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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mangia! Mangia!

Everyone has their comfort food.  For some its the cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese, or the smokey flavors of a cook out.  For me, it is Italian cuisine.  Any kind.  Pizza? yep.  Pasta? oh, yeah.  Risottos? You betcha. So, tonight, my lovelies, we are making spaghetti with homemade meatballs and a tart and creamy buttermilk panna cotta for dessert.  Never made a panna cotta? Not to worry, after you see how easy it is, you'll make this your new go to dessert when you want to seem like a foodie, but really you've just been slugging around the house all day.

But even if I have been slugging around the house all day, you know I am not in sweats or jammies, oh not on your life!  We have had unseasonably cool weather here in tornado land.  So I had to break out the jeans and light sweaters again.

One of my favorite color combinations is pink and orange, in almost every intensity.  Hot pink and tangerine, baby pink and apricot-it's all good.  And, no matter what kind of day you are having, at least the colors you are wearing are cheerful.  Hey, psychological studies have proven that if you wear bright and cheerful colors your mood automatically rises, so I'm not out in left field here.

Add my favorite pair of Joe's Jeans:

And, a pair of hot pink peep toes (like you even THOUGHT I would be wearing something plain and flat!)

Seriously, how can you not love a thin heeled stiletto? It's sex on a stick.  Almost literally!

Complete with a soft pink scarf (remember those style tips from ages ago? Well, my lovelies, now's the time to whip 'em out) and a pair of fun earrings, and I'm out the door.  Or, into the kitchen, whichever need be.

I tied this in style number 7 from our style tips chart.

Okay, let's get into the kitchen.


1 lb. ground sirloin

2 slices good white bread (not that nasty square stuff), crusts removed and torn into small pieces

1/4 c. milk

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/4 t. basil

3/4 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 egg

3 T. olive oil

Place the bread in a small bowl and cover with milk.  Set aside.  Mix beef, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Mix well.  Mash the bread and milk mixture until it forms a paste and add to beef mixture.  Mix well.  Add egg and, once again, mix well.

Cover and chill (both you and the meat) for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Form the meat into 12-16 2 inch balls.  In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Brown the meatballs on all sides (you may need to do this in small batches) and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Marinara Sauce:
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes ( I like Muir Glenn's Organic Fire Roasted)

1 can tomato paste

1/2 onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. oregano

1/4 t. crushed red pepper

3 t. sugar

1 t. salt (always kosher or sea salt!)

1 bay leaf

1/4 t. ground black pepper

1 T. olive oil (or in this case the left over oil from the meatballs)

Saute the onions and garlic over medium heat until wilted and translucent. Add tomatoes, paste, oregano, salt, sugar, bay leaf, and peppers.  Simmer, covered, over low heat for at least 20 minutes.

Add meatballs and simmer 10 minutes more.

Toss with your favorite al dente pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan.  Ummm, yummy!

Panna cotta is a creamy custard like dessert in Italy.  It is delicate and cool, perfect for a late spring treat! The great thing about panna cotta is how simple it is. This panna cotta is made with cream and non fat buttermilk, which gives it a slight tartness that pairs very well with the fresh berries of the season.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta:

2 c. non fat buttermilk

3/4 c. sugar, divided

1 1/2 t. unflavored gelatin

2/3 c. heavy cream

1 pint strawberries (or blueberries or raspberries-you get the idea), sliced

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 cup of the buttermilk, let stand for 5 minutes to soften.  Over a double boiler, mix 1/2 cup of sugar and cream.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Add the buttermilk/gelatin mixture to the cream.  Stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved.  Add the remaining buttermilk and stir well.

Pour the mixture into 4 6 oz. ramikins.  Chill for 4 hours.

Pour 1/4 cup sugar over strawberries and let chill until serving time.  

To serve, simply top the panna cotta with strawberries and bask in the admiration of your friends and family!

Go forth today, my lovelies, and be fabulous!


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