Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Good morning.  Well here it is the middle of the week already.  After being notified by the Electric Company that power would be off all day yesterday, I was out of my house only to find when I got home, the power never went off.  I would have been hopping mad, but as it turned out I had an opportunity to spend some time with Bonnie, a longtime friend.  We went to a Movie and then I made the Spaghetti in Wine for dinner.  She loved it.  Her daughter Stacy, who lives in San Francisco, loves to cook, so she is going to tell her to be sure and make it.  It is so easy.  I know through e-mails that some of you have already tried that recipe.  Reaction all around, "we love it."

It is a little cooler here today, so I'm thinking comfort food.  One of my very favorites is Eggplant Parmesan.  You may think it is difficult to make.  But just follow these directions and you will see how easy this dish is to make.  As you go through my recipes you will understand why I make my sauce in large batches and freeze it so I have it on hand.  And the same with Marinara Sauce.  But don't fret if you don't have any made, just use your favorite jar sauce.  (Bertoli makes the best)

Here then is Eggplant Parmesan.

1 large (the biggest you can find) eggplant.  Deep purple color and nice, fat, round shape.
2 eggs
seasoned bread crumbs (Progresso or Contadina)
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella shredded
Casserole dish

Cut the ends off of the eggplant, and then slice it into rounds, a little less than 1/2" each.  Whip the eggs in one dish,  put the flour in another, and the bread crumbs in another.  (I use 3 pie pans).  Dip the eggplant slices, one at a time in the flour, then the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs.  Lay them out on wax paper and let set for about 10 minutes.  (this allows the breadcrumbs to dry a little so they don't fall off when you fry them)  In a large skillet, put a half a cup of olive oil.  After it is hot, turn down to medium and put two or three slices of eggplant in at one time.  Cook until lightly brown and crispy on one side, turn and cook on the other side.  Just a couple of minutes on each side, till golden brown.  Remove and let drain on a paper towel.  Continue until all pieces are cooked.

Put a layer of your sauce on the bottom of your casserole, then a layer of eggplant slices, some sauce over those, sprinkle with parmesan, and a handful of shredded mozzarella.  Repeat this three times, ending with the mozzarella covering all.  Bake at 350 degrees, until bubbling and the eggplant is tender.  Remove from the oven, and let stand for about 6 or 7 minutes.  Slice and serve.

Try it soon, it will be a family favorite.

Ciao for now

Monday, September 28, 2009


Hi everyone.  I am writing this at 11:18 PM Monday night because our electric is going to be shut off for 6 or 7 hours tomorrow starting in the early morning.  Our whole complex will be without power.  This is the second time they have done this in the past 4 months.  What a pain.  So anyway I thought I had better do this now to be sure you have a recipe for the day.  This is so easy, and really quick, not to mention very delicious.  Even to make it for 1 or 2 people is a cinch.  You can just keep the extra pesto for another time.  And best of all it only takes a couple of ingredients.  Dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.

1 tall jar of Marzetti sun dried tomatoes in olive oil.  1 pint of cherry tomatoes. Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup.  Fresh basil.

Use a little over half of the jar of sun dried tomatoes, drained.  Put into a blender and add 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the blender.  If too thick add a little more olive oil.  Puree.  Take out of the blender and put into your large pasta bowl. Stir in the parmesan cheese (1/2) cup.  Cook 1 pound of Barilla thick spaghetti, just until Al dente.  Drain and add to the pesto mixture.  Toss quickly and add 1/2 bunch of fresh chopped basil.  Season with some freshly ground black pepper. Toss and serve with parmesan.

Add a salad and some hot Italian bread.  Dinner in 20 minutes.  Delicious, quick and easy.

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now


Good morning.  Here it is Monday already.  Time is whizzing by so fast.  Still hot here in California.  We are really ready for a little cool down.  I talked to my friend Marti in New York yesterday and she said it was "almost" 60 degrees, and raining.  That did not sound very appealing.  So I guess I should quit complaining the weather.  Now back to food.  It's time to get in a really good dessert.  And I have one for you.

CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE, some of you are probably saying yuk.  Beets in a cake.  Well don't be fooled.  This is the best chocolate cake ever made. I have been going to Lake Tahoe for 25 years now.  Two weeks every August.  It is a Paradise.  For the first two or three years we always ate lunch at this amazing little Restaurant called The Squirrels Nest.  It was off the road and set back among the pine trees.  All in the open.  It was the most quaint little place, like being in a Fairy tale.  They served sandwiches, soup and wonderful desserts.  The most famous being their Chocolate Beet Cake.  After the first bite I knew that I had to have that recipe.  They very generously shared it with me.  And lucky that they did, for a couple of years later, they closed down and were gone.  A very sad day indeed.  So today I am posting that recipe.  You will never have a Chocolate cake this moist, this rich.  It is Decadent, Delicious, Delightful, Tempting, Luscious, Mouth Watering and other words, make this cake and find out for yourself.

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups Wesson oil
4 oz baking chocolate (4 squares) unsweetened
3 cups of pureed cooked beets (3 cans) well drained
3 cups of flour
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp of vanilla

Melt chocolate in half of the oil.  Beat together sugar and eggs until fluffy, add other half of the oil and beets, add chocolate and oil, mix and beat.  Sift flour, soda, and salt, add, with vanilla to other ingredients.  Bake in a greased and floured bundt pan, with excess in a small 8" cake pan or cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.  Do not open oven door for the first 45 minutes.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.  Frost with your favorite frosting.  You can keep left over cake in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days and it will still be awesome.

Once you make this cake and your family tastes it, you will never want any other Chocolate Cake.  Try it soon.  It is well worth the effort.

Thanks for stopping by.
Ciao for now.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Hi everyone.  Here it is the weekend already.  Time is just flying.  It will soon be October and from then on the rest of the year until January becomes one large blur.  People seem to get more busy and more busy at this time of year.  There seems to be no slowing down.  It's like you are on a fast moving freight train saying "out of my way."  And the next thing you know it's New Year's Day and all the hustle and bustle have ended and your breathing is back to normal.  So, this weekend, take a deep breath, slow down a minute, and on Saturday or Sunday morning get your family together and make a great breakfast, read the paper, and have some conversation.  To go along with this, here is something that can be the main focus of that relaxing time with family or even some friends before Football starts.  Easy to make, delicious, and good for you.  In case you have never heard the word Frittata, it is the Italian version of an omelet.  And you can get imaginative and creative when you make them.  This is my favorite.

10 Asparagus spears cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 cups sliced Mushrooms
1'2 diced Onion
3 cloves diced Garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
Olive Oil
8 to 10 Eggs depending on how many people you are serving (this serves 4)
Salt and Pepper (remember the cheese is salty)

In a bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy (the more air you incorporate into the eggs the higher the Frittata)
Add 1/4 cup or so of water.  In the meantime, put 1/4 cup of olive oil into a large skillet, when hot add the onions and saute until tender.  Add the minced garlic on top (this way it does not burn) saute for a minute or two, add the asparagus and saute for three or four minutes, add the mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the cheese to the eggs and incorporate.  Then gently add to the vegetable mixture, turn the heat to low and cover your pan.  Let it cook for 3 or 4 minutes minutes, remove the cover, and with a spatula, draw the egg mixture gently from the sides allowing the uncooked egg to go to the bottom.  Repeat this until all the liquid has gone to the bottom.  Place a plate over the eggs, holding with one hand and flip the Frittata onto the plate.  Let it slide back into the pan and continue cooking on low until done.

Remove to a platter, cut into pieces, and serve with a fruit salad and some grilled bread.  This dish is even yummy served cold (just in case you happen to have some left over.)  I often make it for a light dinner with a dish of fruit.

That's it for now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Hi everyone.  I know you are probably tired of my whining about the hot weather but good grief, 6:30 am and it is already hot!  So instead of the wonderful Beef Stew recipe that I was going to tell you about, I am going to have to re-think and give you instead a quick, easy recipe for chicken breast.  I know, I know, how many ways can you make chicken?  It is the age old question.  I have asked that myself.  Personally, there are only a few ways that I really like chicken myself.  This happens to be one of my favorites.  You already have some of my other favorites in recent blogs.  This is the one I talked about yesterday that I made for the party.  It is really wonderful.  Quick, easy, and melt in your mouth tender.  So turn up the air conditioner and you will have this on the table in about a half hour.

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
2 or 3 Mangoes
1 large Papaya
1 Roma tomato
1 chile pepper

Rub the chicken breasts with some WEBER Roasted Garlic and Herbs seasoning.  (in any grocery store it is great to have on hand).  Have your stove top grill, grill pan or outside grill hot, then turn down to low heat.  Drizzle olive oil on one side and put on the grill.  Then drizzle the top side.  Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, turn and cook through.  In the meantime dice the Mango, Papaya and tomato as small as you can, add just a small diced piece of the pepper (to your taste) don't overpower the sweetness of the fruit. Add 1 tabls of chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime.   Add just a touch of salt.  Mix well and let set while the chicken cooks.  Slice a fresh pineapple into thick pieces and put on the grill when the chicken is almost done.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the grill, let it set for a couple of minutes, then slice against the grain into 1" pieces, spoon the salsa over the top.  Serve with a pineapple spear.  Serve with some fresh asparagus,  and a salad.

This is a really quick meal, light in calories, and wonderfully delicious.  I guarantee you will make it often.

Thanks for stopping by.
Ciao for now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Good morning.  Well as they used to say on KMET today is hump day.  The middle of the week and two days to the weekend.  Even if you work at home, the weekend is just a special time that everyone looks forward to.  Here in California with the temperatures hovering around one hundred, it is going to be a mad dash to the beaches.  Or maybe to the cool of an air conditioned movie.  Or just sitting in the house with the air on just to get some blessed relief from the heat.

Today I have a very decadent chicken recipe for you.  It is so good you really will want to lick your plate.  Not to mention that it is just as good or better the next day if you happen to have any left over. I got this recipe from my sister, who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend etc.  All I know is that it is well worth posting.

Lightly brown chicken (3 or 4 chicken breasts) in butter and season with salt and pepper.  Remove to a baking dish and add drippings from pan and a little water.  Cover and place in oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Sauce: (this is the decadent part)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese (crumbled)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a large skillet.  When butter foams (don't burn or let it get brown), add cream and bring to a boil.  Add the Gorgonzola.  Stir and cook 3 to 4 minutes over low heat, until cheese is melted and cream begins to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese.

Take chicken from the oven and pour most of the liquid off.  Pour sauce over the chicken and place back in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Serve over rice.

This is so good you won't care how many calories it has, so don't even think about it :)

Try it soon.  thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Good morning everyone.  Boy is it hot!  Not even seven and you can feel a scorcher coming on.  Every year at this time, just when the kids go back to school, the heat comes rushing into California hotter than ever.  Luckily, the schools are air conditioned or they would probably have to have some days off.  Speaking of school days, when my kids were in school, any time there was a need for cookies, cakes, cupcakes etc.  It was always my kids who raised their hands and said, "my Mom will bake."  That was because I was always always baking something, bread, cookies you name it.  And always cooking in general.  In fact one time when the teacher asked who could bring cupcakes, one of my son Ed's friend raised his hand and said, "Ed's Mom will."  Anyway when Ed was in 5th grade his class was going to celebrate the end of the school year down at the beach.  (it was only about 15 minutes away in Corona del Mar.)  So this time I did the volunteering.  I would make Hawaiian Chicken for 40 people.  Good grief, learn to keep your mouth shut girl!  Just kidding.  I loved to do it.  It was a huge success, and to this day it is one of the family favorites.  So today I give you Hawaiian Chicken.  So yummy.

1 whole chicken cut up, or 4 breast (with skin) or legs and breasts, whatever combo you like
Put 1/4 cup of olive oil into a dutch oven , dredge the chicken in flour and brown the chicken on all sides.  Remove from the pot , and add 1 1/2 cups of orange juice, 1 bottle of Heinz chile sauce, and 1/4 cup of dark molasses.  Cut one green pepper into chunks and add to the sauce.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Lightly salt and pepper the chicken pieces and add to the mixture.  Cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 2 hours until the sauce is bubbling and has thickened.  Five minutes before taking it out of the oven add 1 can of drained pineapple pieces.  Serve over rice.  Believe me, your family will ask you to make this often.  I still make it for mine.

Have a great day.  Thanks again for stopping by.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Good Morning everyone.  WOW!  What a day yesterday.  We celebrated two Birthdays, and watched our favorite team win their game.  Since one of my son's Birthday (Al) is in September, and my young grand-daughter, Christina's (she is 7) is in September, I had a combined day for them.  I was totally in 7th Heaven.  Football and getting to do some cooking for everyone.  What a menu, I wish I could eat it all again today, but alas it is all gone.  I made Baby Back Ribs, grilled Chicken Breasts with Mango, Papaya salsa, Roman Salad, and an Orzo Salad.  For dessert, Chocolate Cake and home made Cannoli's.  We also had some Fresh Peach Bellini's to drink beforehand.  So, for me, it was the perfect day.  Cooking for a big group and having my Team win.  What a day!

Today I have an old pasta recipe for you.  I found it somewhere years and years ago. I had forgotten all about it.  My sister Linda brought it to my attention last week, and said put this one in, it is so good.  So here it is.  It is quick and easy and so delicious.

2 Tlbs butter
4 or 5 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls sugar
6 small onions chopped
6 Tbls flat leaf parsley chopped
8 oz goat cheese crumbles
1/4 cup of Romano cheese
2 lbs Portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced 1/4" thick

1 1/2 pounds Ziti pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt 1tlbs butter and 2 tlbs oil.  Add the onions, salt and sugar, cook over med heat stirring frequently.  cook until onions are well browned.  Transfer to a bowl.
In the same skillet melt the remaining butter and the 1 tbls oil.  Add the mushrooms and salt.  Cook over medium heat until tender.
To the mushrooms add the onions and the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the ziti al dente.  Drain and reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water.
Toss the ziti in a large bowl with 1 cup of the pasta water.  Add the mushroom mixture, goat cheese and Romano cheese and 2 tbls of oil.  Serve immediately.  Serves 8.  yummmmmy!

Well I hope you will try this recipe soon.  You can cut it in half to serve 4.

Thanks for dropping in today.  (it is going to be 100 degrees today in Ca. Yikes)
Ciao for now.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Good morning.  Thanks for stopping in today.  Well, even though it is going to be in 100's here by the first of the week, it is after all FOOTBALL SEASON!  Am I in Heaven or what?  The Yankees are in first place and football has started.  If you ask me this time of year rates the highest on my list.  We are a big sports oriented family, and we take our sports seriously.  And along with all that emotion, and cheering, etc. we need food.  No matter what I make for game day, and I have a lot of good food, the one thing that is requested the most often are meatball sandwiches.  And why not?  They are amazing.  So today this is my recipe for those mouth watering sandwiches.

When I make them I use at least 2 lbs. of ground beef.  I am giving you the recipe for 1 lb. of meat and you can double, triple or whatever you want to meet your requirements for how many people you are going to serve.

1 lb of ground beef
1 egg
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley chopped very fine
3 or 4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (Contadina or Progresso)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
about a quarter cup of water to moisten the bread crumbs.
Salt and pepper to taste (remember the cheese is salty)

Mix well with your hands, roll into meatballs and put on a cookie sheet that you have spread a little olive oil onto.  Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from the oven and put it all into your sauce.  Cook on low for at least 1/2 hour.  When done , put 2 or 3 meatballs into the roll,  add some sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and top with shredded mozzarella, or provolone.  Put into the oven on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees, just until the cheese melts, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Ok, now when these piping hot beauties come out of the oven and into the hands of family and friends, guess what?  No one cares which team you are cheering for, you all become one in the land of the delicious.  Because I make my sauce in large batches and cook it all day I always have some on hand.  You can use whatever you like.  They will be great!

Well here is to a great weekend of football and I hope your team and mine both win.

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hi everyone.  Welcome in again today.  It is really great that so many of you are trying these recipes.  They really are luscious.  Speaking of that, can I just say how much of the Shepherd's Pie was eaten last night!  But even so, there is enough left for two.  So guess what's for dinner?  Right, and let me tell you it will taste even better tonight.  It's just one of those things. So now after that I will be ready for a little dessert.  And I know just the thing.  Not too heavy, but really satisfying.  Apples are starting to come into season now and so this calls for a little apple dessert.  This is simple and can be made in very little time with little effort.

Make your usual pie crust for a single crust or buy the Pillsbury one that you just unroll and bake.  They are really terrific for this.
Slice 3 Granny Smith apples very thin.  Use a mandoline or if you are really good at it, a knife.  They must be very thin.
Arrange on the pie crust in a circle in layers.  Leave about 2" around the edges.  Then fold the edges up and crimp leaving the apples exposed.  Sprinkle with 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar and dot with butter.  Brush the crust with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.  Bake @400 degrees.
Bake 35 minutes or until crust is nicely browned.

Remove from oven.  When cooled but still warm, slice into pieces, and drizzle lightly with warm carmel sauce.  (if you really want to be bad, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream)

That should just about top off the left over Shepherd's Pie. :)

That my friends is it for today.  This is a cinch to make.  You can make it on the spur of the moment when unexpected guests show up.

'Till tomorrow.
Ciao for now


This one is for you Jan, for all of your computer help.

Good Morning.  Well it looks like Fall is officially trying to creep into California.  The last few days have been in the high 70's.  It is supposed to climb back up at the end of the week to the high 80's, but for now there is that little tinge of coolness in the air.  And that my friends, brings on all those cravings for that wonderful down home comfort food.  The smell of something wonderful coming from the oven.  Things baking, casseroles dripping over with tangy juices, kids coming in from school, and that fresh crisp air that greets you when you open the door.  All these things bring memories when the season begins to change.  So today I am in the mood for some of that comfort food.  Simple but so delicious you want to lick your plate. This is my version of the English dish, Shepherd's Pie.  I got this recipe a long time ago from my Daughter.  I don't know where she got it, but believe me it is spectacular!

1 lb ground beef
3 Italian sweet sausages (skinned and crumbled)
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 to 2 minced garlic cloves
2 tabls Balsamic vinegar
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp dried oregano
fresh ground pepper to taste
4 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef and sausages in large skillet.  add tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic and vinegar.  Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Stir in peas, basil, salt, oregano and pepper. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make mashed potatoes using 1/2 tsp salt, add parmesan cheese.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour mixture into 2 quart casserole.  Spoon potatoes on top of mixture spreading evenly to the edge.  Bake until golden and bubbling.  About 50 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Serve hot with a tossed green salad and warm Italian bread.  Don't forget a glass of good Red Wine for the adults.

This takes a little over 1 hour and 1/2 to make.  Try it.  I guarantee you will want to make it often.  And if there is any left over, they will fight for it.

Have a great day, thanks for stopping by.
Ciao for now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Good Morning.  Well another week of Football in the books and I for one am exhausted.  Two games on Monday night, are they kidding?  If I still lived on the East Coast I would be hopping mad.  Those people had to be up way past 1:00 am.  Let's not have any more  of that.  And secondly who wants to be eating football food at that time of night.  And let's face it what's a football game without food?  I am one of the biggest fans in the world but come on, you need food to carry you through all those games on the weekend.  You know that this is leading up to some recipes to carry through those game don't you?  So here are a couple for today.

First of all, some Polenta bites.  These are great because you can make the polenta a day ahead.  And also the toppings.  Make the polenta as in the recipe I gave you before.  Pour it out and spread it to about  1/4" thick.  Then cut it with a cookie cutter round that is about an inch and a half.  So you have nice little bite sized rounds.  Now you can top them with several different things.  And here are some that I use.
You will want to make small batches of each of these depending on how many you want to serve.  Mix them up and you will have an array of wonderful, tempting little bites.
1.  mix a 1/4 cup of Ricotta with lemon zest and finely chopped chives.  Spread onto the polenta round (about 1/2 tsp) and top with a small cooked shrimp.
2.  Cut fresh mozzarella into thin slices to fit on round and top with 1/2 cherry tomato and a small basil leaf.  Drizzles these with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
3.  Quickly saute some pepperoni slices in a little olive oil.  Top each round with a square piece of provolone cheese and a pepperoni slice.  Put into your toaster oven and let the cheese just begin to melt.
4.   Make a mixture of crab meat, enough mayo just to lightly coat, a little Dijon mustard, and lemon juice.  Top the round with this mixture and zest a little lemon on top.  Salt and pepper to taste.
5.  Make a mixture of cream cheese, chopped roasted red peppers (packed in olive oil and well drained) and finely chopped fresh basil.  Top the rounds.
6.  In a blender, blend some artichoke hearts that have been packed in water and drained,  ( 1 small jar)
while blending add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.  Remove from blender, top the rounds and put these into the toaster oven (or oven at 350 degrees) till hot.
7.  Have two cooked Italian sausages (done ahead of time) cut into rounds.  In a saute pan, pour 1/2 to 3/4 cups of balsamic vinegar.  Cook over med heat till reduced by half.  Put the sausage slices into the pan and saute' till they absorb the vinegar.  Top each round with a slice of the sausage.  (you can also just make a big plate of these sausages and serve them hot)  They are really awesome.

Try these and get inventive on your own.  You can top them with what ever you like.  And if you want to serve a little sweet one in between times don't forget you can make the one in the blog before with the Ricotta, orange and honey.  These are snacks, later on I will give you some recipes for the "real food" for your football games.

Football fans Mangia!
Ciao for now.  Thanks for dropping in today.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Good Morning. Another weekend gone by.  Fall is in the air, the kids are back in school, and the ever present "what's for dinner?" looms to the forefront.  Which reminds me of when I was a child.  Food really is the center of an Italian family.  As soon as breakfast is over, it's "What's for lunch?"  When lunch is over, same question, "What's for dinner?"  And the preparations for dinner begin. I doubt that, that goes on in many homes today.  But with slow cookers, stove top grills, bar-b-ques, etc. it is still easy to get a healthy dinner on the table.

Today I want to tell you about a wonderful recipe from my Roman side of the family.  It is called Bracciole or Stuffed Flank Steak.  There are many recipes for this out there, but this is the one that is our family mainstay.

1 good sized flank steak (pound it out a little)
Lay it out flat and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper

2 cups Progresso Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 package frozen chopped spinach (well drained)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

Mix all together and spread out onto the flank steak.  Starting at the narrow tip, roll up as tightly as possible, tie each end with butcher string, and once in the middle.  In a fry pan with 2" high sides (chicken cooker) or a dutch oven, heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  When hot, add the steak and brown on all sides.  Turn heat off and pour mixture of 1 3/4 cups of marinara sauce and 1/4 cup of good red wine over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 2 and 1/2 hours or until very tender.  Remove from oven, let set for at east 5 minutes, then cut into slices (against the grain). Spoon the sauce over the meat.  You can also do the browning and then put all into a crock pot on low for 8 hours.  Either way it is delicious.

Serve with small red or fingerling potatoes.  Boil the potatoes, when done, put 2 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil into a saute pan, when hot put the drained potatoes into the pan and brown them quickly.  Add two or three tablespoons of fresh, chopped, Italian flat leaf parsley and salt and pepper.  Simple, but oh so yummy.

Serve with a salad and crispy Italian bread.

Thanks for dropping in today.
Ciao for now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Good Morning.  Here it is the weekend (almost) already.  Time does fly.  Yesterday I gave you the recipe for light as a feather Gnocchi.  When I make any kind of pasta it is served with my family recipe sauce which takes all day to make, but is truly to die for.  When I am pressed for time I make a quick, fresh sauce of some kind.  Some, just tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil tossed with the hot pasta.  Some with pesto.  There are a number of quick dressings for pasta.  Today I give you one that you can cook up in an hour or so.  It is simple and tasty and much healthier than any jar sauce.

Start with a good EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).  Finely chop an onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery.  You can find this trio (or the trinity as we call it) already done for you at Trader Joe"s in the veggie section.  This will save you more time.  If you are not pressed for time do it yourself.  Saute the trio in the olive oil, chop 2 or 3 cloves of garlic and add to the mixture.  Adding the garlic at his point will keep it from burning.  When the veggies are tender, add a 32 ounce can of Italian plum tomatoes.  Chop some fresh basil and add to the sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about an hour.  Take off of the stove and put it into a blender.  Pulse on low (put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender, when blending anything hot).  Pulse until blended, pour back into the pan and cook for about 15 minutes.  This is a great  easy, fresh tasting dressing for your pasta.

You can make this ahead and have it when you need it.  It is always better to use fresh ingredients, and control what goes into your food, especially salt.  Also, you avoid eating things in jars that you can't even pronounce.

Have a great weekend.  Be sure to drop back in on Monday.  Football season is upon us (YEA) and I will give you some great ideas for game day.

Ciao for now.  Eat healthy my friends.


Good morning everyone.  Just one more day until the weekend.  And here in California it is predicted to be, what else, HOT.  But I am not complaining, the weather is one of the reasons I love living here.

I have been receiving so many wonderful e-mails from you,saying you like reading my blog and that you are trying the recipes.  I thank all of you.  Today I am going to share a recipe with you for Gnocchi.  Next to my home made Ravioli, these little puffs of luciousness, are one of my favorite things to eat.

When I was a little girl, every Sunday after Mass, I would go with my Father to visit his Mother.  She still lived in the house he was raised in on the West side .  In the city I grew up in, the East side was populated mostly with Polish immigrants, and German immigrants and their families.  The West side was populated with mostly Italian immigrants and their families.  It was "Little Italy".  As a very young child I used to think I had been to Italy when we would go to visit her.

Even though she was very old at the time (I thought she must be 100) every Sunday when we got there she would be cooking sauce and home made Gnocchi.  It was what I dreamed of all week.  By Friday I could actually smell the sauce and taste those wonderful little pillows.  It is one of those childhood memories that you never forget.  She died when I was 12 years old.  She was not 100 but in her late eighties.

My Father took over the making of the Gnocchi and today I still love them as much as ever.  Everyone in the family loves them as much and I make them often.  The Gnocchi that we make are made with cooked potatoes that are then put through a ricer.  This together with flour, eggs and salt produces the delectable dish.  Since we are all weight conscious these days, I make them slightly different.  (sometimes :) .

Here is a lighter version without the potatoes, and no one can ever tell the difference.  They are light and most of all you can have them on the table in less an hour.  It is a simple recipe.

One container of Ricotta (2 cups)
2 cups of flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of salt
Mix together and add about another 1/4 cup of flour so the dough is not sticky.  Form into a ball, and cut off pieces about as big as a baseball.  On a floured surface, roll out with your hands to form a long rope and cut into about 1/2 " pieces that are as big around as your thumb.  Roll each piece into a little ball and gently press into it with your thumb to make an indentation.  Continue until they are all done.  As you make them, line them up on a baking sheet dusted with flour.  If you are making them ahead for another day, put the cookie sheet into your freezer and freeze the Gnocchi.  When they are completely frozen, put them into a zip lock bag for future use.  If you are going to use them right away, put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator while you get the sauce ready and the water boiling.

Have a large pot salted water ready and boiling.  Drop in the Gnocchi and stir gently.  When they float to the top, cook for another minute and they are done.  They take only minutes to cook.  Drain and top with your favorite sauce.  Once you see how easy they are to make, you will make them often.  This recipe will serve 3 people.  Doubling the recipe is easy, two cups, two cups, 2 eggs. Four cups, four cups, four eggs.  I have made 6 or 7 batches at one time for as many as 12 people.

Tomorrow I will give you a recipe for a very easy, fresh sauce that you can make and have cooking while you make the Gnocchi.

Ciao for now.  Thanks for dropping in today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Good Morning.  Today is Dessert Day.  Mainly because I made this last night for Company.  About 17 years ago, my daughter had recently "flown the coop", and was living in Los Angeles.  One day while I was visiting her, we decided to stroll Melrose Avenue.  We wanted to do some shopping and some "gawking."  If you have ever been there you know what I mean.  We stopped at Louisa's for lunch and had one of their amazing salads.  Too full for even the smallest dessert we began our Trek of Melrose.  About an hour later and almost ready to leave, we spotted a new little shop called "Koala Blue."  When we went in we found it was a little sandwich type shop with dessert.  It was a new venture of Olivia Newton-John's.
An absolute treasure of a place.  You could buy her line of T Shirts, Hats etc.  The desserts sounded Yummy so we bellied up to the counter, sat on a stool and ordered Pavlova.  Neither of us had ever had this dessert, but it sounded just perfect.  Not to heavy.  WELL, it turned out to be one of the most luscious, heavenly things we had ever eaten.  When I got home, I IMMEDIATELY began trying to find the recipe.  I found 3 or 4 different ones.  The one I offer to you today seemed to be the very best and it is the one I have made ever since.

Before I give you the recipe, here is a little background on Pavlova. Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was a prima ballerina from Russia who, even now, is considered one of the most famous dancers the world has ever seen.  The pavlova dessert first appeared on the scene soon after she toured New Zealand in 1926 and Australia in 1929.  New Zealand and Australia both claim that they invented the dessert and named it after her.  New Zealand had a recipe pre-dating her visit of a fruit filled meringue pie. Too, when the ballerina toured Wellington, New Zealand, in 1926, the chef at the hotel where she stayed said he dreamed up the dessert in her honor.  In 1935 Chef Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Wester Australia, claimed to have enhanced an existing meringue and fruit recipe found in the magazine "Women's Mirror Magazine" and to have both created and named the dessert at that time. He served it at the Hotel at High Teas, and is reported as saying, "it is as light as Pavlova."  The creation of who invented the Pavlova dessert rages on to this day between New Zealand and Australia.

Here is the version that I make.

Louise's Pavlova, a delicious, traditional Australian and New Zealand Dessert.
Louise O'Gorman

6 egg whites - beat until stiff peaks form.
Add 3 tablespoons at a time, 1 3/4 cups of sugar, beating well after each addition
until sugar is completely dissolved
2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstartch) sift into mixture
1 tsp vanilla - blend in
1 tsp white wine vinegar blend in
Drop 2 heaping tablespoons full onto parchment lined baking sheet.  With flat of the spoon swirl around to about a 4 or 5" circle making a light indentation.  They will puff up and the filling will fit into the indentation.
Bake in a preheated oven at 235 degrees for about 55 to 60 minutes.  If it begins to brown, open the oven door to allow it to cool for a few minutes and then cook the remaining time.  Cool in the oven with door open slightly.

When completely cool and immediately before serving, put some whipped cream in the center of each one, top with fruit, berries of any kind or peaches that have been sliced and cut in 1/2.  Top with a little more whipped cream.

This Dessert definitely "makes it's own room."  It is light and airy.  Your whole family will love it.  Especially the kids.

It sounds complicated but is really simple and easy to make.    Try it for your next dessert.

Ciao for now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I hope everyone enjoyed  the last weekend of summer.  Here in California it was everyone to the Beautiful Beaches to cool off, or at least to try to do so.  We have been having some really hot weather here and it looks like September will be it's usual hot self.

Today I bring you a recipe that I can remember my Maternal Grandmother making when I was just a little child.  I lived in Pennsylvania in a large house (rented) with my Grandparents, my Parents, my Aunt and Uncle, their 2 children and another Aunt and Uncle.  Times were very tough.  The house sat on about 2 or 3 acres of land which the family planted most of with vegetables.  They planted corn, beans, peas, onions, green onions, potatoes, a lot of other greens and just about anything you can think of.  Zucchini, yellow squash etc.  Then my Dad and my uncles would load all the early morning pickings in the truck and go on their route selling from the back of the truck. This is how we all survived during those hard times.  My Grandmother would kill and clean the chickens herself.  My Dad and the others did a lot of fishing.  I remember being four years old and shucking peas out in the yard, and cleaning onions, along with my two older cousins.  The yard was huge with a couple of big Queen Anne cherry trees, which we ate as we picked.  A Northern Spy Apple tree, the likes of which can never be duplicated.  They were the best apples ever.  They, as well as the cherries provided lots of goodies, pies, applesauce and just plain good old eating.  There were huge Lilac trees everywhere, and the smell in the early spring was the most heavenly I have ever experienced.  Today, they remain my very favorite.  It was like living in Italy in those days.  Everyone spoke Italian, and there was always room for guests at the table (who also spoke Italian)  On Sundays, the yard always held at least four or five or more friends to sit under the cherry trees, eating, drinking home made wine, and I guess talking about things in general.  (Always in Italian)

So today I bring you a recipe, very simple, that I remember eating on many occasions.  I had forgotten about it until about 2 months ago, I was watching one of my favorites, Michael , on Easy Entertaining, and lo and behold he was making this dish.  Spaghetti cooked in Red Wine.  My Grandmother made this dish from the wine she and my Dad made, the pasta she made, and any green leafy vegetable of the day from the garden.

Here is my version.  (Thank you Michael for jogging my memory)

This will serve 4 people.

1 pound (Barilla) thick spaghetti
1 bottle of Red Wine
1 good sized bunch of Broccolini
garlic (4 cloves)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta for 4 or 5 minutes in boiling water.  Drain.  Add a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.  Pour 1 bottle Red Wine, Cabernet or Zinfandel, into the pan and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook just until Al Dente.  It will absorb almost all of the wine.  While the pasta is cooking, cut the
Broccolini into 1" pieces and saute in olive oil with the garlic.  Just until almost tender.
When the pasta is cooked, lift out of the pan with tongs right into the olive oil and vegetables.  Cook a minute or two more.  Plate immediately and sprinkle with plenty of Pecorino Romano cheese.
Believe me, when you make this dish once, you will make it soon again.  The flavors are amazing.

Of course you will want to serve some good red wine and grilled Italian Bread. :)

Thanks for signing in today.  Have a most wonderful day.

One last note.  As a child I didn't realize that we were poor (in a monetary sense).  But even then I knew I was rich in love of family and friends.  And that I always had plenty of amazing food.  They were some of the best days of my life.  I keep my family close.  And we always have Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, here where we keep all the family traditions.  Keep your families close, your children at your dinner table as often as possible.  They will always remember those things.

Ciao for now.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Good Morning everyone.  Wow!  I can't tell you how great it is to see so many people responding to my blog.  Hopefully you will be trying these recipes and enjoying some new tastes and flavors.

These are called the waning days of summer and isn't it funny how, even though some of us live in California, our minds and bodies and spirits just know and can feel the changing of the seasons.  The coming of Autunm.  It is just "in the air".  Even though right now this weekend in Mission Viejo, CA will be in the 90's.

I will be bringing you some really wonderful comfort foods for the coming months.  Not to mention sinful Holiday Goodies.

Today, I present to you a creation of mine that will be
perfect to linger over one morning this Holiday week-
end.  I just call it "Sweet Orange".

It has all of my very favorite ingredients.
Warm Polenta, Oranges, Cinnamon Ricotta, Honey and Chocolate.

It is so yummy and so easy you can have it done in less than 20 minutes.
Make the Polenta, I use Polenta Valsugana, it cooks in minutes.  Just follow directions, but add a couple tablespoons of butter.  Zest one orange and set the zest aside.  Peel the orange and cut into thick slices.  Blend some Ricotta with a little cinnamon.

Cook the Polenta as directed, adding the butter and stirring untill fully incorporated.  It will be thick.  Pour out onto a buttered cookie sheet to about 1/4 inch thick.  Let set for about 3 or 4 minutes and cut into the shapes of your choice.  I used a star cookie cutter for this weekend, but you can use squares, rounds or whatever you like.
Put your cut-out on a plate, add the orange slice, top with the Ricotta, top with the orange zest, grate some semi sweet or dark chocolate over the top, drizzle with at least two heaping tablespoons of Honey and top with a sprig of Mint.

Let me just say, this is one of those things that you can have for Breakfast with a couple of slices of bacon, you can have it for Lunch with a Salad, for dessert after Dinner or whenever the mood strikes you.  I hope you will try it soon.  And your children and all the family are sure to love it too.

Now as I sign off for the Holiday weekend, I am going to be eating the very one you are looking at.  As Sophia on the old TV Show "The Golden Girls" used to say, "picture this", so picture this, warm buttery Polenta, sweet juicy orange, cinnamon Ricotta melting in your mouth, the mingling of Chocolate and Orange and the sweet wonderful taste of Honey.  I'm having that right now.  Sinful, Luscious and just plain Wonderful.  Il Dolce Bene!

Have most wonderful weekend and a safe one.  Come back on Tuesday for more!
Ciao for now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Good Morning.  Here it is the third day of my blog and the response has been really gratifying.  Many of you have already tried the first two recipes.
One of my friends asked that I post all of my recipes, and Sabrina specifically said to be sure and share some of my dessert recipes.  So today I give you our family recipe for Tiramisu (pick me up).
Tiramisu is one of those recipes that seems to have come out of nowhere.  The first known was in 1971 and proclaimed, I believe, by a Greek couple.  (But Tiramisu is an Italian word).  Others claim it surfaced in 1983.  All I know is that my Uncle Pete, from Piedmont, Italy, made of version of it years before. He had a name for it but I can't really remember what it was.  He was an amazing pastry chef.  He made unbelievable, mouth watering desserts.  He worked at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D. C. and often made pastries for White House Functions.  I have a recipe for this delectable offering.  I have had it for years and I really can't remember where I got it.  But I do know that it makes one of the best Tiramisu's ever.
Now the original Tiramisu calls for egg yolks.  If you are skiddish about using raw egg yolks in this day and age, you can leave them out and you will still have a wonderful dessert.
So here it is:
It is called "Authentic Tiramisu"
6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
1 3/4 whipping cream whipped stiff
1 3/4 cups cold espresso
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons grappa
48 Ladyfingers (not the soft ones from the market the crunchy ones from the Italian store)
Powdered chocolate for the top

In a bowl cream egg yolks and sugar.  Add the mascarpone and mix well.  Fold into the whipped cream.
In another bowl combine espresso, brandy, and grappa (you can leave out the grappa if you don't have any)
Dip the lady fingers in the mixture and arrange in a single layer in 10x15 baking dish.  Cover with half the mascarpone.
Repeat with another layer of Ladyfingers, cover with remaining mascarpone mixture.  Sprinkle top with powdered chocolate.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or even overnight.

It is an easy recipe but so yummy and impressive.  If you don't use the egg yolks use 2 cups of whipping cream.

Try it soon, and remember, as good friends Fred and Gayle always say, even if you are full, DESSERT ALWAYS MAKES IT'S OWN ROOM!"

Ciao for now.  Tomorrow, a tasty treat you can linger over on one of the last mornings of summer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Well Good morning and a Big Thank you to everyone who visited my first Blog yesterday.  Thank you for your wonderful comments, some posted, some by e-mail and others on Facebook.  All are welcome.
Today I want to share with you about one of the most useful items in my kitchen.

If you have ever watched the Food Network (and who has not, at least once) you will notice that they all are using a grill set on top of two burners on their stoves.  Several years ago I purchased one (made by Lodge).  They are cast iron and cost about $50.  It was the single best investment I ever made.   I probably use mine at least 5 times a week.

You can grill meat, some types of fish (swordfish, scallops, shrimp), steaks, chops, chicken and make those awesome grilled panini sandwiches.  Talk about putting a meal on the table in a short time, once you use this you won't know how you did without it.  The other side of the grill is great for eggs, pancakes, etc.  It has a flat surface.

So today I want to share a really great, easy and healthful recipe for dinner.
Chicken cutlets that are the size of a porkchop and thin
Marinate for at least one half hour in YaSoy sauce
Turn the heat up on the grill until it is hot, then to the lowest setting.  Sprinkle a little olive oil on each cutlet and put on the grill.  Remember, cook on one side till almost done then flip over and cook the remaining time.  In the meantime, grill along side the chicken, some fresh pineapple slices.  You can also grill some zucchini slices that have been brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper.

While dinner is on the grill make a salad of field greens (or your favorite mix) adding some orange slices, and kalamata olives.  I mostly use a dressing I make with olive oil, a tsp of honey, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Salt and pepper.

There you have a dinner in about 20 minutes.  Healthy and yummy.
You can even make dessert on the grill .  Grill some peaches, nectarines, plums, pineapple.  Put in a small bowl with a scoop of ice cream.

If you have any  questions about the grill or any recipes, I will always answer promptly.  Once you use this grill it will become your favorite piece of cookware.  Those of you who live in the East, will be able to have wonderful grilled meals even when there is 5' of snow on the ground.

Thanks for signing in.  See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Probably everyone who has seen Julie and Julia thinks, I should write a blog about cooking.  That;s exactly what I did.  And all of my family and friends (who have partaken of my food) have encouraged me to do it.  So here it is, Grayce's Cucina Italiana.  The name comes, of course, because I come from a large Italian Family.  Most of whom were great cooks in their own right.  Both of my parents were marvelous cooks.  My Mom in the style of Rome and My Father in the Northern Tuscan style.  As a result my family has enjoyed some of the most delicious meals imaginable.  I hope to share some of them with you.
Cooking does not need to be a tedious chore.  And really wonderful, and healthy meals can be made with a few ingredients and in a short time.  If you have ever been to Italy you will notice that there are very few overweight Italians.  That's because meals always consist of an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and a lot of fish.  I am probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but sometimes it easy to just heat up some pre-packaged dinner instead of starting from scratch.  That is what makes Americans fat.

Here is a sample of a quick healthy dinner, inexpensive, and delicious.
Always use a good olive oil
You can use one of the new varieties of whole wheat pasta
Choose a green vegetable such as Broccolini, Peas, Asparagus, etc
Some little cherry tomatoes added at the last minute

Saute the veggies in garlic and olive oil just till crisp
Cook paste Al Dente, drain add to veggies, cook for 1 minute
Serve with a salad and crispy Italian bread (a glass of red wine) for the adults

I could eat this every night, it is just plain wonderful and done in less than 20 minutes.  Your whole family will love it a lot better than some frozen, artificial ingredient loaded whatever.

Try it.  I guarantee you will make it often!
Ciao for now