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Jeff Mauro’s Italian Beef Stromboli

Italian Beef StromboliAs I was nursing my third cup of coffee on Saturday morning, I still wasn’t feeling up to leaving the warmth of my snuggly blanket. It was your typical frigid New England morning complete with sleeting rain. The couch was a safer bet.

I had already watched Farmhouse Rules (love), The Pioneer Woman and Trisha Yearwood’s show which I rather like even though I dislike country music. That woman can cook.

And that’s usually the end of my Saturday television watching. The Kitchen follows Trisha and I’ve never really gotten into watching it. Probably because I’m feeling kind of guilty for sitting in front of the tv that long by the time The Kitchen comes on.

Or maybe it’s because that’s as long as I can keep the girls away from the Wii on Saturday mornings. Yes, that’s what usually brings my coffee/food show happy time to a close.

But by some stroke of luck, no one asked for the television this past Saturday morning. So there I stayed and watched an episode of The Kitchen. This episode was all about game day food and one recipe caught my eye. Jeff Mauro was making an Italian Beef Stromboli that looked outlandishly good.

Soft chunks of slow roasted beef slathered with provolone cheese and hot peppers all rolled up in a beautifully browned pizza crust. It looked so good that I actually braved the sleeting rain to pick up the ingredients.

And while I wanted to share my next installment of my Kardashian cookbook review (no I haven’t given up on that, sorry to say), this couldn’t wait. I had such amazing success with Jeff’s recipe that I wanted to share it with you so that you have plenty of time to pick up the ingredients before next weekend’s big game.

Let me show you why this recipe is a winner…

Italian Beef StromboliYou start with a chuck roast. Now on the show Jeff says to make the roast for dinner one night and then use the leftovers for this recipe. Don’t listen to that advice. If you follow his recipe and use exactly the same measurements, you will have enough meat to fill two strombolis like the recipe calls for. If you eat half of it the night before, your strombolis won’t have enough filling.

Italian Beef Stromboli

How gorgeous is this roast? My house smelled like Italy in the very best of ways. SO much garlic!

pizza dough

I used my favorite pizza dough recipe for this stromboli, but you could make your life easier by buying pre made dough from the store. I doubt anyone will notice or care if you take this simple shortcut.

Italian Beef Stromboli

Once the meat is shredded and the dough is rolled out, the fun begins. The shredded beef is piled on top of slices of provolone and then you layer red peppers and peperoncini peppers overtop. The original recipe calls for giardiniera which is a pickled veggie mix that includes cauliflower. None of my kids are down with pickled cauliflower, so I used the peperoncini instead.

Italian Beef Stromboli

I also added one extra layer of cheese, because…cheese! Why not? Everything is supposed to be a little over the top on game day. Extra cheese for the win!

Italian Beef StromboliAfter it was done baking I opened the oven and angels sang. Ok, maybe there weren’t any angels singing, but the kids were standing there with plates in hand oohing and ahhing which is almost as good as singing angels.

So if you are looking for a game day appetizer, look no further. This is it. An appetizer touchdown for sure!

Are you cooking up any nibbles for the big game? What are your appetizer favorites?

Focus On Gratitude: 45 Things That Make Me Grateful

This post is inspired by my friend Danielle whose birthday is the day after mine. She wrote a lovely post on things that make her grateful. One thing for each of her forty-two years that she has graced the planet.

Danielle is a wonderfully positive woman. In the years that I’ve known her, not once has she had a negative word to say. She is a bright shiny light in my social media world and her posts always make me smile.

As I read through her list, I realized another reason why I am drawn to her. We are thankful for so many similar things. And while it might look that I’ve copied her in my list, it’s just a happy coincidence that two like people are friends. Sort of makes sense.

So let’s get started. A list of forty-five things that I’m thankful for makes a mighty long post. Thank God Im not eighty-five yet…



1. My Kids - That sort of goes without saying, right? Aren’t we moms hardwired that way? To be thankful for the most precious gift that we could ever receive? But speaking as a child who didn’t have that kind of mom, I know better. And I think the weight of that knowledge has influenced my relationship with my kids. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not. I can be overprotective and overbearing but at the same time I try very hard to be fair and loving. Being a mom is hard stuff. I’m thankful for the lessons motherhood has taught me and the love it’s brought into my life.


2. The Ocean- Ever since I was a small child, the ocean has given me a tremendous peace. I am so very grateful that I have lived in a coastal community for my entire adult life. And I’m very happy to report that this will still be true when I relocate. One of my favorite activities is shelling and hunting for sea glass. A simple pleasure that costs nothing, but adds tremendous value to my life. And watching the waves crash on the shore works better for calming nerves than any prescription drug out there.

3. A Good Television Series- I don’t watch much television other than the news and the Food Network. But when I do watch tv, it’s usually in the form of a series watched via Netflix. Right now I’m watching Mad Men and I’m smitten with it. I love being swallowed whole by a series and binge watching it until I’m done. I’ve done this with other shows like Downton Abbey and Girls. Although Girls lost me when the writing started to weaken, but for awhile there I was addicted.

4. Vintage Pyrex- But you already knew that about me, right? Nothing thrills me more than finding a beautiful vintage Pyrex piece for a buck at a yard sale. I could have a thousand bowls and I’d still have a hard time resisting picking one up on the cheap at a yard sale. I guess there are worse things (and more expensive) to be addicted to.


5. My Friends-  There’s not enough space in this post to share a picture of all the friends I’ve been blessed with who’ve supported me not only this year, but many years prior. The past three years in particular have been very trying. My friends have been there for me through thick and thin. I look at them as family and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for blessing me with them.

6. My Father and Donna- My Dad and his wife Donna are really the only family I have besides my children. And while it sounds like a very small family, it’s enough. They love me and I love them. You can’t ask for much more than that when it comes to family.


7. My Camera- While I don’t think it’s good to put too much value on “things”, there are a few things that I own that I adore. The aforementioned Pyrex being one of them and this camera. I am so very very thankful that I was able to purchase my camera to help me grow my photography skills. I’m still learning how to use it, but every time I touch it I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I have a solid camera to work with.

8. Blogging- I had no idea how much blogging would change my life when I wrote my first post. The friends that would come into my life, the opportunities that would be given to my family and the job opportunities that came my way were all directly related to this blog. And while blogging doesn’t pay much in the way of dollars, it’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.

9. My Readers- What’s the point of having a blog if no one ever reads it? My readers (that means you) bring me so much joy. When I hear that a reader gets something from my posts it makes my day. Without you there’s no blog. So thank you for that!

10. Birds- At the risk of sounding like I’m entering my golden years with binoculars in hand, I’m going to share that I LOVE listening to birds. It’s right up there with walking on the beach. I went to Costa Rica last year and that was one of the highlights of my trip. Tropical birds are squawky things and so much fun to listen to. But I do enjoy local birds including blue jays, cardinals and especially birds of prey like eagles. I have one exception. Woodpeckers. I am so excited that my next house is made of brick. Good luck with that, woodpecker.


11. Wine- Cabernet Sauvignon is my wine of choice and there’s nothing quite like it after a very long day. God bless the grape.


12. Chocolate- Of course wine would be quickly followed by chocolate. My favorite chocolate is good old fashioned Hershey Bars. But if I’m going to go fancy, it’s going to be Fran’s. Their salted chocolate caramels are the best.

13. Swiss Miss- Almost every day of my life starts with a cup of coffee with a pack of Swiss Miss mixed in. No other hot chocolate will do. Just Swiss Miss. It’s my one very odd addiction. At least the only one I’m willing to share with you. Ha!

14. Spring Summer and Fall- Ok, this is really three things, but you get the idea. The three months out of the year that I’m physically comfortable. I don’t do cold well. Thank goodness I’m moving to a more temperate climate. These New England winters have been something.

15. October- Oh how I love the fall. It’s the most splendid time of the year. Why does it have to be so short? I guess good things are that way sometimes. Lovely and fleeting. The crunch of leaves under my boots is almost as satisfying as sand between the toes.


16.Cooking- Some people knit, sew or paint, I cook. I am so very thankful for my abilities to whip up good stuff to eat in the kitchen. While some people look at it as drudgery, I find joy in it. Feeding my family and sharing recipes with my readers gives me so much satisfaction.

vintage cookbooks

17. Cookbooks- I collect two things, Pyrex and cookbooks. Seems to go hand in hand, right? And if it’s a vintage cookbook, all the better. I know that in this age of Pinterest people go online for most of their recipe needs, I still find it much more satisfying to flip through a cookbook. I’m a little old fashioned this way.


18. Vacations- Getting away with the family is such a treat and honestly a privilege. And I’m so thankful for the places I’ve explored with my kids and also without. I know it’s a luxury that not everyone gets to experience and I am so thankful for the travel opportunities that have come my way. This coming year I will hardly travel at all. A huge change from years past. This year is the year of transition and all my focus and resources have to be on the move ahead. That said, I do have one family trip planned coming up that should tide us over for the year. More on that in the weeks to come.

19. My Wubbie- I have this one blanket that’s been my special blanket for years. It’s just long enough to cover me from head to toe and it’s made of the softest most velvety fabric. It’s what keeps me sane through the winter months. Yes I’m a forty-five year old toddler.

aidan guitar

20. Kid Music- All of my kids play a musical instrument and three of them sing. Listening to them play makes me incredibly happy and proud.

21. Pedicures- If I’m getting my toes painted it means I’m going to wear flip flops. And this usually means that I’m going somewhere warm or the seasons are changing. Pedicures mean happy feet and a happy heart.

22. Trees- My love for trees is right up there with my love of birds. Such a strange thing to find joy in, right? It’s not like they do anything. But still, I love them just the same. My new house has a forest in the backyard and four mature crepe myrtles in the front. I am looking forward to seeing them bloom.


23. Bacon- For the obvious reasons. Bacon. Do I need to say anything more?

24. My Laptop- It would be really hard to blog without a computer. I am so thankful that I have a laptop and internet service. Something that is a luxury if you think about it. This thing is the lifeline between you and I, so for that I am entirely thankful.

25. Hugs and Kisses- There’s nothing like a spontaneous hug or kiss from my kids. And if it comes from my teen son, a miracle.

26. Gas Points- Thank you Stop & Shop for keeping me fueled with cheap gas. May your program last for all of my remaining days on this planet.

27. My flatiron- I’m not sure who invented the thing but they deserve some kind of award. You’d never see a picture of me without it.

28. Social Media- Ok, this one can go two ways. It can be a blessing and a curse. As long as you remember that people are usually posting there very best moments on Facebook and ground yourself with the knowledge that not everyone leads an amazing life every second of every day, social media can be a huge blessing. I love staying in touch with my friends and seeing the good things that are happening in their lives. And I love sharing my life with them. But once again, just remember that it’s not always rainbows and cupcakes every day.


29. Skype- Another invention that deserves an award. Over Christmas break I used Skype to stay in touch with my kids. I am SO thankful for this technology and know that I will rely on this when the kids are spending time with their father down the road. I’ve also used it to have a long distance cocktail party with my girlfriends. A mighty fine communication tool indeed.


30. Shells- I already kind of mentioned this, but I do believe it needs it’s own line item. I adore collecting shells from beaches around the world. It fascinates me how unique shells are to the area where they are found. And the sea glass too. All the different colors are fascinating. I have a glass hurricane jar full of shells I’ve collected over the years. I love marveling at them all.

31. Good Doctors- I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for exceptional medical care. I’m profoundly thankful for the doctors in my life who put me back together again after the accident. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on that. That goes for the nurses, physical therapists and home health aides too. Fine peoples.

32. Books- I don’t often have time to read, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy a book that I can get lost in. You know the kind. The one that you will stay up until 3am to read? I love those.

Palm Trees

33. Palm Trees- I already listed trees, but palm trees are a category unto themselves. Seeing them means I’m on vacation while wearing flip flops with pedicured toes. The happiest trees on the planet.

hair color

34. Hair Color- It’s magical.

35. Happy People- I’m with my friend Danielle on this one for sure. There’s something about being with positive people. Uplifting. I try very hard to surround myself with positive people because it affects me in every way. Positive people are contagious.

36. The 4th of July- It’s my favorite holiday of the year. I love everything about it. Celebrating our freedom is a precious thing. Of course fireworks, pigging out on grilled foods and hanging with friends is fun too, but I love the heart of this holiday. In all of its red white and blue spangled glory.

37. Amazon- I cannot even begin to tell you how much time and money Amazon has saved me. It’s completely changed the way I shop. And Amazon Prime is the cat’s meow. I remember the days of running from store to store to find what I needed. Those days are long gone.

38. Teachers- As a mom of special needs kids, good teachers are a HUGE gift. I am so thankful for the teachers that have had a positive impact on my kids’ lives. Precious gems for sure.

39. Snow Days- I am just as giddy as the kids when there’s a snow day. Not that I love snow, mind you. However, I do love lazy winter days when I can cook the kids a hot breakfast, burrow under the covers on the couch and just chill for the day. Oh, and no lunches to pack. Bonus!

40. Bonus Fries- Those stray fries that are stragglers in the bottom of the takeout bag when you think you’ve eaten all the fries that were in your box. Those fries taste the best.


41. A Roaring Fire- There’s nothing like the snap crackle and pop of a fire. And the smell is heavenly. It calms me the way waves do. Rather hypnotic.

42. My Bed- I’m a total nester. My bed is a mess of pillows and thick comfy blankets. Sleeping is delicious. If past lives were a thing, I might’ve been a bear previously.


43. Sibling Peace- As a mom of four, moments of sibling peace need to be appreciated. I cherish the times when there’s harmony between all kids. Not that this happens very often, but when it does oh how I enjoy it.

44. A Good Hair Day- Ok so I’m reaching here, but YOU try listing out forty-five things you are thankful for and see how you do. A good hair day is especially nice when you are a curly girl. Humidity is my enemy.

45. Second Chances- I am most thankful for second chances. God has given me many of them throughout my life and I am a better woman for it.