Welcome to my blog. My blogging journey began about in August 2009 as a photo-a-day blog which has since transitioned to combine my love of good food and photography. Today, using as many local and fresh ingredients as we can, my boyfriend and myself spend time researching recipes, making our own adaptations, cooking, taking photos, eating, and finally reflecting on all or part of the above listed process here. I hope you take the time to not only read and look at our photos, but please cook some of the recipes yourself. You are invited and encourage to leave feedback as we continue our culinary journey!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baked Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Halloween! In the spirit of the season, D and I baked some pumpkin seeds last weekend and have been devouring them all week long. D is a big fan of the pumpkin seeds and can eat them for hours on end (sometimes I have to remind him to stop eating them).

We went to a Halloween party last week at which there was a pumpkin carving contest. When I saw all of the pumpkin innards going to waste, I decided that I would collect the innards in order to bake the seeds the next day. So not only did Daniele get to carve his very first pumpkin, but he also got to bake his very first set of pumpkin seeds! In Italy, carving pumpkins is not a custom and pumpkin seeds can be purchased from the store already baked, but few people actually bake the seeds themselves.

So, if you are carving a pumpkin yourself this season, or if you are using a pumpkin as a vegetable for a meal, don't forget to make some pumpkin seeds. Start by taking out all of the innards to the pumpkin and rinsing them in water in order to separate the seeds. Place them on a baking sheet and let them dry overnight.

The next day, place all of the seeds in a bowl. Since D and I had many seeds, we decided to make two different flavors, one spicy and one savory. So, in one bowl we added salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning and in the other bowl we added salt, paprika, and cumin. Be generous in the amount of spices you add to your seeds. Place seeds on two separate baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy as a snack!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Apple Cobbler

In honor of Halloween weekend, the next two entries will be simple but will also be thematic. And, you will even see a photo of Daniele carving his very first pumpkin! But, that is to come.

Last weekend Daniele and I went to a Halloween party in the suburbs. It was a potluck, so I made an Apple Cobbler, very similar to the peach and blueberry cobbler I had made earlier this summer. The only differences were the following:
  • Obviously, I used only apples instead of peach and blueberries
  • I doubled the cinnamon in the filling
  • I added 1/4 of a cup water to the filling since apples produce less moisture than peaches
The recipe turned out well, although Daniele said he preferred the peach and blueberry version. I myself preferred this one because it included more cinnimon and the peach and blueberry was a bit too sweet for me.

Enjoy our Halloween photos. I am a Geisha and Daniele, the tea party. Also featured is my long-time friend Ruthie Archer. Oh, and Daniele won a sweet arm tattoo as a prize for his costume.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Soup Time: Homemade Chicken Broth and Passatelli Soup

Given the recent fall brisk weather (which I have loved, by the way), Daniele and I decided to try our hand at a few soups. First, we made our own broth and afterwords made a veggie soup, chicken and quinoa soup (not pictured here), and finally, an Italian tradition: Passatelli soup. Making your own chicken broth is easy, and totally worth it.

To begin, place meats in a large pan filled with water and bring to a boil. You should include chicken and veal to make your broth. Also add 1 celery stalk, 1 large carrot, 1 onion and 1 tomato sliced in half for flavor. After bringing to a boil, add salt and cook on low for at least 2 hours. The longer the broth cooks the better it will taste.

After your broth is finished, you can continue on to make a veggie soup if you wish. Remove the meats from the broth, which you can consume in later meals or even add to the soup for additional flavor, such as we did with our chicken and quinoa version. In our veggie soup, we included the celery, carrot, onion, and tomato that were already in the broth and added asparagus, squash, and green pepper. We cooked on low for 30-40 minutes, added some black pepper and extra salt, and enjoyed our soup. The rest of the broth we kept in the fridge for later use.

A few days after making our own chicken broth, we decided to try our hand at making the traditional Italian Passatelli soup. You will need bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and eggs to make your noodles for the soup. Whip two eggs in a bowl and add 100 grams of parmesan and 75 grams of bread crumbs along with a touch of nutmeg. (Sorry about the quantities in grams, but given that this recipe is coming from an Italian, it is to be expected). Some grated lemon peal is also a nice addition to the mixture. 

After stirring everything together you can form your noodles. Since we did not have the correct tool to form them, we rolled a small portion of the dough into a ball and then pushed the noodles against a potato masher to form them. Daniele wants me to add that actually, the noodles are supposed to be much thinner than they appear in this picture, but I think it doesn't matter because they taste the same either way. After bringing the broth to a boil, add the noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ragu' alla Bolognese

 Every few months, Daniele will spend an afternoon making the pasta sauce traditional from his region in Italy: Ragu' alla Bolognese. I think this is what most Americans think of as a traditional pasta sauce. Since the recipe takes a long time to make, D typically cooks in large quantities and freezes the extra.

Ragu' alla Bolognese
ground veal
ground pork
ground beef
tomato puree
cooking wine
olive oil

You can mix the ingredients to come up with the portion size that is good for you and your family. Typically, Daniele will mix approximately 2 lbs of the ground meats, 2 sausages, 1 large carrot, 1 celery stem, 1 onion, and 1 large can of tomato puree for this sauce.

Chop all the veggies into very small pieces. Start cooking them in a large pan with a little bit of olive oil. After five minutes, add all of the meat and cook until the meat is cooked. Add cooking wine. Add tomato puree, salt to taste, put on low heat, and cook for 3-4 hours. The time is not set in stone here-the longer the sauce cooks, the better it will taste. One trick here is that if the sauce seems too runny, leave the pot slightly uncovered so that some of the moisture evaporates.

Enjoy this pasta sauce with your favorite pasta noodle (I highly suggest egg noodles!), gnocchi, or even use in lasagna. Top everything with Parmesan cheese. Freeze any leftovers for an easy dinner over the next few months.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mashed Potatoes and Zucchini

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, we made some mashed potatoes and zucchini with the apple chutney and pork roast recipe.

To make this recipe is fairly simple. Boil 6-8 small yukon gold potatoes along with one zucchini. Mash with a potato masher and add butter, milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The recipe makes a great side dish, and is a nice twist to the traditional mashed potatoes. Not only do you get some starchy veggies, but you get some extra nutrition from the zucchini, and much of the taste is hidden. This recipe would also be wonderful for kids who don't necessarily enjoy eating their veggies.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A few weeks ago, Daniele prepared Bruschetta (pronounced with a hard c, don't you dare let him catch you pronouncing this with a ch sound) for an appetizer. Easy and delicious.

Italian bread
garlic clove
olive oil

I apologize that this entry is without quantities, but you can figure it based on how many people you are making the appetizer for. Start by slicing the tomato(s) into small cubes. Place in a bowl and add olive oil, salt, and oregano to taste. Toast Slices of Italian bread, rub the garlic clove on the bread for a garlic taste, and top with prepared tomato topping. Eat. This recipe may be easy (and it is) but it is always a hit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

That's right, I made my own bagels! I was excited to take on this project and the bagels turned out fabulous. I will definitely be trying out new variations soon-possibly an egg, wheat, or maybe even onion (or a combo!) bagel to be eaten with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
2 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
5 c. flour
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. raisins
1 gallon water

Start by dissolving the 2 packages of yeast in 1.5 cups of warm water. Wait about 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbling a bit, to make sure it is active. Then, add 2 tbsp honey and 1 tsp salt. Add flour---between 4-6 cups, until the dough is no longer sticking to your fingers. Fold in 1.5 cups raisins and 2 tbsp. cinnamon.

When the dough is of one consistency, roll into 12 balls and poke a hole in the middle of each one. Cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size. Boil 1 about 1 gallon of water in a large pot, and boil the bagels 3 or 4 at a time for 7 minutes each, turning once. Let bagels dry and then bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.Enjoy with cream cheese.

I loved this recipe and was really impressed with the fact that I could actually make homemade bagels. And, they were much better than any bagel I could find in the store or bakery!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cream and Sausage Pasta

D had a dinner party last week with some of his Italian friends. As would be the traditional thing to do, we made pasta, more specifically: pasta with a creamy sausage sauce. This is unlike the pasta dishes that we usually cook, because instead of including a fresh vegetable or two, this recipe is instead the "comfort food" of pasta. Simple and tasty as it sounds: pasta with a creamy sauce.

Cream and Sausage Pasta
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream for every 2 people
1 sausage for every 2 people
1 onion
olive oil
pasta noodles
parmesan cheese

Chop and saute the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Peel the skin off the sausages and cook the sausage meat for about 10 minutes. Pour cream over sausage after it is cooked, add salt and black pepper to taste. Let the cream sauce cook on a low temperature for about 15 minutes, cook pasta, and serve warm with parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Best Vegetarian Chili

It's fall and the weather is getting cooler, meaning it's time for chili and also crockpot recipes! I always get excited about cooking something in my crockpot. It's so easy, and everything is prepared by the time I come home from work. This chili is the best I've ever had, and I hope you try it yourself at home-if there are just two of you, you will have leftovers for lunch for almost a week (but nobody will complain).

The Best Vegetarian Chili
olive oi1
2 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

Mix all ingredients together, put in crockpot, and cook on low for 8 hours. Stir occasionally. Serve with abundant sour cream and grated cheese.

Tips:  Drain the tomatoes before adding them to the crockpot, but keep about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the extra juice to add to the chili. Also, try to buy low sodium or no sodium beans. If this is not possible, rinse the beans with water to remove some of the extra salt.