Archive | September, 2012

What’s For Dinner This Week: “Gourmet Goddess”

Meal Planning For Busy Families

weekly meal plan

If you’re a member of The Organized Cook, a little “Gourmet Goddess” is what’s on your family dinner menu this week!


Chicken Under Brick Recipe

Day 1: Chicken Under A Brick with Risotto and Hope’s Garlic Greens



Herb Baked Salmon recipe

Day 2: Herb Baked Salmon with Garlic Herbed Mashed Potatoes & Glazed Baby Carrots



Spanish Paella Recipe

Day 3: Spanish Paella



Meatloaf Recipe

Day 4: Traditional Meatloaf with Cheesy Twice-Baked Potatoes & Buttered Green Beans



Salmon Salad Recipe

Salmon Salad Recipe


Weekly Meal Planning For Busy Families

Weekly Meal Plan

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System



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The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

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No Kid Hungry

As a mom, it saddens me deeply to think of the children here in America who go hungry every day.  I was shocked to learn that 1 in 5 children are hungry in America… yes, America.

This is why I’m happy to partner with Romano’s Macaroni Grill and the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign to do something about this tragic epidemic.

By sharing my favorite Italian meal and story with you, we’re connecting at least 500 children with meals from this program.  You can also visit Macaroni Grill and donate $2 to the No Kid Hungry Campaign, and you’ll receive $5 off your next meal there.

When I tried to decide on which Italian meal to share from my recipe box, I quickly remembered the story of my friend, Kelli who taught me how to make her traditional Italian Sunday Gravy.  I’m also sharing my story of Kelli and I and our diverse east coast-west coast heritage.

So, here’s my recipe for Italian Sunday Gravy, based on the teachings of my dear friend, Kelli:

Italian Sunday Gravy

Italian Sunday Gravy


  • ground beef or sirloin- 1 lb
  • boneless pork loin chops- 1 lb
  • italian mild sausage- 1 lb
  • onion- 1, minced
  • parmesan cheese- 16 oz.
  • breadcrumbs- 1 cup
  • egg- 1
  • milk- 1/2 cup
  • garlic- 3-4 cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • crushed tomatoes- 56 oz. (2 28oz. cans)
  • fresh basil and/or Italian parsley- a handful, chopped
  • pasta- 1-2 lbs


  1. in mixing bowl, combine ground beef, half of minced onion, half of parmesan (grated), breadcrumbs, egg and milk; mix well
  2. hand-roll meat into 2-inch balls
  3. heat olive oil and garlic in large non-stick skillet
  4. cook meatball in oil until brown (no need to cook thoroughly), while turning gently with a spoon to make sure all sides are browned
  5. remove cooked meatballs to plate
  6. brown pork chops and remove to plate (again, no need to cook thoroughly)
  7. brown Italian sausage and remove to plate
  8. transfer juices from skillet to large Dutch oven or pot along with tomatoes and browned meat
  9. add chopped basil and/or parsley
  10. simmer 2-3 hours over low heat
  11. served with pasta boiled in salted water until tender and then drained; to prevent pasta from drying before serving, reserve a cup of the cooking water to add back to pasta


Italian Sunday Dinner

Italian Sunday Dinner

And here is our story:

Italian Family Traditions

My neighbor, Kelli, and I grew up worlds apart- both geographically and culturally. I grew up in Southern California while eating dinners made from modern conveniences such as Minute Rice and Betty Crocker with my new-age Mom. While at the same time, Kelli was peeling and canning tomatoes for pasta sauce in the kitchens of Italian aunts and nonnas in New York. Despite being exactly one-quarter Italian myself, my Sicilian-born grandmother died decades before I was born.

Sadly, after 10 years of being a neighbor and dear friend, Kelli moved back to New York. But she did leave something behind (besides her husband)- her family recipe for Italian Sunday Gravy.

Now, for me the word “gravy” is something you pour over turkey and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. But, if you’re from the “old country”, gravy is a traditional Sunday dish that women could put in a pot early Sunday morning and let it simmer while attending Mass. Italian Sunday gravy is a rich, heavy meal of meats that simmer in tomato sauce so long, it’s hard to tell where the meat ends and the sauce begins.

italian red sauce recipe

Italian Sunday Gravy Recipe

Making Sunday Gravy isn’t as difficult as I thought; and, if your kids love to cook as much as mine do, rolling meatballs is the perfect task for little hands. After selecting a variety of meats like pork chops, Italian sausage links, veal cutlets and/or ground sirloin for meatballs, the meat is browned in olive oil and garlic then added to crushed tomatoes in a large Dutch oven. After simmering in the tomatoes for hours, the meat is then removed to a platter and served separately from the sauce alongside pasta, bread and salad.

Italian Sunday dinner recipe

To further illuminate the differences in our culinary traditions, I typically eat salad first with bread then an entrée… and all within the time span of about 20 minutes. While the tradition of eating Italian Sunday Gravy is an all-afternoon event lasting about 2-3 hours, from pasta aglio e olio (pasta with garlic, olive oil and crushed peppers) and red table wine, the salad is actually eaten after the pasta. The big finale, or course, is cannoli and coffee.

Imagine that… hours of uninterrupted time just relaxing and enjoying food and family- a la familia!

Italian Sunday dinner

And, while I’m used to meat being in the pasta sauce, Sunday gravy is served with the meat removed from the sauce onto a separate platter. It’s also typically eaten early enough in the day to allow for proper digestion of its heavy ingredients, thus making it the perfect Sunday after-church meal.

Combining my favorite herbs such as basil and parsley, check out my version of this traditional Italian dinner recipe.


So while this West Coast girl and her family sat down to enjoy Italian Gravy this Sunday, I could swear I heard the theme song from The Godfather playing in the background.

still some “west coast” going on this photo, with that “after swimming pool” hair!

No Kid Hungry Campaign on Facebook– How You Can Help!

If you’re a Facebook friend, visit the Macaroni Grill gallery on Facebook and find a campaign photo to share on your Facebook page (simply click on the photo and select the word “share” underneath the photo), and Macaroni Grill will connect a meal to a kid in need for each “share”.

Select an image from this gallery and “share” on your timeline for an additional $1 donation.



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What’s For Dinner This Week: “My Goodness”

Meal Planning for Busy Families

If you’re a subscriber to The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System, here’s what’s on your family dinner menu this week!



Chicken Madeira Recipe

Day 1: Chicken Madeira with Rice



London Broil Recipe

Day 2: Italy-Meets-London Broil with Spaghetti Aglio E Olio & Balsamic Vegetables



chicken curry recipe

Day 3: Green Chicken Coconut Curry over Steamed Rice



Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Day 4: Eggplant Parmesan with Baked Spaghetti & Easy Minestrone Soup



Philly Cheesesteak Recipe

Day 5: Philly Cheesesteak Subs & Sweet Potato Fries


Weekly Meal Plan System

Weekly Meal Plan

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

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Fashion Night Out Las Vegas

Fashion Night Out Las Vegas Style

Taking a night off from Food and Family, I spent the evening with my third favorite “F“- Fashion.  This week was Fashion Night Out in Las Vegas, and this star-studded evening was the talk of the town with local fashion icons to lead the events.

I was enjoying a runway show at Palazzo hosted George Kotsiopoulos when his “E” Fashion Police co-star, Joan Rivers made a surprise appearance.  George has such an infectious laugh, so serious fashion discussion during the show turned into outrageous fun when Ms. Rivers showed up on the runway.  The crowd went wild and joined cutie-pie George in laughing out loud from Joan’s edgy and accurate fashion commentary.


Joan Rivers from E’s Fashion Police surprises co-star George Kotsiopoulos on the runway at Palazzo, Las Vegas for Fashion Night Out


Shop For A Cause

When fashion is combined with helping local charities, it makes for an even better evening.  Participating shops like Neiman Marcus, Robert Cavalli, Donna Karan and- my favorite- Diane Von Furstenberg, donated a portion of the evening’s sales to local charities.

Now, I’m a lady on a mission.  I would love for one of these shops to partner with my local charity, Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation, for next year’s Fashion Night Out, which I am already looking forward to.

Fashion Night Out 2012

Trying on dresses from Diana VonFurstenberg, learning the latest trends sampling treats and dining at Table 10 for Fashion Night Out in Las Vegas


Over at Crystals at City Center, fashion trailblazer, Patricia Field held her runway show highlighting the coming season’s best styles, and I was so excited that I got to see it all from the front row.  If you don’t know who Ms. Field is, she’s the creative fashion force and visionary behind Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker in addition to many other stars (Sex and the City being my favorite, obviously).

Fashion Night Out

waiting for runway show to start at Crystals with RockStar Mom LV’s Stefanie VanAken (right)


Pat has such a laid back, funky and cool style all her own and it was obvious she was the origin of every fun and fabulous outfit Carrie Bradshaw ever walked down 5th Avenue in.  The truth is that Carrie Bradshaw’s fashion was one-third responsible for the show’s addictive force, in my opinion, with the city and characters coming in second and third place.  As Pat said during the runway show, “Sometimes things that don’t match go together the best.”  I quite agree, Pat.

Fashion Night Out 2012

um, I’m loving this sexy ensemble and was wondering if I could pull it off.


When I got to meet Pat Field I said, “Who is the only gal more fabulous than Carrie Bradshaw- you!”.  And during this second photo she replied, “You’re not so bad yourself.”  I absolutely love this cool lady!


Patricia Field is so cool and funky!


I just want this dress.


Today, it’s back to my other favorite “F”‘s- Family and Food.  I just finished up the most relaxing evening dinner with the kids, and now it’s time to sit back in my PJ’s and watch Harry Potter with them while we eat popcorn topped with gummy bears (one of my best creations).  I can’t help but think how lucky I am to experience one extreme of fabulous one night, only to enjoy another kind of fabulous the next.

Until next year, Fashion Police!… love you! mwwwah.



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