Instant Pot Secret-Veggie-Packed Turkey Bolognese


My family loves pasta.  My youngest son doesn’t like “things” in the sauce.  By “things” I mean all the flavorful additions that a good tomato sauce needs, like onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs.  He doesn’t want bits of onions or herbs, he wants it to be smooth and red, and God forbid there should be a chunk of tomato! I could argue with him about it, but I know that as he gets older his tastes will change, as almost everyone’s taste does.  In the meantime I pack all the veggies into my sauce that I want by pureeing them in my smoothie maker! Mom: 1, Kid: 0.  In your face Kid!

In the summertime I try to set aside a few days to prep a large quantity of freezer meals to get us though the fall and winter.  I aim for one meal a week that I don’t need to cook- just throw something in the oven or the slow cooker. It really helps on those days with late football practices, or after-school meetings.  Now that it’s January, my freezer meal stockpile is rapidly dwindling!  In an effort to restock- I give you Instant Pot Turkey Bolognese.  You can do this on the stove in about two hours, or in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. This recipe makes enough for three meals for a family of four (Just serve it over cooked pasta.  Did you notice I didn’t say zoodles?  That’s because they are yucky).  I’ll store one in the fridge for this week and the other two can go into the freezer for later!

  • 3 large carrots
  • 3 large stalks of celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey (or beef, pork, or chicken)
  • 3, 15 oz. cans of plain tomato sauce- I like Hunts Sauce because it’s not sweet.
  • 2 t. Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • 2 t. dried oregano

If your family doesn’t mind the “things” in the sauce then you can just dice up the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, and throw them into the Instant Pot.  Otherwise, cut the carrots, celery, and onion into chunks, the garlic cloves can go in to whole, and puree them all until smooth in a blender with a splash of water to get things moving.  I don’t have a fancy blender, I have a Ninja.  One awesome feature that I use almost daily is the smoothie cup.  Somehow the smoothie cup gets things way smoother than the regular blender pitcher. To quote my 5th grade students: IDKY. When I use it for this though, I need to puree the veggies in two batches since the cup is smaller than the blender pitcher.

Add the ground meat to the Instant Pot along with the pureed veggies, the cans of sauce, the salt and pepper, and the herbs. Stir to combine and lock the lid.  Don’t forget to close the vent.  I cooked this on high pressure for 35 minutes. Once it’s cooled it can be ladled into storage containers.  This sauce will keep in the fridge for about three days and in the freezer for about three months.  Just reheat it in the microwave, or gently on the stove top, and serve it over cooked pasta or creamy polenta.






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Peppermint Oreo Truffles


So easy, these are not really even a recipe, more of a method.  You can mix and match Oreo flavors with your favorite spices and extracts. Done in 20 minutes, start to finish!

  • 1 package of regular Oreos
  • 1 brick of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 t. mint extract
  • 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
  • a few candy canes for garnish

Pulse the cookies in the food processor until they are coarse crumbs.  Mix in the cream cheese and extract until you see no more white streaks and a dough forms.  It may be a bit sticky, that’s ok.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Freeze for about ten minutes while you melt the chocolate and smash the candy canes.  Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring in between to prevent scorching. A fondue pot or chafing dish is a great way to keep the chocolate melty while you are working, but if you don’t have one, that’s ok- you just might have to stick it back in the microwave if the chocolate starts to thicken up on you. Dip each Oreo ball in melted chocolate to coat, and sprinkle with some crushed candy canes. Set them back on the parchment-lined baking sheet to set up. Store these in the fridge for up to a week.  They also freeze well. These taste best at room temperature.

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Sicilian Almond Cookies


Anything almond flavored is nostalgic for me.  The smell of almond extract transports me back to my childhood summer visits to Sicily.  Once, when visiting my Nonna’s house in Siracusa, my dad arrived with a platter of bakery-bought almond cookies.  They were crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and studded with red and green candied cherries.  Nonna was pleased by the fancy cookies and we all enjoyed sampling them.  Soon, we heard a knock on the door- it was the neighbor coming to greet Nonna’s American visitors. “Presto! Nascondi i biscotti! Quick, hide the cookies!” Nonna hissed.  They were too good for company.

  • 2 1/2 C. finely ground almond flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • more of each sugar for rolling
  • candied cherries

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  In the food processor, pulse the almond flour and sugars until combined.  Add the extracts and egg whites and pulse until a dough forms.   The dough will be sticky- that’s ok.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Dampening your hands with water helps to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands. Roll the balls first in white sugar, then in powdered sugar.  Place the dough balls about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Press a candied cherry into the center of each cookie. Bake for about 18 minutes.  Let them rest for a minute before removing them to a wire rack to cool.  You can keep these wrapped at room temperature, but they also freeze very well.  Don’t forget to hide them when your neighbors come by.



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Almond Apricot Amaretti

My favorite Christmas cookies!



Hands down, my family’s favorite holiday cookie! Amaretti are traditional Italian cookies made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites.  If you buy amaretti they are usually quite crispy and crunchy.  These amaretti are soft and chewy on the inside and a bit crisp around the edges.  In Sicily these would have a candied cherry in the middle.  The dried apricots give them a really nice fruity flavor and chewy texture.  Adapted from Eat The Love.   They are also naturally gluten free!

  • 2 1/2 C. almond meal or almond flour (the ingredients should list only almonds)
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 chopped dried apricots (mine were soft and chewy, not too dry)
  • More sugar and powdered sugar for rolling

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  In the food processor, pulse the almond meal and sugars until…

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Festive Aperol Spritz

Time to head to the liquor store to get stocked up for the holidays!



Aperol, where have you been all my life? You delicious, bitter-in-a-good-way, orangey, golden-pink, teensy-bit-sweet, apertivo! If you like Manhattans, or other not-too-sweet and slightly bitter flavors, you will really enjoy Aperol.  It’s an Italian apertivo that’s made with bitter orange, and has the most incredible cantaloupe color, perfect for festive holiday mixing.  Makes 2

Combine the gin, Aperol, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts over, about 15 seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass and pour the prosecco on top.  Garnish with an orange peel twist.

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Holiday Gifts Roundup

Time to start the baking extravaganza!


Here are my favorite gift ideas for the season.  The chewy chocolate ginger cookies I make every year without fail, and they freeze beautifully, so you could make them today. Just click on the links below the pictures for the recipes.  Merry Christmas!


Sea Salt Caramels


English Toffee


Ginger Molasses Cookies


Chocolate Sables


Rose Water Marshmallows


Gnome Terrariums


Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

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Holiday Leftover Recipe Roundup


007 Potato Chive Fritters

You have a fridge full of leftovers.  If you are like me, you made extra food on purpose so there would be a fridge full of leftovers.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to make a batch of stock with your turkey bones, ham bones, or beef bones.  Throw it all in a big pot with a few veggies and water and you’ll have stock in your freezer for months. Click on the chicken stock recipe link below for more details.  Here are some ideas for your leftovers!

Turkey Macaroni Bake

Ham and White Bean Soup

Ham and Egg Pies

Turkey Croquettes

Potato Chive Fritters

Savory Meatloaf with Leftover Stuffing

Creamy Cauliflower Bake

Making Chicken (or Turkey) Stock

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