Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Summer Days.. Oh how I miss them!

Let me ask you all a question: Am I the only one ready to put away my boots, scarves, hats, and coats away and bring out bikinis, shorts, tank tops, and beach towels? I am so ready for spring and summer, having the kitchen door wide open, flowers blooming, fresh and colorful food all around and cold drinks in hand, are you with me on this?! I recently came back from a shorty trip to Miami and being out on the beach and walking around with the sun shining on my face just felt like heaven! I was looking through my phone and stumbled upon a few summery pictures and I wanted to share them with you. 

My all time favorite summer snack. Sweet and delicious watermelon, cant wait to be snacking on this all day! 

A beautiful small beach in Sperlonga, Italy. We went there last summer and fell completely in love! Can't wait to go back! 

My pretty hot pink roses, looking forward to seeing those colors again in my back yard.

This picture is from our quick trip to Miami, it's the only picture we took of the two of us during the day the whole time we were there. 

The last one I'll leave you with is this funny one of me, sorry for the quality but I had to share it simply because it really shows how silly I am :) 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Eggs, Anyone?

I'm not sure if I have really ever mentioned this but, I LOVE EGGS!! I do, I can’t help it. I love them for breakfast scrambled to perfection, poached on a fabulous salad for lunch, swimming in a spicy sauce for dinner or baked in a light and super crisp meringue for dessert. The number of things we can do with eggs is really endless if you think about it. It’s one of the most humble ingredients in the world, but if prepared properly, it can taste like a million bucks! This week, I wanted to share with you a couple of super simple recipes that showcase this humble ingredient beautifully!

  The first dish is a very classic Italian dish called eggs in purgatory, it’s basically a spicy sauce with a few eggs cracked on top, covered with parmesan cheese then cooked just long enough for the white to be fully set but for the yolk to still be just a hair runny. Served with the crunchiest piece of Italian bread you can get your hands on and this is one of the quickest and most delicious dinners you will ever eat. Trust me on this one! 

I’m sure you have all heard of or had mirengue cookies before but for some reason, anyone I ask tells me that they have never made them at home and that they look too intimidating. Not so sure why anyone would think that, but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing to be intimidated about and these little babies are ridiculously easy to make and ridiculously delicious! My recipe is one that I've been using for years and it's never failed me, the meringues don’t stay perfectly white, they turn a very very pale beige color but somehow I think this gives the cookie itself a better flavor and texture. I like to sprinkle mine with some coconut, it not only gives the meringue itself great flavor, but as they toast and dry out in the oven, the coconut flakes turn a toasty brown color and stay so crispy, it’s truly divine! 
Next time you’re in the mood for eggs, give these recipes a try, they wont fail you! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Soup and Sammie Kinda Night

With this horrible cold weather we have been having the past few days, I wanted to make a cozy meal that was delicious and fit for company when we had our movie night this past weekend. So I turned to a classic combo of soup and sandwiches. I made a big pot of my winter minestrone and some mozzarella in carrozza witch is an Italian version of a grilled cheese. Such a good meal and everybody whent in for seconds (that's like getting  an award for a cook) the vegetable based soup was perfection on every level. Slightly sweet from the butternut squash and super earthy from the rest of the veggies, a definite keeper for a cold night! The sandwich is an all-time favorite for me, I remember being a little girl and my Nonna making them for us for an afternoon snack, even to this day I look forward to it as much as I did when I was a child. The oozing cheese and that egg coating on the bread are a match made in food heaven! Give these recipes a try if you want to feel cozy and eat something truly delicious!

Look at that big bowl of goodness, wish I could dive right in! 

That cheese is oozin'.. Yumm! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Valentine

If you’re still looking for a quick and delicious Valentine’s day meal to put together in little to no time and without any effort, I've got you covered! Since most men (and myself as well) love meat and potatoes, I figured I would share with you a really easy meal that starts off with a grilled flank steak with a side of lemon and rosemary roasted potatoes, an arugula salad with Parmesan shavings and chocolate covered strawberries to finish it all off with a bang! I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me when I tell you that this meal can be pulled off in about half an hour. I have said this before, and I’ll say it over and over again, I don’t believe in the whole “let’s show our loved one how much we love him today” kind of a thing. We should show our love and appreciation as much as possible all the time and sometimes, the little effort you make by standing there and dipping each strawberry in the melted chocolate pays off big time! And fellas, if you're listening, show your pretty lady how truly special and beautiful she is as much as you can. Put on an apron and make her this delicious meal and you will score big points, my friend! Sometimes on weekend mornings my husband will make me breakfast and I find that to be so sweet, he could be sleeping in an extra hour but he decides to get up earlier than me and make me breakfast. It’s things like this that really make a difference I think, and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, it has to come from the heart. And how does that famous quote go? “The Way To a Man’s (and woman's) heart, Is Through His Stomach” (although giving something sparkly to the lady never hurt anybody) This is definitely true, so make this meal to treat the both of you. You deserve it!
Check out the video to watch step by step how this meal comes together.

Happy Love Day! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Some Valentine Favorites!

With Valentine's Day around the corner, I figured it would be a cute idea to share with you some of mine and my friend's favorite treats for this holiday.  Let me start off by saying that even though this holiday is geared toward couples, we usually celebrate it with a few friends and have a really fun night of indulging and playing some board games. I never got the whole "once a year you proclaim your love for someone" kinda thing, I think we should proclaim our love and appreciation for people all year around, so I refuse to give in and go to a packed restaurant (that, don't forget, you have to make reservations months in advance for) just to wait in line for ages, pay an arm and a leg for something you probably could have made at home for less than a quarter of the price, plus having to pay for a parking spot and freezing as you wait there for your car to be ready. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll spend it in the warmth and comfort of my own home surrounded by my best friends having a good time, keeping myself and my wallet happy. But this doesn't mean that I don't want to treat myself, my husband or my friends to a great meal. I want to make everybody fee special so I do go the extra step to make something that screams "fancy shmancy!" even though we all know it was super easy to put together. Let me share with you some of our favorites:

Individual Beef Wellington is an all-time favorite recipe for my husband, apart from it being delicious, it's also super easy to do whether you're making it for two or four. Filet mignon with a mushroom mixture wrapped in buttery puff pastry, yes please! 

The appetizer that everybody loves, shrimp cocktail. My friend Brie loves this so much that she requested it for me to serve it at her bridal shower, she always says that my cocktail sauce is the best. And you know what? When I made it for her bridal shower, everyone asked for the recipe - so i guess she's right! I like to serve it in martini glasses just to be a little fancy. 

My friend Mike's favorite soup of all time, good ole' french onion soup. Nothing particularly fancy about this soup, but trust me when I tell you that done right, it is out of this world delicious! I really feel like my recipe for this classic is on point on every level. Sweet broth topped with cubes of toasted bread and nutty cheese, wish I had a bowl of this so badly! 

The last recipe I'll leave you with today is one of my personal favorites (you know it was going to involve chocolate if it's one of my favorites). This Chocolate Raspberry Tart is unbelievable!! Rich yet delicate, chocolate decadence with the raspberry puree, it makes my mouth water just looking at it, I will definitely be making this at some point this week. I remember last year I went over my friend's house, a group of us girls decided to indulge and watch chick flicks while all the guys hung out downstairs watching football. I made this tart to bring over and when we were slicing it to serve it, a couple of the guys came upstairs to get some drinks, well they saw this and wanted to try it. Let's just say that from the first bite, the guys literally took this tart downstairs and we were stuck with a tiny sliver for us girls to share. I'm tellin' you, it's that good! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Love my Nonna!!

I apologize in advance if this post gets a little sappy, but what can I say, I LOVE MY NONNA!! As most of you know, my nonna (and most of my family for that matter) lives in Italy and I live in the US. Most of the time, I try not to let the distance between us affect me, but there are other times where all I can think about is how much I miss her and wish more than anything, that she lived down the street from me. Unfortunately, she doesn't and on those rough days, I call her and we chat for hours and that does make me feel a bit better. At the end of the day, I'm just a girl with a big heart and I feel like there is a little hole in my heart that needs to be filled by her hugs and kisses. I do try my best to go visit her as often as I can but as you all know, it's not that easy and can get very pricey. My love for cooking came from her, I remember being a tiny little thing and my nonno (grand pop) making me a wooden stool so I could stand on it right next to her wanting to help and do anything she needed done. The thing about it for me that makes cooking (and eating of course) so special, is how it makes people feel. If you're not feeling well, lay down and I'll make you some soup, if it's your birthday, sit down I'll make you your favorite meal, if it's a Holiday, a big meal is the centerpiece of it, so you get what I'm saying, to me, it's the solution to everything. My nonna is truly passionate about cooking for that exact reason. It's not about impressing someone with your skills, it's about love, comfort, and the joy you get knowing that a simple meal makes people feel that way. When I'm feeling a little down from missing her and the rest of my family, I like to prepare a meal full of my and her favorite dishes to be shared with friends and believe it or not, that really does make me feel so much better! As cliche as this sounds, the kitchen really is the heart of the home and food feeds me in more than one way. I wanted to share a few pictures with you and also a couple recipes that I make non-stop because they make me feel like my nonna is right here with me. 

Nonna, me and Little Laura, my adorable little cousin.

With nonna in our favorite market on Saturday morning, picking up some fresh fruits and veggies.

Making our favorite apple cake, incredibly good!! 

Even though I'm not in this picture, I wanted to share it with you so you can see her teaching my younger cousins to bake, just like she taught me. This picture is so precious to me! 

Here is the episode where we made her apple cake together, you must make this now! 

And of course, I have to share the episode where we made gnocchi together. The very first thing I ever learned to make from her! 

Cheers to all the wonderful nonnas out there!