Monday Night Football Feast – Week 7

Hey everyone! I am finally bringing you a post (potentially a series of posts) that I’ve been wanting to share for a long time now!

As many of you who follow my Instagram feed know, every week my friend Dave (HI DAVE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) hosts Monday Night Football at his house and cooks a meal typical of whatever city is hosting that night’s game. This tradition of his isn’t new – he’s been doing it for a few years now — I’m just new to the friend group. Actually, the moment I showed up Week 1 with Beer Mac n’ Cheese in hand was probably the moment they decided I was allowed to come back haha.

Anyway, instead of kicking in a few bucks for the food, I’ve used the MNF tradition as an excuse/inspiration to challenge myself to make creative dishes to share. Here’s a few of the themes we’ve had so far and what I’ve brought:

Week 1: at Washington. Good ol’ American hamburgers & freshly cut/deep fried French fries (Dave’s contribution) and Beer Mac n’ Cheese from yours truly (one of my Cooking Bucket List items!!)

Week 2: At Cincinnati. David made breakfast pizzas with a base of Goetta, (a sausage native to Cincinnati) topped with scrambled eggs & spinach

Week 4: At New Orleans. Dave made traditional gumbo (left) and gumbo z’herbes (right), and I made and fried BEIGNETS! Those beignets might actually get their own separate post one of these Mondays.


Week 5: at Atlanta. I actually couldn’t make it that week, but I had already made loaded mashed potatoes to go with Dave’s fried chicken and collard greens, and Landai’s peach cobbler. These guys were loaded with bacon, chives, and cheddar cheese. YUM.

Now, for week 7

We spent all day in the kitchen yesterday (seriously my happy place) preparing an Italian feast for tonight’s game, which is hosted by the New York Giants. My game plan was to make tomato sauce from scratch and two different kinds of gnocchi, and Dave prepped stuff for Caesar salad, garlic bread, and meatballs. Tonight he’ll also be cooking up minestrone soup, and grilled lamb. Needless to say…….we’re gonna have a lot of food.


First up was the sauce! For 2 kinds of gnocchi, I decided to make 2 kinds of sauces. The first was a tomato sauce (from scratch! See my recipe here) with onions, peppers, and mild Italian sausage.



This was probably the most time consuming item of the day. I forgot how long it takes to peel and de-seed tomatoes! It’s totally therapeutic, though.


This is the best picture I got of my meat sauce. Saaarrrrrrry.

Next up was the gnocchi – I got regular Russet potatoes (to pair with the tomato sauce) as well as a few sweet potatoes (with which I’m hoping to pair with a mushroom cream sauce) and went to town.


Dave actually had a ricer, which was a total luxury. The last time I made gnocchi, I used a hand grater! Here’s the riced Russet potatoes with the cooked sweet potato.



Next it was time for the sweet potato. I think I over-cooked them, because it was a lot harder to gather the sweet potato into a dough. We decided to forgo the typical gnocchi ridges for those ones since they were too delicate, but I thought the ridges looked awesome on the regular potato gnocchi!


And voila! Into the freezer they went, and out they came a day later!

Here’s how they looked after cooking….they were a little mushy because they thawed a bit too much before I could get them into the boiling water. But they were still delicious!

Here’s some of the other food:


Ravioli with Nicole’s family recipe meat sauce


Nicole’s meat sauce with Dave’s minestrone soup stew in the back.

What’s your favorite Football Food?

Do you have any fun cooking traditions you do with friends? MNF meals, “family” dinners, etc?

Tomato Sauce from Scratch: Who Needs Therapy?

Sometimes, days don’t go your way.

Sometimes, you wake up to realize that you forgot to put your breakfast yogurt in your boyfriend’s fridge and left it out overnight. And that your work shirt is at home. And you’re 15 minutes late. And why are there 5 other people in this elevator all going to different floors, it’s 9:15 why can’t you people show up on time?!

Sometimes, you then find out that you have to delay getting your cast off (bringing your total cast-wearing time up to 10 weeks) because the firm you work for wants to send you down to a work training. One day only, no room for rescheduling. 10 hours of travel for a 1.5 hour training.

This is all okay…No meltdowns yet.

Until you lose your house key on your lunchtime jog. Then it’s time for a meltdown.

I think everyone’s entitled to a meltdown every so often. Even Joy the Baker says so. For me, that day was yesterday.

Here’s another thing that went wrong and was much more time-consuming than originally thought: tomato sauce from scratch.

But for some reason, it worked. It was therapeutic, even.

It took forever. Seeds got through. It wasn’t perfect…But dammit, it was rustic. And I made it myself! I had something to show for my frustration. Maybe it’s the Italian in me.

At least I made a dent in my parents’ ever-growing tomato bounty:

(This was how many they had left after I used all of the above tomatoes to make tomato sauce)

Put your tomatoes to use. Make some tomato sauce. Peel the tomatoes, gut them and squeeze out the seeds. Who needs therapy? I’ve got food.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
makes ~2 heaping cups (2-3 servings)

10 small/medium vine ripe tomatoes
1/2 small onion, diced very finely
1/2 green bell pepper, also diced finely
1 clove garlic, diced
olive oil

Prepare water to boil, and fill a bowl with ice and cold water. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, then plunge into boiling water. Remove after 1 minute with a slotted spoon and transfer to ice bath. If it doesn’t seem like the skin is loose yet, keep ’em in for a minute longer.

Once tomatoes are cooled, the skin should slide off very easily. Cut tomatoes lengthwise and squeeze out all of the seeds over a strainer, saving any juices that gather in a bowl beneath. This may take a while. Now is where you decide if you want a chunky or thin sauce. I like a little bit of both, so I put about 6-7 of the seeded tomatoes in a food processor and pulsed a few times. For the rest of the tomatoes, I chopped them up coarsely.

Heat olive oil in a pot and saute onions, garlic and peppers until tender, only a couple minutes. Then, add in pureed and crushed tomatoes. Add herbs and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes. Take peeks every 5 to 10 minutes to stir, season with salt and pepper, and to see if the sauce is reducing and thickening. If it is, add in the reserved juices from earlier.

When sauce has reached desired consistency, remove from heat and serve!

Notes: If you’re using a food processor to puree everything, might as well chop your onion and pepper in there too (separately)! Next, my sauce started out really watery and I didn’t think I’d have to add in any juices — as it thickened, I actually ended up adding almost all of the juice! Finally, feel free to add sausage, turkey, or lean ground beef. Just add it to the pot when you saute the onions and peppers!

T-Man was supposed to eat stir-fry that night, but I think he was pleased with his alternative:

Anyone else find cooking therapeutic?


For meals that were not at all stressful to cook, check out my next entry with photos of some gourmet French meals I was lucky to be treated to when I studied abroad!