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Manic Monday Giveaway with Pyure Organic Stevia

The holiday baking season is upon us.  Recently I made homemade Organic Coconut Chocolate with Pyure Organic Stevia and it was amazingly delicious and delightfully healthy.

Homemade Coconut Chocolate recipe

Organic Coconut Chocolate with Pyure Organic Stevia Sweetener Recipe

My healthful homemade snack made me think about this year’s upcoming baking season with pumpkin pies, cake pops and gingerbread men dancing around in my head.  I thought about all of the recipes I could substitute sugar with Pyure Organic Stevia as a healthy alternative.

This week The Organized Cook is excited to be giving away a gift package of Pyure Organic Stevia to one lucky winner as part of our Manic Monday Giveaway to experience it was yourself.

Enter The Giveaway

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The Recipe

For a recipe and photo tutorial of our Organic Coconut Chocolate Recipe using Pyure Organic Stevia, visit:

organic stevia

Organic Coconut Chocolate Recipe with Pyure Organic Stevia Photo Tutorial

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Manic Monday Giveaway- Grill Gift Set

Fall Indoor Grilling

Summer may be over, but I still enjoy my favorite grill recipes during the Fall by bringing them inside and using my indoor grill.  To celebrate our indoor grill recipes this week, we’re giving away a gift mini pack of these amazing dry rub seasoning from Char Crust that can be used for broiling, baking or grilling.

Grilled Chicken Recipe

Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken & Grilled Garlic Bread Recipe


Also included in the gift pack are these adorable Grill Charms from Charmed Life Products.  With these functional and aesthetic charms, you can mark your food prior to cooking to distinguish temperatures, flavors or food allergies.  For example, I like my steak medium-well, so one of these charms would mark mine.

Grill Gift Set Giveaway

Grill Gift Set Giveaway


The Giveaway

Entering the giveaway is simple here:
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Weekly Meal Plan

Weekly Meal Plan

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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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Eat Your Greens to Give Some Green

Providing Healthy Choices

This is one fundraising event I’m very happy to support and promote.  I know so many other mothers, like myself, who are proponents of change and healthier food choices in our schools today, as I write about in Weighing In on Weight of The Nation.

So, I hope each of them- and you- will visit your local Whole Foods Market on Sunday September 9th to eat from their healthy selection of market food.  For every pound of food purchased from the salad bar and hot food bar that day, Whole Foods Market will donate $1 to get salad bars in local schools.


And for all of my Twitter friends- for every “retweet” on Sunday about this fundraising event, Whole Foods Market will donate an addition $1!- tweet!… I mean, sweet!

Be sure to follow your local Whole Foods Market Twitter handle or @ToniSpilsbury, @OrganizedCook, @VegasBloggers and follow the stream #WFMSaladDay which will be tweeting out event details all day.



So, this Sunday you’ll find me and the kids at Whole Foods Market at The District having a healthy and delicious late afternoon lunch… hope to see you all there!



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