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28 February 2015

Slow Cooker Chunky Squash and Chicken Stew

Again, let me share with you what transpired in the kitchen with the use of my slow cooker. For sure, it is something good because I am sharing it with you here. It is also very healthy because the ingredients are mainly squash, vegetable broth and chicken. If your kids eat squash, then this can be a meal to serve next time to your family. I am still working on my own kids to eat squash and since they both love chicken, this is a great dish to push them to accept squash in their diets. With the presence of the chicken, it helps making them eat it easier.

27 February 2015

Slow Cooker Kale and Sausage Soup

If there is ever a recipe that gave me surprising results, this has to be one of them. This soup is definitely not a looker, in fact, I had a hard time photographing it. But don't let the looks deceive you because this is full of flavors, thanks to the kale, and the sausage gave it a delicious accompaniment in the overall taste. Yes, the sausage gives a strong taste too but do choose the kind that doesn't have so much overpowering herbs and spices mixed in because it might clash with the kale. The sausage I used in this soup has some fennel seeds and other mild-tasting herbs and spices. So choose the sausages well to make a great-tasting soup and don't forget the less fatty ones too. A good choice makes a big difference in taste and in nutrition.

Slow Cooker Barley and Vegetable Minestrone

One of the many talents of the slow cooker is to be my super silent assistant in the kitchen. I just put all the ingredients inside and off it goes to slow cooking for hours. I don't need to worry about cutting it short in the middle of cooking because I have to hop off the house for a few minutes to pick up my daughter in school. Lacking in proper time management skills (no one is perfect!), I sometimes find myself in the predicament of having to turn off the fire in the stove or the oven for a few minutes while I step out of the house for a few minutes. I never want to be late in picking up my daughter and I will never leave the fire (however low it is) nor the oven on while I am not home so my only option is to cut short the cooking and resume afterwards. And that's when I applaud one of the great advantages of slow cookers. I can leave it cooking for a few minutes while I am out.

25 February 2015

Pastina in Brodo

Two sick little ones in bed, two breakfast trays busily being filled and ferried from the kitchen table to their beds and two parents with their hands completely full. Those were the main protagonists in our house this weekend. There was not so much cooking involved as my kids didn't have their appetites for anything but just for a bowl or two of basic soup that I usually cook just for these occasions. Pastina in brodo is the Italian equivalent of the chicken soup that we love to have in bed while sick, only this one doesn't have chicken but just simply the broth of the pasta itself, extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. 

23 February 2015

Homemade Plum Sauce

This recipe is a bit off-season because plums are nowhere to be found right now in Italy and I guess in any part of the world but since it is quite basic, you can also replace it with other fruits in season. I just used two ingredients, the plums and sugar. When I make my jams, spreads or sauces, I usually use less sugar than I should. The general rule is to follow the 1:1 ratio but since I cannot stand overly sweet food, I never follow it. When you put a lot of sugar, it serves as the preservative, it helps with the gel formation and most important of all, it reduces the possibility of having microbes spoil it. Less sugar means you will have a more watery consistency which means that you will have to cook it longer to get that desired gel formation and the shelf life is drastically reduced.

Dairy-Free Crepes

Light as air, minimal and most especially, non-dairy. I tried to keep the ingredients of these crepes as light as possible by replacing the dairy milk with water and the butter with extra virgin olive oil. They are not as elastic as the classic crepes but just the same, they are equally delicious. If you want to take the lightness further, fill them up with fruits, low-fat jams or fruit compotes that you can easily make yourself to control the amount of sugar.

21 February 2015

One-Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken with Fried Barley and Scrambled Eggs

I love toasted garlic. I really do love how it boosts the flavors of the food and how good it tastes when mixed with other ingredients. There is a difference between fresh garlic sautèed with the food at the beginning of cooking a dish and sprinkling of toasted bits of garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Big difference. And I cannot explain how good it is to munch on them. I love them most in toasted crunchy slivers mixed with roasted peanuts. Yum! But the only drawback is that I cannot stand the taste and smell of garlic in the mouth way after eating because it remains there for hours, sometimes, even after a day, however much I stuff myself with everything mint from toothpastes to mouthwashes to strong candies. Do you do anything special to get rid of it?

17 February 2015

Pizza Margherita Muffins

Two out three people will always order pizza Margherita, a a pizza-maker friend, who has his own pizzeria (pizza place) said. True, because when I started observing the kinds of pizza combinations people get, it is always present even if there are a lot of combinations to choose from. It is the most-loved classic pizza because it is simple, delicious and healthy. With just tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil to use as toppings, it wins everyone's appetites. Because we all love going back to basics.

12 February 2015

Slow Cooker Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Everytime I watch the local and international news channels, one of the main headlines is the snowy weather. The snow packs so high and the temperatures drop way below freezing. I see my friends posting photos of themselves surrounded by heavy snow and they speak about plowing them away. In Italy, the north and most parts of the country are quite affected. And Rome and the surrounding areas? You see how green the grass is? We didn't get any. Just the usual thin layer of icy morning dew on the grass, buckets of rain, howling winds and pretty low temps. I think that's why our grass is so green.

09 February 2015

Slow Cooker Beans, Tomatoes and Onion Salad

When I eat this salad, my husband maintains a safe distance between us for at least 24 hours. Even if I use the tropea onions, the mildest variety that I can get here, that distance still doesn't shorten. Knowing fully well that this "let's play a game of distance" will happen, I don't mind because a simple salad of beans, tomatoes and onions beckons me to the table at times. I don't eat as much onions as the ones in the picture (that's for purpose of photos only) but I do need a few slices to complete one of my favorite salads. Beans and tomatoes are never the same without the onions - but my husband argues that they are the same and much better even. Onion hater.

08 February 2015

Baked Thyme and Lemon Feta in Filo

Suddenly it's February 2015 and for me it means only one thing - my blog turns another year old. To reach four years is an accomplishment of a lot of things for me. So many lessons I have learned from failed attempts in the kitchen and photography. I think I never spent more time in my life in the kitchen and computer putting my ideas to edible creations and translating those creations into words and pictures.

01 February 2015

Ricotta and Pancetta Gnocchi

Giovedi gnocchi (Thursday gnocchi). Have you ever heard of that Italian saying? It means every Thursday, gnocchi is served on the Roman tables. Then there is also Venerdi pesce (Friday fish) and Sabato trippa (Saturday tripe). It's an old tradition in the city of Rome and still, it is being followed by a lot of fresh pasta shops, restaurants, cafeterias and traditional families. You can see them more present than usual and if you are in Rome, it's the perfect day to try them staying alongside the city's tradition.

Rhubarb Iced Tea

You might find it strange that I cannot find rhubarbs here in Italy. The only time I got to cook with them was in France with a friend when she made an incredible rhubarb pie. Sigh, I still dream about it. From then on, rhubarbs are in my top list to watch out for whenever I am traveling around the country and find myself in a market but it's just like how it is from day one. I leave the markets empty-handed and crestfallen. Until. You will never guess where I found fresh rhubarbs and nothing can be fresher than the ones I got too. I found them in a plant shop. Yes, I got myself a plant and a small one at that, so I had to wait for a long time for my rhubarb plant to grow until the stalks are already acceptably long enough to cut. They only had tinges of bright pink, not as pink as they should be (I think it's because they were still too little) but I had been waiting patiently for so long for the plant to grow.