Braised Lamb Shanks with Cranberries

After giving you, pork recipe today I want to share with you my personal favorite lamb recipe.

Lamb Shanks


  • 3 lbs Lamb Shanks
  • 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
  • 10 Whole Cloves
  • 2 pods Cardamom
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2? knob of ginger grated
  • 2 Onions, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Sugar
  • 12 ounces Stout Beer (like Guinness)
  • 1 cup Beef Stock
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 12 ounces fresh Cranberries


  1. Generously salt and pepper the lamb shanks.
  2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid on medium-high heat until very hot and add the oil.
  3. Sear the shanks until golden brown on all sides and transfer to a plate.
  4. Add the cumin, cloves, and cardamom and swirl in the oil until you start to hear them pop.
  5. Add the garlic, ginger, onions, sugar, and sauté until soft and very fragrant.
  6. Add the beer to deglaze and let reduce by half.
  7. Add beef stock and cranberries, stir together, then nestle the lamb shanks into the cranberries and onions.
  8. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and let braise for 3 hours in a 300-degree oven.
This entry was posted in Recipes.

CHRISTMAS DINNER – Mexican Chocolate Tart

For the second year in a row, I was the only one of my siblings to make it home for Christmas.  If you liked our Tomato Basil Recipe. While the holidays aren’t quite as exciting when you’re the only one home, it certainly has its advantages. For one, I get way more presents than either of my brothers. And isn’t that what Christmas is about? Just kidding, Bobby and Kyle. I’m sure mom and dad gave you just as many presents as they gave me. You guys got ponies, too, right? If not you should be happy to know that they at least hung up your stockings this year unlike the last when mine was the only one dangling from the mantle.

Mexican Chocolate Tart

Since there were only three of us around to eat Christmas dinner, we kept it pretty simple. I brought my pasta-making discs home, and my mom and I made an Italian dinner from scratch. Noodles, tomato sauce, meatballs, and a caprese-like salad were on the menu, followed by a chocolate tart and a mincemeat pie for dessert. Yes, you read that correctly. Three people and two desserts. That’s just how we roll. If it were up to my dad it would have been three desserts and no main course. That’s just how he rolls. And due to his running regimen, he has no rolls.

When I was in Matt’s hometown last week I picked up a deeply discounted copy of the Silver Spoon Pasta cookbook at their soon to be no longer B. Dalton, satisfying my several month long desire to add that book to my collection. I set out to make meatballs and sauce from recipes in the book, and I ended up tweaking and adding on to both dishes. For the meatballs, I combined about 1/2 lb. ground beef and about 1/2 lb. ground pork with an egg, a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, maybe 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.

The fresh parsley was key to the tastiness of the meatballs. The original recipe called for a single sprig of parsley, but I used several. It helped to brighten the flavor of the little balls of meat.
The meatballs were first browned in a little oil over medium-high heat, and then the lid went on and they were transferred to a 350 oven for maybe 20-30 minutes until they were cooked through.
My mom’s 30+-year-old KitchenAid may be on its last leg, but it still managed to crank out all of these pretty noodles.
The sauce was diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and salt. It was OK (and much better than it looks in this photo), but it could have been better.

My mom and I wanted to add olives to the pasta sauce, but since we knew my dad wouldn’t be thrilled we resorted to sprinkling them on top as a garnish. It was slightly weird, in part because they were cold and raw and in part because they were of the green, pimento-stuffed variety. Next time I’ll plan ahead and buy different olives and cook them with the sauce.
The salad was grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, chopped artichoke hearts, fresh basil, vinegar, and oil.
I’ve been going through this awful phase lately where I haven’t been very impressed with desserts, but this Mexican Chocolate Tart has completely changed my outlook on decadent, chocolate things.

The tart was incredibly easy to make, it looks elegant, it tastes delicious, and it goes perfectly with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
I was going to post a picture of the mincemeat pie, but the amount of time it takes to upload a picture with this slow internet coupled with the fact that I don’t like mincemeat held me back. Maybe next year.

This entry was posted in Recipes.


I used to think that chefs ate like kings every day. I mean they have all this culinary talent in a kitchen loaded with amazing equipment and a pimped out pantry.

Truth is, we seriously suck at feeding ourselves. By the time I’ve spent a 12 hour day making other people food, the last thing I want to do is make one more stinking thing. And after you’ve made the same exact dish, plated the same exact way like a thousand bazillion times, it kind of loses its charm.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that eating Golden Grahams straight out of the box does not qualify as dinner and that caffeine is not a food group. Not on any planet.

As a working single mother of three, time is a precious commodity. Like so rare I cry tears of joy when I can sleep in past 7 am now. Quick and easy is my middle name.

Anytime I can get at least three food groups on a plate in under 10 minutes, I consider it a major victory!

This Blueberry Spinach Salad is just that – you throw all the salad ingredients into a bowl and toss and all the ingredients for the vinaigrette into the blender and done. Easy as pie.


For the Salad
  • 10-12 oz. baby spinach
  • 1/2 c. strawberries, quartered
  • 1/2 c. blueberries
  • 1/4 c. toasted pecans
  • 1/3 c. goat cheese, crumbled
For the Blueberry Vinaigrette
For the Salad:

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Serve with Blueberry Vinaigrette.

For the Blueberry Vinaigrette:

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree till nice and smooth. Shake well before serving. Will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

If you have any doubts regarding the recipe, you can contact us here.

This entry was posted in Recipes.


You know what makes Mondays better? Holidays.

Since every Monday can’t be a holiday, thank God for macaroni and cheese!

See? Doesn’t this look like it would make Monday better?

This is a great mac’n cheese for someone who has never made homemade before because there’s no béchamel sauce – you simply whisk the wet ingredients together and pour them over the top of the cooked noodles, sprinkle it with the bread crumb topping and pop it in the oven, Easy peasy.

And the best part is that is tastes like heaven! Creamy, cheesy heaven. You can thank me later!

Mascarpone Macaroni and Cheese
Yields: 4 servings

  • 8 oz. elbow noodles, cooked al dente according to package directions
  • 4 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ¾ c. half and half cream
  • ¼ grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper

    Bread Crumb Topping:
  • 1 c. fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together Mascarpone cheese, sour cream, half and half, Parmesan cheese, sage, salt and pepper till nice and smooth. Add prepared noodles and toss gently to coat. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, sage, garlic, butter, and a pinch of salt and toss until the bread crumbs are evenly coated with the melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the noodle and cheese mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes until it’s heated through and the bread crumb mixture is a light, golden brown and crispy.

This entry was posted in Recipes.


I’ve really missed blogging.

I’ve missed having a place to whine and reflect. I’ve missed the creative outlet. I’ve missed playing around with my camera and trying to master taking photographs of ice cream before it melts.

Most of all I have missed my fellow bloggers. I am truly amazed and humbled by how kind and supportive so many of you have been through this crazy upheaval in my life. Humbled and incredibly grateful!

So thank you, for your emails, your tweets, your messages on Facebook, your comments, and for being here with me as I grow a little, fail a little, and learn loads along the way.

And speaking of learning experiences, have you ever tried to photograph a bowl of soup? Seriously, how hard can it be? It’s not like it moves or anything.

I took 193 pictures of this bowl of soup. I kid you not.

It’s a darn good thing that it’s really good soup because I was seriously considering hurling the bowl off my balcony…

What did I learn?

First of all, set up your shot, bowl and all and then ladle the soup into the bowl. Otherwise when you carry it, it will leave unsightly little rings around your bowl. SO NOT COOL!

Second, wait for it to cool down before trying to photograph it. The steamy lens look is also not cool


  • 2 lbs. good and flavorful tomatoes, cut into chunks and seeded
  • 1/4 c. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 28 oz. can San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place heirloom tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven 35-45 minutes until nice and tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, saute onion and red pepper flakes in remaining 2 tbs. olive oil. When soft and translucent, add garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add San Marzano tomatoes, juice and all to the sauteed onion and garlic. Add chicken stock, basil, thyme, and oregano. Top off with the roasted tomatoes, including the juices that dripped from the pan.
  5. Simmer over low heat 30-35 minutes to allow the flavors to really blend well together. Either pass the soup through a food mill or use an immersion blender to achieve the desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


This entry was posted in Recipes.


Judging by my fair skin and blue eyes, you can probably see I’m not even remotely Italian. I’m Swedish with a little stiff-ass Brit thrown in for good measure – which, between you and me, explains a few things…

I don’t remember ever eating Parmesan cheese growing up that didn’t come from a green can, and I hated didn’t really like it. It was weird and, like the whipped cream at Starbucks that won’t melt, highly unnatural.

That being said, I have always loved Fettuccini Alfredo.

Shortly after I got married, I decided that my ability to bake anything that involved sugar, butter, chocolate, and/or copious amounts of cream was not enough to sustain me through my adult life. I wanted to learn to “cook.” You know, stuff that didn’t have chocolate in it…Crazy, I know!

Alfredo was one of the first recipes I attempted. Let’s just say it was um…gross. That’s the word I’m looking for. Like I said, that stuff from the green can doesn’t melt. Like at all… I had this bowl of pasta floating in cream with little flakes of white stuff that looked like dandruff floating in it. Ugh.

Needless to say, we went out to dinner that night!

Years later, once I had developed an appreciation for REAL Parmesan cheese, that does in fact melt, I decided to try it again.

I still love Alfredo, but it fills me with this insane guilt every time I eat it. I’m seriously convinced that my butt actually grows while eating it. Then I start weighing how many stomach crunches and miles of bike riding I’d need to do to work it off, decide it’s not worth it, and eat something else entirely. (Usually ending with chocolate – not sure how I manage to logic that one out!)

By now I was on a mission to find an Alfredo that tasted like Alfredo without that dense heaviness. Somehow throwing in some spring vegetables eases some of the guilt as well. My husband calls it girl math – the veggies cancel out the fat from the cream. Whatever. It totally works for me.

Be warned, when finished it will appear thin, still very much like cream, and not AT ALL like that crapola that comes out of a jar. (Not being a snob, because I do admit to eating that on occasion when I’m lazy.) TRUST ME. Pour it over your pasta and taste it! It has all of the flavor, without that heaviness. And you can always sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top if you’re feeling wild like that…

Light Spring Vegetable Fettuccini Alfredo
Serves: 4

  • 8 oz. fettuccini, cooked al dente
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 6 tbs. butter
  • ½ c. grated parmesan (NOT FROM A GREEN CAN)
  • 8 oz. assorted steamed spring vegetables

Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions, and steam vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan or sauté pan, bring half and half and butter to a simmer over medium-low heat. Make sure you don’t boil it.

Drain pasta and vegetables and place in a large bowl. Add parmesan to cream mixture and stir. Pour Alfredo sauce over pasta and vegetables and toss gently to coat.

This entry was posted in Recipes.