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



Thursday, April 28, 2011
These wonderful Sfogliatella Italian Pastries are usually made around Easter time in our family. These pastries are a bit time consuming but the taste but the results were fabulous. A flaky dough that looks like clam shells. Takes a little more practice, while making these to get them right! I have to say out of the 30 pastries only one was worthy enough for a photo! Scroll down for this recipe.

sfogliatella is a symbol of the city of Naples. The story goes that a nun in a convent somewhere in the Amalfi coast combined some leftover semolina with lemon liqueur, sugar and dried fruit.


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
Here is a Traditional Easter Dinner we have made every year since before I was even born.

Mom made the same menu every year that we looked forward to that consisted of Soup, Lasagna, Lamb, Rice, and lots of yummy desserts.

Take a stroll through our family traditions and pick out something you think you would like to try for your Easter menu.


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


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.

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

Grandma's Depression Plain Bean Soup

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes there is a definite story here. Grandma back in the 1940's apparently made this soup (my mom told me) using some of the leftovers from the weekly meals. They grew their own garden so almost everything that went into the soup would be fresh. Left really chunky with using a knife instead of a food processor. Her meats would consist of either bacon, ham bone, or even chicken, whatever meat there was she would use it up because nothing went to waste. I happened to have a few chicken legs left from last nights dinner and bacon leftover from breakfast. Before going to bed last night I prepared  pinto beans ( that's what I had in the pantry) in the crockpot overnight.
Grandma always soaked her beans overnight and either used navy beans or northern white beans.

 So here is how we make plain bean soup a little modernized, or as the family called it depression so
up. Mine is made with her flavorings but no chopping everything veggie wise goes into a food processor, still has that great flavor ... so here's my lazy version.

Beans:  3 cups of beans of your choice canned or  soaked dried freshly cooked suggestions :(  navy, white, pinto, red, black beans)

All going into the food processor:
1 whole carrots peeled and cut up
2 stalks of celery cut up
1/2 of a white onion (optional )
1 whole cleaned clove of garlic
1 whole beefsteak tomato
1 head of escarole chopped  (optional)
grating cheese
Pulse all together till pureed, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, parsley and basil stir and set aside.

In a 5 quart saucepot, add water half full, add meat of choice below. Ham bone preferred but she used whatever they had in the house from leftovers. Boil the broth with meat around 1 hour.

Suggestions to use:2 chicken legs, ham bone or other kind of meat like sausage or powerful flavoring
2 to 3 tablespoons of crumbled bacon

Remove meat add all pureed vegetables from the food processor, add beans.

In this pot add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until beans thicken the broth slightly.
Serve hot with crusty Italian bread to soak up the juice or saltine crackers and of course some grating cheese.  A very tasty soup sure to satisfy a hungry bunch in your family!

Homemade Dough for Quiches or Fruit Tarts

Friday, April 15, 2011

Use this easy recipe to make the pastry shells for brunch quiches and for fresh fruit tarts. This tart pan has a removable bottom for easy serving.

Tart Dough:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
Mix flour and salt. Add the butter and shortening using a pastry blender tool or 2 knives. Continue until it makes  coarse looking crumb. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time stirring with a fork after each addition just enough water to forms a dough. Using floured hands make a flat disk. This can now be used to cut out the tarts, quiche or anything else you need a pastry dough for. This makes enough for one 9 inch quiche or tart shell. Around 8 to 12 miniature individual tart pans. If not using immediately refrigerate up to 2 days.
Suggestions for dessert tarts: Fill with lemon, chocolate or vanilla puddings with a combination of fruit added. Or just fill with fresh fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, cherries. Fruits can also be used as a topping to the cream filled tarts.  Garnish with chocolate curls, whipped cream or meringues.

For savory quiches, you can use this crust recipe above and this is a great quiche recipe:

Bacon and Spinach Quiche
6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
1 shallot, minced
6 cups baby spinach
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Prepare the pastry shell
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch round tart pan and trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the overhang back over itself and pinch to create a sturdy edge. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake the pastry shell until the edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Make the filling:
In a fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes or more I like mine crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan, add the garlic and cook just until soft, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the spinach mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
Place the bacon and the cheese in the pastry shell. Pour in the spinach mixture on top. Bake until the filling is set and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Remove the pan rim, cut the quiche into wedges and serve warm.

Another recipe from a previous post for a filling, try this one below:

Amaretto Strawberry Cream Pie

Cheesey Garlic Cauliflower and Mashed Potato Croquettes

Thursday, April 14, 2011
A delicious combination of cauliflower and potatoes,  robust with garlic, herbs and panko you will love these as a side dish or with a salad... even the aroma of these baking is wonderful!

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, trimmed of as much of the stems off as close as possible
2 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes boiled and mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
1 clove of chopped garlic minced fine
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, oregano, parsley and basil
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
 1  container or package of Italian flavored breadcrumbs or panko

Fill a large pot with water and boil cauliflower and potatoes till tender. Drain well and add to a large bowl.  Add sour cream, parmesan, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper, and add to food processor, heavy duty mixer with a flat beat bar or even by hand until smooth and well-combined but still  a little chunky. Roll into Italian flavored breadcrumbs.

Drop on a piece of parchment paper in mounds. You can also place them into oil sprayed cupcakes tins topped with  Italian flavored breadcrumbs. Bake on 350 degrees till browned and crispy on top.

Oh so good! Enjoy!!!!

Dad's Favorite Pineapple Turnover

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Well actually Dad loves pineapple pie, or turnovers. Today I was thinking of him, oh I miss him.. Dad, otherwise known as Carmen Macho Man, (he lifted weights until he was 79 - 1/2 years old) loved certain foods and oh boy, was this one of them. Pineapple pies, raspberry pies were equal to his favorite coconut raspberry cake. He actually was astounded one day when at age 15, I surprised him with his favorite pineapple turnovers. You see I was a bit lazy, I hated to fuss with all that crust, so the biggest turnovers were born! He loved them~

So this one's for you dad, hope your shining down with a big smile from heaven.... love and miss you always!

1 pastry crust rolled in a circle 1/4 inch thickness or use store bought
1 1/2 cups of crushed pineapple ( I used fresh)
1/4 cup of sugar plus 1 teaspoon
3 tablespoon of corn starch
I put fresh pineapple chunks in the food processor and pulse till  medium fine little chunks. Stir in the sugar. Take the 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and mix with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water till smooth. Add to the fruit and sugar. Microwave in a glass bowl around 2 minutes till mixture thickens.

In the meantime roll out dough. I pour the mixture in the center of the circle. Fold the edges coming towards you until held together by pinching. Use a fork to close all around.  Brush with milk, dot with butter, sprinkle regular sugar on the top and bake until brown, on 350 for around 35 minutes or so.
When cool, make a glaze of confectinary sugar and water (thick) and drizzle over the top.


Best Banana Bread Recipe EVER!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

I have tried making several recipes, again and again with many failures... This one is full proof that I adapted.. you won't have to try another one after this. Tell me what you think..... see cinnamon swirl variation at the bottom of this page.
I use this recipe to make a great banana split cake ...pictured is two slices of cake, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, fresh pineapple,

sliced banana's, chocolate hot fudge , carmel topping.... add a cherry on top.....

Banana Bread

Mix together:
2 1/2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In another bowl beat well:
1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups mashed banana's
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
4 eggs
optional: 1 cup walnuts

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into two well greased loaf pans or make muffins. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until brown and middle is dry when tested with a toothpick.

Variation: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread...
1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 sugar( add nuts optional)...mix together .Pour 1/2 the batter in a loaf top with sugar cinnamon mixture and bake....
other variations:
Fill with mini chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts, proceed as above.
This recipe also makes awesome muffins!