home after that, I had to make steak and potato pies just for him.

When Tom was back home after graduation, his appetite was as hardy as ever, and my food bill was bigger than ever. One time I took out a pie from the freezer and left instructions to put it in the oven before I came home from work. Tom and the rest of the family were really looking forward to that steak and potato pie for dinner that night. I walked in the door from work, starving. The kitchen smelled delicious, but it wasn’t steak and potato pie, it was apple pie instead! Talk about disappointment. I had never labeled the pie and just assumed it was steak and potato pie when I defrosted it. Luckily, I was forgiven, because my apple pie was equally delicious!

When life gives you apple pie, instead of steak and potato, serve it warm with vanilla ice cream!


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Sausage and Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sausage & Peppers2 lbs sausages (sweet, hot and/or chicken)
1 large onion, sliced
1 pepper, sliced
olive oil

1. Oven 350 degrees.
2. In a 9 x 13 pan, drizzle olive oil on bottom of pan, sparingly. Add sliced onions and peppers. Lastly, arrange sausages on top of peppers and onions. Cover pan and bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove cover from pan and with a fork, poke the sausage to allow the steam to come out. Continue baking in oven for another 20 minutes with the cover off.
4. Check on the sausages, they should be starting to brown. Turn sausages over to brown the other side. If the pan seems dry, (no juices) add a couple of tablespoons of water. Continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until the topside of sausages are browned.
5. Optional – Serve on semolina Italian bread with melted provolone or mozzarella cheese if you like. Otherwise serve over pasta. Serves 4 to 6.
ENJOY – It’s a sandwich or it’s a meal, either way what a deal!

 ©  This recipe courtesy of 

Oh boy, what a summer I had! Talk about bad timing, the first day of my vacation I slipped and fractured my ankle. The next three weeks were spent on my couch staying off my foot. I wasn’t able to climb stairs or drive a car for at least 5 weeks since my foot was encased in an awkward cast that was starting to grate on my last nerve. Cooking became a bit of a challenge as I couldn’t stand on my foot too long. Preparing dishes that were easy to prep while sitting at the kitchen table was fine, and cutting, slicing, and dicing veggies and salads was also manageable. But let’s face it dear readers, sometimes cooking is work even in the best of times! However, this sausage and peppers recipe isn’t.

Many years ago, my mom told me to fry the sausages on the stove in a large frying pan, which I did in my early years of marriage. But, I like to change things up a little and not take too many unnecessary steps while cooking. Preparing many dishes at once is a welcomed challenge, so I try to take shortcuts that will give me more time to make several dishes simultaneously. So, I improvised by baking the sausage and peppers in the oven. They are just as delicious as if prepared on the stove. Sometimes, I add potatoes and bigger chunks of peppers to create a heartier meal. Either way, oven cooking is often better time wise and taste wise than stove top cooking for some recipes. One example is bacon. I bake it in the oven on a rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet. The bacon is crispier and less greasy. I also bake “fried” eggplant and meatballs in the oven on lightly olive oiled cookie sheets. I turn often so the eggplant is browned evenly on both sides. It’s delicious, doesn’t have to be monitored so closely, and the stovetop stays a whole lot cleaner!

Baking is better, and no one can seem to tell the difference anyway. So, let’s keep this between us!


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Steak Pizzaiola

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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DSC040802 pounds bone-in chuck steak
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tomatoes, chopped
1 14 ounce can petite cut tomatoes, drained
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/ 2 cup white wine

1. Oven 350 degrees.
2. In a 9 x 13 oven baking dish, sauté garlic in olive oil. Cook garlic on the stove till slightly tender. Add chuck steak to dish and brown / sear both sides of meat.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add chopped tomatoes, can tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano. Toss together. Add white wine and mix well. Add mixture to the top of the steak.
4. Cover dish and place in oven.
5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove dish and serve immediately over pasta or polenta.
6. Options – Add chopped olives and capers to the tomatoes mixture after taking out of the oven and before serving.
ENJOY – Steak Pizzaiola or Steak Pizzazz!….

 ©  This recipe courtesy of 

Talk on the street had it that Steak Pizzaiola could be a memorable dish. Sure, I’d heard about it, but I never took up the challenge until I consulted my hairdresser, Paul De Carlo, the owner of De Carlo’s Salon in Bardonia up in Rockland County.

He’s been doing my hair forever, and just a few months ago I was in the chair and we got into our favorite subject – cooking. I asked him if he ever made Steak Pizzaiola and, if so, would he give me the recipe. He said he got the recipe from his aunt who advised him to use only oregano and a chuck steak with the bone in. Angela, who also works at the salon and whom I have known just as long as Paul, is another good cook and wanted to give me her tips as well. So, she shared her recipe which called for olives and capers. Between Paul and Angela, I noted the essential and varied ingredients for Steak Pizzaiola on a piece of paper. Immediately upon leaving the salon, I went to the market and purchased the ingredients I needed. One change I made from Paul’s original recipe was the amount of tomatoes. I doubled the amount using a combination of canned and fresh. As a side dish, I prepared polenta and thought it would be good to have extra tomatoes to use as a topping. The steak pizzaiola turned out to be tender and delicious.

A few weeks later I went to Buffalo to visit my daughter and son-in-law, Marisa and Jeff, two promising cooks! I told Jeff about Steak Pizzaiola and promised to make it for him while I was visiting. Jeff and I went food shopping together and could not find a chuck steak with the bone in. Jeff went to one or two more supermarkets and still no luck. Sadly, Jeff never did enjoy my Steak Pizzaiola. When Jeff and Marisa came to see us shortly thereafter, I made it my mission to make him the Steak Pizzaiola. Would you believe the weekend came and went and still no Steak Pizzaiola?? We were very busy all weekend and there was no time to prepare it!

Jeff, I still owe you that Steak Pizzaiola dinner. So, when will you be coming again?