Hi and thank you for visiting my blog. My name is Tina, I am 42 years old and married to a wonderful man named Robert. I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area with my husband and our two pugs, Koko and Lucy and a special kitty, named Trixie.

I am of Italian decent and love to cook not just for my family but for everyone! I have a lot of weeknight dinner guest and try to keep it casual but delicious! My Mom passed away a few years ago and was my great teacher.

In 2012 I have changed the way I eat. A real lifestyle change to be healthier, eat a nutrient dense diet and remove all processed foods, refined flours and sugars from our diet. I do cook a lot healthier than my Mom did and do a lot more vegetarian meals, poultry and fish. I'm trying to find a way to keep the traditions of family, friends and good food in my house always.

I plan to post my weekly menus, update with new recipes, health information and articles and how to eat mostly organic in an economical way. I will also periodically post personal updates of my journey to regain health and hope.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Modern Sunday Dinner

Growing up we had spaghetti sauce and meatballs almost every single Sunday, we ate dinner at 2:00-3:00 p.m. and usually had a table full of people. It was time to have a delicious big meal prepare with love and shared with family and friends. For us Sunday dinner is still a special time to sit down and enjoy a big meal but in the summer I like to keep them light. I served Broiled Halibut with peach salsa served over wilted garlic spinach and lime-cilantro rice.

Broiled Halibut with Peach Salsa
2 - 6-8 oz Halibut Filets
2 - Fresh ripe peaches
1 - clove of garlid chopped fine
1 - Jalepeno chopped fine
2 tsp, chopped cilantro
Juice of a lime
Olive oil

1) Seed and dice peaches and put in a small bowl
2) Add in chopped garlic, jalepeno, cilantro and mix.
3) Squeeze in the juice of a lime and add a pinch of salt.
4) Blend well, leave at room temperature until serving.
5) Spray fish with oilive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6) Broil under the broiled for approximately 8 minutes turning once, or until fish is opaque throughout.

I like to use the Misto olive oil sprayer. This is a MUST have kitchen item http://www.misto.com/

Served with wilted garlic spinach and lime-cilantro rice.

Lime Cilantro Rice
3 cups steamed, white rice
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Juice of a lime

Mix rice, olive oil, cilantro and lime juice together. Serve immediately.

Wilted Garlic Spinach
4 cups fresh, washed spinach
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1) In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat heat olive oil and saute garlic for about a minute. Add in spinach, coat with oil and cover tightly for 1-2 minutes or until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Saturday at Sokolowski's

As you can probably tell from my blog so far, I really do not care for most chain restaurants (except PF Changs he he he), so tonight I was thrilled when we were invited to go to a local Cleveland landmark Sokolowki's University Inn in Tremont, a trendy Cleveland neighborhood. This place has been around for 84 years and continues to be a star. It is a casual cafeteria style eatery specializing in polish favorites like pierogi, sausages, stuffed cabbages etc. Everything is homemade and uber delicious. It is open for lunch Monday to Friday and dinner Friday and Saturday only.

This restaurant has been featured on food tv and Bobby Flay has eaten there, Anthony Bourdain filmed an episode there that will be featured on No Reservations on August 27, 2007 and the former President, Bill Clinton ate there a while President. The food is comfort food at its best and this is usually a place we go to in the winter but a welcome change to all the summer salads and grilled food we've been eating lately.

I had the Beer Battered Halibut with sides of pierogi's and mixed seasonal vegetables. It was so delicious and only $9.99 for a ton of food. Robert had the stuffed cabbages. We didn't bring our camera but this picture is of the stuffed cabbage from the Sokolowski's website. We also share a gigantic piece of Coconut cake that was to die for. If you are ever in Cleveland this is a gastronomic must!

Friday, July 27, 2007

God Bless America!!

The 4th of July is always a great time to get together with family to celebrate our nations day of Independence. Here is a cake I baked for the occassion. It was delicious. I will say I am not a talented baker or cake decortator but the taste was out of this world!!

Lemon Cake with Buttercream Frosting & Berries

Lemon Cake
1 cup of butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
3 cups of flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup low fat buttermilk

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and grease & flour a 9 x 13 baking pan
2) Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside
3)Mix butter, sugar, eggs, zest and vanilla until creamy.
4) Add flour in three additions alternating with the buttermilk in two additions.
5) Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Grandma's Classic Buttercream
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 cups of milk
1 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1) In a heavy bottomed sauce pan bring milk and flour to a slow boil and remove from heat. Cool at room temperature completely.
2) Once flour mixture is cooled, combine butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixer until well blended.
3) Add in flour/milk mixture and beat on high for about 10 minutes or until light and fluffy
4) Frost cooled cake and decorate as desired.

Tip: I used a pint of rasberries and 1/2 pint of blueberries. The fruit and lemon cake combination was excellent!! I also doubled the frosting and filled the cake. It was too much frosting...even though it is one of my favorite things.

I'm Back!!

Sharp Henckle Knife + Tina in a Hurry to clean up =

Wow, I can' t believe it has been almost three weeks since I've posted last. I have a ton of updating to do and I will try and get as many new recipes up as I can in the next few days. The last month has been one hectic month. First, I sliced open my hand and required stitches. Then my PC crashed and we had out of town guest for most of the month. So my new PC is here...it is fabulous and I will be blogging regularly on it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Gnocchi, Noi-Key or Ganacheese

In one of my first telephone conversations with Robert (8 years ago today) I asked him what he had for dinner and he said "Ganacheese". I asked "what is that?" and he said "I thought you were Italian" After a few minutes I realized he was talking about Gnocchi!! So in honor of that phone call, tonight I made a really delicious, very easy and very quick dinner. I didn't make homemade gnocchi but it would be super tasty with fresh.

Gnocchi with Zucchini & Prosciutto

1 lb. fresh gnocchi (I got mine from Ohio City Pasta http://www.ohiocitypasta.com/ )
1/4 lbs. proscuitto, sliced thin and cut into ribbons (I used domestic for this dish)
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium zucchini sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a stock pot bring 6 qt. of water to a boil.
2) In a medium saute pan heat up some olive oil and saute the onion over medium high heat until translucent.
3) Add prosciutto and zucchini and saute for about 5 minutes and reduce to medium heat.
4) Add gnocchi to water and cook until they are floating or approximately 3 minutes.
5) Strain gnocchi from water and add to saute pan and toss with prosciutto and zucchini. Cook for one minute.
6) Top with Parmesan cheese. Serve promptly and hot!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Quick Lasagna for Becky!

My friend Becky asked me for a lasagna recipe and I decided to post it as I was typing it out for her. It is a good quick lasagna (but not fast).

Quick Lasagna
Even though this recipe has a lot of ingredients and steps, it is actually my quick version of lasagna. My Mom's lasagna recipe takes two days to make. I hope you enjoy!

1 lb. Barilla NO COOK lasagna noodles or package of lasagna noodles, par-boiled.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 lbs. Lean ground beef or turkey
1 tsp. sugar
2 clove garlic, chopped
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. basil
½ tsp. parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
28 ½ oz. can tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
Pint of part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated

1) In a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat add olive oil and onion & garlic. Sauté onion until soft.
2) Add meat, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is browned throughout.
3) Add Tomatoes and tomato paste and one cup of water; turn heat up to medium high.
4) Bring to a boil then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour to 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
5) In a small bowl combine ricotta cheese, egg, parsley and garlic powder. Whisk thoroughly and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
6) Prepare noodles according to package directions if you are using standard lasagna noodles, otherwise skip this step for the no bake pasta.
7) Spray a 9 x 13 casserole with non-stick cooking spray (like Pam)
8) Ladle a thin layer of sauce on the bottom.
9) Place noodles across the bottom of the pan, it is okay to overlap.
10) Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodle (it doesn’t have to be perfect).
11) Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top.
12) Cover with meat & sauce (not too much sauce, use a slotted spoon)
13) Repeat noodles, ricotta, Parmesan and meat sauce twice.
14) Finish with a layer of noodles, sauce and then top with the mozzarella cheese.
15) Spray tin foil with cooking spray and cover casserole tightly.
16) Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
17) Let lasagna rest for 15 minutes before cutting & serving.
18) Serve with extra sauce on the side.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Italian in Akron

Tonight we went to an Italian restaurant in Akron called Papa Joes. Check out their website: http://www.papajoes.com/. It has been around since 1932 and there is a reason for their longevity. It is simply fabulous. The decor isn't trendy and probably could use a little updating but the food is delicious, service excellent and the prices are just right! We had taken a ride to one of our favorite farm markets and Robert said he had passed by a cute restaurant on one of his bike rides nearby and wanted to try it. Surprisingly it was a place I had been to before years ago with my parents. We had just had ice cream cones and still ate a ton. I can't wait to go back and try more!

What we ate:

Zucchini Frette - We shared a huge platter of lightly battered and fried zucchini topped with Parmesan cheese and served with ranch dressing.

Robert had the Penne Marinara with meatballs. It was another huge serving and he ate all of it. It was served with a house salad and dinner rolls. I couldn't believe he ate it all.

I had the stuffed artichoke for my entree, it was an appetizer but I can't pass up artichokes on a menu. It was soo soo good. It appeared to be steamed, trimmed and halved and then stuffed with Italian sausage and breadcrumbs served with a creamy lemon garlic aioli. I also had the Caesar side salad, fresh but no anchovies!

They had a great wine list, but we stuck with water and soda tonight. Total bill $36! You can't beat that..we will definitely be back. We are hoping to invite a few friends with us next time as well.

Frugal Fiesta!!

I fed 14 people a full meal for about $40! Can you believe that? It is true and no, they weren't all ultra skinny girls who eat a tablespoon of food. This was 10 hungry concrete workers and a few Italian women :-) Here is how I did it. I didn't get any pictures because before I even had all the food out they started digging in.

The menu was following:

Ground Turkey Seasoned with taco seasoning* (6 lbs)
Mexican Rice (12 cups)
Black Beans (8 cups)
Soft and Hard taco shells (18 each)
Shredded Lettuce (1 head of iceberg)
Sour Cream (1 pint)
Cheddar Jack Cheese (2 lbs)
Tomatoes (4)
Onions (1/2)
Chips & three kids of salsa: Basic medium tomato salsa, roasted chipotle salsa, Artichoke and lime salsa

*I always make my own taco seasonings as I try and eat a low sodium diet. I found this recipe from Bill Echols on www.allrecipes.com. It is called Taco Seasoning I. I omit the salt all together and think it is great. It saves 2400 mg. of sodium per this entire meal. I generally use 2 Tbsp. of this for 1 lb. of ground turkey.

Taco Seasoning
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes ( I sometimes use cayenne)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt (optional)
1 tsp. black pepper