eat well, travel often, dream big!

A long time ago I came across a recipe from Mario Batali for Suppli al Telefono – Stuffed Rice Balls.  On a whim I decided to give them a shot and they quickly turned into a family favorite.   They are not hard to make but they are a bit time intensive and can be messy to create. 



3/4 cup dried chopped mushrooms
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon butter
5 eggs
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 onion, chopped
7 ounces ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil (for frying)


Clean the mushrooms and chop.  In a saute pan melt 1 tbsp butter and add the chopped mushrooms and cook 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the beef stock, and 2 tablespoons butter.  Mix well and bring to a boil.   Add the rice, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is done,
stirring occasionally. Turn the rice mixture out into a serving bowl and stir in eggs and Parmesan.

Meanwhile, in another saute pan melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over low heat.  Add the onion and cook over high heat 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until well browned.
Add the mushrooms, mushroom water-tomato paste mixture, and salt and pepper to taste, and keep at a simmer.

In the food processor blend the beef and mushrooms to form a paste.  This will help your meatballs form and stay together. 


Place the meat mixture, bread crumbs, rice, cheese and 3 beaten eggs each in a separate bowl.  Starting with the beef mixture, make a small ball and insert a few pieces of cheese inside.  Next create another layer around the beef with the rice mixture.  Roll the ball in egg mixture and then the bread crumbs.  Complete for all of the balls. 

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat.   Fry the balls in the hot oil until they are golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels. Serve with tomato sauce. 


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I usually prepare a big iftar meal for my husband during Ramadan.  We would eat plenty of haraira, briouats and other tasty traditional Moroccan dishes.  This year I’m alone and going through all that trouble just doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

Instead I’m opting for light and healthy meals.  This was one of those meals.  Basic.  Kefta meatballs in tomato sauce, diced mangos, avocados, a cucumber and yellow tomatoes.  No dressing, just healthy, yummy summer goodness.  The meatballs were especially good.  They weren’t as heavy as most meatballs and I add some cayenne pepper for an extra zing.

Kefta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


1/2 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 c bread crumbs
1 large tomato halved and the inside grated
3 tsp olive oil                                                                                                    


Using a large mixing bowl, add the meat, egg, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, and bread crumbs.  Combine well and shape the mixture into ball shapes.

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil and garlic.  Add the grated tomato and 1/2c of water.

Place the meatballs in and cook on medium heat until the meat is cooked through.  Serve hot and eat with bread or over rice. 

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Tajine of Beef and Apricots

*waves* Hi there!  Remember me?  Probably not it’s been so long since I’ve come by!  It’s been busy around here and the kitchen is the last place that I’ve been.  You see my husband and kids have gone home to Morocco for a few weeks (7 actually), and I’ve been like a bee getting everything together for their trip.  Who knew it could be so much work?  I wish I could say that I was going to – I still think a research trip is in order!  Do they make travel grants for researching blog writers?  

Now however, I will have more time to spend here and also in the kitchen with new ideas!  This recipe is a twist on the Beef and Prune Tajine, pretty much the same recipe, but switching out the prunes for apricots – you could really use any dried fruit in the recipe like dates, or even cherries (that’s a combination I have to try!)


  • 1-2 lb. beef or lamb bone in or bone out– cut into 3-4’” chunks
  • 1/2 lb. onions finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon ginger
  • 5-10 saffron threads
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil (if the meat you are using has more fat then decrease the amount of oil
  • 1 palmful of chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 lb. dried apricots
  • 1-2 tablespoon honey (fresh, organic if possible)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blanched, fried almonds


In a large pot or pressure cooker, add oil to bottom of pan and add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. Mix in the meat and brown, then add spices (salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, parsley, saffron) 

If using a pot on the stove, add enough water to cover the meat. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until meat is very tender and falls away from the bone. You may need to add more water if it cooks off too quickly. Add the cilantro. Bring the meat and liquids to boil. When the meat is cooked removed, and allow the remaining water to reduce to a thick sauce. 

If using a pressure cooker, cover the pressure cooker after adding water and cilantro. Cook on medium heat for between 45-50 minutes. Release pressure and open cover. Remove the meat and reduce the sauce uncovered.
For the apricots: (this can be done while meat is cooking)
Add dried apricots to a small pot with honey and some water, simmer on medium heat, checking to make sure there is enough liquid and they are not burning. Continue simmering until very tender. The length of time for this step depends on the oven as well as the apricots. Towards the end add some cinnamon (more if you like it). Cook until they are sitting in a thick syrup.
This is often topped with fried almonds. To fry almonds: using blanched almonds add some oil to a saute pan and put the whole almonds in. This will only take a few minutes once hot. Be sure to watch as they will burn quickly.
Once complete turn out meat and sauce into a large serving dish. Top with the apricots and sauce, and then the almonds. This is eaten with pieces of crusty bread.

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The sun has finally shown here for more than two consecutive days and I am wavering on the possibility that it just might be summer time….or spring at least…I’m not sure.  I’ve been seeing so many artichoke recipes lately that it was making me tear up just thinking about places where they were already in season when all I was getting here was some rhubarb and early lettuce.  Lucky for me I found some frozen artichoke hearts in the organic frozen foods and snagged a box.

Here was my dilemma going into I really like artichokes?  I like spinach and artichoke dip but to eat an artichoke…oh well I went for it.  Thanks to my mother in law for sharing this recipe with me (and you!)

1/2 box frozen artichoke hearts
1 lb beef (bone in or out)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 lemon quartered and seeded
1 small onion diced
1 handful of Italian parsley chopped finely
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp pepper

In a pressure cooker or a medium saucepan (with a lid), add the vegetable oil and turn to medium high.   Next add the chopped onions and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the beef and brown the meat.  Next add all of the spices, parsley and lemon.  Add enough water until the meat is almost covered.

If using a pressure cover, put the cover on tight and turn to high.  When it starts to whistle turn the heat down to medium high for 30 minutes.  If using a regular pan, again turn the heat to high until it starts to boil and then turn down to medium and place the cover on.  Depending on the cut of beef it will need to cook between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes.  The meat should be falling apart.

When the meat is tender, add the artichokes and peas.  Allow to cook until the liquid in the pan reduces.  You can turn the heat up if you need it to reduce quicker.  The artichokes will soften and become very soft quickly.  The peas should still have a little bite but be soft.  The remaining sauce should be thick.  Pour out the pot onto a large dish, and serve with crusty bread.  Best eaten communally and using the bread as a utensil!

Do you have a favorite artichoke dish?  I think I’m hooked on them now and I still have 1/2 box to use up!  Please share!

**Guest post for sisterswhoblog magazine**

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Soup(s) are not big in our house.  At least they never seemed to be but lately I’ve been hitting on something that is appealing.  I had a bunch of dried beans in the cupboard and was really craving soup – actually I was craving Pasta e Fagoli, you know the kind from Olive Garden with those tasty buttery garlicky breadsticks?  If I went for the soup I’d end up eating half my weight in bread and that’s just not in the cards.  So instead I came up with this recipe.  It’s a bit of an adaption of harira but a bit more substantial and flavored differently.  It got a thumbs up from kids, husband and my mom and step-dad who were over for a visit.  I also served it with oat biscuits with garlic butter – not as good as those breadsticks but less fattening.  I’ll be sharing that recipe soon.

1 medium onion grated
3 tbsp garlic chopped finely
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp white pepper
handful each of italian parsley and cilantro chopped finely
1 14-20 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp tomato paste
3 medium tomatoes grated
1 64oz carton vegetable broth
1/2 lb ground beef, chicken or turkey
1 cup lentils (pre-soaked)
1/2-1 cup white beans (pre-soaked)
1 cup chickpeas (pre soaked)
1 egg yolk
3 tsp flour
Your favorite pasta, rigatoni, orzo, vermicelli work well
**Note – you can use any type of canned bean in this recipe.  Dry beans are more economical and I think taste better but that’s just me.  

**If using dry beans, allow to soak overnight before preparing this recipe.  Optionally you could add them to a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the beans.  Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes to soften up.**

In a large pot add the olive oil, grated onion and garlic. Allow to saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add 1/4 of the vegetable broth to lower the temperature.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and grated tomatoes.  Add all of the spices and herbs.  Allow to simmer while browning the meat.  In a separate pan brown the meat until no longer pink.  Add to the pot and remaining vegetable broth.  Next add the same amount of water as broth.  Lastly add the beans.  Cover and keep the heat on medium heat   If using dry beans, continue to cook for up to 2-3 hours until beans are soft.  If you like them softer, cook longer – for a firmer bite cook a bit less.  If using canned beans or pre-softened beans (from pressure cooker) the cooking time need only be 30-45 minutes.
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As cooking time nears an end, in a seperate bowl add the flour, and enough water to combine – creating a slurry.  Hold this bowl above the cooking pot to allow the contents to warm up and then slowly combine in the soup a little at a time.  You will see the soup thickening.  Do not add the entire bowl at one time or the soup may be more thick than you would like.  Dump any remnants that were not combined.  In the bowl add one egg yolk.  Again hold this over the pot to warm up the yolk.  Slowly drizzle this into the soup.  

If using a full pasta, such as fussili or rigatoni cook in a seperate pot beforehand.  This way you can control how much pasta is combined and the starch from boiling will not affect the body of the soup.  If using vermicelli or orzo, it is easier to mix into the chili itself.  Do not over cook or it will begin to stick.  

Serve hot, with bread and a salad!

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Slow Cooker Tajine with White Beans
Our schedule has been getting consistently busier as my boys are getting older so I’ve had to start playing with the slow cooker a bit.  A few weeks ago I tried another recipe without telling the family that I made it in the slow cooker (they tend to be slow cooker-phobic).  They really liked it so I plan to use it a lot more.  Last night was swimming class and around 3pm I threw this in.  

Slow Cooker Tajine with Beef and White Beans


  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • handful of italian parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp corriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp hot paprika
  • 1/2 of a preserved lemon
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 pound beef (bone in or out your choice)
  • 2 cups white beans – soaked at least 6 hrs preferably overnight
  • 3-4 cups of water (enough to cover the beans and meat)
The directions are pretty straight forward – throw it all in the crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for about 6 hours.  If everything is cooked through and there is still a good bit of water left, pour the contents into a large pot on the stove and boil until liquid is reduced.  
You don’t have to use meat in this recipe – using just white beans works great too!!

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I have been working on getting this post up for sometime.  It’s been longer between posts than I would really like and I hope to change that.  I miss my kitchen!  This recipe I originally found in Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert. If you’re serious about Moroccan food you need to own this cookbook.  I loved reading it!  (Yes I do read cookbooks!).  You can find the original recipe in her book, but I made a few changes.  One of my favorite new kitchen tools is a steamer that sits right into a pan.  I got mine from Pampered Chef for less than $20 and have used it often – this recipe included.


1 lb beef cuts (bone in or out)

1/2 onion chopped

2 tsp olive oil

2 tbsp cumin

1 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

handful of chopped parsley

1 tsp ginger

2 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves chopped garlic

1/2 lb – 1 lb cauliflour (decide based on what you like)


Saute onions and garlic (is using cloves) in olive oil on medium heat in pressure cooker or dutch oven with a cover. Once translucent add meat and brown on all sides. Add all spices and add water, enough to cover meat. If using a pressure cooker, cover and cook for 40-45 minutes on medium high heat. Check water after 30 minutes, add more if needed. If cooking in a dutch oven, cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, checking meat starting at 50 minutes. The meat should end up tender with a thick juice left in the pan. Transfer to an oven safe baking dish, with enough room to add cauliflour. Preheat the oven to 375.

In a seperate pan, steam cauliflour seperately. When finished add to oven safe dish with the meat. Place into preheated oven and cook 15 minutes until cauliflour begins to turn a golden color.


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Moroccan Mini Meatloafs and Spicy Smashed Potatoes

I started getting Food Network magazine around Christmas time and really enjoy reading it.  I have found most of the recipes to be fairly basic but fun to look at and figure out ways to change them up.  In the December issue there was a recipe for Skillet Meatloaf and I decided to take that and mix it up a little bit.   This recipe is a bit like a deconstructed briouat.   


  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs 
  • 1 tbsp salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • a handful of chopped up Italian parsley


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix well. Then begin forming into small meatloaf rounds, about 3 inches long and an inch thick.  In a skillet add 2 tbsp vegetable oil.  When heated, add several of the rounds, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Cook through about 4 minutes on each side.  

I also made a sauce to accompany them by mixing;

  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4c of ketchup
  • 1/2c water

Simmer in a saute pan and allowed to simmer until reduced.  My husband thought the sauce was too sweet, so you could increase the amount of vinegar to have a more tangy flavor.  

The potatoes I simply peeled and boiled, smashed with butter, heavy cream, cumin, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  

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