Archive for the ‘italian food’ Category


This week we had a pot-luck brunch at work.  Since I’m not that big on sweets for breakfast, I brought a frittata as my dish.  Frittatas are the Italian verison of an omelette.  They are super easy to make, all you need is a good nonstick skillet and a broiler.  I threw everything together in the morning before I went to work.

My favorite frittata has bacon, feta cheese, tomatoes and fresh basil.  You can use whatever you have on hand or makes you happy. 

 Maria’s Favorite Frittata (this is all an estimate, so just wing it!)

  • 3/4 of a pound of bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • fresh basil, about 2 tbps chopped
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 6-7 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat the broiler in the oven.  Cook the bacon in a nonstick skillet until crispy.  Remove the bacon from the pan and spread out on a paper towel to drain.  Pour the bacon grease from the pan, leaving a thin layer on the inside of the pan. (This step is important to allow easy removal of the frittata from the pan at the end). Place the pan back on the stove and keep on low heat.

Beat the eggs and the water together in a large bowl, then add the bacon, tomatoes, basil and feta.  Toss together and pour into the pan.  Turn up the heat and cook the mixture on the stovetop until you can see everything starting to set.  Add the cheddar to the top of the frittata.  Transfer the pan from the stovetop to the broiler.  If your pan doesn’t have a metal handle, wrap the handle in aluminum foil to protect it before it goes in the oven.  Broil the frittata until the mixture is completely set and the cheese is brown and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a plate.   NOTE:  THE PAN WILL BE REALLY HOT, USE A POTHOLDER!!!    Frittatas are good warm or room temperature.


 As a side note,  if you think that this recipe sounds good, or if you can’t follow it, please leave me a comment know so I can make changes!


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Italian Chicken Soup

I know that I can’t complain about the weather here in North Carolina, since it is snowing everywhere else on the East Coast.  For us down here though, yesterday was cold and rainy.  A perfect day to have soup for lunch.  I am sending a mental bowl of this soup to all of you snowed/iced in!

I made this soup a few weeks ago and froze it in several portions. It is good on the day you make it, but even better after the flavors have time to mingle.

Italian Chicken Soup

3 chicken breasts with the bone, about 3 pounds total
2 quarts chicken stock (chicken Bouillon also works)
28 oz canned diced San Marzano Italian tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, finely chopped                                                                                                      rind from a wedge of parmesan cheese
8 ounces orzo or other small, shaped pasta
4 cups chopped fresh spinach, escarole or kale
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken breasts and place the breasts in a large soup pot. Add the chicken broth, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat so that the broth just simmers. Simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate to cool.

2. Skim the fat from the broth and bring it back to a boil. Add the tomatoes, onion, carrots, celery and parmesan rind. Simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the orzo  and cook for 5 to 8 more minutes, until the pasta is al dente.

4. Meanwhile, discard the bones from the chicken and chop the meat into small pieces.

5. Add the chicken and escarole to the soup pot and simmer for another minute or two. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  If needed, add a chicken bouillon cube for extra depth of flavor.  Serve in warm soup bowls with a thick slice of Italian bread.

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meatball sub

Hi all!  A few weeks ago I made tomato gravy with meatballs, and as usual, I had some sauce and meatballs left over to go in the freezer.  This time I didn’t have as much sauce as I thought I would, so I knew these meatballs were destined to become meatball subs.  They fufilled their predetermined fate this evening after Michigan gave my husband a heart-attack and came back to beat Michigan State.  Go Blue!

I know this might seem like a no brainer to many well-accomplished chefs… but sometimes I think we all need a reminder that a meatball sub can be a good use of leftovers. I have also been known to put them on top of a make at home pizza. Yum…

My meatballs will never be on par with Mom’s, but Jason likes them well enough.

Here is my round-about recipe for meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground meat (this can be all beef, or a mix of beef, veal and pork)
  • a little splash of red wine (optional)
  •  about 2 tbsp of italian spice mix
  • about 2 tbsp dehydrated onions
  • about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • garlic salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • dried or fresh bread crumbs; see below

Mix the ground meat and the next 6 ingredients.  Break up the egg in a small bowl, then add that to the meat mixture.  Add enough breadcrumbs until the mixture isn’t slimy (gross but true).  Form into balls and bake in a 350 degree oven until no longer pink on the outside.  Transfer the meatballs into a simmering pot of tomato sauce, homemade or store bought (You aren’t getting my recipe for tomato sauce).  Cook for at least 30 to 40 minutes. 

To make this fast on gameday, you could always buy the frozen meatballs (blasphemy!), and then cook them in jarred sauce (more blasphemy!).  Then put them into a nice hoagie roll, top with lots of mozzarella, then some parmesan, then wrap in foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  For parties,  you could keep the meatballs and sauce warm in a crock pot while the game is on, and just have the fixin’s ready for whenever people want them. 

The result is really good with chips, a pickle and a beer.

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Baked Ziti

 Sorry to be away for a while, things have been hectic!  This is the blog I meant to post on Monday of this week 🙂

I was catching some flack around the house lately because we hadn’t had a pasta night the past few weeks.  I know that will disappoint my Dad, who must have pasta once a week, preferrably on Wednesdays.  Sorry Dad.

Anyway, so I thought I would suprise Jason when he came home from his trip last weekend with something involving homemade tomato gravy.  Meatballs seemed like lots of work to someone in such a lazy mood, so I looked online for a basic baked ziti recipe.  A quick stop at www.allrecipes.com and I had found a few recipes containing an ingredient I had never seen in baked ziti… sour cream!

 I LOVE sour cream, and this was a chance to combine it with another ingredient I love – CHEESE!  I can hear my italian mother right now “Maria – step away from the sour cream, it doesn’t belong in baked ziti!”

Here was my doctored version of the allrecipes.com recipe:

  • olive oil to coat a heavy pot

  • 1lb ground sirloin

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced eggplant

  • 2 26oz cans crushed san marzano tomatoes

  • dried italian herb mix

  • 1/4 -1/2 cup good italian red wine (see below)

  • 3/4 cup light sour cream

  • 3/4 cup light ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1lb cooked ziti or rigatoni

Brown the ground beef, onion, garlic and eggplant in the pan with the olive oil. When beef is browned, drain the oil out of the pan. Add the tomatoes to the mixture, bring to a simmer with the italian herb mix to taste.  Cover and let cook for a long time (I let it go for about an hour). 

While the pasta is cooking,  mix the ricotta, sour cream, parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella in a large bowl.   This is the time to add the wine to your slowly simmering meat sauce.

After draining the pasta, add it to the ricotta cheese mixture with over half of the meat sauce.  Tranfer this to a buttered glass baking dish, top with the rest of the sauce and then the rest of the mozzarella cheese.   Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and you can see the liquid in the dish starting to bubble.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

I have to tell you, this was some kick-a@@ baked ziti.  Jason agreed, and he got his fix of italian food for a welcome back home treat, plus lunch the next day!

 All of those reviews on allrecipes.com were right. Sour cream does belong in baked ziti, at least in my world it does.

This was the wine we used in the sauce and finished with dinner.  The picture I took wasn’t very pretty, but it was good, so click the link to learn more about it.

 Talk to you soon! 

Edited to add:  This is my most popular post!  If you try this and love it or hate I would love to hear about it! (more…)

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