Tag Archives: Italian

Carrot Souffle Heals All

Is  the saying that Spring is itself eternal or is it hope? When neither seems definite, me and my girl wait out the changing seasons in the kitchen. I like when new beginnings are on the cusp, so to me, the Spring tease and cold days are very welcome. The  cool evenings of March and sporadic tulips are a welcome contrast to the monotony of a full-blown season.  Everything is more exciting when it is ABOUT to happen.

Mini me learning the ropes!
I LOVE this dish.

Food cravings in these in-between moments are even more adventurous. Depending on where you live, the greens, golds, reds, and yellows of spring are slowly emerging. When it comes to culinary fare, Spring tends to lighten itself up. But, I find myself still clinging to darker fall flavors. I am fickle, choosing is painful for me.

Spring peeks out!

Me and mini me have had some unique menus this month. Pear risottos, deep carrot souffles, rice salads and artichokes are abound in every way possible. March invites kale greens, but steeped in fall’s comfort foods. Pictured is mini me making our lightened carrot soufflé. We used about 2 lbs of organic carrots; cut them, steamed them, and pureed them with half a stick of melted butter. Then we mixed in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, fresh cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg, 2 cage free eggs, half and half,  2 tb of coconut flour, 1 tp of baking powder, vanilla and 1 tp of kosher salt. We Mixed everything together very well, and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes in a well buttered casserole dish. The result is reminiscent of pumpkin pie, without the calories. You can add additional sugar, but I think the maple syrup is plenty. A good tablespoon of raw honey would be a nice touch. We paired our soufflé with a simple chicken piccata and kale salad.

In another month, menus will delve deep into light Spring fare, but for now,  relish in enjoying two simultaneous seasons at once!

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Isn’t She Lovely? Lighter Lasagna


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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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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She is Such a Tart

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree. Me and mini-me have apples coming out of our ears, and she is just as contented as myself to create healthful treats. A fruit tart is one gluttonous way to elevate the day. Me and mini me made our apple-raspberry tart with honey, almonds, Jonagold apples and fresh raspberries. I wanted an antioxidant rich power snack that could also serve my emotional needs, I got it!

photo 4

We made a basic tart crust, but with whole wheat pastry flour and corn oil, to keep our bodies in stasis. We sliced 5 medium-sized apples, and about two handfuls of fresh raspberries. I added a mixture of 1/4 cup of succinat ( a Vegan sugar substitute but you can use granulated sugar as well) and fall spices. Next, a tablespoon of cinnamon, a good teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, and a teaspoon of cornstarch.

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Love is in the Kitchen!


Love is in the air and our kitchen this week. Can you spot the heart in me and mini me’s version of chicken pot pie? We lightened it up with a whole grain crust and roasted chicken ( which marinated overnight in rosemary olive oil and fresh lemon juice). Our pie was full of antioxidant rich sweet potatoes, garlic, carrots, a turnip, green beans and sugar snap peas. We cooked down garlic and red onion in olive oil and added our chicken. We then added the vegetables. Once it cooked down, we added flour, milk, stock, sea salt, pepper and some nutmeg! We put it all together under one (not two) of our easy go to crusts. A simple egg wash on the crust with some basil and we were set at 375 for 20 minutes. We felt the love!!!!!

Dream within a Dream: Pie!


Yes, some of you may think it is quite questionable that I place me and mini me’s chocolate hazelnut dream pie in the healthy cooking category, but it is no error! This slice of heaven is high in antioxidants, essential oils and low in calories and fat! Made from scratch, this gluttonous treat is made in a half hour! Easy on the waist and impossible to resist. Recipe to follow:)

Weekday Bolognese: That’s Amore!

As an Italian woman, I can easily spend 8 hours on a lazy Sunday perfecting my sauce ( gravy as we call it). My traditional Bolognese is created via a slow methodical path to perfection and is about as close to the pearly gates as I may see.

For a weeknight change-up, me and mini me made a quicker, healthier version.  It is lighter on the body and easier on my stove. But do not be fooled, quicker can sometimes mean better!

Mini me stirs the pot!
Mini me stirs the pot!

For a traditional Bolognese, several types of meat are used; some ground, some not. It is essentially a hodge-podge of flavors gently melded together. Tonight, we used ground sirloin, pancetta and ground turkey. Usually veal and pork are used. Either works for this weeknight gravy.

After browning the meat in olive oil, I brown half of a red onion with 3 or 4 garlic cloves. Just as they look translucent I add sea salt, fresh black pepper, a touch of cayenne and nutmeg. We add a large can of fresh crushed all natural tomatoes and 3 small chopped fresh tomatoes. As they come to a boil, we add two cups of beef stock and a cup of good red wine. The sauce looks soup-like, but after it boils  we simmer it until the liquid is reduced.

Be mindful to scrape the tomato off the side of the pot as you simmer. I add more salt, 6-8 chopped fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of nutmeg and continue to cook the sauce while I make my dried pasta of choice. Since our goal was to
lighten things up, mini me chose a whole grain vegetable pasta, offering low carb, high taste and a long list of nutrients.

Our Bolognese
Our Bolognese

Once the sauce is thick, I add 1/4 of half and half, more nutmeg, fresh basil, salt to taste and a good cup of shredded fontina. You can add new broth or vino if needed.

This hearty ” gravy” offers antioxidants, protein and fiber. Tomatoes are a known jewel of cancer prevention. A lighter whole grain and low carb pasta makes this an easy go to for anyone. Always freeze leftover sauce. Bolognese is easy to add to just about anything. Mangia!!!!

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That’s a Big Cannoli You’ve Got!

Finding real Italian food below the Mason Dixon is like trying to find a good man. Oh how you will suffer through the imposters. The price is always too high and the mental hangover lingers endlessly.

You know you are far from home when you need to shop in the “ethnic” aisle for San Marzano Tomatoes. Yes, you too may find yourself looking into the frazzled eyes of  a southern grocer, attempting to decipher your Yankee accent and need for “special” tomatoes.

Like love, however, if you shop around and do your homework, you just may find the rustic comfort your soul craves. When I am below the Italian food belt ( anything south of 9th Street in Philadelphia), the hunt for something to heal my homesick ails is daunting. When I miss Umberto’s Pizzeria, when I miss Luigi’s,  and when Caffe Reggio is far behind me in the rear view , I stop in at Leoci’s Trattoria in  Savannah.

Local farm raised ingredients meets rustic homemade Amore! The pasta is made fresh for each plate, so be patient. But, just like the hunt for a lascivious lover, the wait is worth it. From the arancini to the fresh tagliatelle, it may be better than that lover anyway!!

During my recent visit I tried the Pasta alla Norma; fresh ribbons of tagliatelle with grilled eggplant, crushed tomatoes and a delightful helping of buffalo mozzarella. My salad was smothered in grilled artichokes and under a raspberry jalapeño dressing, made fresh on the spot. If you do wander in, be sure to try the veal polpette and any of the risotto. The wine list is endless and so are the possibilities! So do not fret, find yourself an olive skinned beauty or a stallion, and turn that GPS to Leoci’s.