DIY bruschetta kids love

DIY bruschetta, foodlets

Well, something amazing happened. Picture 5:30pm. On a bad day. You know, when the kids are yelling and fussing, you’re trying to get plates on the table and just as you do…everyone groans? Your husband is still at work and you’re wondering why you even bother making fresh meals for a knee-high crowd who doesn’t care? Now… 

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Saucy Meatball Sliders from “Real Baby Food”

17_MeatballSliders_Jenna Helwig Baby Food Book12107.smaller

I love mini food for kids. It’s easy for them to handle and the portion sizes are perfect. But there’s something I like even more than mini food, versatile food. Meatballs can be served straight-up, in pasta or on small buns as sliders. Like these! Whole wheat dinner rolls make the excellent “buns” and bonus, you… 

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Easy Veggie Calzones

easy veggie calzones, foodlets

MY KIDS WERE BORN IN ITALY so they know their way around a pizza. But calzones were new to them. I loved these veggie calzones for their individual portions and portability. Plus they’re basically a pocket to fill with vegetables. Lots of kids have trouble eating veggies at dinner, partially because that’s the only time of… 

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Toasted Turkey, Salami & Cheese Sandwiches: Homemade Mini-Grinders

grinders, foodlets

THERE WERE TWO STOPLIGHTS in the town where I grew up. And in between them was Rome Pizza. I told you about how much I loved their Hawaiian pizza when I was a kid but they also made something so mouthwatering I still remember it, all these years later. Grinders. But here’s the thing: I only… 

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2 Dinners in 1: Grilled Chicken Becomes Creamy Lemon Pasta and Peanut Ginger Stir-Fry

creamy lemon chicken pasta, foodlets

MAKING DINNER EVERY NIGHT ISN’T EASY. This, we know. One of my favorite new techniques for getting food on the table is actually cooking less. Yep.  By cooking one base I can make at least two meals. We’ve done it with ground beef, rice and tomatoes in Stuffed Red Peppers, which later became the base… 

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easy pasta with zucchini, tomatoes & fresh mozzarella cheese

easy pasta with zucchini, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I NEED TO MAKE DINNER FAST. Before the Clifford video runs out. Before 2-month old Violet starts wailing for her own dinner. Before I turn from Pretty Nice Mommy into Awfully Frazzled Mommy. That’s where a quick pasta dish full of fresh vegetables like this comes in handy. There’s also the… 

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15-minute cheesy pasta with chicken & spinach

15 minute spinach pasta with chicken, foodlets

THIS PASTA DISH IS A 3-BOWLER. At least it was for Phoebe, our 5-year-old. Okay, okay. I admit it. I also found myself eating at least another helping, standing next to the sink while I pretended to “clean the kitchen” after dinner. It’s just that kind of pasta dish. And there’s even better news: the recipe is… 

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simple pasta with tomatoes, basil & mozzarella

spring pasta with tomatoes, basil and mozzerella,

AS PART OF OUR SEMI-DELUDED PLAN to have friends over this weekend, we served homemade rolls along with two pastas. (Our wonderful guests brought veggies and desserts including a chocolate layer caked called “Tall, Dark and Handsome”. And yes, we’re inviting them back again ASAP.) This was one of the pasta dishes–and by far the best… 

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cheese ravioli with spinach and bacon

ravioli with spinach and bacon,

SO, THERE WAS AN ICE STORM. One that I’ve never seen the likes of, though I don’t have a lot of experience in the extreme weather department. This one came on quickly and thoroughly. Overnight, every single tree in our part of North Carolina was neatly encased in ice. Then they started splitting, falling, and… 

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spaghetti nests with bocconcini “eggs”, the perfect leftover (and picky eater) solution

spaghetti nests with eggs, and fork

FOR SOMEONE WHO WAS BORN IN ITALY my four-year-old is very anti-spaghetti these days. She suddenly thinks it’s too hard to eat. This didn’t used to bother her, but I guess it does now. Sigh. But before we swear off the stuff, I thought I’d try something…and it worked.   


italian casserole: baked zucchini, brown rice and tomato sauce with sausage

Baked zucchini with rice & sausage

PHOEBE WASN’T EXACTLY PLEASED. Suddenly my four-year-old is opposed to everything being combined into a one-pot dinner. “Only one thing?”, she asks as incredulously as only a preschooler can. And to that I say (at least in my head), “When you start doing the dishes my dear, we can use all the pans for every… 

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pan-fried chicken Milanese, a family-friendly recipe from “The Fresh 20” by Melissa Lanz

Chicken Milanese

THE THING ABOUT COOKING DINNER IS, the whole process can get complicated. Even daunting. What to make, when to get to the store, what to do with the rest of that huge bag of kale… One of the things that I’m enjoying about Melissa Lanz’s book, “The Fresh 20” (which you have an opportunity to… 

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zucchini lasagna, a new favorite recipe from Florida

zucchini lasagna

THIS IS THE STORY of the time Estelle ate a whole pan of zucchini. She’s two years old, and very petite. Neither fact slowed her down. We were in Florida visiting Paul’s family over Easter when his mom whipped up this amazing side dish for dinner. Plate after plate, scoop after scoop. She just kept… 

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ravioli with peas and pancetta

ravioli with peas and pancetta

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… 

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Frittata with spinach, pancetta & ricotta (a Barefoot Contessa makeover)

spinach, peppers and pancetta fritatta

MY BIG INDULGENCE IN ITALY, other than one trip to the Gucci outlet and one million bowls of gelato (which was probably more expensive in the long run!), has been an international subscription to the Food Network magazine. I’ve definitely learned a lot from Italians when it comes to food, family and the combination of… 

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homemade ham & pineapple pizza

ham and pineapple pizza, foodlets

NO ONE LOVES A SPIN-OFF MORE THAN ME. I’m a huge fan of Hawaiian pizza so it wasn’t even a question that we’d turn our pork & pineapple skewers into kid-friendly ham & pineapple pizza sooner or later. Just don’t tell the Italians… The flavor is so nice, we might try this again with the healthy deep… 

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Sausage & spinach with raisins, pine nuts & rice

sausage, spinach and rice

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… 

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no-cook dinner: antipasto with ham, cheese, breadsticks, melon and more…

proscutto e melone

IT’S BEEN OVER 90 DEGREES EVERY DAY in Rome for weeks. This is a normal summer in Italy but that doesn’t mean we’re not melting! Particularly those of us from the Pacific Northwest where it simply doesn’t do this. Ever. My Floridian husband, however, is soaking up the sun, humidity and all the heat for… 

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homemade deep dish pizza with pepperoni (with a surprisingly healthy ingredient)

homemade pepperoni pizza for kids, foodlets

THERE ARE TWO IMPORTANT THINGS to say about this pizza: First, it’s (pretty) good for you. Second, it’s only moderately popular at our place. {Wah, wah.} Estelle and I seem to like it best…which makes Paul and Phoebe something of pizza purists. This is after all, Italy…