Leap Year + Denim Blues

It's leap year, and not only is it a leap year, but today is THE leap day. A whole extra day. The whole thing kind of blows my mind, I guess. Like, why only every four years? That is sort of silly. And who decided that, anyway? I am sure I could find the answers to these questions if the need really burned inside of me, but it doesn't.

But, in honor of leap year, and the extra day and all, I thought I would take some time to talk to you all about something I do about every four years: buy new blue jeans! Since it was a leap year, and it had been nearly four years since I had a new pair of jeans (hand me downs don't count!), I was long overdue for some brand-spanking-new pants.

Actually,  I should divulge that I was having sort of a jean crisis. For those of you who aren't quite there yet, or who want to commiserate, allow me to elaborate. In your mid to late 20's, the jean crisis is due, in part, to the junior's section dilemma. When you get to a certain age you suddenly realize you have a woman's body that totally crept up on you. Not that it's a bad thing, you just hadn't noticed before, but now you notice and you realize how utterly mismatched you and your jeans have become. Why? It's in the sizing.

Men get to have their jeans explained to them in inches, which is awesome for them. But women, well, we get a much more ambiguous and complicated system that consists of set "sizes." These sizes are completely fabricated by god knows who, and are brand specific--it seems that no two brands have the same sizing system making finding pants endlessly frustrating for women everywhere.

For "juniors" (which is people aged about 12-20 from what I gather, or those who have't noticed their woman bodies yet), the sizing goes in odd numbers: 1,3, 5, and so on. For "women" the sizing goes in even numbers, 2,4,6, etc. Why the number games? Great question, but we are not going to spend any time on today. The point is I had jeans that were a size "5"--meaning I had junior's jeans. Not only that, but they were stretch denim, which I was totally sick of. They were making me feel fat, like, every day. The cut just wasn't right anymore.

I wanted JEANS--buttery, all denim jeans--and I didn't want to play the numbers game or tire myself out trying on millions of pairs wondering why I was a size 8 in one brand, a 6 in another, and then a 10 in yet another. Geez. Isn't there anyone who can simplify this for me?

In my denim-induced angst, I recalled something from the days when I worked retail--Lucky Brand Jeans. I had a pair when I was nearly at my thinnest, and they were a size 28. 28 INCHES. Not a 5, or an 8, but a lovely inched out number: 28. And then I realized we have a Lucky outlet. YES! I took myself down to the outlet with high hopes, and what do you know? They were met, possibly exceeded.

In a record 40 minutes, I had THREE pairs of pants that fit me perfectly and were amazingly amazing. The employees in the store were so helpful and attentive, which in today's world of bad customer service, really impressed me! And the jeans were on sale, and even still, weren't that expensive. One of the best parts? I am only 1 inch over my size 10 years ago--a size 29! I don't know how to amply explain how utterly awesome it is to have jeans that are flattering, fit well, and don't have an ugly size number on them. It makes my heart sing, and it puts a swag in my step that makes me white hot.

Ladies, we all deserve to feel fabulous in our jeans. Of course, money can't literally buy you happiness, but it CAN buy you Lucky Brand Jeans, and those jeans will make you feel like a million bucks, and if a million bucks isn't happy, then we're all screwed. So this leap year, why not treat yourself? You got a whole extra day to do it, so you betta get to it...or you might find yourself waiting another four years!

Happy LEAP year! 

More Evidence of Baking Successes

So I have been trying my little heart out at this baking thing. It's funny because I am not so much of a sweet tooth gal, I like pickles a lot more than cupcakes. Even so, I feel like I want to be a well-rounded culinary wizard, and so baking is on the list of things to learn.

And while we are on the subject, I have to say, that I loathe the thought of boxed desserts. Sure, I've made them--haven't we all? But that is SO not the point. The point is that if you want to eat cake, there is nothing wrong with that. However,  if you are going to do it, do it right--from cake flour, of course, not a box. I hate when I am cruising recipes that actually include a box of cake. Are you serious?! I could go on, but I won't.

Baking is so much more science than intuition, which is kind of where I start going haywire. I have some hang ups... like, for instance, I hate measuring things. That and I sort of don't really like following recipes, which is why I so often end up coming up with my own! Those items are essential in baking though. Not enough of this or too much of that can result in baking disaster. So I'm trying to follow the baking rules, and I am meeting with some success.

Here is the evidence:

I wanted to make brownies--REAL brownies. NOT FROM A BOX! 

I found this recipe, which promised be the best fudge brownies ever. 

With two sticks of butter, I thought I might be onto something. Fat content? CHECK! 

Added the sugar.... 

Oh my lordie! This was already starting to look dangerous! 

But when I added the chocolate, it started looking LETHAL! 

Add into that an entire bag of chocolate chips, and I was sure this recipe was going to deliver! 

Remember how I claimed I didn't have a sweet tooth? Well, these might have changed my mind. They. Were. So. Good. 

They were actually so irresistible that someone at my dinner party decided to prematurely take one--true story-- and I never quite figured out who it was. Hmph. Oh well. At least they were loved by all. 

Baking success.... 

BIW Versus Scary Cooking Words

Did someone say donut?! 
Is it just me or are people increasingly scared of language these days? It's crazy! People hear words like "carbohydrate" or "heavy cream" and they are running for the nearest gym. Everyone is much more comfortable with "light" and "diet" and I can't say I'm lost on why. For gosh sakes it's a battleground out there--all these fatty foods waiting to come down and clench you in their grasp.

Bossy Italian Wife says "everything in moderation." And I mean EVERYTHING! I want to taste something of all of it--from the slimmest whim to the fattiest of fat. I don't want to miss out any food that might actually taste good... the taste good part being the emphasis. I work out... we should ALL work out, but that doesn't mean we should spend our time worrying about things like being a few pounds over weight. That gives us character.

Not worrying to much allows us to eat things that are so scrumptious and yummy that all we are focusing on is the thing itself and not our ritualistic caloric war.

There is propaganda going on here, and I don't like it! That is why I chose scary cooking words as my versus, obviously. Because people are being unnerved with the thought of eating actual butter, or cream based items. People think pasta causes thunder thighs and that dessert will make you unattractive. This pains me because it means that citizens of planet earth across the globe are missing out on culinary experiences that might open them to a new level of existence.

In bed you have the orgasm, but in the kitchen, you have the foodgasm. When something is so good--sooo tasty--that your toes curl a little and make an "o" face. You know it. You are probably thinking about the last time you had a food so delicious that you made a noise that sounded remotely sexual. And now you are thinking about an actual orgasm, and when you think about it that way you are wondering, "why would I ever deny myself that sort of experience?" I know... it feels so good.

So why ARE you denying yourself the pleasure? Is it because you are afraid of turning into a food-crazed maniac who can't control themselves?! We all have this impulse, I assure you of that, and it's about controlling the beast. But denying yourself this pleasure completely makes you something altogether stranger. Or a model, and if you are getting paid to be crazy, well, we call that "work."

But for those of us who are not models and who are realistically talking about being a few pounds over weight, well, then to that I have to say: SCREW IT! Eat for gosh's sakes! Your culinary life is calling you out there. Don't buy into the capitalistic craze that is the diet INDUSTRY. Trust your gut--your gut LOVES good food. In moderation, things like real butter, lasagna, and mashed potatoes with heavy cream in them are wonderful for your soul because it feeds you an experience.

Can I also say that curvy women are sexy. Flaunt it if ya got it! Holla! 

Quick Fix: Avocado & Egg Delight

Recently I feel a little egg obsessed, but I just can't help myself. I love eggs, plain and simple. Another thing I love? Avocados. They are creamy and yummy and the perfect food that doesn't make you feel like you've imploded on yourself with a ton of calories.

The other day, I was making lunch for myself and I had a stroke of brilliance: what if you put a sunny side up egg on an avocado? What happened was nothing short of a lunch time miracle! It was a yum-tastic way to start an afternoon, but could easily go as breakfast too. The best part? It's super easy to do, and you can do it too!

Here. We. Go.

I have this tiny cast iron skillet that comes in handy in moments like these. Isn't it cute? I love tiny stuff!

If you don't have an obsession with little things, that is okay, you can also use a standard skillet to achieve a cooked egg. For that matter, you could probably just cook it in the microwave. But I like to make sure that I have a nice, runny yolk. I live for runny yolks--they light up my life.  

Get your avocado ready by slicing it in half, removing the skin, and spooning a bit more a hole in the center. Don't be fooled, your egg won't necessarily fit into that hole, but in the end, there will be a payoff. Trust Bossy Italian Wife.... 

Look at that egg cooking! No need to flip it, just let it cook until the whites are all done! That's the "sunny side up" part. Now, were my husband making this egg, he would flip it. If I were to flip this blog post would not be possible because it would have turned out terribly and with me crying over a broken yolk. 

Then place it on your avocado, like so. 

Serving suggestion: you can serve it with some steamed broccoli and cauliflower topped with a little grated cheddar. Mmmmmm. 

Okay, now for the magic part. You ready?! 

When you slice through the egg and avocado: MAGIC! This was the yummiest thing ever. I can't get it out of my head! Remember when I mentioned that the bigger hole in the middle will have a pay off? This is it--yolk catcher!!! 

I know that you must be drooling at your computer by now, so let's get to the recipe! 

Time: 10 minutes | Serves 1 | Difficulty Level: Easy-peesy 

You will need:

A pat of butter
1 egg 
1/2 avocado, skin removed 


Place your avocado on a plate, and spoon out a little of the center to make a bigger opening. Make sure that you eat what you spooned out otherwise gnomes will come and poke your toes in your sleep. 

Over medium high heat, heat your skillet and melt the butter. Add your egg to the skillet and cook until the whites are done, leaving the yolk nice and runny! 

Place the egg over the avocado. Slice down the center, watch the yolks be heavenly, and try not to eat it all in one bite! 

Bossy Italian Book Review: Un Amico Italiano: Eat, Pray, Love in Rome

You all might recall a little book called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert that made a huge splash in the literary world a few years ago. And those of you who do might also remember a very lively character from the book and movie named Luca Spaghetti who led Liz all around Rome and became one of her closest friends. Welp, this book is his book!

I saw this book several months ago in a book store and I put it on the back burner of my mind for a while. When I saw it for sale on Kindle, well, I had to jump at it because at this point in my life, I can't get enough "Italian" anything!

The title means An Italian Friend, and is very fitting. From the beginning of the book, Spaghetti has a great sense of humor and a distinct voice, which are important to me. In my head he even had an accent, go figure, but the whole way through I just heard this male voice with an Italian accent. I liked it. And I also really enjoyed this book.

Besides just having the last name Spaghetti, this guy has quite an appetite for it as well. He describes pasta in all it's delicious glory, which is why I am quite sure at this point that if he met me, we would be desperately attached to one another solely on the basis of pasta. I love the way that he describes some of his favorite pastas, and how he even describes what happens when you eat those long, tubular pastas that shoot sauce everywhere.

Aside from his appetite for food, this guy has an appetite for life, and it jumps off the page. He loves America, American classic rock, travel, soccer, and he loves his city of Rome. The way that this man talks about his city of Rome is as though he is talking about a woman, and it reveals something I have always suspected: the romance embodied in the Italian man. It also speaks to the level of beauty that is Rome. Rome is, in fact, breathtaking. And I loved that he appreciates that beauty on a daily basis--it gives me hope for the world.

There is one thing about this book that really astounded me. I mentioned that Spaghetti is a soccer fan, but maybe that doesn't quite describe it: he's a fanatic about it, really. I surprised even myself by reading two or three whole chapters about soccer without being completely bored. SURPRISE! Anyone who knows me knows that I have about zero appetite for sports, but by some miracle, I kept on reading. I was glad I did.

I also really enjoyed hearing him talk about his impressions of America and his travels here. It was his dream to come to America, and I just loved that. I loved how special it was to him to drive through our country and listen to our classics, and love it so very much. It's like how I want to rent a Fiat and drive down the boot of Italy listening to Italian classics--brava!

If you love books about Italy, Italians, or just loved Eat, Pray, Love and might be curious about "the" Luca Spaghetti, this is a great, light read with a distinct voice. It was really enjoyable.

Life Changing Meatball Recipe

A good meatball recipe is like solid gold. For years, I was under the impression that there was only one way to make a good meatball... little did I know that I would find a new way to make meatballs and with this new way, a whole new world of meatball would stretch out before me. It's true, these meatballs changed my life.

Many Italian-Americans will tell you time and again (and they will swear on things like Jesus over this subject, just for severity and effect) that you must either fry your meatball or bake it before you put in the sauce. I am here to dispel this meatball making myth. I know it's shocking, but it's true--you don't have to fry or bake your balls before you drop 'em in the sauce. There... I said it. 

Now that you have taken a moment to absorb that news, take a deep breath. Did you take one? Okay good. Then you are ready to learn of this "new way." Be prepared, it will change your fried little meatball heart, but only in the best ways. 

Let's talk meat because this is an important part of the meatball experience. For the most authentically authentic meatball you should probably use ground veal, pork, and beef in nearly equal parts. If you are trying to save money, then you are probably just using beef, and if you are REALLY earthy, cool, and pinching pennies (all at once) then you are ME, and you are using only venison. The point in all this? Just get some ground meat and don't worry so much about fitting into some "authenticity" box. Do what you can, no one will judge you. 

To your meat you are going to add some spices, freshly pressed garlic, bread crumbs, and egg. 

Oooooooo.... pretty, right?! So you're all set to get down and dirty in the meatballs. And there is only one way that you accomplish the proper mix. 

Can you guess what it is? 

YOUR HANDS! This is a must. If you can't mix the ingredients with your hands then you should either find someone to do it for you, or cry because you will never know the satisfaction of the perfectly mixed meatball. The choice is yours. 

I probably should have done in this a metal bowl for a better, more clear picture... but I digress. Look at that perfectly hand-mixed hunk of meatball meat! 

I like my meatballs to be shaped into golf ball sized balls. This way I can eat a little more of them, and they aren't too big. 

Once you have them all done you can give them about 15 minutes to rest at room temperature and then you are going to throw them into a big old pot of "the" marinara sauce to cook. 

OMG! Doesn't that look like heaven on a spoon?! 

I want to note several things here: 
a) no little burnt spots on the meatball from frying and/or baking--awesome! 
b) I feel like I can see the time, love and tenderness in that meatball 
c) I think my photography skills are really improving! Hehe. 

Serving suggestion: Meatball sliders 
Topped with a little mozzarella and placed on a homemade roll, these meatballs knock it OUT OF THE PARK as sliders. If you have never had a meatball slider, you just haven't lived. 

Time: 1 1/2 hours | Makes 12-13 meatballs, Serves 4 | Difficulty: Medium 

You Will Need:

1/2 pound ground meat 
1 egg 
1 teaspoon dried basil 
2 cloves garlic, minced
palmful of salt 
3 dashes cayenne pepper 
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs 


Place your ingredients in a bowl and with your hands (no cheating!) mix the ingredients until well blended. 

When blended, form the meat mixture into golf ball sized balls and place them in a dish to rest about 15 minutes. You should get about 12, or a baker's dozen (13). 

Heat the marinara sauce on the stove. Add the meatballs (gently) into the sauce and bring it up to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer the sauce and meatballs for about 45 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through, stirring gently a few times around the outside of the pot (so not to break up the meatballs). 

Serve over pasta, as meatball sliders, or meatball subs with people you love! The result should be the most tender meatballs you have ever enjoyed! 


Stuff I Use: Amish Products

Just because I am Italian-American doesn't mean I don't have a healthy love of all other cultures. One such culture I just love is the Amish culture. Those people are totally hardcore--they don't have electricity, they roll around with horses and buggies, and they can a ton of food. If it's one thing the Amish people have in the bag, it's their food, which is why I am always delighted and filled with joy when my husband brings me home Amish products.

My husband goes to auctions to find his Function*Art pieces (yes, did you know that Bossy Italian Wife is married to an ar-tist?), and there amongst the hustle and bustle, the Amish families sell their goods. We also have an Amish run place in Laurel, Delaware, which has a ton of good products. In today's world of processed, genetically modified, and blah blah bad for you stuff, it's refreshing to get products that are totally handcrafted--my kind of food!

There are lots and lots of amazing things you can buy at the Amish markets, and these are just three... maybe I will update you with more luscious products, but for now, let's start with the basics: fat, carbs, and meat--my favorite!
Roll Butter 

Roll butter. OMG. This butter is the butter to end all butters. I don't know if Julia Child ever tasted this butter, but if she did, she would totally be having a foodgasm over it. This butter has a taste so fresh it defies the imagination. One time, I saw my husband put butter on a cracker and I thought he might have lost his mind.... and then I too put this butter on a cracker. 

The thing about this butter is that it is so rich and yummy that it actually tastes like it just might be in the cheese family. If you are gonna roll on the butter issue, go for roll butter. You will only be sorry because you are so very addicted to it. 

Egg Noodles 

Who doesn't love egg noodles? No one. But these egg noodles are a far cry from those store bought No Yolks--no offense, No Yolks, but it was never a contest. I make my own homemade noodles, so I know a good noodle when I meet it, and these are just great. I especially love the consistency of them and the wideness. Perfect in soups, with sauces, or with meats, these homemade egg noodles really get me going. 

Well, we all know I have pasta issues. So just consider this another notch in my noodle belt of addiction! 

Ham Hocks 

Oooooh yes! The ham hock. This little beauty can be quite intimidating if you don't know what to do with it, but it's like solid gold if you do! It's easy to overlook a ham hock, I'll admit that, but you need to get on the hammy train on this one, trust me. Nothing makes a stock and soup like a ham hock. 

And I feel we need to take a minute here to discuss what separates Amish meats from other meats in the world. Imagine a piggy--he's happy, loved, appreciated, and he east lots of food with his piggy friends. This pig has a really happy life, and he isn't fed a bunch of pellets. No, this little piggy gets leftovers from the home of Millie and Ezekiel, and has a view of a pasture. When his life ends and he becomes this ham hock, it isn't all traumatic and calloused. It's more like nature. Doesn't that sound awesome?! 

I think that is why this meat tastes better.... it's not laced with fear. 

Now that you have that great picture of this little piggy in your head, click here for an awesome ham hock soup recipe and then scoot your little tail down to your Amish market and buy a ham hock! While you are there, pat yourself on the back because you are supporting a family and not some corporation. 

Ready? GO! 

Let's Talk Boobs

I recall that my breasts were the topic of conversation only once in my life: middle school. It was ironic and sort of a cruel joke when I look back on it, but it’s true. I was practically the first person in my grade to sprout a trendy little pair of knockers, and you know what that lead to? Ridicule.

Boys.... they were so appealing and yet so scathing at the same time. I was sucker. They reeled me in with the, “hey, Billie, we want to talk to you about something,” and then they would hit me with, “Did you stuff your bra?!” At first I was mortified. So mortified I couldn’t even answer them whether or not I stuffed my bra.

By the time I mustered the courage to answer back, my comeback was just strange, “No! I am not even wearing a bra!” (I was 11, okay?) Most embarrassingly, Mrs. Trithall, our sixth grade math teacher had overheard me. That was probably the same time group work went from unisex to divided into boys and girls groups--sorry classmates.

Alas, by the time we got to the eighth grade, many of peers had surpassed me in the breast department. True story: the question I asked my high school boyfriend most frequently was, “Do my boobs look bigger to you?” He always said they looked the same, and he always told me they looked good. He was not lying.

The fact of the matter is, I do have a nice rack, even if it is a little small. Looking around now I would say I am pretty on par with most of my friends, leave go a few with nice, big ones. I began thinking about what made me always think that having these enormo boobs was a sign of a womanhood... because, let’s be honest, as little girls we all thought that one day we would wake up, have giant breasts and this would inevitably mean only one thing: we were women.

I think that it’s the same phenomenon that makes us think our homes are so large when we are little. We suddenly realize when we get all grown up that our homes were never that gigantic size we thought when were small, we were just the small ones. Boobs, for me, were kind of like that. People, in general, looked bigger to me and so followed their boobs. It was only as an adult that I learned that my breasts would never be enormous, and that if I ever wanted those really “womanly” boobs, I would have to have a baby in order to get them.

Sure, some women are blessed with great big ones--and we love you ladies, let me say. Everyone, in fact, loves boobs be they straight, gay, male, or female. EVERYONE needs a bosom for a pillow, even my dog. But I find now that as an adult, breasts are less a subject of fascination and more a fact of life. Breast size is sort of like penis size, you think you want the very biggest ones until you realize if you really got what you thought you wanted, there might be some pain involved.

For men, I understand that they will always love a good motor boat between two breasts, and no one can deny that. For some men, the bigger the breasts, the better. I get that. But there are also those who don’t care as much about breast sizes, especially when they are picking a wife and not a stripper. I wish someone had told me that in sixth grade.

Quick Fix: Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are delicious. Before posting this, I thought "should I put an Italian twist on this dish?" and then I decided no because deviled eggs are awesome in their own right, and they don't need any twists, really. There was one disagreement with the eggs, though, and since I couldn't get it out of my head, I thought I would share: my mother doesn't think they are a "quick fix."

No, my mother thinks deviled eggs are "hard." I believe that this speaks more to her own decline in culinary arts than anything else, (sorry ma!) because this dish is easy! But I will let you form your own opinion on the matter because I am not here to tell you what to think, only how to cook.

Let's get to it.

Start with 6 eggs, put them in a pan, cover with water and bring the water to a boil. 

Once it's boiling, cover.... 

And remove it from the heat. Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the eggs go. By the end of 20 minutes hopefully you will have made a drink for yourself, and the eggs will be hard cooked! 

A great time saving tip is to do this in the morning and then just sit your eggs in the fridge. When you are ready to make them for an appetizer or for lunch, then they are chilled. This same effect can be reached by  running them in cold water, though, so if you are short on time don't worry! 

Egg peeling trick: 
crack the bottom and tops of the egg on a hard surface..... 

And peel from there... so easy! 
Be sure to rinse your eggs to get off any shell danglers! 

Then slice... 

And remove the yolks. (Put your whites on a serving platter) 

You need mayo and mustard
And not that I am endorsing these brands or anything of the sort, but they make a nice pair, don't they?! 

Add your buddies to the yolks 

Mash with a fork to combine 

Re-stuff your whites 

Apply secret weapon in lieu of paprika 

Marvel at the eggs-cellence! 


Time: 45 minutes | Makes 12 eggs | Difficulty Level: Easy 

You will need:

6 eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon mustard 
Old Bay to sprinkle 


Place your eggs in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. 

Once boiling, cover, and remove from heat. Let them sit for 20 minutes, then drain the water off the eggs. 

If you have time, go ahead and pop the eggs in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. If not, run them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. 

Remove the shells from the eggs, and rinse each egg under cool water to rinse off any excess shells. 

Cut each egg in half and remove the yolks, placing them in a medium bowl. Place the whites on a serving platter. 

To the yolks add the mayo and mustard. Using a fork, mash up the yolks and combine them with the mustard and mayo until it is smooth. 

Refill the whites of the eggs with the yolk mixture. 

Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning, and serve to eager eaters! 

Bossy Italian Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

I was really, mondo excited to read this book because I love Mindy Kaling. She is awesome not only because she is a woman, but because she is hilarious in addition to being a great actress. I wanted to delve into the recesses of her mind and know more about everything Mindy Kaling related. Mission accomplished.

This book is not a hard read... so don't worry that Mindy is getting all analytical and going over your head, like say, the Dalai Lama might. She won't. You can read this book in a week,  which is part of it's appeal, and Mindy makes that known in the first few pages.

This midlife magnum opus tells about her rise to writer for The Office, and also everything else... her struggles with weight and body issues (but not in a like, feel sorry for me, kind of way, thank god!), her friendships, her ability to leave parties without saying goodbye, and there are also lots of lists of things she likes, which I just loved. Mindy Kaling is genuinely funny while remaining inspirational, which I think is sort of beautiful.

Most of all, Mindy Kaling is human, and who doesn't like that? [I totally hate when I read books that are clearly written by cylons.]

As a writer, I also really enjoyed this book because I learned that I have had the right idea all along: build yourself some snazzy home office in which you have the best intentions of writing in, and then promptly ditch that room and instead write from the comfort of your bed in your ugliest (least sexy) pair of pajamas. Looks like I am on precisely the right track for becoming a hit writer. Thank you, Mindy, thank you!

Look, if you are a woman and you are looking to read a truly great epic novel, go to the library and check out a copy of Little Women. If you are a woman and you want to relate, laugh, and feel like you are doing something really right in life, then read this book. It will leave you with warm and fuzzies. It will also make you love Mindy Kaling more, as if you really needed an excuse. 

"The" Marinara Sauce

Every Italian woman takes pride in her sauces, and I am no different. I think that my sauce is the bee's knees. Making sauce is like making something that hugs you from the inside-- you are sharing something very intimate with those you love. There is nothing better than a hearty, yummy red sauce.

The great thing about this sauce, and part of the reason I am sharing it with you, dear reader, is that you can use it in so many recipes. Sure, there are lots of ways to skin a cat, and so too, many ways to make a red sauce. Once you tackle the general concepts, you might even start to feel adventurous enough to add your own "flare" to the sauce. Until then, use this recipe because it won't fail ya!

You'll need the usual players: 




A note on the carrots--they are an awesome replacement for sugar. You will find many Italian red sauce recipes will call for sugar to cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes. This is the better (and healthier) trick! 

I put them all in the food processor to cut them down to size. Then, I threw them in this pot and sautéed them in oil olive to soften 'em up a bit. 

Get your can of tomatoes and then process them in the food processor as well. Throw em in the pot with some tomato paste.... 

Don't forget your spices! 

Bellisima!!! Now cover and let this baby cook for at least a couple of hours, and you'll have a sauce that will be so good it'll make you wanna smack your mama!!! 

Time: 2 1/2 hours, more if ya got it | Makes about 4 cups | Difficulty: Easy to Medium 

You Will Need:

4 cloves garlic
1 carrot, peeled 
1 onion, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1- 28 ounce can of plum tomatoes 
1- 6 ounce can of tomato paste 
1 1/2 cups water
3 dashes cayenne pepper
1 palmful of salt 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
pepper to taste 


In your food processor, place the garlic, onion and carrot. Pulse them about 10 times for 2 seconds each to get them chopped rather finely. 

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and cook about 6 minutes or until onions are translucent. 

While they are cooking, place your can of tomatoes in the food processor and pulse about 10 times to chop the tomatoes. 

Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot along with the tomato paste, water, cayenne pepper, salt, and oregano. Stir to combine and allow it come to a boil. 

Reduce heat, cover and simmer the sauce on a low heat for at least 2 hours. The thing about the sauce is that the longer the flavors have to combine, the better it will taste. Under that premise, you can let this sauce go all day, or even make it the day before. 

If you do make the sauce the day before, be sure to bring it as close to room temperature as you can before you refrigerate it. Otherwise, if you stick it in the fridge while it's still hot, it can effect the taste. Same goes for freezing--and this sauce freezes well. 

Also a note for those who like a very smooth sauce, or have a recipe where a smooth sauce may be more appropriate, you can use an inversion blender (or traditional blender) to smooth the finished sauce. 

Serve on pasta, use for meatballs, on cabbage rolls, meatloaf, or in lasagna. However you use it, you are sure to enjoy it! 

My Funny Valentine

Valentine's Day, in my eyes, is a slippery slope for a writer. Had the occasion fallen on a weekend, I might have ignored it completely because it can really go either way.... either people love Valentine's Day or they totally hate it. It's a big disappointment or it's awesomely romantic. It's just so black and white, and where is a writer supposed to find a grey area to please both sides?

Lucky for me, I think I have just the solution: a dual post... a funny Valentine!

Read THIS if you HATE Valentine's Day 

Great--it's Valentine's Day again. Another contrived holiday meant for couples who are arguably already making me sick. If you're single today, perhaps you should consider yourself lucky, because, honestly Valentine's Day is a relationship land mine.... get it wrong and things are bound to explode.

All a guy really wants on Valentine's Day is to get laid, and all a woman really wants is to be swept off her feet. Somewhere these things should intersect, but rarely does that ever happen. And let's get to the point that this isn't really a "day" at all... it's like the non-government version of an economic stimulus package meant to make you go out and buy crap for people who don't need it.

I think my beef with the day began somewhere around the sixth grade--wait, scratch that, I know it did---do you remember those god awful carnations?! If your school didn't share in this tradition, just consider yourself lucky. At our school it began weeks in advance.... you could buy a carnation for your sweetheart for something like a dollar, and on Valentine's Day in what can only be described as the height of middle school mortification, they would go classroom to classroom and distribute the carnations.

So either you came our looking great and really loved with a bouquet of colored carnations under your arm, or you came out looking like a total loser because you hadn't gotten any. Every year I contemplated getting some for myself, but I didn't because I felt like everyone would know. To this day, carnations make me want to puke.

I guess by these standards, today I should be happy that middle school has come to a swift and final end for me. I no longer have to be embarrassed by a carnation-style popularity contest. But now we're in the adult arena where it's not so easy to hide glaring disappointment. This year, my hubby and I are staying home. He bought me tires last week and I told him that was the PERFECT Valentine's Day gift.

As for him? I might have a little something up my sleeve, but it's not going to include carnations.

Read THIS if you LOVE Valentine's Day 

YAY! It's Valentine's Day! The one day a year when we are allowed to shower the people we love with all kind of heart themed stuff! I like the fact that it gives me an excuse to send out cards to those people I love. This year, I hand made my Valentines and sent them our extra early, just so that I could get other people in the mood, too. I want everyone to feel as loved as I this year!

Generally my husband and I would go out to dinner on Valentine's Day, but this year we are staying in and I am going to tackle venison tenderloin, polenta, and greens and for dessert red velvet donuts (and maybe some panna cotta too!)  and hopefully in return, I'll get some gooooood loving! Nothing fancy, but when you are in love with your husband, you really don't need any "thing" to tell you just how good you have it. I think taking a lot of the expectation out of the day makes it even more special.

Whether you are single or married, or anywhere in between, I think you have to admit that even though Valentine's Day is a little made-up, it still does its job in the love department. People around the office are wearing red, people are smiling with anticipation of the day--because anything could happen today it's the day of love for gosh sakes!

For a sap like me, this is a great holiday to allow my little heart to run rampant! I am bursting at the seams with love, of course, in the form of text messages to all my besties! I hope that you are as brimming with love as I am today, and really everyday for that matter. I hope your day is filled with romantic gestures, great dates, and above all, GOOD FOOD!

Wherever love finds you today, I hope that it finds you well and willing and with open arms. Happy Valentine's Day.

The Taste of Failure & Sweet Success

It's Monday which means I generally like to put a cynical spin on things (you know, for those of you in the working world who wake on Mondays with a distinct feeling of WTF?) Any-who, I have been trying to teach myself to bake, and generally it's going pretty well. My regimen includes looking on Pinterest for cool pictures of desserts that I might like to try. Very scientific. I then try to make these desserts.

You may remember when I had an epic cookie fail 'round about Christmas time, and it tasted like shit. Well, actually the cookies tasted great (even though they looked like hell) but the failure tasted like crap. I was reminded that everyone sometimes has a kitchen moment that makes them cringe when I came across this great picture:

It made me laugh really hard, while simultaneously recalling my own epic cookie fail with lemon ricotta cookies: 

Obviously, I totally nailed it. 

Luckily, I am not easily discouraged and when I fail, I get right back on the horse. Then I make that horse my bitch and we jump over stuff and everyone is like, "wow! You are stunningly awesome!" To which I reply, "Yea, well, that was just my warm up... hehe." To these ends, I have been working toward becoming a regular ole Betty Crocker. And because of the aforementioned horse being my bitch statement, I wanted to brag about it and share some pictures of efforts in the cupcake department. 

They were my first attempt at homemade cupcakes, and I think I did pretty well. They are key lime cupcakes, and I did make a few changes... like not using the food coloring. I wasn't crazy about the icing, as it was a little too sweet for my taste, but then again, I am more of a savory gal anyway. Let's just say that the cupcakes didn't stick around long, and were enjoyed by (and forced upon, while I looked on mouthing, "So? What do you think?") anyone who came to my house. 

Anyway, in the face of another Monday, I wanted to remind everyone that sometimes our failures taste bad, but make the sweetness of success that much better. If you don't like that, just go with this one: Mondays suck--eat a dessert. Either way, enjoy these pictures, and then click here to get the recipe for these great key lime cupcakes! 

Let the record show that I squeezed my own key lime juice for this recipe. 

They are cute little suckers, though, aren't they? 

I am beginning to think I have a batter problem... the problem is that I keep eating the batter. I like it better than the actual [whatever] I am making... it's a problem, like I said. 

Another problem: I only have this one baking stone for making cupcakes. It has 6 cupcake holes in it. I need to get another one because despite my success with this recipe, if you let the batter sit while you are cooking the first batch of cupcakes, it loses something... like that big old rise to the top, which I love. 

Prepare to be frosted! 

I felt slightly handicapped with the icing; it was my first time, after all. Thank goodness presentation points are being doled out by none other than me--I win! 


They are cute, right?