Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twas the night before Thanksgiving....

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house,
three little creatures were stirring, (though I'd prefer a mouse).

The turkey was thawing in the sink with care
And by this time of night, I've lost most of my hair.

For the children were long overdue for their beds,
and visions of Hawaii danced in my head.

But still, in the kitchen I calmly remained
to continue the cooking, the baking, the pain.

Cuz this mamma is tired, she's huffing and puffing
just to get throught the cranberry sauce and the stuffing.

For this meal won't come from a box or a can
It's a homemade Thanksgiving - every dish, every pan... a masterpiece made with much hard work and love
to remind us to be thankful for all from above.

So despite all the blood, sweat, and tears, it's worthwhile
just to see my whole family full of turkey and smiles.

So on the eve of this feast, let us never lose sight
of all of our blessings.... and with that said,


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things that bug me

Everyone's got 'em, and I'm no exception:


Those who know me are UNfortunate enough know all the things that bug me:

-leftover food in the sink (it belongs in the trash, my friends)
-when the sheets get all messed up under the covers
-nose pickers (all three of my children)
-dust (it bugs me, but I rarely do anything about it...I mean, cleaning it)
-jarred sauce (it's a waste of too much oregano)
-nails on a chalkboard
-grinding teeth
-cheese that doesn't melt

Okay, this is just a short list, but this last one is my BIGGEST pet peeve right now. I've lately been confronted with issues buying cheese for my family. Mozarella, Romano, Parmiggiano, you name it.

Have you ever bought that pre-shredded cheese that you put on top of lasagne and it stays in the exact same shape...? I mean, it doesn't melt. It just looks like slightly wilted shreds of mozarella that frighteningly resemble plastic or something.

I can't stand it. It is gross. Why? because it's not real cheese. Just like the parmesan stuff in the green plastic container. How does anyone use this stuff without gagging? The only difference between this and the mozarella is that it's grated shavings of plastic. What is the culinary world coming to?

I can't even get good quality grated romano cheese at the grocery store. I have to go to a specialty Italian deli. And you can never buy pre-shredded cheese. For those of you who are lazy like me, this is a very sad realization to come to....but believe me, the arm workout that self-grating requires is worth it.

Before long, it's going to be almost impossible to find quality Italian food. There's one place I know of that still has some of the best imported stuff, In the near future I'll be posting about some great salami and hot chili pepper jam they sell....stop drooling, "I'll be updating soon. Any other pet peeves worth venting over? I'd love to hear them:)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Italian Childrens' Books!

No true Italian could ever forget reading Strega Nona as a kid. It's that heartwarming tale of how an old witch lady from Calabria and the infamous Anthony make her famous soup. In a desperate quest for Italian stories for kids, I recently found out that the talented author of these books, Tomie DePaola, has actually written a series of Strega Nona stories (as well as many others) for the very purpose that Una Mamma Italiana exists - to keep Italian culture alive.
He even has a Befana story.....and if you're not familiar with the legend of La Befana, keep an eye out for my December Article in La Voce!! (

That's what's so great about his stories - they are all about culture. Well, we LOVE Tomie for that. And...he even has a selection of Christmas stories that would make GREAT gifts this year. I am ordering the entire line for my kids this year. You can find some great deals on used books on Amazon, and I'll even bet ebay has a selection. To buy directly from Tomie's own hometown bookstore, go to where very copy you purchase is autographed by Tomie. Just click on "Tomie DePaola."

Here is a list of titles & prices form them for his Christmas/Thanksgiving/Religious/Easter books only. This is not even his entire selection of books and look how cute some of the stories sound! I can't wait to build up a library of these.
(list courtesy of Morgan Hill Bookstore)

Check out his personal site for so much more info!

Angels Angels Everywhere (14.99)
Christopher the Holy giant (17.95/6.95)
The Clown of God (16.00/7.00)
Country Angel Christmas (16.95)
Francis Poor Man of Assisi (18.95/9.95)
Get Dressed Santa (a board book 6.99)
Guess Who's Coming to Santa's for Dinner? (16.99/6.99)
The Holy Twins (18.99)
Legend of Old Befana An Italian Christmas Story (16.00/6.00)
Legend of the Poinsettia (16.99/6.99)
Mary the Mother of Jesus (16.95)
My First Thanksgiving (a board book 6.99)
The Night before Christmas (6.95)
Night of Las Posadas (16.99/6.99)
Parables of Jesus (8.95)
Pascual and the Kitchen Angels (16.99/5.99)
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland (17.95/6.95)
Petook An Easter Story (16.95)
Tomie's Little Christmas Pagent (a board book 7.99)

To all other "Mamma Italianas" out there --- you owe this to your children...Italian bedtime stories are just one more way to keep the traditions alive in your families. Salute!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November's Issue of La Voce

The November issue of La Voce has been out in print for a while, but I am happy to announce that it is now available for viewing online. There's a couple of cute kids on the cover, and the articles inside aren't half bad either!

Take a look at my latest article about Thanksgiving, "A Miracle In Your Mouth" under the tab "Mamma Mia!"

Or you can directly access my article by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes

Now that election chaos is finally over, I can focus on something other than just the news, and that is....


November marks the true beginning of the holidays for me. Despite the fact that I begin listening to Christmas music in October, it doesn't feel quite real until November weather settles in and the stores fill with Christmas decor. Cold nights, comfy sweaters, and pumpkin pie always means that my two favorite holidays are around the corner:

Thanksgiving and Christmas!

This year we'll inevitably spend the season visiting with family, giving thanks, shopping for presents & making presents (we do a lot of homemade Christmas gifts in our family!) and, of course, a lot of eating. What could be better than that? But we all know such a busy time of year requires lots of planning, so I wanted to give everyone a head start with one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes. These are a hit every year with my family, and they're so simple, even the kids love them. As a rule, whichever of my kids helps me cook is promised the first taste. Here, Gabriella got a sample before the potatoes went into the oven.

(“Italian family-sized” recipe)

· 5lb potatoes
· 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
· 8 oz milk
· 1/2 - 1 stick butter, melted
· 12 oz asiago cheese, shredded
· Salt & pepper to taste

· Peel, cube, and boil potatoes until tender.
· Whip mascarpone cheese, milk, and butter together.
· In a separate bowl, begin to mash the potatoes with an electric mixer, slowly adding the cheese mixture until desired consistency. (mixture will thicken in baking)
· Butter a casserole dish and fill with the mashed potatoes.
· Sprinkle asiago cheese to coat.
· Bake at 400 degrees until bubbly and golden.

This recipe was also published in November's issue of La Voce Newspaper, under my column, "Mamma Mia!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Preserving the Family Meal

There is nothing more important to me than my family. Being together has made my life's greatest memories. My family is what motivates me to get things done, but ironically, is also the reason I can't get anything done! (Other "mammas" know what I mean) What ends up suffering the most for me is housework and dinner!

Let's be honest, fast food its just easier sometimes.....after all, it's fast. But unfortunately, by pushing the family meal off the priority list, I think we are missing out on much more than we can even see.

That's what inspired me to write my latest article, "Preserving The Family Meal." publishes my articles under the column titled, UNA MAMMA ITALIANA. Or you can CLICK HERE to go directly to the article.

Take a look, and please let me know what you think! And tonight, enjoy a dinner together with your family...

Monday, November 3, 2008

The BEST Arrabiata Sauce Ever

So Arabiatta sauce won the poll for favorite sauce. Literally meaning "angry," arrabiata is known for it's spiciness - something very popular in my Italian famiglia.

So I have researched and taste tested several recipes just to be able to provide you with the very best variety of the traditional arrabiata sauce. And you've got to serve it with penne or it would just break my heart (and the hearts of Italians everywhere).

Everyone better give this recipe a shot because I promise you, your eyes will water not only at the spiciness, but at the mere beauty of enjoying such buon cibo!
Buon Appetito!


1TSP olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
5 cloves minced garlic (use more if you're like me)
1/2 cup red wine
2 TB brown sugar (the sweet secret!)
2 TB chopped fresh basil
1 small can tomato paste
1 1/2 TSP crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 TSP ground black pepper
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
2 TB chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the wine, sugar, basil, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, black pepper. Combine.

Mix in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2o minutes (uncovered).

Mix into UNRINSED penne (I like the penne rigate, the sauce just sticks better!) and top with the chopped parsley.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Poll Ideas?

I'm not sure if this happened to any of you guys, but my latest blog poll over the best pasta sauce caused a few fights in my house. My son was pulling for vodka sauce until Arrabiatta made a quick comeback and took home the prize.

(The victory is made obvious by my daughter pouncing on my son in the above wrestling match.)

So congratulations to arrabiatta sauce for being everyone's number one. I guess a lot of us just like it hot! I know I love spicy sauce...whether it makes you sweat, or cry, or get the hiccups (weird, I know, but it happens to my husband every time he eats spicy food) a little heat is always worth it!

So while I search my family recipes for the BEST variety of arrabiatta sauce I can find, I would like to ask you to do some research:
I would love to hear what you think the next poll should be.

Let's face it, we all have questions about Italian food or traditions that need answers, and I'd love to hear what boggles all of your minds!

Post ideas in the comments for this post, I hope to have a new poll up next week. Thanks everyone! CIAO!
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