Artichokes, when they are in season, are one of my favorite “vegetables” to prepare. The artichoke is actually the flower’s bud and is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, potassium, iron, and calcium!
One of our traditonal Italian family recipes is to stuff the artichoke leaves with a breadcrumb butter mixture. To eat, pluck the leaves and pull through your teeth to get a meaty, buttery, breadcrumby bite! Yum!
Don’t count out the great flavor of the artichoke hearts. Typically frozen or canned, artichoke hearts can be a pizza topping or a delicious casserole. Here is one of our favorites!
Parmesan Crusted Artichoke Hearts
(Serves 8-10 as a side dish)
2 lbs. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (OR 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained)
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil
1/4 tsp. Sriracha dry seasoning (or red pepper flakes)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chicken broth
Brown Butter Breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, add garlic until softened and golden.
Add the artichoke hearts and cook until browned on edges.
Add basil, dry seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Cook 3-5 minutes stirring to blend together.
Add chicken broth and simmer.
Meanwhile melt butter in a small saucepan.
Add breadcrumbs until golden brown.
Transfer artichokes to a shallow baking dish and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Super Bowl XLIX is here! The Steelers didn’t make it (BOO!) We will definitely watch to see the amazing commercials! Good luck to the Seahawks and the Patriots! These two coastal teams have inspired me to create a SeafoodSuper Bowl Panini, Pittsburgh- style loaded with Old Bay Fries!
(Makes 6 panini sandwiches)
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced into 12 thick slices
1 lb. package Pana Pesca clam meat and juice
1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 slices of fontina cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Old Bay Seasoning
Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic until golden brown.
Add clam and crab meat, worcestershire and heat.
Meanwhile, start the fries. See Recipe Below.
Butter both sides of bread slices. Grill and flip until golden brown.
Add 2 slices of fontina cheese on 6 slices of bread and let it bubble and melt.
Top with Old Bay Fries- see recipe below- seafood mixture, lettuce, tomato, and a few shakes of Old Bay seasoning.
Old Bay Fries
Old Bay Seasoning
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
Oil if using a fryer
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Chop 5 potatoes into fries (1/4 inch thick).
Place them into bowl with water for 10 minutes to extract the starch.
Boil a pot of water and add potato fries.
Cook until tender when pierced with a fork.
Drain fries, place in one layer on a cookie sheet.
Place into freezer 20 minutes or until frozen.
Deep fry them or bake in the oven.
If you fry them,
season with Old Bay.
If you bake them,
drizzle with olive oil and season with Old Bay before baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are crispy and browned.
Enjoy the game, the commercials, and the food!!
Comfort Food, Football, Family, Friends, Quality Time…It must be Sunday! Make a beautiful chicken dish served over risotto! This recipe will wow your guests – because it looks totally complicated- but is surprisingly easy!
Traditionally, Saltimbocca is veal rolled with a thinly sliced prosciutto. I prepared a variation using chicken and pancetta. The Italian Saltimbocca translates “jump in your mouth,” and it will! This dish is soooooo delicious!
Makes 6 servings
3 1-1/2 inch thick chicken breasts, split and pounded.
6 slices of pancetta, sliced at your thickness preference
2 cups of fresh spinach (or 1 package of frozen, thawed)
1/2 tbsp. Garlic salt , or 1 clove finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese
4 tbsp. Olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
6 toothpicks +
Salt and pepper to taste
Lay chicken cutlets on a flat work surface.
Salt and pepper each to taste. (A few shakes)
Add the sliced pancetta on top of each chicken cutlet.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the spinach, 1 tbsp. Olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 clove of finely chopped garlic or 1 tsp. garlic salt.
Top each slice of pancetta with 4-5 coated spinach leaves.
Sprinkle each layered cutlet with fresh grated Locatelli cheese.
Carefully roll each cutlet, starting at one end roll it up enclosing the layered ingredients.
Secure with a toothpick. (Or 2)
Add 3 tbsp. Olive oil to a large, deep frying pan and add chicken rolls.
Brown each side of the rolls, 2 minutes per side.
Add 2 cups of chicken stock, bring to a boil, and cover with a lid. Cook 8-10 minutes or just until the juices run clear. Be careful not to overcook!
Remove rolls from the pan, remove toothpicks, and serve with your favorite sides!
I served this Chicken Saltimbocca over a lemon garlic and onion risotto! It was soooooo delicious!!
Baby it’s cold outside!! We just cannot get warm here in Western PA with temps dipping into the teens and single digits. Winter comfort food to the rescue!
Why not a classic mac and cheese? Imagine creamy melted fontina covered noodles, a crunchy Parmesan bread crumb topping, all flavorfully finished with a hidden kick of Sriracha, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
This quick and easy recipe is the perfect dinner or side dish! Surprise your family with a homemade classic!
Fontina Mac and Cheese
Makes 10-12 side servings or 6 dinner portions(9X13baking dish)
1 lb. of your favorite shells or macaroni noodles
1/2 cup – 1 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce
1/2 tbsp. Cayenne pepper
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups fontina cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese + 1 cup for topping
2 cups plain Panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. Paprika
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux. (Thickening agent when making a sauce)
Add sriracha, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
Do not stop whisking. When thick and well mixed, add milk and cream.
Continuously whisk 10-15 more minutes – it will bubble and become thicker.
Remove from heat and add fontina cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Mix well and blend until smooth.
Meanwhile, boil pasta until al dente and drain.
Mix cooked pasta with the cheese sauce.
Pour cheese noodles into a deep baking dish.
Cover the cheese noodles with the breadcrumbs and an extra 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with paprika.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Cheese adds depth to a dish with its creamy texture and thick flavors. Lately, my cheese of choice -other than Parmesan Reggiano, of course -is fontina. Because of its beautiful meltability, fontina cheese blends well with both spicy and sweet, and makes the most gooey, absolutely fabulous grilled cheese you have ever tasted!
My Parmesan Crusted and Stuffed Chicken dish, gives a plain chicken breast a whole lot of flavor. Each bite contains the juicy chicken, the creamy layered cheeses, the brown garlic butter breadcrumbs, and a surprise lemony bite! It is sure to be a family favorite! I can’t wait for you to try it!
Parmesan Crusted and Stuffed Chicken
4 chicken breasts, butterflied and tenderized depending on the thickness
1/4 lb. fontina cheese – sliced in to 4 1/4 inch rectangles
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan Cheese, divided in half
1 tbsp. Chopped Basil
1/4 cup Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
4 tbsp. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp. Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup milk
1-1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs mixed with extra 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
Rinse, cut off any excess fat, and butterfly the chicken breasts.
Fill with fontina, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper and close.
Dip chicken in milk, flip to coat both sides, and cover each side in Parmesan breadcrumbs.
Repeat with all four breasts.
In your largest frying pan, heat olive oil and 2 tbsp. lemon juice.
Add chopped garlic and stir allowing it to soften.
Brown each chicken breast approximately 4-5 minutes each side.
Transfer the chicken to an olive oil coated baking dish. Top the chicken with the drippingsfrom the pan, any extra bread crumbs in pan and pieces of garlic.(This is the best part! Spoon it all on there!)
Drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp. lemon juice plus extra if you really want a lemon flavor.
Bake 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Serve Parmesan Crusted and Stuffed Chicken with your favorite roasted vegetables! Enjoy!
Pillows of ricotta cake with a lemony crunchy bite, these lemon ricotta cookies are a sweet change from our traditional sugar, chocolate, and peanut butter Christmas favorites!
Try something new this year!
Here are a few unique and fun cookie recipes from my friends!
Lemon Ricotta Cookies Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies
1 stick of unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 lemons – grate zest and squeezed for juice (2tbsp. For cookies 1tbsp. For glaze)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. of lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl, stir flour and baking powder together until well mixed.
In a large bowl or using your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Because there is more sugar than the usual butter/sugar ratio, the mixture will not get light and fluffy just a creamy look, still grainy.
Add the eggs one at a time, while continuing to mix on low /medium speed.
Add in ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice, continue to mix on low 3-4 minutes. If you are not a fan, just leave out the zest.
Stir in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon and a dough will form.
In our home, we sit down to our Thanksgiving meal in the middle of the afternoon, like a Sunday dinner, between 2-3pm. My typical routine is getting the turkey(s) in the oven and making a beautiful breakfast for the family before starting the side dishes.
Panettone French Toast is a favorite holiday breakfast! Sweet and creamy with a browned, toasted edge, this recipe accentuates the flavors of the season. The panettone is filling enough to hold us over until Thanksgiving dinner is served.
A panettone …
…is a sweet Italian bread from Milan, made once per year in September /October and enjoyed through Easter until they start to dry out. Panettone makes the best french toast!!
Panettone French Toast
(Makes 6 thick slices)
1 Panettone, sliced into 6- 3/4 inch thick round slices (Save the rounded top slice for toast!)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 cup butter (pan and to butter French toast)
Beat eggs in a mixing bowl.
Whisk together all ingredients except butter.
Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a medium pan or a nonstick griddle.
Dip each slice of panettone in the mixture, flipping to coat both sides completely.
Grill until the slices are golden brown, firm (not eggy), approximately 4-5 minutes per side.
Add your favorite toppings and serve! I like to dust the French toast with powdered sugar and add fresh sliced strawberries for color!
“People think I’m a gangster, but I just do what has to be done.”
For Vince Isoldi, life is about family. Creating a better life than he had, helping those who find themselves in trouble, and cultivating businesses that will help his family flourish for years to come. Sounds like the description of a typical Italian American businessman willing to stop at nothing to provide for those he loves. Unless they cross him…
Well, that is the question- How far does Vince go?
The new A&E series Godfather of Pittsburgh follows Vince, his wife, Carla, and their sons Enzo, Adolfo, and Romeo. While showing their family life and relationships, the series also focuses on Vince’s balance with his businesses.
In my recent interview with Carla, she described her family’s portrayal in the series as a busy family trying to raise their boys with the knowledge of right and wrong in this chaotic world.
Like a typical Italian American family, the Isoldi family cherishes Sunday dinners! Carla explained that Sundays bring the whole family together. No matter what happened that week with the businesses, Sundays are special. Her most requested dish?
“My meatballs,” says Carla. “They are the family favorite. The boys love eating them as an after school snack.”
Thank you Carla for sharing your recipe with us!
Isoldi Family Meatballs
Serves 6 prep time 30 mins.
1 lb. ground chuck meat
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. of onion salt
1 slice of white bread broken up into small pieces
1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup vegetab;e oil
Combine and hand mix the first 10 ingredients.
Form small meatballs.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a skillet.
Place meatballs in the skillet and cover with a lid.
Turn over when bottoms are golden brown.
Salt lightly when cooling and sprinkle with Parmesan
Carla’s biggest cooking influence is her father, “Junior” Williams, also feature on the show. Junior was recently released from prison on racketeering charges.
Carla’s father was a big game hunter and she would help him prepare the pheasant, deer, elk with lots of marinating techniques and red wine. “Some of the wild game would even have he BBs still in the meat. Being a girl it was hard for me to deal with that,” Carla explained.
Carla and Vince’s favorite date night spot in Pittsburgh is Il Pizzaiolo. With a second location in Market Square, The Mt. Lebanon Italian eatery owned by Pittsburgh native Ron Molinero, serves traditional Neapolitan pizza, fresh pizza and pasta, fresh fish, and decadent desserts. A perfect date night spot with outdoor seating!
I must say the Isoldi’s seem like a normal, busy, successful American family, so is Vince really a gangster?
Watch the eight episode series Godfather of Pittsburgh premiering Monday November 10th at 10pm and find out!
A&E has just posted two of the recipes Carla shared for this interview on the Godfather of Pittsburgh homepage under Exclusives! In addition to the meatball recipe, Romeo’s favorite Sunday Dinner Lasagna recipe is also featured!
If you are a coffee addict, chances are you are also a cookie dunker. My favorite dunk? Biscotti, of course! So delicious!
In Italy, biscotti are usually served after dinner with wine and are “dunked” in a wine called Vin Santo. Vino Santo, or holy wine, is a dessert wine usually white, but often made into a rosé when using Sangiovese grapes.
Here is the recipe for the pumpkin spice version of my anise biscotti. I also added honey roasted pecans, but you can totally leave them out!
Pumpkin Spice Biscotti
(Makes 24 biscotti)
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (OR 2tsp. Cinnamon, 2 tsp. ground ginger, 2 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. all spice, 1 tsp. ground cloves)
1-1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1/3 cup crushed honey roasted pecans
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice in a large mixing bowl and stir.
Using a whisk, combine pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla.
Add wet pumpkin mixture to dry flour mixture.
Fold in pecans.
Dough will be dry- No worries! It will be great after kneading.
Wash hands and knead dough until a beautiful dough forms.
Form a log that will fit on your baking sheet- the length of your baking sheet and 3-4 inches wide.
Bake 25-35 mins. or until center is firm and the bottom is lightly browned.
Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Let log cool for 10 minutes.
Slice into 1 inch wide pieces with a serrated knife.
Lay them cut side up and bake 8 -10 mins. on each side or until crisp!
“It would be a dream come true if we were allowed downtown. [The Three Rivers Arts Festival] was our favorite event. People were lined up 30 minutes before we started!”- Saucy Mamas Italian Food Truck and Catering
Did you know Pittsburgh food trucks cannot legally serve food to the public downtown? With strict laws regarding parking locations, amount of time serving, and hours of operation, Pittsburgh food trucks are in a constant struggle to get in front of their customers. According to
www.pghmobilefood.com, some of the current laws are driven by distance from downtown restaurants. Would the customers buying a Bar-B-Cone or a chicken panini on the street be the same customers doing lunch in one of Pittsburgh’s finest?
Head over to Pgh Mobile Food’s website and read the information, fill out the petition to change the laws governing our fabulous food trucks.
Enjoy my next stop! The Pittsburgh Food Truck series continues with even more unique, awesome food served through a window on a truck!
Paninis, meatballs, and Italian sausage, all of the authentic homemade Italian favorites you wish for, cooked and served by the authentic, saucy mamas you expect!
Saucy Mamas Diane Forrester, Megan Coleman, and Brittany Newton opened their food truck for business in February with Steel City work ethic, a lot of sweat -a food truck in the summertime is hot!- love, and hope that people would enjoy their food.
As I chatted with a few customers in the Saucy Mamas lunch line at a Wexford office building, they were expecting average Italian food and were blown away by the delicious, homemade menu items.
Flattered by the compliments and praise, Megan told me a great customer story, “One customer bought a tray [of the five cheese meaty lasagna] for his mother’s birthday and called the next day to say it was the best he and his family had ever had.” The saucy mamas are so humbled and grateful for the feedback…they better get used to it!
The meatballs, wow! Without giving up their secret meatball recipe, the saucy mamas did tell me their balls are baked and loaded with garlic and herbs. The secret to keeping them moist? Parmesan cheese. Topped with the Saucy Mamas’ marinara and fresh grated parm, Yum!
The Saucy Mamas are just getting started. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next! Brace yourselves for their fall menu! Hearty soups and cheesy lasagna will be new for fall!
Entertaining for the upcoming holiday season? How about a tray of Saucy Mamas meatballs? Or lasagna? Reasonably priced and Homemade- these meatballs are not coming out of a freezer!
Saucy Mamas Italian Food Truck and Catering