Sunday, May 30, 2010

{a little bit behind the scenes}

What can I say ~ except I do come from one crazy Italian family!

Are we loud? Oh ya!

Can we eat pasta every.single.night? You bet!

Do we have this passion to cook? Hell ya!

Do we enjoy a amazing glass of wine? YES! YES! YES!

Now this is not the only things that make my family what we are but when most people think of the typical Italian family...we are so it! Even with my Chinese children to add in the mix ~ we are one crazy Italian family!

To say that we are loud...that is an understatement - seriously. I could never understand why my grandmother & mother spoke so loud but after surviving some years among this family...I now know the answer to need to be loud in order to be heard. There can be several conversations going on at the same time and for everyone to be heard....voices tend to get loud! I wish I could video tape my family all making home made raviolis. It is truly "a piss your pants" funny! It wasn't until I moved away that I began to appreciate those special moments in my grandmother,s - now my mother's kitchen! While we are small in numbers, we are loud in voices.

While I do try to keep up with the wonderful Chinese traditions that is my children's heritage...I also find myself teaching my children the ins & outs to surviving my crazy Italian family! I know they say the Chinese invented the noodle, but we Italians were the ones to add that amazing sauce and really per-fect it as a meal (at least in my opinion).

I love my family ~ to pieces! And I do know I would not be where I am today without each & every one of them playing a major role in my life. I can only hope & pray that I instill within each of my children what is important in life...and in this, food, celebrating each course that is place in front you, and sharing it with your true family & friends...that is what is really important and what life is all about.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fruit Cobbler ~ oh so good and oh so simple!

My next recipe I am going to share with you all is a recipe I was given to me by another fellow adopting parent! After receiving this recipe about a year ago, it didn't take me too long to add my special touches to give this recipe a little something of my own! The best part is that once again it is very simple and very easy to make for everyone to enjoy!!!!

"Thank You Mrs.C for sharing your original recipe with me for without the basic ingredients, I would not discovered what works best for my family!"

Now without letting you wait any longer, here is the two recipes combined...

1 cup of sugar
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup of butter (melted)
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 table spoon of lemon zest or orange zest ~ depending on the fruit you use
2 cups of fresh fruit of your choice (I used only strawberries this time)

Mix fruit and zest together until well blended.


Place fruit in lightly greased baking dish. Combine sugar, flour...once mixed...sprinkle over the fruit. Pour melted butter and extra sugar on top on top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crispy Corn Chip Chicken!

Ever get bored of the same old chicken?

Now my family & I do LOVE our chicken but it was time for a change...

And one wintry weekend where over 30" of snow dropped on our home town, I decided to remix my old {but tasty} grilled chicken with...

Crispy Corn Chip Chicken!!!!

Take 2lbs of chicken legs (about 12-14 pieces)...

After rinsing off each piece of chicken, take each piece and dip & coat into 4 beaten eggs...

Than coat each piece with a full bag of crumbled (flavored) Friots {we love using Friots Chili Cheese Flavored ones}...

Place each piece of chicken on a baking sheet...

*top with melted butter ~ optional*...

Bake in 400 degree oven for about an hour and there you have it ~ Crispy Corn Chip Chicken!

Friday, May 21, 2010

{letting you in on a little something more about me}

While I do find myself a little behind these days on so many things, the one thing I always make time for is cooking! It is not so unusual to find myself cooking most of the weekends! Whether it be cooking with at least three HUGE pots on my stove, or using my enormous crock pot, I love to cook and try new recipes...along with old family favorites!

With my family soon to be growing to the not so small number of 5 ~ I tend to prepare a lot of food for serving the same day and freezing (and yes - it is all about the freezing for me)!

You see, within the next few weeks, my family and I will be taking another amazing & blessed adoption journey to China for our son. Our two girls, our precious Francesca (who is currently 5) and our sweet & spicy Annabelle (who is currently 3), life as we know it is about to change! We are getting a son and they are getting a little brother! Both of our girls have been adopted through China's program. Francesca was adopted through China's traditional program back in 2005 while Annabelle was adopted through China's special needs program in 2008. Both of our girls have been diagnosed with mega colons and after dealing with this rare and at times dangerous condition, we were once again blessed with a little boy who also suffers from bowel issues. Our son will only be six months younger than our Annabelle so life as I know it going to become a bit more crazier ~ which I am so looking forward to!

Now don't get me wrong...this blog here is not about adoption or my family or my children's medical conditions but it is about cooking, recipes, and loving to eat! But for me I would not have any of those, recipes, and loving to eat...without my family and friends to share it with!

As you have already seen, many of my recipes already stated here are family favorites ~ traditions and some are new ones created by yours truly! For me, this blog is about the I want to keep for a life time and pass along to my children.


While I am getting very excited about our family of four traveling once again to China to become a family of five...I find myself more & more within my kitchen, cooking for my family and loving every single minute.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

another "Thinking Out Side The Box" recipe (or should I say can) Tomato Soup - My Style!

Now it really doesn't get any easier than this...really!

All you need is just three things...

Progresso's Tomato Basil Soup, a few Italian style croutons, and some fresh grated cheddar cheese...

And there you have a tasty tomato soup that can truly be served as a meal!

Because in this crazy house, I do!

By adding my recipe for "Sliced Oranges with Olive Oil"...

You can make the simplest of foods that can become an amazing meal ~ you can call all your own!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Thinking Out Side The Box" recipe ~ Corn Muffins!

OK ~ every now & than I do come up with something on my own and after years of trial and error with so many recipes, I am finally discovering what works and what doesn't.

And yes, I still make many mistakes but when something works ~ it really works!

Take a simple store-bought box of corn muffin mix...

Substitute a few ingredients, add a little bit more...

And there you have it, your own personal creation!

All you need a store bought box of your favorite Corn Muffin mix...

Where the recipe (on the box) calls for water ~ substitute it for 3/4 of the measured water with milk and 1/4 with half & half..."my chosen brand of boxed muffin mix said it would only make 5 muffins and I wanted I added a little Bisquick and a little bit more milk and half & half to the boxed contents. "

Once you divide up blended mixture (and even for simple jobs like this one I always use my Kitchen Aid Artisan) in the greased muffin pan, add a pat of butter to the top of each pre-baked muffin and also a nice drizzle of sugar.

Bake according to the directions on the box...and there you have it!

Easy corn muffins that you can call all your own!
These sweet & buttery corn muffins are sure to be a hit ~ anytime!!!!!

Sorry about the photo shown above, but my family attack them before I even had a chance to get a picture of all full dozen I made!

For me it is all about making any recipe ~ your own. And while there are days I find it hard to make everything from scratch, I do find myself trying to tweak up the simplest of prepared foods...thus calling it "Thinking Out Side The Box".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Simple Red Sauce Recipe!

You see, I am truly all about all recipes simple! And seeing how many of these recipes come from my amazing & large Italian family ~ they too cooked with simple ingredients and used easy steps to make some wonderful dishes!

This next recipe is one that I came up with on my own (with a little advise from my mom)!

It is my Simple Red Sauce Recipe!

When I make this simple sauce, I make a ton of it for freezing to enjoy on a later date!

All you need is...

4 - 29oz cans of Hunt Sauce...

1 small can of Hunt Tomato Paste

2 lbs of green peppers (sliced)

2 large onions - chopped

3 teaspoons of Spice World minced garlic (found the the veggie section in a glass jar)


some pure olive oil.

In a large sauce pot...heat olive oil, chopped onion and garlic until onions and garlic start turning brown. Add sliced peppers into the mix and stir. Than add all four cans of Hunt Sauce and tomato paste. Stir ingredients all together. Add a little bit of water to the mixture (about 3/4 of a cup) and stir again. Let sauce cook to a boil than lower heat & simmer for about 4 hours!

It is really that easy and oh so good!!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Direct from My Grandmother's Kitchen...Roasted Tomatoes!

Sorry about the photo here but my family attacked them as soon as they came out of the oven...
Direct from my grandmother's Lena kitchen is this recipe for Roasted Tomatoes!
Can you believe that growing up I never like them? What was I thinking? Just look at them ~ sigh...

Anyway, I can remember my grandmother making these truly delicious tomatoes every summer after visiting our local farm market. As I stated earlier, I never even tried these tomatoes until I was in my twenty's and it was after that first bite, I was hooked! This was my request almost every single summer day for my grandmother to make...just for me!

As the years past and I started cooking for my own family, I had my grandmother time & time again, show me exactly how she made her roasted tomatoes ~ for there is really no recipe only ingredients used once again. As the years past and my grandmother became unable to cook, I stepped up and took her spot in making her signature roasted tomatoes!

Preheat oven to 375 degree
Using very ripe tomatoes (how many you want), clean out stem area and cut into halves...

In a glass baking dish, cover the bottom with a layer of vegetable oil. Once oil is in the dish, place the tomatoes cut side facing up.

Now comes the layering...

Sprinkle salt over each tomato...than add some minced garlic to the cut halves, layer bread crumbs, than add fresh chopped parsley, pepper and grated Italian cheese.

Drip vegetable oil over the top of each topped tomato and cover with tin foil.

Cook in heated over ~ covered ~ for 35 minutes (depending on the size and how ripe your tomatoes are) and ~ uncovered for another 35 minutes until top of tomatoes start getting brown.

Your cooking time may vary due to the size of the tomato and once again how ripe they are. My grandmother used beefsteak tomatoes while I use ripe vine tomatoes (which are a bit smaller but much more tastier).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh So Sweet & Salty ~ Potato Chip Cookies!!!!

Finally ~ one of my favorite part of cooking well actually it is baking ~ but still it is one of my favorites!

I LOVE anything & everything sweet!

I don't pass on a dessert, cookie, donut, pie, cupcake and/or tart for nothing!

And this recipe...which I got from one of my follow workers, Miss Marie, from those long ago days when I actually worked outside the one that I relay on often!

Miss Marie's Potato Chip Cookie Recipe...

1/2 lb of butter (2 sticks soften)

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of crushed potato chips (ruffled or ridge work best)


1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degree.

Mix all the listed above ingredients together to thick and well blended...

Using a teaspoon, drop mixed cookie dough onto a baking sheet (making 24 even cookies)
Cook in oven for 10 minutes ~ be sure to check them after 10 minutes ~ sometimes they need to cook longer ~ you'll know exactly when they are done because they will start turning a little brown on top.
Pull from the oven and let them cool ~ first on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes than on cooling rack.

Once completely cooled, top with powered sugar!

I have changed mine up a bit from Miss Marie's for I add more chips and a bit more vanilla extract than she does.

These cookies have become my signature cookies to bake whenever they are needed!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Super Simple Starter for Any Meal ~ Sliced Oranges with Olive Oil

Oh My Gosh! Don't these just look delicious!!!!

This SUPER SIMPLE recipe is one that I make often when serving any meal!

Who would had ever thought that some fresh orange slices, dripped olive oil, and some died oregano can make this dish truly a crowd pleaser!

(where this recipe came from...)

A few years ago, before our family started to get too big for any one house to hold everyone, we would meet at my cousins' house, Johnny & Peggy, for Christmas Eve supper. One of the many dishes that were served were these oranges! As the years past and I started hosting my own dinner parties, I needed a super simple starter. As my fingers quickly searched the Internet for something I could make, my mind reflected back on those oranges we had during our Christmas Eve feast! I quickly called my mom to see if she knew the recipe and according to her, it was really no recipe for them but just three simple ingredients...

fresh orange slices (sliced not too thick) arranged on a tray or platter...

than drip olive oil over each orange slice...

than sprinkle dried crushed oregano over the top and they are ready to serve!

It is really that easy and they are a hit whenever I serve them!

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Aunt Jean's Wimpees ~ well almost!

You'll never guess how I came across this recipe ~ never!

You know how you have some people who never tell you their secrets...I mean cooking secrets? Well, my Aunt Jean is kind of that way. If you asked her how she made something, you tended to get the short verizon of the recipe...yes this is my Aunt Jean. See my Aunt Jean and I worked together at a children's day care center many years ago. She was the cook (and had been for many, many years) while I was a preschool teacher's aid. One day, my Aunt Jean needed to take the day off and guess who was going to be placed in her kitchen ~ yep ~ it was me! And seeing how I didn't know a thing about cooking let alone something Aunt Jean made on a daily basis, I had to ask her for some advise. She told me not to worry for she was leaving me her wimpee recipe! At the time, I wasn't too excited, but something inside of me told me to make a copy of that recipe which I did and still have to this day (almost 10 years later...)

So from that I give you this. A recipe that has only been slightly changed ~ by yes yours truly!


4 lbs of ground beef

2 medium onions ~ chopped

2 Tblsp of mustard

2 cups of ketcup

1 cup of water

2 bottles of Hunt's Chili Sauce


salt, pepper and onion powder to taste

In a large frying pan, cook ground meat and chopped onion while adding salt & pepper along with some onion powder to taste. Once full cooked, drain off grease and place flavored mixture in crock pot. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Cook on high for about 4 hours ~ stirring every now & than. It is truly that easy and one recipe that is easy to freeze for a later date!

Thanks Aunt jean for your amazing recipe! While adding less water, more chili sauce, a bit more mustard & onion powder, and cooking it in a crock pot ~ this recipe is mainly yours and it is a family favorite of ours!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Sister's Recipe ~ Egg Bake ~ My Way!

OK I know it sounds kind of funky but trust me, it is so good & this is one recipe that can be made ahead of time!

The very first time I ever tried this recipe was on the morning of my wedding day! The minute I got up at my mom's I just knew I wanted to be with my sister (who was at her house the next town over trying to entertain some wedding guests who were staying with her).

Even though I was so nervous I could not possible imagine myself eating BUT I did!

With a few trail & errors of my own from my sister's recipe, I finally found something that works for me! She uses sausage, I use ham. She uses less bread, I use more. I use bacon and she uses none and she cooks hers in less time while mine is in the oven much longer.

There is really no wrong or right way to make is all about what you like and how well you like it cooked!

And as you can see from the photo above, we like ours cooked very well!

So with out keeping you any longer ~ here is a combination of my sister, Lisa's recipe and mine!


1 pound of shaved/or chopped cooked deli ham (I like Boar's Head Deluxe Ham but make sure it is on sale when you get it)

7 slices of Bread (any choice of bread you prefer)

8 beaten eggs

2 1/2 cups of milk (use at least 2%)

2 Tblsp of dry mustard

3 cups of grated cheddar cheese

2oz of Hormel Real Bacon Bits

First ~ break up those 7 slices of bread into small bit size pieces and than add them to a greased a 9x13 glass baking dish (I use cooking spray to grease my pan). Add ham to dish. Beat eggs, milk & dry mustard. Once beaten add that to baking dish. Top with cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Cover in tin foil and refrigerate over night. The next day cook while still covered on 375 degree preheat oven for 35 minutes than uncover and cook another 40 minutes. Once cooked, let it stand about 5 minutes than it is ready to serve!
It is really that easy!