Tag Archives: Italian food

Winter Tagliatelle

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Us Italians know how to warm things up for the holidays. In looking at my traditional gluttonous Christmas Day gorge of meat laden pasta, me and mini lighten things up. ( Christmas Eve is meat free. Christmas Day, not so much).

Here is our winter tagliatelle, perfection in its imperfection, due to a pasta roller mishap!

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Lighter Pho Fare with Mini Me

wpid-2015-01-28_18.46.00.jpgMidweek, me and mini me try something out of our comfort zone to break up the monotony of our staple recipes. Routine bores me.  The chill factor climbed for us this month and heavy comfort foods are not comforting for my thighs! Sacrificing flavor for tight jeans is not my style either, so I found  a way to take my Italian cravings to the far east.

With some organic pork and ginger, our love for meatballs met my love for Vietnamese Pho.  While this traditional noodle soup is filled with mixed meats and seafood, portions can be heavy and the flavors can sometimes overwhelm each other.

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Isn’t She Lovely? Lighter Lasagna

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Often lasagna is like  a beautiful Italian woman in a tight red dress. She may look like a siren, but she may be good for you too.  Italians are known for overdoing it. We are impulsive, impetuous, extreme, but passionate. In the kitchen our personality is in full force all the time. Nothing is off-limits.

The new year is about shedding many things. In an attempt to embrace a new life.. ..I also let go of the calories and fat in my traditional Christmas Eve lasagna. Basically anything that does not add to your lasagna, needs to be left out. Sounds simple but it does wonders.

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Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes: Heaven!

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As mini me gets older, I find our closest times are almost always in the kitchen, or at the kitchen table. As a young girl I dreamed of that mother-child connection, especially over a family meal. Having my girl gave me that long awaited opportunity.
I take every chance to spend time in the kitchen with her, teaching her a new culinary skill. Nothing makes me feel more like a woman than preparing a meal and passing along tradition.

Tomatoes, in all forms are one of our favorite summer treats. Roma, yellow, green, tomatillos, beef, cherry; you name it, we love them all. When I am not stewing and pressing tomatoes for our homemade sauce I use them as little baskets to hold a gluttonous treat. What better way to push the envelope than to nest a creamy risotto inside their walls.

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Fresh and Simple Summers

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Me and mini me have been enjoying every sprouting food market within a 60 mile radius this season and I love it. To me, nothing heals the mind better than love and food. Seeing the pride of growers, cultivators, creators and area cooks inspires me.  My life recently has been full of a lot of new colors, flavors and aromas. All of this has reawakened stalled dreams and brought new life even into my kitchen. What better way to celebrate this heightened sense of awareness and passion than with a simple, bright meal.

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Aren’t You a Sweet Thing

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Who hasn’t had a tough morning after? Nothing cleans the soul after a bad choice like a good brunch. It is my favorite meal of any day. Lazy enough to sleep in, early enough to leave the day wide open. With some simple ingredients you can wow that bad choice on its way out, or keep  it coming back for another round.

My smokey sweet potato hash is also a colorful way to keep your body on the right track.
This antioxidant and vitamin rich dish is easy on the eyes and waste. It is the subtle smokey cumin that adds to the antioxidant rich cancer fighting power:)

The mixture of beta carotene in sweet potatoes (go for organic, the skin is truly your body’s best friend) with Vitamins A, K, E, C, B in the spinach keeps your body in stasis, fighting disease like batman.

Even better, it is simpler than last night’s regret. Brown 2 medium thickly sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil and a small tab of butter. Make sure to let each side brown. Lower the heat and add two cloves of garlic, sea salt and two tablespoons of cumin. Throw in some bright red onion and some fresh spinach. Tear up four basil leaves and throw them in. Brown the mixture, gently turning once. Add some tomatoes, I prefer Roma. Then top it off with three organic eggs. On covered low heat, let the egg cook on top of the potatoes sunny side up. Yum!!

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Pasta Pomodoro!

My recent ventures to some local and not-so-local markets has had me  and mini me eating well ! A well fed body and heart is all we  really need. Check, I have both covered! I made sure to pick up some fresh pasta from a small family eatery this weekend. Me and mini me do roll our own pasta, but we need to really try to infuse our variety. These new flavors have us inspired!20140523-233333.jpg

This week, I experimented with a red pepper cappellini, spinach fettuccini, and garlic-chive spaghetti .. so many possibilities. These fresh rolled bundles balance perfectly together.  Like the yin and yang of love, the flavors complement and enhance the fabulous union!

The art of bringing out their uniqueness, without masking their qualities can be challenging. When I want to enhance and not cloak..I turn to my homemade lemon-olive oil. I use a rich extra virgin olive oil  and 6 meyer lemons to create an oil that quickly infuses flavor without overdoing it. I store bottles of it and use it for skin care and culinary exploits.

I cooked 6 roma tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, a shallot, sea salt, crushed red pepper and a handful of capers in about 4 tablespoons of the oil. Once the tomatoes started to cook down, I added 8 torn basil leaves and 1/4 cup of fresh Romano.  When mixed together, I used tongs to create little nests of each flavor.  With some simple grilled chicken and a lemon vinaigrette, it was heaven. Close to it anyway!
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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

Sassy Shrimp Scampi

 

There is nothing quite as bright as the hue of meyer lemons hanging over the Amalfi Coast. And every time I make our simple lemon basil shrimp, I feel like me and mini me have escaped to a land where cobalt blue meets canary yellow. We can dream, can’t we?

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The healing properties of lemon are innumerable, almost as innumerable as new love. This week, I’ve  been fighting a cold that is wreaking havoc on my mood and my nose, so I needed to call in the big guns !

I wandered through a small city market this weekend and found some beautiful meyer lemons, some ginger juice, incredible pastas, herbs and some fresh lettuce.

For the moment, I live in a landlocked town:( And I truly can’t stand it. I have always lived near the water or in pretty close proximity to a coast. It is challenging to find fresh seafood here. However, the city market was abound with well priced  fisherman stands and I made sure to stock up on some fresh shrimp.

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For our simple lemon basil shrimp, me and mini me used the juice of 3 meyer lemons, olive oil, sea salt, white pepper and oregeno. This is our basic marinade . It is important to let the shrimp sit in the marinade for at least two hours. Then we drain ig. We lay the shrimp in a baking dish lined with olive oil, and zest 1 lemon over the shrimp. We then chop three cloves of garlic in a bowl with a half cup of planko, two cubed tablespoons of butter and 5-7 torn basil leaves.  Take the dry mix and spread it evenly over the shrimp. We add crushed red pepper to taste  and some  shredded fontina. Simply cook it at 425 for 15 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.

This is a light dish and is perfect with couscous and a bright spinach salad! Perfecto!

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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

Siracha In My Pasta?

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This week I tried a habanero latte, which may have been even too spicy even for my palette. But with a new fire in my life, I feel brave enough to try it all. Today was no different, I stumbled upon an open market. It is my favorite way to break in a Saturday morning. Well, ALMOST my favorite way but that is another story. 🙂 Amidst the foodie trucks, the indie booths and students was the silent roar of canons were booming in the background; you can get an idea of the region I am at for the moment. For a foodie, this town can be lackluster at best. But I lucked out today.
Amidst the usual finds, I found a fresh pasta stand that offered more than your typical fare. I love making my own pasta, especially egg varieties like
tagliatelle. Me and mini have not made any in a while, and I want to make more time for what I love. While pasta is getting a bad rap for carb haters..healthy carbs in certain portions are a vital energy source. They prevent your body from stealing energy from muscles and needed proteins. No one in my opinion should be kicking HEALTHY carbs in healthy portions out of their diet entirely.
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New Traditions-Pizzagaina ( Really Pizzachiena)

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I always felt Easter was really the clean slate for your year, rather than New Year’s. We all make promises to ourselves in January that never really make it to the Spring. This year was no different but this Lent I found all areas of my life blooming in ways I did not imagine. New blessings deserve new traditions. This year, I wanted mini me to feel the old world tradition of Pizzagaina, but without the calories and fat of the traditional Neapolitan tradition.

Yes, Pizzagaina is the Americanized spelling of this  unique Easter bounty, and I kept it that way here because I changed it up quite a bit. For one, I wanted to lessen the calories and two, every single region and family makes it a bit different. And in some of the best Italian eateries in Little Italy and Brooklyn, you will find very different versions of this classic.

The traditional Easter pie uses egg, ricotta and a selection of soppressata and meats layered heavily. The result is a mix of salty and smooth flavors.  This is usually nestled in a thick butter laden crust. It is heaven..but not for the arteries!

Being that mini me is the only true family I have got,  it is monumental that I pass on healthy traditions that can spill over into her own life. I also want to fit into a bathing suit this season! So we made it our own.

We layered 6 sheets of phyllo dough, drizzled with olive oil and made a patchwork that looks like a basket in the center of a deep pie dish. For our pie we did use light ricotta, a teaspoon of vanilla, sea salt, two eggs, two torn basil leaves,  peas (yes peas), and some prosciutto ( the sharp flavor contrasts well with the smooth ricotta). You can add a variety of flavors to the pie..but keep in mind as you cut it, the colors and layers are really what make the dish pop. Then you simply wrap your phyllo around the top, brush with olive oil and then cook it at 400 until the dough is flaky.

Let it cool before you slice it!!! This lighter version works well as a brunch..but I have made others as a full meal or just a side. Not all good things need to be difficult. And like a new Spring and new LOVE, I hope the flavors make you blossom like never before 🙂