Pasta with Asparagus
2 cups chopped Asparagus (about 17 spears)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup tepid water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb pasta cooked and drained- use a dense pasta like rigatoni or penne. Here I used celentani, which is a corkscrew type pasta
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add in the oil. Once heated add in the onion and garlic, saute until translucent.
Add in the asparagus, and toss in the oil.
Once the asparagus is coated well in the hot oil add in the water and continue to cook for 6 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.
Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add in the pasta along with the asparagus mixture.
Toss and coat the pasta completely, then add in the grated cheese.
Done. Ready to serve!
Eat, Drink & Watch!
These are not in any particular order.. just listed them as they came to mind.
Ok, well, this is on the top of my food movie list actually. I quote this movie almost on a daily basis.
It’s a sweet story about a rat, Remy, who differs from his rat pack. He is a sophisticated mouse with a distinct palate. He comes across a human, Linguine, that is a bumbling, talentless janitor at a former highly acclaimed restaurant. Linguine has been tasked with cooking a specific dish he had inadvertantly screwed up, but that Remy happened to have fixed. Being that rats aren’t welcome in the kitchen, they figure to combine their talents to become one great chef. The rat maneuvers the human’s actions to cook by pulling his hair under his toke. It all turns to nothing when everyone discovers that the rat is the chef…except there is a sweet twist ending.
My favorite quotes of the movie:
“Shut up, and eat your garbage.”
“I don’t ‘like’ food; I LOVE it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” (Actually, this is my yelp quote!)
“Ack! Don’t just hork it down!”
“Anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.”
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING
This movie still kills me. Being first generation, Italian not Greek, I relate to it tremendously; every scene I laugh thinking that it is just like me and my family! This movie isn’t technically about food, but it has a lot of food references.
It’s about a first generation Greek girl, Nia, who starts off in the movie as the ugly duckling. She then falls for a very handsome, sexy man, an all American, Ian. Nia comes out of her ugly duckling shell developing into a decent looking swan. She and Ian date, actually they have an amazing love affair. They get engaged, but her parents don’t necessarily approve when they find out. Nia has this crazy Greek family, that goes along with this whole engagement and wedding, but not without bumps along the way, and, he on the other hand, has two pieces of toast for parents.
There is a scene in the movie I think is so relevant to how I was, food related, as a kid. Well, there are two scenes, but the one I am referring to is the one where Nia is in elementary school. She is sitting at a lunch table across from a table of all American girls. Well, Nia is starting to eat her lunch, and one girl says..”what’s that?”, all giggling away. Nia responds, “It’s mousaka.”, and the girl replies “Moose caca?”, giggling like a terd as she eats her white bread sandwich..etc. Well, I had sort of this same thing happen to me when I was young, in like 3rd or 4th grade. I used to eat Nutella sandwiches as a kid. My Mom would make the sandwich with a slice of muffaleta cut in half and an awesome thick layer of Nutella in between the bread. I’d eat it in like 2 seconds. Everyone else around me was eating sandwiches made of Wonderbread or the school lunch. Well, one day someone asked me what I was eating, and even though I wasn’t made to feel bad about it like Nia was, I felt like an outsider cause they questioned it. Other than another Italian girl in my class, no one knew what Nutella was. I mean, I am Italian, we eat Nutella. Nowadays…everyone knows what it is.
And the other scene, when the Aunt hears that Nia’s fiance is a vegetarian. She says loudly and confused, “What do you mean he eats no meat? That’s ok, I’ll make him lamb.” Ha! Like that isn’t meat!? That still cracks me up!
The photo I am using is a joke between my husband and I, this is a quote we most often use from any movie. Don’t know why this cracked us up like it did, but even finding that picture I belted out laughter.
Big Night is set in the 1950’s. It is about two Italian immigrant brothers, Secondo-the business manager, and, Primo-the culinary perfectionist. Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci are amazing in their roles. Truly. They are owners of a failing restaurant, Paradise. They are super stubborn and striving to keep it afloat but no one is eating there. Unlike the mediocre Italian restaurant nearby, Pascal’s, that is raking in the money. Secondo decides to ask the owner, Pascal, for a loan. The owner is reluctant, and smarmy, and offers him a job at his own restaurant, but Secondo declines. Pascal, in turn, decides to give them some help by having Louis Prima, the famous jazz celebrity, dine at their restaurant during his next stop in town. Secondo and Primo immediately begin working on the ‘big night’. They spend all their money, prepare amazing food, and invite everyone they could, including media. The night was a flop, though, they waited for hours and ended up eating the food…as they were set up by Pascal, and Louis Prima was never invited. The film shows preparing food in such a significant light. And the ending to the film seems fit.
My favorite quotes of the movie:
“To eat good food is to be close to God.”
“RAPE! RAPE!… The rape of cuisine.”
One of my favorite quotes of the movie is “Bite your teeth into the ass of life.”, cause this is something my Dad would totally say.
JULIE AND JULIA
Definitely a girls movie!
This is a true story of Julie Powell, a NYC girl who just feels she needs motivation to do something after seeing all her friends successes. She decides to cook and blog about all 524 recipes of Julia Childs. Great idea btw! The story is wonderful with how they coincide these two women’s lives. Two women from two different decades living different lives, but somehow they brought Julia Child’s real life story to life though Julia Powell’s; so well written. Julia Child, whom we all know, was such a force educating Americans with French/American cuisine. She is my favorite woman’s crusader! And she was tall! (I’m a heightest <–and that is a joke, sort of.) Surprisingly, though, I knew about Julia Child before this movie, she is a Boston gal after all, and I’d see her roaming Harvard Square often in her old age, the story was so fresh and new. The way that Meryl Streep played her character was so powerful. And Stanley Tucci, the way he played her husband, it was just perfect. *lovestruck* I loved seeing their love story played out on the big screen. So exquisite. The movie was a touch long, but the story pulled through and kept integrity. You should check it out if you haven’t!
During a trip to France, in 2011, I began eating boeuf bourguignon every meal that I could. I have always liked beef stews and am always trying new things, but eating a traditional boeuf bourguignon in France was out of this world ..awesome. After 7 days of eating it everywhere, I was becoming quite the connoisseur, and chubby. But to make it myself was, for some reason, overwhelming. My Mom makes amazing stews, not me! Where do I start?!? But I remembered this movie. So, one day, I went out and bought all the ingredients needed to make boeuf bourguignon, Julia’s recipe. And it tasted truly amazing! The whole time I was prepping, all I could think of was Julie Powell’s character. Such a sweet movie. I want to see it now.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
In November 2012, I referenced Jiro Dreams of Sushi in a post, My Obsession with Sushi.
This documentary is about Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old Japanese man, who owns a world-renowned sushi restaurant in Tokyo. This restaurant is housed in a basement of an office building, and you need about 3 months of advance notice for a reservation; and a reservation can’t be more than 6 or 8 people! Jiro is getting older, and would like to leave his business in the hands of his eldest son, as his other son tried to work with him, but ended up opening his own sushi restaurant. His eldest son has some major huge shoes to fill, and Jiro is not sure he wants to retire just yet. The documentary highlights Jiro’s sentiment, affection, and profound respect for his craft, creating the perfect sushi..is his obsession. The man lives and breathes all things sushi.
Such a fantastic movie.
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Gene Wilder is one of those actors from my childhood where just hearing his name makes me smile. I grew up, alongside my Dad, watching almost every movie Gene Wilder has ever made.
Willy Wonka, an eccentric chocolatier, for the first time, opens the doors of his chocolate factory to 5 lucky people through a lottery system within his chocolate bars. The five winners get an in-depth tour, where one will leave the ultimate prize winner with a lifetime supply of chocolate. But little do these winners know there is fine print they didn’t read. There are 4 very greedy children that have the worst luck..one falls in a river of chocolate, one is zapped into little televised pieces, one lands in the golden eggs trash, and one eats the gum she wasn’t supposed to and turns blue and grows into a giant blueberry! But not Charlie. Charlie is a good kid and ends up the ultimate winner. This story is awesome, and though I liked the newer version, there is something magical about the 71 version.
The colors and candy in almost every scene was a thrill as a child. What kid doesn’t want to go to a candy factory? I so wanted, and still want!, to eat the candy tea cups, lick the entrance’s wall paper and swim in that chocolate river!
This is a dark comedy about a landlord, who is also the butcher of a delicatessen in his apartment building, and his tenants. They are surviving through a serious famine or post apocalypse. Food seems very scarce, but the butcher has the delicacies they want. “There is something odd about this butcher!”, is all I could say from the start of the movie. And there TOTALLY is! The landlord needs a new maintenance man for his building, as his mysteriously has disappeared. He hires on a new man, who also becomes his tenant. The new tenant is a sweet man, perplexed by all the apartment rules, and he ends up falling in love with the landlord’s daughter who lives above. The landlord is not so happy about this, as he had other plans for the new guy.
Well, needless to say we find out how the butcher prepares his delicacies! It’s not a movie that makes you want to eat afterward, but still a food related movie!
3 Cheese Lasagna
1 package of no boil lasagna pasta (if you use the pasta type to boil- follow instruction to boil prior to use)
16 oz ricotta
4 oz shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
4 quarts of Tomato Sauce: Click here for the sauce recipe. This recipe will make the amount of sauce you need.
Need a 13x9x3 baking pan.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine ricotta, 1/4 cup grated cheese, salt and pepper and eggs. (The rest of the grated cheese is to be sprinkled between layers evenly.)
Spread sauce over bottom of pan, about three ladles full.
Place lasagna over sauce, overlapping to fit. About 5 pieces will fit for one layer; be careful when splitting to fit the sides.
Spread layer of ricotta mixture evenly over noodles.
Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over mixture.
Ladle sauce over mixture, spreading to cover.
Repeat layering pasta, remaining mixture, grated cheese and sauce.
Arrange remaining pasta over sauce. This will be your third and top layer.
Spread remaining sauce over pasta. Sprinkle grated cheese then cover with mozzarella cheese evenly over lasagna.
Bake for 45 minutes; until pasta is completely soft and cheese is bubbly has created a golden crust.
Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.
Eat and repeat.
2 28 oz cans of kitchen ready crushed tomatoes (no salt)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3/4 can of tomato paste
3 basil leaves, washed and left whole
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
In a large stock pot, heat the oil over a medium-high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil. Then quickly turn down the heat to low.
Add the tomato paste. Stir till melted.
Simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Stir often.
Add in basil leaves ten minutes before sauce is done.
Remove from heat when finished. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
Our belated Valentine’s night out was a lot of fun. Ate lots. Drank lots. Laughed lots. And dipped waffles into Nutella. See? A lot of fun. We ended the night with seeing Nick Offerman at the Wilbur Theater. Nick Offerman plays Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Rec. If there is any actor that comically kills me with his straight face..it’s Nick Offerman.
Ron F’king Swanson people!!
Nick Offerman came out on stage without a shirt on. Full hairy glory with a slight paunch and an acoustic guitar strapped around him. Not such a stud, but hilarious since we were told there could be some nudity during the show. Then he quickly threw on the ‘classiest’ of American flag denim button up shirts, just a touch tight, and started on his show. From the second he opened his mouth to speak I felt captivated. There is such a blurred line between his real self and his TV character..they seem to be one in the same persona. I like that about him, and thus the title to this post. Nick Offerman’s technically not a comedian, but holy cow you’d never know it he is so funny; what a fantastic and well written show.
His show centered around his life lessons, ‘Ten Secrets to Life”. I outline them below. He spoke about how he is a simple guy married to a beautiful woman, who happens to be a celebrity, and they live a simple life in the Hollywood hills in a house that Will n’ Grace’s money built. I never laughed so hard, cried so much, or questioned myself (in a good way) through two hours like I did Saturday night. I am not usually a fan of parodies or singing during comedy shows, but this night I was. He sang between subjects. From Taylor Swift to ending the show with the song 5,000 Candles in the Wind for Lil Sebastian, from Parks and Rec. Too funny.
Nick Offerman’s Ten Secrets to Life:
Engage in romantic love.
He starts with, “As a Hollywood couple, you’d expect us to be heading down to the Whiskey-A-Go-Go with the Sheen family or shooting up with the Kardashian clan.” But he’s not. He and his wife, Meghan Mullaly, are homebodies, they enjoy each other. They like staying in, reading books (sounds like a lot of books), and watching TV; watching the Hobbit seems to be a big thing for him. He talked about making love a priority in life, over everything. And the way he spoke of his wife was so admirable and sweet.
Say please and thank you.
Simply about the basics of being a person with etiquette.
Carry a handkerchief.
With this he pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket. He told us how his dad always told him that wearing a clean white shirt and carrying a handkerchief are important every day.
“Great for tears and wiping up ejaculate.” (his words not mine, cause I’d never say that!)
Eat red meat.
Get a hobby.
“Hobby is an unfortunate word, like underpants, Mitt, and Romney, for something that can have such a profound impact on one’s life.
With this lesson, he made us laugh with stressing the fact to make something. Anything. If you don’t know much about Nick Offerman, he loves to woodwork. He has a shop and a website about his woodwork too. He was so spot on with everything he was saying. “Don’t go on your phone and play drawsomething..actually go.. Get paper and draw… something! Make something with your hands. Even a card. Grab a piece of paper. Bend it in half. Go outside. Find a stick or thing in nature. Glue it to the paper. If you make this card, or anything, with your hands, for your partner, you will never get such an appreciative and passionate kiss, ever.” Also, as his character, Ron Swanson, says, “people that buy things are suckers”.
“If you’re looking for a mate, would you rather find someone who’s amazing at playing Angry Birds or would you like someone who knitted the garment they’re wearing?”
Go outside. Remain.
Pretty self explanatory.
Avoid the mirror.
He touched upon how we are just so caught up in image. Not being good enough or overly vain. Saying that, “I only look in the mirror to make sure my mustache is clean. No shit on my face. Good to go.” and “We are amazing. We get so caught up in ourselves and perfection. If You have a nose, you’re fucking beautiful.”
Maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ…if it’s getting you sex.
With this lesson he told us a story from his youth, when he faked to be a born again Christian for a hot girl he liked. He got her, but he had to jump through a ton of Christian hoops.
Using intoxicants can make life much more enjoyable. I believe Mr. Offerman is a fan of quite a few and might’ve been on some this night. Very enjoyable.
Paddle your own canoe.
It’s your life.
“Don’t be like Jerry. Jesus Christ, whatever you do, don’t be like Jerry.” (referring to Jerry Gergich on the show)
If you see Nick Offerman coming to your town, get tickets. Go see him.
It felt like I left with a great message through all the laughs.
In my top 5 obsessions, definitely at number 4 it is wrapping paper.
Recently, my Mom and I figured this obsession stems from when I was a child… of the 80’s. One of my dearest neighborhood pals was celebrating a birthday, and my Mom got me involved with wrapping his present. We wrapped the box in blue paper, then she figured to make this boy’s gift unique. She got a few sheets of lined notebook paper and carefully made a striped collared shirt with a small breast pocket, like a man’s button up shirt (I know how awesome was she!). She drew on buttons, then got more wrapping paper cut out a tie to tuck under the collar. We added his name to the shirt pocket with a marker in stitch print, it was so cute! And it was the hit of the gift opening!
It’s just that extra special touch in presenting a gift to someone you care about. To make someone smile before knowing what is in the box. I love that feeling!
Here are some easy and creative gift wrapping ideas I wanted to share for kids:
The Wrapping Paper Ribbon
This is a great way to change up the look of a regular store bought stick on bow. Or if you don’t have any bows at home!
Take reminants of left over wrapping paper, whether the same or a complimentary color, and cut into 6 inch strips about an inch wide.
Loop the strips in your hand and gather them to make an exaggerated sized bow. Staple in the middle to keep the shape. Then adhere, with glue or tape, to the top of the present. Then in the middle of the paper ribbon stick on the bow on top.
*For this cupcake themed gift, I looped half the strips and left the remaining straight out.
Tulle Wrapped Gifts
One of my favorite ways of wrapping a gift is with tulle. You can take any occasion’s present to the next level. It makes the gift chic. Playful. Sweet. Elegant. Literally anything. Now they have tulle in every color, size and texture, that you can make a goth gift if you wanted to. Which I have.
I always have a bolt of tulle in my closet. A bolt of tulle can be expensive but you can wrap a lot of special family members’/friends’ presents with a bolt of fabric. Also, go online and shop around! I got my last bolt for close to nothing through ebay.
Featured below is a gift for our 5 year old goddaughter. Well, his goddaughter, but I’m godmother by association!
The gifts were wrapped in a soft yellow colored paper then added on a strip of a coordinating paper down the middle. Stacked together, taped between another to keep steady and ready for tulle.
Once you have the gifts wrapped, gather them inside a large cut square of tulle and tie the top tight.
The trick to holding the tulle in place to trim the top and to fasten on a ribbon is to get an elastic. Fasten the elastic, in a pony tail fashion, as tight as you can get it.
Trim the tulle on top. You can trim the tulle to any desired length.
Wrap a scrap piece of the tulle (which is elasticized) around the elastic to cover it (you can use any ribbon).
Here I tied on a coordinating fleece ribbon on top of the pink tulle knot, then added on a pink flower jewel.
I like to spray glitter all over the tulle presents to add sparkle and shimmer. Very girly! – I always have a can of Halloween glitter hair spray on hand with my two kids!!
Unconventional Gift Wrap
This is a fun way for your child(ren) to use their creativity to make a special present like my Mom did with me as a kid. Also, for you to use your inner child to create something unique.
Featured here is a present my children decorated for their favorite Uncle’s birthday last year; his birthday is in the Fall. The girls were given the task to pick out the paper and bow. They chose a soft blue paper adorned with a simple yellow gross grain ribbon across the middle. I wrapped the gift, gave it to them along with a bowl filled with foam self sticking letters and pumpkins.
The theme and supply possibilities with this type of wrap are endless!
A few years ago, we created Hello Kitty paper for my niece’s 4th birthday. There was a snowstorm before her big day, and I wasn’t able to get out for paper or bows. Searched through my wrapping paper stash to find a textured white wrapping paper and a spool of pink tulle. SCORE, I love tulle!! Then scurried over to my kids craft box to find two mini pink inked Hello Kitty stamps and decals, along with a box of mini stick-on letters. On a whim, I thought why not make her something more than just a white box with pink ribbon. My girls and I started stamping and stickering the paper in a pattern. Then in complimentary colors, placed the letters spelling my nieces name around the box a few times. Tied on the tulle, cut it and shaped it like a pom pom on top. Then because nothing is complete without glitter in my house, I grabbed some clear Elmer’s glue and pink glitter. Outlined some of the letters and stamps with the glue then sprinkled them with the glitter. Voila! It was avante garde wrapping paper come to life; so fun and unique!
It just takes a little imagination!
This is my favorite sandwich all year round. The crunch of the bread with the warm, melted, cheesy filling… so yummy! The combinations are endless, too. Which I am saying there will definitely be other variations of this sandwich to come from me.
This recipe yields 4 large sandwiches using a baguette, or, one large muffaletta that can be sliced for up to 6 people.
Simple Vegetarian Panini
1 large eggplant, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 large zucchini, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 large summer squash, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into long pieces (you can also use shredded, but the fresh cheese is prefered)
4 tbsp grated Romano cheese
3 tsp salt
1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
approx 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil- drizzled to coat vegetables for cooking
2 tbsp tepid water
1 loaf of crusty bread not sliced. *I used a French baguette, but an Italian scali, ciabatta or muffaletta works great and is what I like too.
You will need:
– parchment to cover baking sheets
– tin foil to wrap the sandwiches
– a sturdy all metal stock pan to weigh down the sandwiches
– an extra baking sheet to hold the pan on top of the sandwiches
* If you have access to cook the vegetables on a grill, use it. It makes this dish even tastier, which is why I make this at least once a week during the Summer. Cook and eat outside with the family, that is my all time favorite pass time!
Preheat oven to 375.
Prep the vegetables.
Wash and cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices.
Drizzle some oil over the baking sheets, then lay the vegetables on top.
Season with the salt and pepper, add more if you feel needed, but the Romano cheese adds a lot of salty flavor. Then drizzle oil over the top.
Place into oven.
After 20 minutes flip each slice over. Add water along the eggplant pan only.
Then all back in the oven to let roast for 15-20 more minutes until browned on both sides.
Once the veg is cooked remove from oven. But, leave the oven on.
Let the vegetables cool a minute so they can be handled easier for the sandwiches. Once cooled cut the zucchini and summer squash slices in half to fit in the sandwich. The eggplant size is fine as is.
Now it’s time to assemble the sandwich.
If you use a baguette cut into the sized sandwiches you prefer, about 5″-6″ long shown.
If you use a larger bread that you plan to cut for everyone later, like a muffaletta, same instruction applies below except your bread isn’t cut, you are just going to use the ingredients as is all over.
With your hands, remove the interior crumb of the bread.
Take a large piece of foil, enough to cover one sandwich, and lay down on work surface.
On top of the foil, start to assemble the sandwich by sprinkling a little grated cheese on the top and on the bottom halves of the sandwich.
Add two slices of the mozzarella over each half of bread atop the sprinkled cheese. This will help keep the sandwich open so you can move to the next step.
Lay the vegetables to cover the tops and bottom, adding a sprinkle of grated cheese between slices. You will use about 1 tablespoon of grated cheese per sandwich.
The sandwich will contain three slices of each vegetable. For the zucchini/summer squash since you sliced them in half after they were cooked, this means three of the half pieces each, so it would equal 1.5 slices of each if whole.
Once you have assemble the sandwich wrap it in the foil, and follow the same to complete all the sandwiches.
On a baking sheet, add the sandwiches in a row with a bit of space between.
Then set a baking sheet on top, press down on the sandwiches a touch. Then set the stock pot on top to keep that flat shape. *I can’t stress enough, the pot has to be all metal, no rubber or plastic handles.
Place in oven for 10 minutes, until all the cheese is melted.
Remove from oven. Make sure you place the heated metal items in a safe place where nothing can melt.
Then unwrap the sandwiches. Slice in half to display the delicious filling before you serve.