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  1. Friday, March 1, 2019

    Entrepreneur and Children’s Book Author Rana D’Orio Shares Her Entrepreneurial Career Path, Her Latest Book and Italian Food (Ep. 49)

    This Week for Dinner Podcast Header for Episode #49 Interview with Rana DiOrio

    In episode #49 of the This Week for Dinner Podcast I get the chance to speak with Rana DiOrio. Rana is an entreprenuer, author, mom to 3 and life learner. Rana has an interesting background. She started out as a corporate securities lawyer and took a winding road through a few endeavors, eventually matching her values with her career by creating a publishing company for really cool children’s books. She is a great example of a working mom who cooks for her kids all the time. (You’ll find out in the episode what her kids thought of the time she tried a meal delivery kit service.)

    Cover of "What Does it Mean to Be American?"

    Rana and I talk about how her new book What Does It Mean to Be American? came to be, and of course Rana shares with us one of her favorite recipes and a great kitchen tip. You can follow Rana on Twitter @ranadiorio and on Instagram @ranedear. In addition to Rana’s interview I also share this year’s first plant-based eating hack. Enjoy the episode!

    Bowl of pasta topped with Italian sausage, peppers and onions in red sauce


    Rana's Crock Pot Sausage & Peppers
    Adapted from The Spruce Eats
    • 2 pounds sweet or hot Italian sausage
    • 2 yellow onions, chopped
    • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch pieces
    • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch pieces
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch pieces
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
    • ½ cup dry red wine
    • 1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves
    • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
    • 4 fresh basil leaves OR 2 Trader Joe's frozen basil cubes
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • Additional ingredients for transforming into a Puttanesca sauce:
    • 1 cup red wine (whatever you're drinking with dinner that night!)
    • Olives, chopped or sliced (Rana prefers green Castelvetrano, but any olives will work)
    • Handful of sun-dried tomatoes
    • Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
    1. Over medium heat in a heavy skillet, cook the sausage until browned, slipping occasionally during cooking time. Remove skillet from the heat and set aside.
    2. Lay half of the onions in the bottom of a 4-quart crockpot then top with half of the bell peppers. Add all of the sausages then do another layer of the onions and peppers along with the bay leaves and garlic.
    3. Add the diced crushed tomatoes, red wine, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the skillet and mix well. Pour the tomato mixture into the crockpot
    4. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or until sausage is 165º F. Resist opening the lid until near the end of the cook time to check on the sausages.
    5. Once sausage is done, remove the bay leaves. Taste the sauce and add any additional spices to taste if needed.
    6. To adapt the above recipe to make a Puttanesca sauce:
    7. Once the sausage is done cooking, remove them from the slow cooker and slice into rounds.
    8. Add the additional 1 cup wine, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes (if using) and the sliced sausages to the slow cooker.
    9. Simmer in the crockpot until you are ready to serve over the pasta of your choice.


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    Other Stuff!

  2. Thursday, January 29, 2015

    My New Favorite Cheese: Ricotta Salata

    Just a quick post today to share my new favorite cheese. It’s called ricotta salata and it’s mighty fine.

    my new favorite cheese, ricotta salata | from @janemaynard

    The kind I buy is from Bel Gioioso. They label the cheese as “The Italian Feta,” which I think is a good description. Salata means “salted,” and that’s basically what this cheese is – ricotta cheese that has been pressed, salted and dried. The texture is very similar to feta, but the flavor is much more mild. Think ricotta with, you guessed it, salt added!

    my new favorite cheese, ricotta salata | from @janemaynard

    I pretty much put it on every salad I eat now. I can’t get enough. And, unlike feta, my kids are much more likely to eat it sprinkled on their salad, so they can eat the same salad I make for the adults. I’m thinking ricotta salata would be good in other dishes, too, like scrambled eggs or tossed into roasted veggies. Maybe it’s time I start experimenting, but, honestly, I go through enough of the stuff with just salads!

    my new favorite cheese, ricotta salata | from @janemaynard

  3. Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Bertucci’s Tortellini with Sausage, Mushrooms and Creamy Tomato Sauce

    For our very first date, Nate and I went to the Davis Square Bertucci’s in Somerville, MA. Once we were married, if we ever went out to a restaurant (which was rare), it was usual to Bertucci’s or John Harvard’s. I think one of the reasons I love Bertucci’s so much is because of our personal history associated with it, but I still love going to that restaurant whenever we can because they do make some good food. Those dinner rolls and that margherita pizza…YUMMMMM.

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    One of those times early in our marriage when we went to Bertucci’s I ordered a tortellini dish that was served with sausage, mushrooms in a light cream tomato sauce. This was one of the very first restaurant copycat recipes I created at home and definitely one of the first things I cooked that gave me some confidence in the kitchen.

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    It’s been years since I’ve made what we call Bertucci’s Tortellini, but I threw it on the menu a few weeks ago and IT WAS SO GOOD. I made sure to write down measurements for you since the recipe I had posted on the site was pretty lame and directionless.

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    This is a nice and easy dinner to prepare that tastes wonderful. (I think I had thirds the other night.) The only thing missing from this recipe is Bertucci’s dinner rolls!

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    (>> Find out more…)

  4. Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    On Top of Spaghetti

    Our girls love spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, if there is ground beef in a dish and we tell them it’s meatballs, they’ll eat it. So, instead of doing a meat sauce for our spaghetti last night, I decided to spend a few extra minutes and make some actual meatballs for my cuties. And they were delighted. They barely ate the spaghetti, which normally disappears within minutes!

    When Nate came home and started eating, I of course immediately pestered him with, “How are the meatballs?” He told me, “They’re really good! What kind of meat did you use?” I told him just ground beef and he was shocked! Nate was certain I must have used more than one kind of meat because the flavor was so good. Meatball success!

    So, here’s what I did. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s tasty.

    On Top of Spaghetti
    • 1 lb ground beef (I used 85/15 this time around)
    • ½ cup bread crumbs
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • ½ teaspoon basil
    • ½ teaspoon oregano
    • ½ teaspoon parsley
    • ½ teaspoon dried diced onions
    • 1 fresh garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 4-5 cups prepared tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
    • 1 package spaghetti
    1. Mix all ingredients (except tomato sauce and spaghetti) together by hand. Form into 1”³ – 1-1/2”³ balls (I think mine were closer to 1-1/2”³ and I ended up with 38 meatballs).
    2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Brown meatballs in oil, constantly rotating, until all sides are browned. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato sauce. Simmer for 15-20 minutes (make sure heat is high enough so sauce is simmering). While meatballs are simmering, prepare spaghetti according to package instructions. Serve sauce and meatballs over spaghetti. And be sure not to sneeze”¦those meatballs have been known to roll off the table and onto the floor.

  5. Wednesday, January 31, 2007

    Real Simple Lasagna

    Real Simple Lasagna
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    The original recipe is from Real Simple magazine, but it really is ”˜real simple’!
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Pasta
    • 1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
    • 1 18-ounce bag frozen large cheese ravioli, unthawed
    • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry OR 1 small package fresh spinach, chopped and sauteed until wilted
    • Optional: Pancetta and/or roasted veggies
    • 1 8-ounce bag shredded mozzarella
    • ½ cup (about 2 ounces) grated Parmesan
    1. Heat oven to 350° F.
    2. Spread ⅓ of the sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Layer 12 ravioli on top of the sauce.
    3. Lay the spinach (and pancetta and/or roasted veggies if using) and half the mozzarella on top of the ravioli.
    4. Add another layer of ravioli then top with the remaining sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, and the Parmesan cheese.
    5. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover 5-10 more minutes, until bubbly.