Category Archives: Appetizer

An Itallian Birthday

I even made menu's for the Birthday Party, Using my Dads name, Jerry, in Italian to create his own resteraunt.

I even made menu’s for the Birthday Party, Using my Dads name, Jerry, in Italian to create his own restaurant.

No, we are not Italian, but my Dad’s favorite place to eat is Olive Garden, so I wanted to create his own Italian restaurant for his birthday, complete with Menus. These were fun to make and each guest had one. Since I, of course, do not know a lick of Italian I found this groovy site on the internet that helped me change my English words to the language of love.

My inspiration for the recipes came from an old hardcover Italian cookbook my mom picked up for me from an estate sale. Inside is a handwritten message from the original purchaser to his mother

“To My perpetually chubby Mom. Christmas 1958. From your always hungry son.”

I bet she couldn’t hold back the tears when she opened up this very thoughtful gift from her son on that Christmas morning. I imagine that the whole family gathered that year and enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by Mom.

In the same spirit, I wanted to make a meal that would let my Dad know just how much he is loved by his family. I even talked my teen into playing the very important role of our Waiter.

My bashful teen was a very helpful and convincing waiter

My bashful teen was a very helpful and convincing waiter

There was a nice spread of appetizers, Bruschetta on toast

Stewed tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, EVOO and quality Parmesan Cheese made this a very simple appetizer

Stewed tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, EVOO and quality Parmesan Cheese made this a very simple appetizer

An Italian Deviled egg recipe from the Pudgy Mom’s cookbook that included anchovy and cocktail sauce. I found that a lot of the authentic recipes included anchovy’s.

Italian Deviled Eggs. On a plate of fresh lettuce leaves straight from Ma's Garden

Italian Deviled Eggs. On a plate of fresh lettuce leaves straight from Ma’s Garden

I couldn’t forget the stuffed mushrooms at Dad’s party as these are a favorite of his. Good thing I had a whole other 9X13 pan because these buggers disappeared fast!

Stuffed mushrooms with italian sausage, cream cheese, parmesan cheese topped with bread crumbs

Stuffed mushrooms with italian sausage, cream cheese, parmesan cheese topped with bread crumbs

Of course we had to have these colorful Caprese Skewers. I loved how they looked on my antique cake plate

Pretty Caprese Skewers. Simply cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozerella balls

Pretty Caprese Skewers. Simply cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella balls

How lovely it all looked on the table. I must say, I was pretty proud of myself!

All apps

We could have stopped there, but I had a main course planned. Veal Picatta. I’ve never even eaten this dish before, but when I read the recipe I knew It had to make an appearance at our event. It was served with a side of my Creamy Pesto Pasta recipe. I even made the Pesto!

Dad is testing my batch of homemade Pesto. With his complete approval, it made it's way to the Creamy Pesto Pasta recipe

Dad is testing my batch of homemade Pesto. With his complete approval, it made its way to the Creamy Pesto Pasta recipe

I had assumed that I would be able to find veal at my local grocery store…NOT! I have to order it from a meat market…$60.00 later, we would all have a 40z serving. I’d never made it before and the pressure of making sure I didn’t make a mistake at that price almost broke me, but I stayed focused and this was the final result.

Veal Picatta and Creamy Pesto Pasta

Veal Picatta and Creamy Pesto Pasta

Everyone seemed to enjoy this dish, but to be honest, I’m pretty sure I used too much lemon and chicken could have easily replaced the veal for a less expensive and just as tasty dish. My lovely family, though, only offered compliments.

Whew, success! We all had a great time and I know that this is an Italian Birthday that my Dad will remember for years to come.

Look, Dad has gotten so caught up in the theme, he's talking with his hands like a real Italian

Look, Dad has gotten so caught up in the theme, he’s talking with his hands like a real Italian

After all the clean up was done, I had to give props to my little guy as he was so good and stayed out of mommy’s way while I was busy in the kitchen.

My little guy, not a fan of the veal, but a great sport anyways

My little guy, not a fan of the veal, but a great sport anyways

The day was a lot of planning and work, but it truly was labor of love. The best part was having my boys, Mom, Dad, Grandma Marvetta and Uncle Doug together to celebrate a very special man, our Figlio, Marito, Papa and Poppi (son, husband, father and grandfather)

Boun Compleanno!

 

 

 

Italian Minestrone Soup

2 cups of hearty soup is only 188 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, 9.7 grams protein and 9.4 grams fiber

The New Year is well on its way and many of us are paying attention to our diets after indulging in so many holiday goodies. This Italian Minestrone Soup recipe is so hearty and satisfying, you don’t even realize you are eating a big bowl of Healthy Goodness! A generous 2-cups of steamy heaven is only 188 calories, 1.7grams of fat, and packs in 9.7 grams of protein and 9.4 grams fiber….

But how does it taste you ask? It’s an Italian festival in your mouth! Tomato, garlic, Italian seasoning, hearty whole grain pasta and savory vegetables satisfy all of your cravings. With these numbers, one can even afford to grate some quality parmesan cheese over the top!

Use a large stock pot as this recipe makes at least 8, 2 cup servings

Ingredients:
Cooking spray (I used Olive Oil flavor)
1 Cup diced onion
1 1/2 cup sliced celery (about 3 large stalks)
1 1/2 cup Carrots sliced (I used frozen, straight from the Freezer)
1 Tbs diced garlic (I like the jarred as it’s much easier)
1 – 15 oz can low sodium or no salt added diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
8 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable to make this vegetarian)
1 6-oz can no salt added tomato paste
1-2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (to taste)
1 1/2 cup sliced fresh zucchini
1 1/2 cup frozen green beans (no need to defrost)
2 cups loose leaf frozen spinach. The 10-oz frozen block may be used but it will need to be defrosted and drained of juices.
1 cup uncooked whole wheat shell pasta
Sea Salt to taste if desired.

Garnish with quality parmesan cheese freshly grated (this does change nutrition information)

Spray cooking spray on the bottom of stock pot. Preheat on med-high heat, add onions and celery. Let them sweat, turn down heat if needed to prevent browning, about 3 minutes, add frozen sliced carrots (or fresh). Stirring often, allow vegetables to become slightly tender. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, juice and all, chick peas, broth, tomato paste and italian seasoning. Stir and bring to a gentle boil for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean and slice zucchini. Add zucchini, green beans (no need to defrost), spinach and pasta. Soup is done when pasta is done. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread if desired.

This recipe makes a lot, put into individual serving dishes and freeze. Perfect to take to work for a healthy lunch or take out and defrost in the refrigerator the night before to accompany your dinner

Easy Baked Meatballs

 

Roll mixture into 1 inch balls

How many times have you been at a potluck where there is a crock-pot of frozen meatballs in BBQ sauce? For me, too many times! They don’t taste right to me, I’m not even sure there is real meat in there! My children really enjoy spaghetti and meatballs. I have, in the past, made complicated mixtures that are fried, turned often and leave me a slave to the stove for at least 30 minutes. Relief at last! I have an easy solution to your meatball fears! Let’s just mix and bake. Toss them with your favorite pasta sauce, I recommend Roasted Tomato and Green Pepper Pasta Sauce or add to a BBQ. Even better, put on a skewer and quickly grill with pineapple, green peppers and onion basted with BBQ sauce. 

Note: Make extra and freeze. Can be quickly defrosted, save yourself some time on another night!  

Recipe yields about 24 meatballs 

Ingredients: 

1 lb of lean ground beef
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp dried parsley ( 1 TBS if using fresh)
1 tsp dried chives (better yet, fresh, then 1 TBS)
1 Egg
3 splashes Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste 

Mix all ingredients by hand and make into 1 inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and place into a pre-heated 425 degree oven. Bake for 10 minutes, turn meatballs, cook an additional 8-10 minutes. Toss with your favorite sauce or eat plain. Yummy!

Zesty Pico de Gallo

The season has come, a surplus of juicy tomatoes, peppers and the herbs are prime. Time to get out your chopping knife since everyone needs a basic Pico de Gallo recipe, I’ve come to the rescue. Perfect over grilled chicken or fish, healthy and fresh, this is a “must do” to give our Michigan produce the respect it deserves. My recipe is zesty with flavor, a touch of heat and 1 secrete ingredient that gives it the POW your guests will wonder why it’s so much better than the rest.

Ingredients

4-5 ripe tomatoes still firm to the touch, seeded and drained. Diced to make about 3 cups.
1 large green pepper diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 heaping cup diced red onion
1 large jalapeno or 2 small finely diced
1 heaping TBS chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime (put into microwave for 12 seconds to maximize juice)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 TBS Zesty Itallian salad dressing

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Serve with chips, over grilled chicken or fish.

Mock Baby Quiche

So cute and full of delicious flavors, these Mock Baby Quiche are as fun to make as they are to pop into your mouth! I love these for brunch, an easy appetizer or make a batch ahead of time to warm up for a quick healthy breakfast on the run! The kids ask for these and are a perfect healthy snack after school too! The ingredients are as versitle as your imagination. A wonderful way to use up leftovers and the last of your veggies. This recipe fits in wonderfully with a low-carb diet too!

This recipe makes 12, double and make an extra batch, as these babies don’t last long!

Ingredients

3/4 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese (or cheese of choice) shredded
1/2 cup ham diced (deli ham works great too)
1 large scallion white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green sweet pepper (or colored works well too) diced
4 eggs
splash milk
salt and pepper to taste

Spray mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In each hole, place ham, scallions, green pepper and cheese. In another bowl, mix 4 eggs and milk with wire whisk. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture over ham/cheese/vegetables in each tin just to the top. Cook 10-12 minutes until middle is set.

Other Variations:
Bacon
Sausage
Turkey
Pepper-jack cheese, swiss cheese or any favorite shredded cheese
Green peppers (or any colored pepper)
Jalapenos
Broccoli
Mushrooms
Tomatoes, seeded and drained diced
Fresh Herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, chives

For a Thanksgiving brunch try: Sage sausage, sweetened dried cranberries chopped and chives with swiss.

Our family favorite: Pepper-jack cheese, ham, scallions and green pepper!