The Lemon does not fall far from the tree…


This was my daughter after school today.  She came in, changed out of her uniform and decided she needed fresh lemonade and was bound and determined to have it.  Good thing I bought 6 more lemons today!!  She, like her mother, just loves the sunny happy lemon!!  (And the black dog laying in the bay window with her blanket hanging down just loves the sun)

Thursday Braciola (Braciole)

I know most Italian families had Sunday “gravy” nights with pasta and sauce.  For some reason my Sicilian grandmother always had the macaroni, gravy and braciola on Thursdays.  In our house it’s any time I have the ingredients.  This morning, after feeding our animals on the farm, packing the kids lunches and in between getting myself ready for work and taking the kids to school, I quickly threw together a perfect dish to slow cook while we are gone.  That is our Braciola.

Braciole is a thin slice of meat that is rolled with various stuffings.  In our house it is always beef.  I prefer the thin flank steak but will use thin top round when needed which is what I had today.

The picture below is from the last time I made it (ummm I admit it was last week but we LOVE it so it’s ok we are having it again) plus I forgot to freeze the second package I bought!!


You can tell just by looking at that picture how wonderfully tender the meat gets and the stuffing is thin, garlicky (is that a word??) and just enough so you only need a vegetable to go with your meal.

This is such an easy throw together and forget it until after work meal that it fits into most busy schedules (like mine tonight with hockey and softball practice).  And my 71 year old mother is coming home from her road trip (living like a gypsy with her 71 year old long time friend who is also widowed but that’s a WHOLE other story!!) and she is coming for dinner so I wanted to have some “comfort” food for her after her months of travel, relaxation and non home cooked meals.

Here is how I make our Braciole


brac 2 brac3

mix Italian seasoned bread crumbs, salt/pepper, minced garlic, one egg and a splash of milk and spread it thin on the meat as it makes stuffing as it’s cooking. I cover with tomato sauce and slow bake about 6 hours on 220 (you can reduce it to 185 and cook longer if needed).  I have my own tomato sauce I make and can but you can use store bought.

I know the measurements are not on here as it depends on the size of the meat I purchased but I will list the ingredients and you can easily make it eyeballing it to what you will need for the cuts of your braciole

Italian seasoned bread crumbs


Minced garlic

one egg

splash of milk

Mix it all together to a consistency of a regular “stuffing”.  Add bread crumbs/milk as needed to make it thicker or to thin it if you added to many bread crumbs

Lay the meat out and spread a thin layer of the stuffing mixture on top.  Roll the meat and tie it or you can use toothpicks if you don’t have meat string.  Toss in a pan with a little garlic flavored oil or regular olive oil and brown it all around.

Lay it in a backing pan and cover with sauce.  Put it in the oven at 200 degrees for 6 hours or 185 for longer.

Come in the door after a long day, smell the wonderful aroma, get a salad made or any other type of vegetable, macaroni if you want and get ready for dinner!!!

Glazed Lemon Cookies



Lemons make me happy!!  I can’t help it they are so yellow and sunny. I love to look at them, I love to smell them and I love to use them in recipes for food, desserts and drinks!!  I spend probably $6 a week buying lemons just so I know I have them even if I don’t have a recipe in mind.  This weekend I saw a recipe for Glazed Lemon Cookies and it gave me an excuse to restock my lemon supply which was only one short but who is counting!!

These cookies were very good. It was a recipe on facebook and I changed it a little to add a little more lemon zing.  Pretty simple to make and your house will smell awesome after grating the lemons!!  I was hoping to pack them away for dessert for the kids lunches but my 20 something year old nephews dropped by and needless to say I have enough for two lunches tomorrow.  Oh well..maybe I should buy more lemons just in case 🙂

Glazed Lemon Cookies (pictures at the end of this post)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5-6 tablespoons lemon zest (I love lemon but you can cut this back to 4 tablespoons or up to 6)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
5  teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees F. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; then set aside. In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers, until fragrant.

Cream the butter and sugar/lemon mixture together until light and fluffy with a mixer. Add in egg and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in flour mixture on low speed until blended.

Drop dough by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Gently flatten dough with the palm of your hand. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until cookies are just set and barely golden brown around the edges. Cool cookies on baking sheet for a minute and then transfer to cooking racks. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. Dip each cookie top into the lemon glaze. Let cookies sit until icing has set. Then you can sprinkle with yellow sprinkles as my kids did if you like.  Enjoy!



Wolfe Maple Farm visit

Regardless of the snow we decided today is one of the last days to see the trees tapped and maple syrup being made.  So off we went in the slushy snow!!  Western New York is a huge supplier of Maple Syrup across the country and we are so lucky to have quite a few maple farms less than a half hour drive away. 

Today we visited Wolfe Maple Farm.  We listened to the history of the farm which kicked off our tour.  We then rode a tram to the back of the property, over pure mud/slush tracks (quite bumpy too) in 30 degree temperatures with 20 mph winds, to the maple trees they tap and have for many many years. Listening to the older farmer explain the history of these trees and how careful they are not to draw too much sap out of each tree (he referenced it to having blood drawn, you can only draw so much before damage will be done), you could hear the pride in his voice of generations of family utilizing this land for the few short months out of the year to try and draw enough supply to service the country.  The planning and care is all around you with tubes from tree to tree, new trees being started wrapped snuggly in tubes to keep them alive during the cold winter months, and sheets listed with limits from each tree.  It is quite a process…and did you know it takes 30 – 40 gallons of sap to make ONE gallon of syrup.  That was probably the most impressive bit of information most people heard as you could hear the gasps on the tram.  For us it was old news as we enjoy taking these trips every year to the maple farms so we knew that tidbit. 

After a visit to the trees you ride back and are dropped off at the building with the steam as the kids call it.  It is the evaporation building where they heat the sap and make it into syrup.  The air is loaded with a sweet smell and there are people everywhere eating maple cotton candy, maple candy, maple fudge, maple nuts, maple almonds and so on.  We take a tour of the building and sample the fresh hot syrup right out of the evaporator.  There is a blue grass band playing and singing for your entertainment and for me is it was for my enjoyment while waiting in line with my gallon of syrup, little pints and quarts of the liquid gold for my friends, cotton candy and maple nugget candy for the kids and of course two taps as this year dad along with our 11 year old daughter have decided they can do this on our 34 acres!!  So as I type this they are off to find some trees.  What a great way to spend a Sunday with our family (and our 2 year old nephew/cousin who joined us!!





I took this picture of the cows on the farm to show the beautiful sky!!

Growing Potatoes

We plant and harvest potatoes every year.  Potatoes are so easy to grow and I try to convince all my friends to try it!! They are so fun to harvest as the kids love to dig for the little hidden treasures under the soil.  I keep seeing these container ideas for potatoes promising lots of potatoes so this year I think we are going to give it a try.  Due to space limitations we usually can only grow enough potatoes to last us through early spring and then I have to break down and (so sad) buy them.  So maybe trying this planter we will be able to grow more than normal to carry us through to August with our harvest.  Will keep you posted!!!

Here is the lastest idea I saw this morning and will try in a few short weeks when it’s planting season


My 70 year old mother tending to the potato patch she lives very close and spends most days hanging around the house with the grandkids while we are at work…that is when she can fit it in between her morning kayaking workout, prayer meetings, friend breakfasts you get the idea 🙂

ImageFreshly harvestedImage Cleaned and sorted by size to store for winter



Parsnip. It’s a funny word, Parsnip. Sure we have seen them sitting on the produce shelf posing as a “white carrot” daring us to do something with them. For the longest time I would avoid looking at them with their mocking white glare. Then one day while waitressing the chef stated the vegetables for the night were glazed carrots and parsnips. I laughed out loud and replied “who would eat a parsnip” and luckily for me he replied, “now you will”. And so began my friendship with that funny vegetable.

Parsnips are similar to carrots in shape and slightly in flavor but are sweeter and give off more starch when cooked. They boast great amounts of potassium as well as many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You can eat them raw but they are so good cooked in many different ways. You can bake, roast, sauté, fry, boil and steam them. You can throw them into your roasts (which is how I first introduced them in my family) as they thicken your gravy and aid in giving it a nice rich flavor. If sliced thickly, they resemble a potato which is how I tricked my family into trying them. Another way to introduce them gently to those, who like me are not very intrigued by the funny looking white things, is by adding them into a homemade soup. Chop them small, as you would your carrots, and cook them in the broth along with the other soup vegetables. The benefits and contrast of color make a nice change.
The other night my 11 year old asked for some glazed parsnips so I sliced them along with carrots and snowpeas, steamed them in water until soft and tossed them with a little garlic flavored grapeseed oil, salt and pepper in a sauté pan and browned/glazed them.
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A few nights later we had a pork roast and I sliced them and added them with some carrots and onions.

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You can see how they resemble a potato.

So the next time you see that white glare in the store, stare it down, grab a pack and give them a try!!