Pizza al Taglio (Thick Crust Pizza)

Folks, it’s time for some real talk.

About Pizza.

Pizza is a beloved food in America, and each region of this country has their own take on it. In Chicago, deep dish is King. With its tall walls of crust and a sauce-first architecture, one might argue that it is more of a pizza casserole (though I wouldn’t say that in Chicago 😳). In New York (and New Jersey, if we’re being honest) it’s more of a thin triangle of sauce and cheese (maybe a topping or eight) that can be easily folded and eaten on the go, like a pepperoni taco (don’t repeat that on Mulberry Street NYC 🥺). And Detroiters prefer a thick crust pan pizza that’s all flipped around, with the sauce on top. No matter where you come from in America, you think your pizza is the best. Well, you’re wrong.

Being married to The Boy means eating a lot of pizza. For any newbies here, The Boy is an Italian-American, born on Staten Island, raised in New Jersey. His first teething ring was a stale slice of cheese pizza. Learning to make my own pizza was as much an economic decision as a culinary choice. For my Pizza al Taglio (literally translated to “pizza slice”), I take the best of thick, cheesy Sicilian pizza, merge it, just a bit, with Detroit Pizza, and serve it Roman-style on a slice of focaccia-like crust. This pizza is King in my house. Ask The Boy. (Read more…)

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Hi guys! I hope everyone is feeling a little bit less stressed than they were a couple weeks ago. I, for one, was feeling really great… until I asked Siri how long it was until Christmas. He (my Siri sounds like Hugh Grant) told me it’s only 37 days away. I was completely gobsmacked by that response (Hugh taught me that word). The only thing I’ve done in preparation for the holidays is to put up my Christmas tree. I decided to do it much earlier than I usually do, but I think a lot of us have decided it’s high time we added some joy to 2020.

The other thing I’ve been doing is seeing how many meals I can meatball. What? Yes, I’ve once again taken a meal that isn’t a meatball, and meatballed it. First there was my Chicken Piccata Meatballs (my most popular recipe to date!), coming soon are my Thai Coconut Curry Meatballs, and today I’m bringing you the recipe for my Chicken Parmesan Meatballs! Why? Because it’s 2020 and rules no longer apply. Anything can happen. Murder Hornets can be immortal and I can meatball an entire meal. How? (Read more…)

Chicken Piccata Meatballs

First of all, I love chicken. I know, I know. A lot of people think chicken is boring, and that can be true. But fried or roasted, smothered or skewered, I really love chicken. And if a classic roasted chicken with lemon is good enough for Ina and Jeffrey, who are we to judge? Seriously. Adding the refreshing, acidic punch of lemon to my beloved chicken dinner? I swoon. No really, I’m actually in danger of swooning just thinking about it right now.

I don’t even know where my love of lemon chicken originated. I mean, as I’m sitting here writing this, I pause, wracking my brain, and I cannot think of when was the first time I had any type of lemon chicken. It certainly didn’t come from the Korean side of my family. And if my grandma Olga Mae did anything with lemons, it was probably in the form of a dessert (helloooo lemon pound cake). I can only guess it must have been at some Italian-American Banquet Hall function in New Jersey, when I first met my husband’s family. Silver rows of massive chafing dishes filled to the brim with steaming stacks of Chicken Française (Fran-cay-see in New Jersey speak) or Chicken Piccata. Can you picture it? The velvet-lined walls, for whatever reason? Classic Jersey Italian stuff. Wherever it was that my tastebuds first met lemon chicken, it quickly became a love everlasting. Swoon with me. Ahh. Over the years I have played around with various lemon chicken recipes, and I make a pretty great Chicken Piccata, but lately I’ve been seeing people turning a lot of things that aren’t meatballs into meatballs and I thought “Why not?” So, let’s make some lemon chicken meatballs! (Read more…)

Italian Frittata

Frittatas are one of the most deceptive weapons I have in my culinary arsenal. They look super fancy and never fail to impress, but no one needs to know that they can be easily made from almost anything you have in your pantry. A kind of ‘Choose your own adventure” – with eggs! You can take almost any savory flavor combination and frittata-cize it, like the frittata I based on my favorite bagel combination. This morning I decided to riff off of a frittata I used to make when I worked in a pastry shop: an Italian frittata with Italian sausage, sautéed veggies, and double the cheese for double the flavor (Read more… )

Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers

So this is what happened.  The Boy was studying for something at work.  An exam.  Grown up stuff.  But he forgot he had bought all the ingredients to make his Sausage and Peppers.  This is a meal that only he cooks.  I don’t mean that traditionally he’s the one who cooks Sausage and Peppers, I mean he’s the only one allowed to cook sausage and peppers. Ever.  But he’s busy now and the rest of us are hungry, so… I made them.  Gasp!! 😱 I know!!  But, it was Sunday, and Daughter #3 and I were binging something or other on Netflix, and I didn’t want to stand at the stove nursing vegetables and sausages.  So I went the sheet pan supper route, and oh boy did things go crazy!  The Boy emerged from his study cave, sat down, examined his Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers sandwich, took one bite and said it was… better than his! 😳 And he looked VERY disgruntled when he said it.  And then he ate every bite.  And then he got a second sandwich.  And then he came back with an extra serving of plain Sausage and Peppers.  I’m sorry (not sorry) for stealing his “King of Sausage and Peppers” crown but this went over REALLY well, is what I’m saying.  You should try it too.  Maybe there’s an Italian Nonna you want to make mad? (Read more…)

Fresh Homemade Ricotta

“Little Miss Muffet, she sat on her tuffet (?), eating her curds and whey” is about to become very real right now, and there is no better way to demonstrate curds and whey than in making your own Homemade Ricotta Cheese! (a tuffet is a poofy stool, BTW)

Why should you make your own ricotta? First, because it is so much more creamy, rich, and smooth than the store-bought variety.  Second, you’ll love knowing every ingredient that goes into your cheese! No xantham gum or guar gum in sight!  Finally, bragging rights.  Don’t tell me you won’t feel pretty darn proud serving up a delicious manicotti or cannoli, stuffed with your very own homemade ricotta.  People will be sooooo impressed!  They don’t need to know how easy it actually is 😉  (Read more…)

Rosemary-Garlic Focaccia Bread

In my mind, there is a bread hierarchy.  What?!  Yes.  I’ll say it again – there is a bread hierarchy.  If you are part of an Italian-American family (I married into this madness) and you’re having a bowl of pasta with meatballs and marinara, you need a nice hunk of crusty bread to sop up the extra sauce and to move the noodles onto your fork (don’t get me started on using a spoon to twirl the noodles. They almost cast me out of the family for that 🙄).  White Italian or crusty semolina, maybe a hard roll in the morning – these were the breads of my husband’s childhood dinner table.  I ate the bread.  I liked the bread.  But I had never heard of or even seen the ultimate Italian bread until we moved away from the family.  We went to a beautiful little Italian restaurant in Oregon, and they gave us slices of light airy bread, sprinkled with bits of rosemary, and served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a dish on the side (not a truly Italian way to serve it, but when NOT in Rome…).  This was definitely not the bread my Mother-in-law had on her table.  This was FANCY bread.  Going out to dinner bread.  Bread that would disappear from our table in just a few minutes, leaving a sad crumb filled basket on our table and little girls staring up at the waiter, with big eyes, looking all Dickensian, “Please sir.  I want some more.”  This was Focaccia. (Read more…)

Skirt Steak with Italian Chimichurri and Tomato Salad

Where do my recipe ideas come from?  Sometimes I’m inspired by reading cookbooks and magazines, or watching food shows on Netflix or Food Network.  Sometimes I wake up having dreamt something delicious.  And sometimes inspiration strikes when one of my daughters comes for a visit and bombards me with all the foods she wants to eat! We had just eaten a fantastic tomato salad with fresh ricotta on semolina toast and had some leftovers.  The next day, I asked my daughter what she wanted to have with the leftover toast and tomatoes, and she suggested steak with chimichurri and I thought “maybe I can make it Italian!” I looked on the Interwebs, but couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I created my own!

Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian condiment made with parsley, vinegar, and garlic. It is usually served with beef, and is a staple on most family dinner tables in South America.  I wanted something with that fresh brightness, but with Italian flavors to compliment a tender grilled steak and the vibrant tomatoes.  Utilizing Italian herbs, and Calabrian chilis, this is a new take on a classic (Read More…)

Italian Pot Roast with Polenta

Italian Pot Roast with Polenta

One of the first meals I remember The Boy’s mother cooking for me was Braciole.  And yes, I capitalized the word Braciole on purpose.  He speaks of the dish with an almost religious reverance, so it seems fitting.   It’s essentially thin slices of beef, rolled around herbs and cheese,  tied up with string or skewered with a toothpick,  quickly seared, and then slowly simmered in “gravy” (Jersey Italian for red sauce).  My now Mother-In-Law hasn’t made that dish in years, but even so, I don’t think I’ll ever try to make it for The Boy.  A girl just doesn’t put her food up for comparison with the one dish he most remembers his mother making.  But this Italian pot roast is as close as I’ll ever come to the Legend of the Braciole. (Read more…)

Hawaiian Pizza

hawaiian pizza 2

I’ve entered the controversy of whether pineapple and ham belong on a pizza and come down firmly on the right side of the argument.  Hawaiian Pizza is a legitimate pizza!  If The Pioneer Woman can make dessert pizza (which sounds amazing, by the way) and get away with it, then we can make a pineapple and ham pizza with all the confidence in the world! (Read more…)