Chicken Meatball Escarole Soup

Saturday, April 30, 2011
One of our favorite soups we make often without a wedding going on is called 
"Wedding Soup "
The term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language, minestra maritata ("married soup"), which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together. Some form of minestra maritata was long popular in Toledo, Spain before pasta became an affordable commodity to most Spaniards, though the modern wedding soup is quite a bit lighter than the old Spanish form, which contained a large variety of meat, rather than just the meatballs of modern
Italian-American versions

 6 to 8 boneless chicken legs or thighs (grandma also would use the chuck roast beef bone from a leftover Sunday sauce whatever she had leftover in meat made it's way into the pot! Grandma  had to be very frugal as money was tight in those days)

Optional: In a hurry use a leftover rotisserie chicken taken off the bone already cooked!
5 quart saucepan
1 cup of acini de pepe pasta (boiled  in salted water seperately)
1 cup finger carrots
1 bunch escarole chopped washed and boiled for 1/2 hour to make sure all dirt particle are out, drain and set aside. I only use escarole in my soup.

NOTE: As you read greens are your preference (you can use any greens you desire, 1 pound broccoli rabe, 2 pounds chicory, 1 pound green cabbage, collard greens, spinach etc..) There are really no  real rules, just greens and meat!

1 cup finely chopped celery
2 fresh plum tomatoes pulsed in food processor left a little chunky or leftover Sunday sauce around 1/2 cup.
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, basil and oregano
1/4 teaspoon each of thyme and rosemary
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
grating cheese for garnish

Fill pot with water around 3 1/2 quarts, add chicken and boil skimming off the top as it cooks. When broth is clear around 30 minutes of cooking time, remove chicken, cool, cut up in chunks, put back in the pot. Add escarole, herbs, spices, tomatoes, rest of vegetables and boil till tender. When the soup is a full boil, drop raw meatballs into boiling soup.  Add boiled pasta at the end.

Meatball mixture for soup:
In a bowl mix below ingredients together and set aside
1 cup of  ground beef. turkey or pork
2 tablespoons grating cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoon Italian flavored bread crumbs
Mix all together and drop raw small balls,  into soup while boiling.

In the United States, Italian wedding soup is most prevalent in northeastern Ohio and in western Pennsylvania. Italian descendants believe the wedding soup gives energy to a newly married couple, symbolically representing a long sustainable wedding.

Italian Style Bangers and Mash Hand Pies

Friday, April 29, 2011

One of the most beautiful Royal couples will marry today.  I became interested in the Royal Wedding pre martial interviews when Prince William  was interviewed. He touched my heart with his words about his mom, Princess Diana.  He talked about the great love he will always hold for her and how he thinks about his mother Princess Diana everyday on her teachings,  as much was taught to him by her in his role of  who he became as an adult and stood Prince. Today he still carries those values with him and isn't a day that goes by he doesn't think of her.  Kate Middleton, his Princess bride to be, said she wanted to model after her in this new life she will begin and take after in his mom memory and role model. Such a tearful moment in time to think his mom was only 36 years old at her untimely death.
A great mom, Princess, and will be sadly missed there today, how wonderful to hear her son will have her with him there in spirit all day. Wishing them every happiness today and always.

Potato Filling:

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup of leftover mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, if desired
1 teaspoon minced garlic
pinch cayenne and black pepper
Meat Filling

1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
1 teaspoonspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dry brown gravy mix (from 0.75-oz package)
1/3 cup  burgundy red wine

Pie Crust:

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt mix together with flour
2/3 cups shortening cut into the flour then add
4 1/2 tbsp ice water
Mix till dough forms a ball...Roll out on floured board two 9 inch crust and line pie plate.(Or use store bought.)
Egg Wash
1 egg, beaten with
1 teaspoon water

Heat oven to 425°F. Heat Blend together mashed potatoes, parsley and garlic.  In 8-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink. Drain  on paper towels.
 In small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon gravy mix and 1/3 cup wine. Add to skillet. Simmer until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.
 With 4 inch round cutter, cut  rounds. Spoon about 1 tablespoon mashed potatoes in center fold over and  1 tablespoons of meat, use fork tines to press to flatten slightly.  Brush edges of topped pastry with water. Place remaining pastry rounds on top of meat mixture. Pinch edges to seal.

 Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Using sharp knife, cut 3 slits in top of each pastry. Brush tops with beaten egg.

 Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown


Sfogliatelle Italian Dessert

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Patrica Turo inspired me to make these wonderful Sfogliatelle Italian Pastries from her blog this Easter @ Piacere Food and Travel Without Rules.  These pastry are a bit time consuming but the taste results were fabulous, however a little more practice is needed while making these to get them right! I have to say out of the 30 I made only one was worthy enough for the pictures! I need alot more practice.. you can see from her awesome instructions and using a pasta machine, that helped get the dough thin enough to make hers perfect, please refer to her site as she has fabulous instructions, step by step...
Recipe Summary her recipe came from This recipe was taken from one of the chef’s antique cookbooks and she translated it into English.

Makes 16 large or 32 small pastries

I adapted parts of the recipes to my taste, I made the dough using  her dough recipe:

8 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups butter, original recipe calls for suet or lard
1 3/4 cups cold water, more if needed
2 tablespoons fine salt
1/2 cup honey

Dough Instructions:
Melt the honey with water.
Put the flour into a food processor and add the shortening, salt and mix until it crumbles. Add the honey/water mixture a little at a time until the dough forms into a ball. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
6 oz or 3/4 cup semolina flour
6 oz whole milk ricotta, drained very well
12 oz (about 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 drop Cinnamon oil
1 tablespoon Orange Flower Water or 1 tablespoon zest
2 tablespoons Candied Orange Peel cut into small pieces ( I opted not to use peel or citron)
2 tablespoons Candied Diced Citron
3 extra large eggs


In a heavy duty saucepan bring the milk to a boil being careful not to scorch it. Add the salt and pour all the semolina at once in into the water while stirring it rapidly with a wooden spoon.
Cook the semolina for 10 minutes then remove it to cool for an hour.
Using a wooden spoon mix the ricotta, sugar, oil of cinnamon, orange flower water, if using add candied orange peel, candied citron and eggs all together in a glass  bowl. When the semolina is cool add it to the ricotta cheese mixture and mix smooth.

Preheat your oven to 375

Take out your dough and cut it into 4  equal size pieces.

Using (a pasta machine if you have one) make each piece of dough into a very thin long layer 6 inches wide and 18 inches long as thin as you can get it. Or roll by hand as I did getting it as thin as possible.
Place a sheet of the thin dough on top of a parchment paper tray on a large hard surface like a huge cutting board or pasta board. Brush the sheeted dough with the melted butter or lard coating it completely.
Place another piece of sheeted dough on top of the one you just brushed with butter and repeat. Do this until all the dough is layered and sheeted.
Trim the pastry now so it is a long rectangle. Starting from the small 6 inch end tightly roll the stack of pastry into a tight single roll its edges should look like a rolled up like a newpaper roll. It is important to refrigerate the pastry now wrapped in a cotton dishtowel (to absorb moisture ) for at least 4 hours.
Take out your chilled pastry and slice a 1/2 inch slice this will looks ribbon. Now lift up the circle and place it in the palm of your hand. Using your finger press into the center and begin pushing the layers out as if you were creating a hollow" A" frame house, and fanning until you have a layered cone effect.
After you make this pastry cup hold the shell in the center of your hand, put a spoon full of filling inside the center, sealing the edges, but don’t pinch them together. Carefully lay them down on your parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each one with an egg wash or melted butter, suet or lard whatever you choose to use. Bake @375 degrees for 15 minutes until light and golden in color.

Egg Wash
1 egg, beaten with the water
1 tablespoons water
Patricia's instructions worked very well, you will have to practice to get the right shape..

Sprinkle them with powdered sugar when they are hot out of the oven, and serve them warm if possible.

Yes, my one loan soldier that stands proud!
 Thanks Patrica, thanks to your inspiration, I was able to have these wonderful pastries for our holiday!
They were not easy and nowhere as beautiful as hers, but they tasted great and I will make these again... I appreciate your step by step instructions and pictures presented  and though I used some of our regions preferences these were made with your guidance in mind~ thanks so much~ please visit her site to see  her  creative molding and picture  instructions....

I had to sneak in another picture here my boy fonzo just watching me take pictures outside to capture my loan soldier... he was to cute not to mention!

Curt's Lemon Reggiano Lemon Fried Chicken Guest Post

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My son Curt made this yummy lemon chicken for me for my birthday dinner. It was fabulous. I won't make lemon chicken any other way from now on! Come see why below!


Raspberry Coconut Cream Tart

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This was a year that Easter fell right around my birthday. I think of coconut treats when I think of Easter. Growing up dad love raspberry jam cupcakes with coconut on top. They also became my favorite! I wanted something special for my birthday and two of my favorite flavors, raspberry and coconut cream. They're both in this decadent tart. What better way to celebrate my birthday than with memories of Dad and new beginnings?

This is a homemade tart shell with coconut cream filling and a triple berry sauce


Italian Style Lamb Meatball Recipe

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mom loved lamb. We would go to one of her favorite restaurants called Joe's,  when I was a kid in Upstate NY, The East side of Utica, that made fabulous grilled lamb chops and they would be piled so high on the plate I just couldn't believe the meat we would get for around $15.00.There must have been 35 chops on that plate. Amazing taste.

I just love the mediteranean flavors. I love leg of lamb and make that for many holidays. This is an inbetween treat for me. We wanted something to snack on and loving lamb as we all do in this house, I decided lets toss in a few spices with the lamb that we love so much and make them like meatballs. I was really surprised how much we all loved them.

Oh and how great they smell while they were frying...the aroma made my mouth water for them, and of course since I didn't wait for them to cool off, I now have a blister on the roof of my mouth, I hate when I do that!!! Too impatient to wait.

Once the spices and bread are mixed all together,  just shape and fry.

I grow all my herbs right in the front of my house all in separate pots, the mints are my favorite, I grow several flavors, this is regular mint, I even love the smell it leaves on my hands after picked....

1/2 teaspoon each cayenne pepper,black pepper, garlic powder

1 teaspoon oregano, parsley, minced garlic, salt, rosemary and allspice

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 egg

3/4 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs

1 lb ground lamb

olive oil to fry in

Mix raw ground lamb meat with spices, egg, bread crumbs add tomato paste mix together well.

Shape into rounds or patties and fry in a small amount of olive oil till cooked through and nicely browned. Serve with mint jelly or even cucumber sauce. You can also put these in traditional pasta sauce in place of meatballs....


Our Italian Traditional Easter Dinner

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Puttanesca Sauce with Rigatoni Pasta

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This is the perfect tasty Italian sauce with olives we all love! It's called Puttanesca Sauce.  

Thanks for stopping by,
Ciao, Claudia

Puttanesca Sauce with Rigatoni Pasta

1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves minced garlic
 2 pounds of fresh plum tomatoes put through food processor (remove stems first and cut off the tops, add whole) or 2 (28-ounce) cans Roma plum tomatoes, broken into pieces, with juice
1 cup tightly packed, pitted, and halved Kalamata olives or use black olives
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons minced anchovy fillets (about 8 fillets) or use anchovy paste around 4 ounces
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

Optional : Add 2 cups of shrimps tails off, 10 minutes before sauce is cooked... another great pasta dish the way my mom made it!

1 pound Rigatoni pasta cooked to package instructions

In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic, cook till fragrant two minutes. Simmer the tomatoes and remaining ingredients for around 40 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Cover and set aside. Add the pasta to the pan and toss 1 minutes.

My first plum tomatoes... and yes I am a proud mama! I just love growing my own herbs and having a garden... it was my dad's favorite hobby, so it's up to me now!

I just love basil! Had to share some of my newest additions, I grew them from seeds, first in the house and transplanted outside. I have oregano, basil, Italian parsley, dill,  mint, tomatoes and  planting some zucchini now... enjoy your day~


Easter Colored Crackle Eggs

Friday, April 22, 2011
So this is Egg Art? I love it and it's so much fun!!! I actually loved the look of these and the results were so easy, you have to try it!

using food coloring and making crackle art style hard boiled eggs for Easter


Baked Zucchini Fries Recipe

Thursday, April 21, 2011
These are so much healthier baking zucchini into fries than deep fried! Delicious !

Baked Zucchini Fries Recipe


Easter Breakfast Strata With Escarole Sausage Recipe

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A special Italian breakfast for Easter... we love greens, roasted peppers and sausage.. here is a wonderful style Italian quiche... perfect for starters, brunch, breakfast or just because you love it!

This is the our  perfect Easter morning breakfast cooking all in one casserole!

At the end add the cheeses and continue baking 15 to 20 more minutes till either cheese is melted or browned it's your preference~

Everything in one casserole, ham, escarole, sausage in an Italian bread egg bake!

Egg mixture:
4 large egg whites
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter melted
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, oregano, basil and a pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Bread and filling:
4 cups (4-6 slices) Italian Bread,  cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups chopped boiled escarole or chopped spinach, (drained and pat dry if using frozen)
1/2 cup chopped  roasted red peppers
1/2 cup diced ham, I usually use leftover spiral ham, or a Ham steak
1/2 cup cooked Italian sausage cut into small pieces
cooking spray oil

3/4 cup shredded  Mozzarella  or Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup  Romano grating cheese
 Olive oil or melted Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degree oven. Coat a glass baking dish or a 2-quart casserole with melted butter and lightly sprayed with cooking oil.

 To prepare the egg style quiche, whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Add mustard, pepper and herbs and whisk to combine.
Toss bread, escarole or spinach, roasted red peppers, sausage and ham in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.
 Bake until the bread mixture is  set, 50 minutes to an hour in the center. Uncover, sprinkle with cheeses, drizzle with olive oil or  melted butter around a tablespoon. Sprinkle with a little more parsley and continue baking until the pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15-20 minutes more or bake until the cheese is to your liking in color.

Easter Bird Nests

Monday, April 18, 2011
This is a seriously fun project for the kids to make on Easter. This will brighten up a child face and make wonderful memories making this as a fun project. Easter Bird Nests are not only fun to make but delicious to eat! An old creative way to get the kids started young cooking in the kitchen with family fun.

A fun project using food for the kids at Easter. Chocolate covered treats with jelly beans to make bird nests


Amazing Perch Fish Fry in Cracker Crumbs on Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Palm Sunday, in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many Anglican and Lutheran churches, palm fronds (or in colder climates some kind of substitutes) are blessed with an aspergilium outside the church building (or in cold climates in the narthex when Easter falls early in the year). A procession also takes place. It may include the normal liturgical procession of clergy and acolytes, the parish choir, the children of the parish or indeed the entire congregation as in the churches of the East.
In many Protestant churches, children are given palms, and then walk in procession around the inside of the church while the adults remain seated.
The palms are saved in many churches to be burned the following year as the source of ashes used in Ash Wednesday services. The Roman Catholic Church considers the palms to be sacramentals.

My grandmother used to take the palms she received from mass, dip them into the holy water she would buy, and then grandma would bless the family every year on Palm Sunday by splashing us with the holy water.

So today on our menu we have fish:

Fried Perch, a flaky white delicate flavored fish with a melt in your mouth flavor...this fish is a must try for all you walleye, haddock and cod lovers!

For those of you that follow this blog, you would have read about my vacation in Upstate NY earlier this year and me bragging about this fish that I had for the first time, perch. Living in Utica/Rome area for over 30 years and then being introduced to this for the first time was quite a revelation. My favorite has always been haddock and every trip to NY starts off with our favorite fish fry. This fish is a very close second in taste, texture, and flavor. I couldn't believe it when I found this frozen at the local seafood store. I was so excited to cook it! Absoultely beautiful filets, it was hard to believe these were frozen, going back to to buy them out!

1 lb fresh or frozen perch or other white filets such as haddock, walleye, cod, or tilapia (if frozen squeeze out excess water)
1 package per pound of ground ritz crackers or club crackers
1/4 cup (seasoned) flour add seasoning below and mix together
1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt, ground pepper, lemon rind
1 well egg beaten with 1/4 cup water
1 gallon size plastic bag
In a food processor place cracker and pulse till it make fine crumbs pour into a large gallon size plastic bag set aside
Coat eat piece of fish with season flour. Dip in egg then shake into bag of cracker crumb. After all fish is coated completely, fry in hot oil till crispy and brown on both sides.
Serve with garlic potatoes and macaroni and cheese or salad.
Happy Palm Sunday

Printable Recipe