I DON’T THINK THEY HAVE SUGAR SNAP PEAS IN ITALY. And if they do, I didn’t know how to say it (surprise!) so my kids were new to peas until last week. Now to be clear, my brood is not always interested in new foods. Before a bite of anything unfamiliar ever touches her lips, my two-year-old always says the predictable, “I don’t yike it.” My four-year-old used to do the same thing. So what was the verdict here? Two tiny ladies perched on booster seats and singing out, “More peas, please!” The third guy was only interested in his noodles but that works too. One meal, five happy people. Here’s how we got there.
A BOWL OF PASTA DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN TOMATO SAUCE. One of the easiest ideas I’ve learned from the Italians is to substitute traditional red sauce with something much simpler: extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Dinner’s on the table in 20 minutes, and it’s a really good one.
I LOVE A GREAT IDEA WHEN I HEAR ONE. A friend shared the concept of “freezer food” with me this weekend. If you aren’t familiar, it goes like this: never make just one batch of something when you can double or triple it. Eat one serving tonight and freeze the others for future meals. That are already made! It’s a good one, but we’ve got a problem in Rome. There’s just not room in my miniature Euro-freezer. So instead, I always try to do something interesting with leftovers later in the week.
This one features the second half of a juicy pork roast we had the other night. Our ham, cheese and apple melts are a cross between a grilled cheese sandwich and a quesadilla…and they’re delicious. When Phoebe (3 years) saw her cheesy wedges, she shouted “pizza!” and gladly ate more than one. Estelle (20 months) didn’t care what they were called. She just chowed down. [Read more...]
THIS ONE STARTED WITH BUDDY. Do you know the Cake Boss? I’m sure you do but I didn’t. In Rome, we have a bit of American TV but it’s a small selection and always a bit behind. Anyway, it appears that in the time I’ve been away from the States, one Buddy Valastro has become a big time baker with three TV shows–even on my own limited Italian version of network programming! Is he the new Rachel Ray by way of New Jersey? I figured there must be something pretty great about him so I tuned in to Cucina con Buddy as his cooking show is called here, and indeed got a great idea for dinner.
We’re on “vacation” this week, on the southern coast of Italy. It’s our first trip with all three rascals so I’m out of the kitchen. So far, I’d say everything is gorgeous and exhausting, sometimes both at once. Meanwhile, I saved up a couple of fresh ideas to post while we’re gone. Be back soon…trust me, I’m not sure I have the stamina to do this for longer than a week!
SOME KIDS JUST DON’T LIKE VEGGIES EXCEPT…peas. If this sounds familiar, this idea’s for you. Try an updated (meaning simple yet satisfying) version of stroganoff. This 5-ingredient dish will be done in 20 minutes but that’s not the best part. Between the tangy, buttery flavor of sour cream and the world’s most kid-friendly veggie, it’s bound to be as big of a hit at your place as it was here. [Read more...]
THIS IS A CLASSIC ITALIAN MEAL, so naturally I’d never heard of it. That was before I moved to Rome and discovered that Italian food is more than pasta, tomatoes and cheese. (But they do that very well.) One of my favorite summer meals has turned out to be a version of the Big Salad I ate on a daily basis in NYC. Atop fresh and peppery arugula, comes fast-cooked strips of thin beef and shaved parmigiano cheese. If you’re lucky there’s also a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. It’s the perfect mix of hot and cold, crisp and tender, sweet and salty. Mmm. [Read more...]
MY COOKING CONFIDENCE TOOK A BEATING this week. First, Phoebe and I prepared Italian Style Pasta & Cheese Cups for a post-play date lunch yesterday. There was a pan-melting incident but sadly that wasn’t the worst of our lunch woes. Sufficed to say the only people who ate said cups were me, the other mom and Phoebe, eating champ that she is. One of the other kids put it up to his mouth but to say he took a bite would be saying too much. The other two refused to even go that far. Oh dear.
I WAS EXHAUSTED. It turns out that having a toddler and a baby (plus a husband, house and job) is tiring. I just needed a quick dinner but it had to be healthy. We’d been relying too heavily on pizza around here, being Rome you can imagine how often this possibility comes up, and I was craving something more fresh. That’s when I saw these giant shrimp at the store. Sold!