Grandma LaBarber’s Potato Gnocchi

The first time I made gnocchi, half the kitchen ended up covered in flour! I truly had no idea what I was doing – all I knew is that my husband loves gnocchi and, because I love him, I was determined to make gnocchi for him. Fortunately, my technique has gotten much better and, though I do not use this recipe as we both like Ricotta Gnocchi  (thank you Budget Bytes) much better, I am including it for those who want a basic potato gnocchi recipe.

Grandma LaBarber's Potato Gnocchi
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins

These gnocchi are delicious, especially when smothered with Grandma LaBarber's Red Sauce.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Author: WW
  • 1-1/2 cups water *
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 envelope mashed potato granules 5-serving size
  • 1 ea. egg slightly beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 qt. *boiling, salted water for cooking gnocchi
  1. Combine water, salt, and oil in medium-size saucepan and heat to boiling. 

  2. Remove from heat, stir in potatoes and cool slightly.

  3. Stir in egg and flour.

  4. Shape potato dough into strips about 3/4" in diameter. Cut strips into 1" pieces.

  5. NOTE: Gnocchi are traditionally 'rolled' by taking each piece and rolling the back side of a fork over the piece to form ridges. The original recipe didn't call for rolling, but I always do it!

  6. Drop about 1/4 of the gnocchi pieces at a time into the boiling salted water. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes (or until gnocchi float to the surface).

  7. Remove from water with slotted spoon and plate with red sauce.

Recipe Notes

Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for later use. Place on tray in freezer until individual pieces are frozen, then vacuum seal.

Grandma LaBarber’s Meatballs

This is the recipe I use when making meatballs – otherwise, I would have to listen to my husband’s protests of ‘these don’t taste like my grandma’s meatballs’, followed by a walk down memory lane filled with big chunks of onions, perfect spices, and huge, glorious, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs drenched in red sauce. I never met her, but the stories about Grandma LaBarber’s cooking prowess run rampant. She was truly the standard by which all other cooks are judged!

These are great meatballs, by the way, whether eaten straight out of the pan or nestled atop a mountain of red sauce-covered pasta. While I normally only use extra-lean ground beef, these beauties call for ground chuck, and that’s what they get! While my cooking will never rival Grandma LaBarber’s, I do my best to give my husband a taste of that legendary cooking.

Grandma LaBarber's Meatballs
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

If you're gonna make meatballs, make them big, juicy, and full of Italian flavor. Whether you eat them nestled atop red sauce-covered pasta, or in an Italian steak roll slathered with red sauce and buried in melted mozzarella, these meatballs make a big statement! I suggest doubling, or even tripling, this recipe and freezing any leftovers (if there are any). 

Sear and partially cook meatballs if canning in red sauce.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Author: WW
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 ea. eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley to taste
  • sprinkle pepper to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. salt to taste
  • 1 ea. onion, medium chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 dash powdered cloves optional
  • basil 1/2 tsp. or more if desired
  • fennel seeds 1/2 tsp. or more if desired
  1. Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl.

  2. Form meatballs about 1-1/2" diameter

  3. Place in heated frying pan and cook until no longer pink, turning occasionally to brown all sides.

  4. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel-covered plate, or immediately add to red sauce.

Recipe Notes
  1. We get our Parmesan cheeses from Latina Importing in Niagara Falls, NY via special delivery from visiting friends. Whenever we visit there, we always bring home Latina's cheese (enough to last the whole year). These cheeses freeze well (thank goodness) when vacuum-sealed.
  2. Meatballs can also be baked on a nonstick cookie sheet at 425 °F for about 15 minutes (but it's just not the same).

Grandma LaBarber’s Red Sauce

 This is the red sauce recipe I always use, although I have been known (on many occasions) to add some extras. The original is a copy her son (my husband’s uncle) sent us – it’s hard to read but we’ve got this!

My husband talks about his grandmother’s cooking all the time: red sauce, homemade Italian bread, gnocchi, pasta, cookies, Italian Easter egg baskets … I wish I could have met her. I do my best to honor her memory by using recipes of hers that I do have. These recipes have surprised me, since somehow I expected that she would start red sauce from fresh tomatoes and gnocchi from fresh potatoes  🙂 

Grandma LaBarber's Red Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 20 mins

The recipe calls this Tomato Sauce and credits Ma LaBarber as the author. To us it's Grandma's red sauce...

If you're going to pressure can this sauce, double the recipe to make about 6 quarts.

Course: Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12 people
Author: WW
  • 1 ea. onion, large chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, large chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 29 oz. can crushed tomatoes with puree
  • 3 ea. bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • pinch pepper (large pinch)
  • 4 ea. allspice, whole
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds (heaping tbsp.)
  1. In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. 

  2. Add onion, garlic, and parsley, and cook until onion is transparent.

  3. Add rest of ingredients (tomato sauce through fennel seeds) and stir well to blend.

  4. Bring to low boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

  5. Add water if sauce is too thick.

Recipe Notes

Optional ingredients (add with main ingredients):

  • sliced Italian sausage links or crumbled Italian sausage 
  • sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
  • mushrooms
  • meatballs
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (for a little more kick)

I make this sauce twice a year and pressure can it. No, dear husband, I do not make sauce-on-demand.



Basil-Garlic Pesto Parmesan Chicken

With a still-sick husband, dinner needed to be quick and quiet since he was napping on the sofa. I had already given him some Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch, along with some cold medicine, and it knocked him out. I wanted something easy and chicken-y (I had already pulled chicken breasts from the freezer and he obviously wasn’t grilling!), and I wanted to cook in the toaster oven since it’s the perfect size for meals-for-two.

It’s easy to end up with dry chicken breasts, but coating them helps keep the juices in; now, what to use? I was pawing through the fridge looking for some Caesar or ranch dressing when I happened upon some basil-garlic pesto on the very bottom shelf of the door – so basil-garlic pesto chicken it is! The Parmesan was an afterthought, but just the right touch.

I ended up using some packaged Panko breadcrumbs from the pantry instead of my usual homemade vacuum-sealed breadcrumbs so I wouldn’t have to reseal the FreshSaver® bag. The vacuuming process can be quite noisy and didn’t fit my quick-and-quiet dinner plan.

Basil-Garlic Pesto Parmesan Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

It's easy to end up with dry chicken breasts, but coating them helps keep the juices in. Thick creamy salad dressings are my usual go-to's (ranch, Caesar, etc.) but I settled on pesto and Panko with delicious results!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 3
Author: WW
  • 3 ea. boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/3 cup basil-garlic pesto
  • 1-1/2 cup breadcrumbs Panko or other unseasoned
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
  • olive oil nonstick cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 425 °F

  2. Spray cookie sheet or other baking pan with non-stick spray

  3. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry

  4. Place 1/3 of pesto on each chicken breast and rub to coat 

  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

  6. Roll chicken breasts in breadcrumbs and place on pan

  7. Press additional breadcrumbs onto top of chicken if needed

  8. Spray top of chicken with non-stick spray

  9. Bake at 425 °F for 15-25 minutes or until juices run clear

Recipe Notes

Serve with roasted potatoes and green beans (I microwaved Green Giant® Vegetable Medley to save time and noise)



©2018 Warrior Woman's Kitchen

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

In my ongoing effort to replace a lot of prepackaged foods with fresh ingredients, I’m always trying to ‘cook up’ something to use ingredients I have in my pantry and fridge. My goal is not only to cook healthier, but to get the pantry contents whittled down to the point where I actually know what I’m running low on!

Healthier? Almost 2 cups of cheese? Anyway, cheese is a dairy product and dairy is good for you, and there is more broccoli than cheese! In this case, I would not recommend using anything less than 2% cheese, as it will probably not melt properly. 

I forget what I bought the Farfalle for originally, but there sat half a box and me with no more air-tight containers for pasta (I already have 8 filled containers of various cuts in the pantry). Before the weather decided to get warm and humid, it was time to use it up.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

This is a great pasta side to make when you have half a box of pasta, some leftover chicken, and some broccoli. The ingredients are simple and you probably have them in your fridge and pantry. The pepper jack gives this side a little kick, but is not overly hot or spicy. My husband said 'It's good', which is much better than 'It's fine' (translates to 'I could take it or leave it')

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 1-cup each
Author: WW
  • 1/2 lb. Farfalle pasta (bowties) or other substantial cut
  • 2 qt. water
Chicken & Cheese Sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced sweet or yellow
  • 3/4 tsp. salt plus additional for seasoning at end
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper ground
  • 2 ea. chicken breast halves cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic fresh or prepacked
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard can substitute brown spicy
  • 1/4 cup Moscato wine can substitute any white wine or white cooking wine
  • 1-1/2 cups pepperjack cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 2 cups broccoli steamed, fresh or frozen
Pasta Prep
  1. Bring water to a rolling boil and add pasta

  2. Cook al dente according to package instructions, stirring occasionally; do not overcook!

  3. Drain and set aside. If chicken and cheese sauce is lagging behind, add a splash of olive oil to the pasta and stir to coat. This will prevent the bowties sticking together.

Chicken and Cheese Sauce Prep
  1. While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in Gotham Steel deep square 9-12” pan or other large, deep frying pan

  2. Add chicken and onion. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, stirring frequently.

  3. Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and mustard and stir to mix.

  4. Add wine and heat through.

  5. Add cheese. Stir until melted.

  6. Add pasta and broccoli. Stir until completely coated.

  7. Remove from heat and season to taste.

Recipe Notes
  1. I used Yellow Tail® Moscato, which provided a subtle flavor to the sauce
  2. Kraft® shredded Parmesan was used, but feel free to shred your own. I just didn't feel like it 😉 
  3. I used broccoli florets fresh from the garden, but frozen will work - just don't cook the veggies to mush! A firmer texture provides needed contrast to the pasta.

©2018 Warrior Woman's Kitchen



©2018 Warrior Woman’s Kitchen

Stromboli Supreme

 Sometimes I get obsessed, like today when I decided to (finally) sort through some old papers I had been stuffing in expandable folders for … I found some papers from when I lived in an apartment 15 years and 2 cars ago. I don’t need the insurance policy for the car I traded in 7 years ago, and I don’t need my (now defunct) US Airways reward miles card either. In the end, I had 1-1/2 expandable folders of papers that I do need to resort and file away, and two 13-gallon trash bags of shredded junk. I was so obsessed that when I finally hauled out the last trash bag, I looked at the clock and realized that the laundry wasn’t put away, the master bath still needed cleaning, and dinner needed to be on the table in 3 hours – and there was nothing on my cooking radar!

Sorting through papers is a slow process, but coming up with a delicious dinner doesn’t need to be (thank goodness!). I opened the refrigerator and found two leftover pork chops, some chicken soup stock, and … a can of refrigerated pizza crust I had picked up a couple weeks ago when it was on sale. With a jar of Ragu pizza sauce and some pepperoni in the pantry, green and yellow peppers, onions, tomatoes, Mozzarella and parmesan cheese in the fridge, sliced mushrooms and some ground Italian sausage in the freezer – how about trying something new (at least new from my kitchen)  – Stromboli.

There are many ways that Stromboli can be put together, but I was yearning for a half-moon version like I used to order from my favorite pizza place in a small upstate NY town. I wanted it to taste like that one, even if I really didn’t have time to make my own pizza dough so it would look like that one too. Refrigerated pizza crust rolls are handy but not a drop-in substitute for homemade crust; however, with now 2-1/2 hours left before dinner needed to be on the table, I was a beggar who couldn’t be choosy. Since I was taking shortcuts for almost everything (I did have some frozen sliced peppers and onions from the summer garden but I’m saving those for hot sausage sandwiches), I decided to roll the dice and see if I could transfer the picture in my mind to a Stromboli on the pizza pan (I do have a pizza stone but I use it for baking Italian bread and didn’t want to crud it up).

I started by setting the oven for 400 °F. While I was slicing and dicing veggies, I nuke-defrosted the Italian sausage, then threw the sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms into my Gotham Steel 9” square deep pan and cooked over medium heat until the sausage was almost done. Once the sausage mixture was cooking away, I cracked open the pizza crust can, oiled the pan, and reshaped the dough into a circle.  The square pan got a cover and the burner was turned to low just for a few minutes to soften up the veggies, after which I mixed in the diced tomato then drained off the excess liquid.

Assembly line time:

  • Add the pizza sauce
  • Add the seasoning
  • Add the pepperoni
  • Add the sausage mixture
  • Add the mozzarella and parmesan
  • Fold the crust over to make a half-moon shape and seal edges
  • Poke some vent holes and pop it in the oven

Dinner was ready in just under 2 hours from brainchild to golden brown results. It would only have taken an hour if I hadn’t waffled over what to make and then spent 30 minutes digging through the fridge, pantry, and freezer deciding what ingredients to use. Next time I’ll make my own pizza dough and maybe even break out the pizza stone…but I won’t be able to spend the whole day forgetting about dinner! The results were less than beauty-pageant-ready, and the crust did not rise like homemade dough would, but if I close my eyes and imagine it’s snowing, I can taste that familiar upstate NY Stromboli flavor from my Florida kitchen. This was one delicious ugly duckling!

Okay, one more thing: I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing, but just in case it was an epic failure, I nuke-defrosted a package of vacuum-sealed chicken casserole and popped it in the oven with the Stromboli…we can eat that tomorrow.

Stromboli Supreme
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr

Don't let the pictures fool you: this was delicious stromboli, even if the crust didn't rise like  I wanted it to. The texture of the crust was fine but I wanted some puffiness that I just didn't get from a can of refrigerated pizza dough. It's probably worth the effort to make your own dough!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Author: WW
Sausage Filling
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage hot or mild
  • 1/2 ea. green bell pepper cut in strips
  • 1/2 ea. yellow bell pepper cut in strips
  • 1/2 ea. red bell pepper cut in strips
  • 1/2 ea. sweet onion sliced
  • 1/2 cup mushroom slices fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 ea. tomato diced
Other Ingredients
  • pizza dough enough for one 12" round crust
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce canned or fresh
  • 12 slices pepperoni thin
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese shredded or grated
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning grinder or shaker type
  • olive oil or olive oil nonstick spray
Sausage Filling Prep
  1. Add Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms to a large frying pan 
  2. Cook on medium low until sausage is browned but not crispy, breaking up into small chunks while cooking
  3. Turn burner to low and cover for about 5 minutes to soften vegetables

  4. Remove from heat and stir in diced tomatoes 
  5. Drain excess liquid from pan and set mixture aside 
Crust Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F

  2. Lightly oil a 12-in round pizza pan

  3. Shape the pizza dough to completely cover the bottom of the pan

  4. Spread pizza sauce over half of dough

  5. Grind/shake Italian seasoning over sauce 

  6. Place sliced pepperoni evenly over sauce

Final Assembly
  1. Spread about one cup of sausage filling over pepperoni. 

  2. Add mozzarella then Parmesan

  3. Fold the other half of the pizza dough over the prepared pizza dough, pinching the edges together to seal
  4. Use a fork to poke several holes through the top of the crust to vent
  5. Bake at 400 °F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown
  6. Let stand for a few minutes before slicing pie-style

  7. Stromboli round #2 with a better pizza dough; it looked like there are a couple of burned spots but, in fact, they were just raised higher than most of the crust and were a darker brown. At least the crust raised this time!

Recipe Notes
  1. You can make your own Italian seasoning by mixing equal amounts of oregano, basil, and rosemary
  2. 1/4 of the stromboli is very filling and should be enough for each person, unless you have teenagers, in which case there is never enough food!
  3. If you want the stromboli piled high with filling, you can double the amount of filling but use slightly less than 1/2 of the pizza dough to make sure you have enough 'top' to seal the seams! Baking  time does not change.


©2018 Warrior Woman's Kitchen



Chicken Cacciatore

I fell in love with chicken cacciatore when I was 16 years old, and all that was required was to throw two pouches (one rotini and one cacciatore) into a pan of boiling water and wait for it to be done. Ah, the good ol’ boil-in-bag days!

My husband is Italian and loves Italian food: spaghetti, rigatoni, shells, tortellini, ricotta gnocchi, meatballs with big chunks of onions…  While surfing the internet, I found a few recipes for chicken cacciatore but couldn’t find one that sounded/looked like my 16-year-old dream cacciatore , so I decided to come up with my own highly-modified recipe. Slow-cooker recipes leave me a lot more time to play in the kitchen, so this one uses a slow-cooker.

Even though my cacciatore is served over rotini, my husband loves rigatoni, so I played the dutiful wife and made him a happy camper when it was time for dinner 😉  

Chicken Cacciatore
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
Total Time
8 hrs 15 mins

Even though my cacciatore is served over rotini, my husband loves rigatoni, so I played the dutiful wife and made him a happy camper when it was time for dinner 😉  

My mom gave me a 4-qt. West Bend slow cooker many years ago and, like everything I have left to remind me of her, I cherish it and use it every chance I get...

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 people
Author: WW
  • 4 ea. boneless skinless fresh chicken breasts thawed and drained if using frozen
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 qt. red sauce (spaghetti sauce) homemade or canned
  • 1 ea. green bell pepper seeded and cut in strips
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced fresh or frozen
  • 1 ea. yellow onion, medium roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. garlic, minced fresh or prepackaged
  • 4 oz. black olives, sliced small can
  • 1 tsp. oregano more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp. basil more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp. salt more or less to taste
  • 8 oz. pasta (rotini, angel hair, penne, rigatoni, or other) more or less depending on number of servings desired
  • 4 qt. water
  1. Dredge chicken breasts in flour and place in bottom of 4-qt. or larger slow cooker
  2. Add rest of ingredients except pasta

  3. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or until chicken is cooked; be careful to overcook

  4. Remove chicken and shred into medium pieces (if chicken does not shred easily, continue cooking, checking every 30 minutes)

  5. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and cook on low another 30 minutes 

  6. Turn slow cooker to lowest setting/warm

  7. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and add pasta

  8. Cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking

  9. Drain and top with cacciatore

  10. Serve with Romaine Salad

Recipe Notes

Leftover cacciatore can be frozen. I always freeze our leftovers for those days when I spent too much time playing in the kitchen and not enough time planning dinner  😳