As our first-week-of-Spring low temps here in Western PA tank back into the 20s and 30s, we need a hearty soup to warm our bones! Again!! Hopefully for the last time! I love this recipe!!! So easy in the crockpot!!
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic pressed
4 carrots chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp. each Basil, rosemary, thyme
1/2 tbsp. fennel seed
1 28oz. can LaValle San Marzano
1 cup dry lentils rinsed
1 32oz.box of low sodium chicken stock
1-1/2 lb. kielbasa, sweet or hot sausage link cut into 1 inch chunks.
3 cups chopped red potatoes washed and skinned.
Remember the superfood chia! Add your gel or the seeds right into to the soup!
Add olive oil to frying pan on medium heat.
Start with garlic and chopped onions.
Add celery and carrots and let cook 15 minutes.
Season with basil, rosemary, thyme and add fennel seed.
Add contents of frying pan and all other ingredients to the crockpot! Cook for 6 hours on high!
Always top off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, grab a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread and enjoy!
Get home at 5 and have nothing prepared for dinner? We are all there multiple times per week! Relax, my 20 minute pasta dish is healthy, easy and quick!! Best part…It looks like you have cooked all day!
20 Min.Gourmet Pasta in Pan Sauce
2 cloves of garlic presses
2 tbsp olive oil
1 35 oz. can LaValle whole tomatoes
Choose what you have in the fridge! If none – move on there is nothing wrong with a pan marinara sauce! Today, I have a pepper and a bag of spinach.
1 pepper chopped
1 cup fresh spinach
1 pack Mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup Italian olives sliced
1 zucchini sliced
1/2 cup Pepperoni
1 lb. of your favorite pasta- farfalle for us today!
Freshly grated Parmesan
Put hot water in a stock pot on the stove, add 3 pinches of salt and bring to a boil.
Heat your largest frying pan on medium/low heat.
Add olive oil
Stir with wooden spoon- remember no brown- if it is crackling it is too hot!
Add peppers (raw veggies) put a lid on and cook 5 mins.
Add can of tomatoes.
Salt and pepper
Put a lid on and let it cook. Totally fine to boil and bubble. You want to quickly cook the veggies and let the flavors mix together.
When water is at a rapid boil add pasta and follow directions and cook until al dente. Perfectly chewy!
Strain pasta in a strainer over the sink. Take advantage of the pore opening steam facial!!
Add a few spoonfuls of sauce in a serving bowl and coat pasta so it doesn’t stick. Mix in spinach last!
Serve with a nice ciabatta! I happened to have one in the freezer! OR Make a quick garlic toast in your toaster! Toast bread, butter it and sprinkle on garlic salt and Italian seasoning!
I clicked on an ad while perusing the web that shows a video of gorgeous artichokes being prepared with a lemon Dijon drizzle and fresh Parmesan…O wait!! What? This is a Kraft commercial/recipe/ad showcasing their “100% grated Parmesan cheese” packaged in a plastic tube and does not need refrigerated!! What????
Time to research!
As Larry Olmsted tells us in his Forbes magazine article “Most Parmesan Cheeses in America are Fake, Here is Why,” real Parmigiano Reggiano from Parma, Italy , has 3 ingredients- milk, salt and rennet.
Moms, take the kids! You can all make your own cheese at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center in the Kitchen Works exhibit called “Say Cheese”!! We have made mozzarella many times!
Unrefrigerated, fugazi cheese also contains three other ingredients, cellulose powder, potassium sorbate, and cheese cultures, which are not found in real Parmigiano-Reggiano!! Fake cheese is illegal in Europe! Is that why the food is worlds more amazing in Europe? Real cheese!!
Did you know they have a Parmigiano Reggiano museum in Parma, Italy, where there is an entire room dedicated to the infiltration of fake cheeses!!
Parmigiano -Reggiano is known for its purity. It tastes amazing and is full of healthy vitamins because of this purity! It is the cheese of choice for astronauts in space! So why buy it with chemicals that will do who knows what to our bodies?
Yes, it SHOULD be illegal in America, too.
After a disappointing Elle magazine Spring fashion spread, I am please to announce that Anthropologie is giving me hope! The new arrivals offer everything Spring- bright colors, sexy softness, and flowing lines!
Miami had a jump on Spring style! What did I see? Flowy, graphic pants paired with fitted tanks, peplum tops with skinny jeans, and maxi dresses!
Photo courtesy of Anthropologie! Bricollage pants and …they come in petite!!!
Anthropologie’s Sapphire Flame Cardigan has Spring’s hottest colors! Turquoise, orange, and a little royal blue! Dress it up with navy ankle dress pants and wear it to church on Sunday!
I love a peplum top! It can really compliment any body type! The peplum top is slimming, hiding the muffin top and the pooch very well!!
Love, love love a maxi dress!
At $117, $128, $178, these are too trendy to buy at Anthropologie! Too hip and now to be classic “spend your money on pieces” because they will only be around one or two seasons! Be a super sleuth!! Find similar items at TJMaxx! Be on the lookout and let me know what you find!!
I love to use my crockpot! It is an amazing feeling to have dinner cooking by 9am! Start early in the morning, throw everything in and it is ready by dinner time! We are never home during the day, so I feel comfortable leaving the crockpot cooking!!
Don’t have every ingredient when you start? No problem! Neither do I most of the time! Just start with your base and your meat and get it cooking! We cannot stand mushy overcooked veggies in this house, so it is better to add the fresh veggies later! Add them at 4 when you get home and dinner is ready by 5:30!
Crockpot Chicken Tacos
1-2 lb.boneless skinless chicken breasts- frozen or fresh!
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1 onion chopped
1 pepper chopped
1 22oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14oz. can black beans
Put salsa, diced tomatoes, chicken chopped onions and taco seasoning in crockpot.
Set time for 6 hours on high.
Add peppers, black beans and all other crockpot ingredients in last 1-2 hours.
Serve in shells with your favorite toppings!
Feel free to add hot salsa, hot sauce or Cayenne pepper to make it spicy!
Our most recent trip to Miami was a total breeze! What?? Traveling with 2 and 4 -year- old monkeys can be easy??? Follow my top 10 steps for a tantrum-less, tear free, and totally fun trip the kiddos will never forget!
Let’s jump right in:
#1 We each only have 2 hands!!! Take a shuttle service near the Airport for a seamless luggage transition from car to airport and back! Here in Pittsburgh, we use the PIT Stop! They are awesome!! Traveling in the winter? Your car is waiting for you, clear of snow and ice, with seat warmers ON!!
#2 What to wear? Be happy with your choices!
When we look our best, we feel our best, and our attitude is best! No pajamas! Scary! Be comfortable but stylish and most importantly…layer!! Traveling cold to warm?? Wear your emergency layering jacket as your heaviest piece then go backwards!
What we wore:
Miss Priss striped Capri pants, BabyNay sleeveless top, Circo jean jacket and silver sparkle TOMS.
Relaxed fit Gap jeans, Gymboree polo, Gap windbreaker and Adidas tennis shoes.
Jeans, breathable Under Armour T-shirt, Adidas 3/4 zip-up and tennis shoes. (If anyone has to break a sweat, it is dad- Maybe loading the car or carrying a monkey!)
INC Skinny jeans, Kensie racerback black tank, Kensie oatmeal anywhere jacket and Lucky strapped island wedges. Wear silver jewelry that does not need removed in security!
#3 Always wear the largest heaviest shoes and clothing. (Notice we wore our jeans and biggest shoes! )
#4 Traveling cold to warm? Never lug winter coats through an Airport! Layer and bring a pashmina or scarf in case you need to wrap up a child!
#5 DO NOT bring car seats! If your plane is going down, the car seats you brought for the plane will not save them! If your destination requires a rental car, you can rent car seats!
#6 DO bring a small, umbrella stroller! Inevitably, one child gets tired walking or needs a nap. You can check this stroller at the gate- which means use in the airport- and pick up as soon as you exit.
#7 Pre-plan and Pack Essentials in your Mommy Bag!
This trip I took my Tory Burch black Ella tote! (Yes, I am obsessed with TB right now!!!)
It is the ultimate travel bag because it is nylon and can handle spills, sand and water! Always bring our pashmina in your carry on- it serves a dual purpose it can also be a blanket if necessary on the plane!
What else is in my bag:
Activity books with TONS of stickers!
Valuables- my jewelry zip-up!
One set of pool gear for all- swimwear and flip flops! Which brings me to #8…
#8 Bring swimsuits and flip flops in your mommy bag! Going somewhere warm? Arriving early afternoon? Check-in times are usually late afternoon. Wow them with your planning and enjoy your first hours poolside with a cold beverage!!
#9 Be cheerful, easy- going, and upbeat. I know! Way, way easier said than done! Those of you who know me well already, know that I work on this every single day of my life!! As a perfectionist, I want anything and everything to be perfect! By breathing, putting on a smile, and relaxing, you will keep your husband and kids in good spirits no matter what the circumstances!
#10 Last, but not least! Lollipop, lollipop, o lolli lollipop…lollipops go a long way !!! They give you time! It takes a child approx 4 minutes to get bored with or finish chewing a lollipop. Because of the sugars lollipops contain, they can easily settle an upset stomach (adults and kids), be the extra few minutes you need, or hold the kids over to the next meal! Never leave home without lollipops!
I hope these tips help you and/or give you the confidence you need to plan a trip with your little ones!! Do it!! We have been fortunate enough to travel to San Diego, Orlando, the Bahamas…and many other exciting destinations with our kids!
Don’t listen to other people, the kids will remember, it is fantastic bonding time with the family, and they get to see there is a world outside of your hometown! All great things for their learning and growing!
Why do we eat cheese pizza every Friday during Lent? Why do we wear our black blouse, silver jewels, favorite jeans and boots every time we don’t know what to wear? We are content-it is easy- everybody will eat it. There are many awesome alternatives! Have you ever tried quinoa??
Let me share with you a quick, delicious menu! Panko Parmesan Zucchini Fries, Roasted Red Pepper and Pineapple Quinoa Coleslaw and OldBay Steamed Shrimp!! Voila!
Panko Parmesan Zucchini fries
2 zucchini peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick rectangles
2c.Panko bread crumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Beat eggs and add milk
Set up your assembly line- zuchinni strips – beaten egg bath-flour, Breadcrumbs
Dip and dunk each stick!
Shake on your Parmesan!
Place on an untreated stoneware pan or a jelly roll pan sprayed with Pam.
Bake for 15mins at 400 degrees- flip for 10 mins. Until golden brown
Roasted Red Pepper and Pineapple Quinoa Coleslaw
1/2 jar Mancini red peppers chopped
1 bag coleslaw mix
1 can crushed pineapple
1tbsp. Spicy mustard
1tbsp. Olive oil
Boil quinoa for 10 mins.in 2 cups of water and then simmer for 15 mins
In a large bowl mix coleslaw mix , red peppers, quinoa with spicy mustard, olive oil mixture
Add salt and pepper to taste!
Old Bay Steamed Shrimp
I use equal parts beer- yes beer! – white vinegar and water! Excellent recipe!! Cook only until pink!! Once the water is at a boil throw in thawed shrimp!! Love love love!!!
Old Bay shrimp!
Miss Bella and I visited Penn Ave Fish Company today! We found the freshest seafood and a wonderful surprise!!! The best fish tacos I have found, yet..spicy!!! Sushi bar and a dining room if you visit for lunch. Just walk in and buy fresh fish!
I am in love!!!! Mama got some new shoes! Finally, I’m learning!! Why do we go every Spring to Macy’s sale and then TJMaxx and then DSW and buy 3 pair of flip flops on sale for $30-$40/ pair only to actually wear one pair ever on our feet all summer???? That’s $90! Let me introduce you to the Tory Burch thin enamel flip flop in khaki…
$50!! Get one pair now before Spring-in khaki! (They sell out fast!) You will love them! These flip flops compliment all of the current trends- maxi dresses, high lows, skinny jeans, spring summer sundresses, rompers…love, love, love. And you will, too!! OK, on to the cheese and totally delicious fontina white pizza recipe!
I am also obsessed with fontina cheese right now! It’s meltability (is that a word?) is incredible! which is why I recently began experimenting with fontina on pizza!
Use to make mouth watering grilled cheese, paninis, even shredded beef sandwiches!! Here is my favorite recipe so far!
Fontina Fabulous -White Pizza
Uncooked 12″pizza shell-Yep I do! ; )
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
2/3 cup of shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
Salt/pepper/basil/ rosemary/or your favorite Italian seasoning
Preheat oven with pizza stone @ 375 degrees
Press garlic and mix with olive oil
Brush shell with oil/garlic leaving 1/2inch on outside edge untouched
Add shredded fontina, mozzarella
Bake for 10-15 mins until golden brown and cheese melted!
Always top off with freshly grated Parmesan!! Enjoy!
Hello World!! All women need a great handbag, a great pair of pumps, and a phenomenal sauce! A delicious, super easy sauce is the key to happy stress- free entertaining! Start the sauce in the morning, boil some pasta, make a salad, pick up a loaf of fresh ciabatta and Voila! After realizing that my grandma’s sauce is impossible to replicate, I decided to make my own! I stripped it down and learned from countless episodes of “sauces gone wild.”
I realized I was burning my garlic! Pitch it and start over if this happens because it totally ruins the taste! No brown! I always use San Marzano tomatoes. Why? Their taste is absolutely incredible! The low acidity gives you a bold, rich flavor as opposed to a sour tasting sauce. Red Pack will not cut it, the extra $2 is so worth it!!
I love the selection of tomatoes at Pennsylvania Macaroni (you will find I get all of my fresh ingredients here) located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District! Or online!
So here is the most basic (still totally delicious) recipe:
2cloves of garlic chopped
2tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
2 cans of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can water
4-5 basil leaves chopped
Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat add onions and sauté
Add garlic and press with a wooden spoon to release flavors
Cover pan with basil, ground pepper and sprinkle with salt.
Add 2 cans of tomatoes, 1 can tomato paste and 1 can of water to a stock pot and stir well
Add contents from frying pan
Cook on low- medium heat covered with the lid slightly propped.
Cook a pound of pasta. Add one spoon of sauce to serving bowl and coat to avoid pasta sticking together!
Always top off with freshly grated Parmesan!! Enjoy!