Tag Archive for 'vegetaranian'

Romano Stuffed Artichokes

Some weeks you just can’t hide from your past, it finds you. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing; it is just a fact. This was in fact an unexpected theme throughout my week. It was subtle at first, hardly noticeable, until I attended my son’s open house. I know that it may sound odd, but when I reflected back I realized that three things had rekindled my past. A photo from 2014 that appeared in my FaceBook memory feed transported me back in time to the avocado incident. This mistake and all of the complications it brought with it was in many ways the primer for what was to follow a few years later. An abundance of memories came flooding back into my consciousness. Continue reading ‘Romano Stuffed Artichokes’

Shiver Me Pickles – The Story of A Pickle Un-Aficionado (Bread & Butter Pickles)

bread and butter pickles 5

I’ve never considered myself a pickle aficionado. I have liked them but not necessarily craved them. That was until I tasted my friend Maria’s bread and butter pickles. They were so fresh and crunchy; it was difficult for me to forget them. Continue reading ‘Shiver Me Pickles – The Story of A Pickle Un-Aficionado (Bread & Butter Pickles)’

Spooky Green Spider Deviled Eggs

spider egg close up.JPG

This is a spin on my good ‘ole spider egg recipe. It is one of those recipes that hardly feels like a recipe as most of the real work is the time spent just cutting up the olives into the right decorative shapes. With All Hallows’ Eve quickly approaching, parties are bound to pop-up, and this just might be your stand-out dish to bring to share.

In our family, Spider Deviled Eggs have become a Halloween tradition. I would undoubtedly miss seeing these annual ‘spiders’ Continue reading ‘Spooky Green Spider Deviled Eggs’

Wis Dells Fried MAC & Cheese Bites


One of my favorite things about traveling is the opportunity for food discovery. Even common dishes can take on a new local spin or inspire food creativity. This summer we headed to the mid-west to spend some time with good friends. Had it not been for them we may have never made it to Milwaukee and I can honestly say that we would have really missed out. Continue reading ‘Wis Dells Fried MAC & Cheese Bites’

Ricotta Kale and Spinach Gnudi (pronounced “nu-dee”)

gnudi plated1.jpg

Summer in Florence, Italy conjures up memories of light meals involving quick summer preparations. And this past week with the heat temperatures hitting over 100 degrees Fahrenheit I was on the prowl to capture a taste of Italian summer.

Whenever I think of Italy, I flashback to my year spent in Florence Continue reading ‘Ricotta Kale and Spinach Gnudi (pronounced “nu-dee”)’

Blueberry Banana Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread with Coconut Butter Streusel

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I do not need to be cured, I have diagnosed myself with an acute case of everything is fine. That was really my attitude when this chapter of my life began which I’ve named “Gina was attacked by an avocado” the exact words written by a specialist I was seeing on the back of a piece of paper. While the choice of words is hilarious, the situation is much less funny. Yes, I tell myself the obligatory, “It could have been worse.” And it could have, but lets deal in the present – It under no uncertain terms is a pain in my $%&. I am not patient at all, I want to move at lightening speed, I want to cook, explore new recipe ideas, ground myself in the kitchen where new treats can be enjoyed. For me cooking and baking are one of the demonstrative ways I show my love. Continue reading ‘Blueberry Banana Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread with Coconut Butter Streusel’

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy 2 Ways

bacon gravy plated

I am trying to find comfort these days. Trying really, really hard to self-soothe and heal. When sick, or tired, or far from home, everyone seems to yearn for the gastronomic equivalent of a warm sweater, a kiss on the forehead, a favorite blanket. Cutting-edge cuisine has its place, but sometimes you just want a hearty meal with your favorite comfort foods.

Don’t judge. We all have them – “comfort” foods that feel like more than just food. Far beyond the random edibles of our day, these are instilled with the likes of positive memories, celebratory identities, nurturing associations. Continue reading ‘Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy 2 Ways’

Squash Blossom Stellina Pizza – Food Is Art


I am often accused of playing with my food, and sometimes the results are both delicious and beautiful. Squash blossoms, while difficult to find in the U.S. outside of home gardening or the occasional farmer’s market, are available in great abundance in Italy. Their flavor is floral but with a hint of mushrooms and squash. Their season is delicate and short-lived so be sure to have your recipes at the ready once the zucchini flowers start to blossom.

The recipe for ‘Stellina Pizza’ is one that I am particularly proud of, as it combines my love of food, my passion for art, my deep rooted desire to play with my food AND a very special pizza dough recipe from a good friend.

Admittedly, this recipe has a few steps to it but it is worth the effort. To save time, sauce can be made ahead of time and stored.

Be certain to read to the end of the recipe to ensure that all ingredients have been captured for:

– Pizza Dough (‘Homemade with Love Recipe’)

– Pizza Sauce

– Pizza Toppings


Squash Blossom Stellina Pizza

Blossom Prep 101

Note: If not using the squash blossoms right away, wrap in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Blossoms will keep well up to four days. Just before cooking, rip off the stems and remove the stamen.

To prepare the squash blossoms first remove the sepals around the base of the blossom, as these can be bitter. Trim off the stems of the blossom and cut a slit up on side of each blossom so that you can cut out the stamen in the center and discard it. Dip into a bowl of cold water and clean for dust and bugs.

The number of squash blossoms needed for the pizza will depend upon the shape of pizza. Round pizzas will require 6-8 blossoms. A rustic rectangular pizza will require double that amount per pizza.

Stellina Pizza

While it is possible to do a quick fix and buy a pre-made pizza dough, fresh made dough will take your breath away. My good friend and author, Jennifer Perillo, is known for this very special pizza dough recipe. I couldn’t think of a better way to make this special dish any more special. This star studded pizza is dedicated to my Brooklyn star gazer.


Homemade Pizza Dough (reprinted from ‘Homemade with Love’ with permission from Jennifer Perillo and Running Press)

Pizza Dough Ingredients

3 cups unbleached bread flour

1- 1/2 tsps active dry yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp natural cane sugar

1 cup warm water

1 TBS olive oil

Pizza Dough Directions

In a deep bowl whisk together 2 cups of the flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir it together to form a wet, sticky dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining flour on to a clean counter or large cutting board. Scrape the dough out onto the board and knead in the flour until the dough is smooth and soft but not tacky or sticky (you may need more or less).

Lightly oil a deep glass or ceramic bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in volume (about 90 minutes).

Once the dough has risen, sprinkle some of the remaining flour, about 2 TBS, on your work surface. Turn the dough out and gently knead it once or twice to deflate. If you’re making one thick-crust (or deep-dish) pizza, place the dough back in the bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap again, and place back in a warm spot until doubled in volume once more (about 30 minutes). For two thin-crust pizzas, divide dough in half and let rise in separate oiled bowls.

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

28-oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes

2 TBS olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1-1/2 tsps balsamic vinegar

3 TBS fresh basil, slivered

Pizza Sauce Directions

In a food processor or blender, puree the plum tomatoes with their juices and set aside. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and then add the garlic. Saute until the sauce begins to change color. Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until just thickened. Remove from heat, add in basil and stir until well combined. Cool before using.

Note: This recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated up to four days or frozen for later use.

Pizza Topping Ingredients

12-16 squash blossoms (per pizza)

8-12 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices

Pizza Assembly Directions

Preheat oven to 500°.

Flour the working surface. Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, flatten it onto a greased 18×13-inch baking sheet. If it becomes difficult to manipulate, allow the dough to rest 5 minutes to enable the gluten to relax. Brush the dough with 2 tsps of olive oil Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce onto the dough and spread it out evenly. Add additional sauce if needed. Allow at least a 1-inch dough at the rim.

Cut open the squash blossoms and fan out with the yellow tips of the flowers facing the edges of the pizza. Arrange blossoms onto the dough – I tend to like rustic rectangular pizza’s best. Place half of the cheese in the middle so it overlaps but does not cover any of the blossoms. Bake 12-18 minutes, until browned on the edges. Using a wide spatula, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve.

Repeat with the remaining dough.





The pizza dough is only one of Jennifer’s delicious recipes. Her book is bursting with page turning recipes that I adore (i.e. Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad). Be sure to pick up your copy by clicking on the link above… and then grab another one to gift to a friend. 😉


Joost-a like Pasta Fazool – That’s Amore

Depending on the dialect of Italian being used, the word fagioli can even be pronounced “va-zu-l” in Sicilian. A 1927 song by Van and Schenck capitalizes on this latter pronunciation in the rhyme, “Don’t be a fool, eat pasta fazool.” And then there is the more recently famous Dean Martin song “That’s Amore”. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to feel or be in love…even if it is with a bit of bean soup. When love is on the menu, the line is long. >sings to herself, the excerpt below< When the stars make you drool
Joost-a like pasta fazool
That’s amore
When you dance down the street
With a cloud at your feet, you’re in love
When you walk in a dream
But you know you’re not dreamin’, signore
‘Scusami, but you see
Back in old Napoli, that’s amore

(When the moon hits your eye)
(Like a big-a pizza pie, that’s amore)

Attempting to dig back into this blog after a brief bout away I am in dire need of comfort and comfort foods. And this week the cravings were meatless yet hearty. Pasta fagioli or pasta e fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans”, is one of many traditional Italian peasant dishes that was widely available in all regions of Italy due to cheaply available beans and pasta. This recipe should be added to your files under -will keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.

Pasta e Fagioli


4 TBS olive oil, and 2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 medium size yellow onion, finely chopped
7 cloves garlic, pressed hold 1 clove off to the side
3 cups dried cranberry beans (if rushed buy 3-15 oz cans)
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary
2 TBS fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
salt & pepper to taste
7-8 oz tubetti or small pasta
pesto (optional)
Parmesan cheese, grated


In a large pot add 4 TBS olive oil, onions and garlic, salt and pepper and cook on medium-low heat until onions are translucent. Add in tomato paste and coat pan without allowing the paste to burn.

If using dried beans, place broth and beans in the same pot and bring to a rapid bowl, lid slightly off, for 40 minutes. Reduce heat, add in rosemary, salt, pepper and parsley, basil and oregano. Place lid on pot and turn heat to simmer for 1 1/2 hrs, checking after one hour to see if more water should be added to create sufficient broth.

If using canned beans, place broth and beans in the same pot and bring to a rapid bowl, lid slightly off, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat, add in rosemary, salt, pepper and parsley, basil and oregano. Place lid on pot and turn heat to simmer for 30 minutes.

In a medium size pot with a cap full of oil, bring water to a boil. Once boiling add in 1 TBS of salt and then add in the tubettini or other pasta. Cook according to package directions, drain and set aside.

In a small sauce pan add 3 TBS oil, 1 clove garlic, minced. Cook over a low heat until soft and then stir in rosemary which has been finely chopped. Add this mixture back into the soup.

To thicken soup you can either use a stick blender and puree 1/3 of the soup to gain a nice thickness or you can remove two cups of the beans and smash them in a mug with a fork and then return them to the pot, stirring well.

To serve, place drained pasta in an individual serving bowl, cover with pasta fazool then top with cheese, dash of olive oil and a spot of pesto. That’s Amore.