Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there will be Little Meatball Soup

For those who knew my mom, always looked forward to her Little Meatball Soup at any and every holiday meal.  Yes, after the Antipasto, before the Stuffed Shells or homemade Manicotti, and then followed by the Turkey or the Roast Beef, or the Ham.  And way before the many desserts.  But, there was something special about that soup.

Perhaps it was the painstaking rolling of all those little meatballs.  Perhaps it was the comfort that only soup can bring.  Or perhaps it was just my mother's love that she put into everything she made.  

The soup isn't quite the same without mom, but it's made with as much love as I can roll into each and every meatball.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Bill of Fare...

Bill of Fare


Shrimp marinated in avocado oil, lemon juice, capers, & dill
Figs stuffed with goat cheese...wrapped with Prosciutto
Spanakopita--compliments of my friend, Pat


Mixed greens with sliced pears, goat cheese, & citrus vinaigrette

Main Course:

Turkey--brined in apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, & fresh dill
Sausage, fennel, & mushroom dressing


Oven roasted green beans & Brussels sprouts

Mashed potatoes
Herb-crusted sweet potatoes

Cranberry-Peach relish


Apple streusel pie
Pumpkin cheesecake
Pecan Sandies

I'm full already.  Have a healthy, happy, and joyful Thanksgiving, everyone.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Because I could never decide between a Cheesecake and a Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, and of course, I've made both and then some...this cheesecake satisfies both indulgences in one luscious dessert.  The following recipe is from  Bon Appetit, November 2008.  I've made a few different versions over the years, but this one is quite delicious.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!  

Pumpkin Cheesecake With
Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping
And Gingersnap Crust

Yield: Makes 12 servings

For crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 9 ounces)
1 cup pecans (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For topping:
2 cups mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Grind cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; using on/off turns, process to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; press onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Add flour, spices, and salt; beat just to blend. Beat in vanilla. Transfer filling to cooled crust. Bake until filling is just set in center and edges begin to crack (filling will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Run knife around sides of pan to release crust. Chill cheesecake uncovered in pan overnight.
Stir marshmallows and milk in medium saucepan over low heat until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Cool marshmallow mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Add sour cream to marshmallow mixture; fold gently just to blend. Pour topping over cheesecake and spread evenly, leaving 1/2 inch uncovered around edges. Chill to set topping, at least 1 hour.

DO AHEAD: Cheesecake should be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


You hear about these things...you can sympathize...and you pray that they never hit the ones you love.  This time, my family was not to be spared.

In Sandy's wake, she destroyed my son's (Eric) house, furniture, cars...all of his and his girlfriend's (Moireen) worldly possessions.  They have, but the clothes on their backs...and each other.  And the "each other" is quite a force stronger than Sandy can ever hope to claim.  Watching in horror and disbelief as the water from the Raritan invaded their home...rising quickly to somewhere around four feet...they kept their wits, and their commitment to keeping their families informed of their situation and well being...all while watching this water rise inside their house.  Furniture floating...floors, walls, appliances, treasures destroyed...both cars outside now totaled by the river of water...but not able to stop Mother Nature's fury.  

All of those "things" can be replaced.  Thankfully, Eric and Moireen remained safe in the upstairs of their house...shaken...shocked...I'm sure somewhat scared...but safe.  Because THEY are irreplaceable.  

I love you both and know that you will be even stronger after this.  

To quote Moireen:  Eric & Moireen-1; Sandy-0.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


What is it about the aroma of basil?  Next to mint and rosemary, I'm not sure there's a more fragrant and appealing scent.  Right now, I've got an abundance growing on my lanai, and rather than make pesto, which I will also do, I wanted to use it in a sweet, rather than savory way.  So, those who know me know how much I love biscotti, and I decided to incorporate it--make it the star--of this versatile cookie.  Hope you enjoy!

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds
1 cup chopped fresh basil

Prepare two heavy baking sheets with single layer of parchment paper on each.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl; blend until smooth and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated well; stopping to scrape bowl once or twice.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, anise seeds, and salt; add to butter mixture, along with extracts; mix only until completely blended; add nuts and basil, again mixing just until evenly combined.  Dough will be sticky.  

With lightly greased hands form half of dough into a 10" x 2" log on each baking sheet, smoothing edges and top.  Place in preheated oven, and bake for 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through cooking so they bake uniformly.  Remove from oven; let sit for 5 minutes.  Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Carefully remove each log to a cutting board and slice each on the diagonal.  Place each cookie back on the baking sheets, and continue to crisp and lightly brown, about 5 to 10 minutes, watching closely so they don't burn.  

Remove to cooling racks; cool completely.  Keep in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks, or pack in tins to freeze for future use.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Christine and Mark's Place

Doesn't that sound like a great name for a great little side-of-the-road eatery?  Well, for those of us in "the know," it's a private residence where Jon and I indulged in some great rib-eye steaks, asparagus--prepared expertly, I might add...and a salad that hinted of fresh ingredients from the host/hostesses garden.  

Yes, the food was great...steaks grilled to perfection.  But, what really stood out was the graciousness of the hosts:  Christine and Mark.  Just a fun, low-key couple who are getting married in November!  Yay!  Christine's gown is gorgeous, by the way, but I can't get into detail since Mark needs to be clueless about this ever-so-traditional secret.  Here's a clue, though Mark:  She's going to look ROCKIN' AWESOME!!!

Anyway, I brought some Cream Puffs, and the story goes that after a dozen served for 4 people last night, there was only one left this morning.  Mark..........

Ok.  Next dinner:  Our place.

Hugs you guys.  You're some of the best there is.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coconut Curry Fish Soup

Sometimes, I'm just inspired by hunger.  Or a desire to lose a few pounds.  Or a longing for some comfort food.  This time, I just had some pantry items I wanted to use.  So without further ado, tonight's dinner creation.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 chopped Vidalia Onion
1/2 cup brown rice
32 ozs. College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth
2 tablespoons Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
1 cup frozen peas
2 Orange Roughy Filets, cut into bite-sized pieces
7 ounces chopped clams with liquid
Frank's Hot Sauce* (Read back a few blog posts...you'll see my admiration of said sauce)

In a heated stockpot, add olive oil and butter over low heat.  When butter has melted, turn heat to medium/high.  Add onion and cook until transparent.  Add rice and stir until coated.  Add broth and bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer until rice is cooked; about 1/2 an hour.  

Add hummus, peas, clams, and fish; cover and heat until fish is cooked through and tender, about 3 minutes.  

Spoon into bowls; top with a good dose of Frank's.  Seriously.  Enjoy.  

I won't tell you how many servings this makes since, well...........if you're like me.......you get it.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pam's Spa-Tini


This drink combines the sophistication of a martini with the refreshing taste of mint, cucumber, and basil...and oh yes...just a hint of ginger.

2 tablespoons mint simple syrup* 
1 1/2 teaspoons crystalized ginger 
2-inch piece of cucumber--peels and seeds removed
1 large basil leaf
2 ounces Grey Goose vodka
Mint or basil sprigs for garnish

Muddle or blend syrup, ginger, cucumber, and basil together.  I combine those ingredients with the vodka in a glass measuring cup and use my immersion blender to process.  Add mixture to a cocktail shaker with ice.  Cover; shake until mixed.  Pour into a well-chilled martini glass.  Garnish with mint or basil.  

Makes 1 "Healthy" martini!  :~)  Enjoy

*Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large mint sprigs
  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat. (Note: Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or the syrup will be too thick.)
  4. Add mint sprig to syrup while allowing to cool completely. Pour in a glass container and refrigerate.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I know, I know.  I've been absent...again.  Those of you who actually follow my blog are probably suffering from Rip Van Winkle syndrome and falling asleep waiting for the next posting.  Ok, here it is.

I've been to quite a few wonderful restaurants here in Naples-land.  But, the most recent has proven to be the most accurately representative of great Italian restaurants "Up North."  Drum roll......PAZZO!

The word translates to mean, "crazy, bonkers, daft, cuckoo..." you get the idea.  I'm not sure why the owners chose this name for this wonderful restaurant, but, hey.  Who cares!  This place has homemade pasta, delicious sauces, gravies, desserts...and, the atmosphere is friendly, warm, and classy.  What else do you need in a restaurant?

I'm going to skip right to my entree: Pollo Vodka Penne
Grilled chicken tossed with penne pasta, crispy prosciutto and
hearts of artichoke in a cream and fresh basil pesto
finished with a vodka kissed tomato sauce

Ok.  So this was BEYOND fabulous.  I brought half of it home for the next day...my date had one of the specials...and oh, what a special it was!  A HUGE veal chop Parmesan.  This dish was not only cooked to tender perfection, it was enormous!  And the sauce...just the right amount of marinara, mozzarella, and fresh basil.  So....so...North.

I highly recommend PAZZO! to anyone visiting the Naples area.  Their website is below: