Saturday, December 18, 2010

Italian Celery and Green Olive Salad

My mom used to make this salad, and we all loved it.  It is easier to find the cracked green olives already pitted today.  If you cannot find them pitted, you will have to do it yourself.  I do not put the onion in mine, as some of the family do not like raw onion. Prepare this salad ahead of time, so that it can marinate in the refridgerator.  Take it out about a half-an-hour before serving.

Italian Celery and Green Olive Salad

8 Stalks of Celery plus the green leaves, chopped.
1 pound of  cracked green olives, pitted
1/4 tsp. dried oregano flakes
dried red pepper flakes to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
onion (optional) chopped
salt & pepper
olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste

Mix all together in a bowl and marinate in fridge.  I like to do it the day before serving, but a few hours ahead is ok.  Remove from fridge about a half-an-hour before serving.  Enjoy!


Friday, December 17, 2010


Where has the time gone?  It has been months since I posted.  Here is what I have been up to...

I wanted to use a photo of the grandchildren on our Christmas card.  It took two days to get a photo that you could at least see their faces.  Joseph and Noel were never still, and Clara slept through it all.  I finally bribed Joseph and Noel with a cookie.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, 3 Elves in a Tub

  We are celebrating Joseph's second birthday tonight. It will be a Pizza Friday/Birthday event.  I can't wait to see how excited The Littles will all be. 

Another grandson is to arrive the end of February.  Joseph will make a fine big brother.



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jeepers Peepers

It has been almost a month since my last post. I have been enjoying life with my family, especially The Littles.

Last night was my daughter Kate's birthday. All her siblings and The Littles were able to here with us. What a joy watching Clara watching her cousins, Joseph and Noel.

Clara is five weeks old now. I have been taking photos of her, but her eyes are always closed in them. Her mommy finally got one with Clara's eyes opened.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nonna as Strawberry Shortcake

Nonna loves to dress-up. There were so many littles at the door this year, it was great fun!

Pizza Friday/Pumpkin Party

Our family gathers together every Friday evening for Pizza Friday. This week, we dressed the grandchildren in pumpkin jammies and hats. It was a riot trying to take a group photo of them. We had to bribe Joseph and Noel with a cookie to get them to even appear on the sofa. Clara's jammies were so big, her daddy tied the bottom in a knot. She is only ten days old in the photo.
Life is grand.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spaghetti and Pesto Trapanese

I love this recipe from Lidia Bastianich's TV program, Lidia's Italy. It is very similar to a dish my Nonna served when I was growing-up. Now, this Nonna enjoys feeding her family with this delicious, Sicilian dish!


Lidia Bastianich says: "The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean, and it is a cinch to make. It's important to make the pesto with the best ingredients, then just toss in the hot cooked spaghetti to coat it and enjoy."

3/4 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
12 large fresh basil leaves
1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for cooking the pasta
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry.

Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food-processor bowl, followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine puree; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived.

With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the puree into a thick pesto. Taste, and adjust seasoning. (If you're going to dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.)

To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl. Garnish with cheese.
Serves 4 to 6.

This Sicilian version of pesto is much lighter than the traditional basil/pine nut dish. It is quick and easy to make. You don't have to use spaghetti, you can substitute a different pasta. Also, in case you do not have fresh cherry tomatoes, you can try using canned tomatoes....just drain the liquid, but reserve it to add back if needed. I also reserve some of the cooked, pasta water, to add to the sauce, if I think it is not wet enough.
Maniare e gustare.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Nonna Rosa & Clara Rose then Mommy Jess and Clara Rose

Clara Rose

Clara Rose arrived at 1:13 PM on October 19, 2010. Our first granddaughter, after two, wonderful grandsons!

I was blest to witness her birth. My daughter and her husband did an outstanding job of working together to bring Clara into the world.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Clara.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Any day now, I will become a Nonna for the third time. My youngest, Jessica and her husband, Paul, are only hours or days away from the birth of their first child. It is all I can think about.

Jess, being Jess, has had everything ready for weeks. Paul has completed all the work on the baby's room. Now, we just wait.

Dear Baby,
We all are waiting for your arrival. You have been loved and cherished, even before we knew you were growing under your mommy's heart. We all are so anxious to meet you in person.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vegetarian Italian Wedding Soup

My family loves Italian Wedding Soup, but most versions contain meatballs and meat-based broth. I finally figured how to make this soup taste just as delicious (or more so), by substituting tiny cheese balls for the meatballs and using veggie broth.

We have this soup on all the major holidays, and it can be prepared ahead of time and frozen (except for the final step of adding the cheese balls). Here is Nonna's special recipe.

Vegetarian Style Italian Wedding Soup (serves eight)


Three Tablespoons butter

One small onion, chopped

Two cloves garlic, chopped

One large or two small heads of escarole , washed and chopped

8 Cups of water

2 Vegetable bouillon cubes

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

1 tsp. dried basil

2 Tablespoons salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup of arborio rice or small pasta

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, cooking on low for about five minutes. Then, add the chopped escarole, stirring to coat it with butter. Add the water,bouillon, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and rice. Simmer and cook for about thirty minutes, or until rice is cooked. At this point, you are done until right before serving, when you add the cheese balls to each serving.


1/2 cup grated Romano Cheese

1/2 grated Parmesano Cheese

1 Tsp. dried parsley

1 large egg

water as needed

Mix the cheeses, parsley and eggs by hand in a bowl. You want the mixture moist enough to roll into tiny balls. If it is too dry, add a small amount of water, as needed. Roll the cheese balls in your hand and place on a plate. When you are ready to serve your soup, put about four or five cheese balls into each individual serving bowl.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower with Olives

This is a side dish that goes molto buono with Italian food. It is easy-peasy. Read through the recipe, and you will see that it doesn't take much work.


1 large head cauliflower, trimmed & cut into bite-sized florets.
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (use a good quality olive oil here, for sure)
Sea Salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. fine grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (you can slice the olives in half, or not, I buy them prepitted, but be careful some pits are not left in them)
3 Tbsp. salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained.
1/4 tsp or more red chili flakes (I only use 1/4 tsp., but you could add more, if you like it spicy)

In large bowl, toss cauliflower with 3 Tbsp.olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on large baking sheet. Broil four inches beneath preheated broiler, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until lightly charred in spots and just tender. (be careful not to let them burn).

In small bowl, stir together remaining 3 Tbsp. oil with zest. Return cauliflower to large bowl. Add olives, capers, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Toss to mix well. Season with more pepper, if desired. You can serve this dish immediately, but I prefer to let it stand at room temperature for up to one hour, before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 side dishes, depending on the size of your cauliflower.

Fairy Doors

We have two fairy doors at our house. One, is next to the back door leading out, and the other is in our back garden. I guess you can say that I have a special interest in fairy doors. There are fairies at the bottom of our garden, and they need to feel welcomed.

My niece went to Ann Arbor, Michigan this past weekend. Who knew that Ann Arbor was famous for their fairy doors? My kind niece sent a photo of one of the doors she and her DH happened upon on their walk. I love the little treasures and trinkets scattered around the door for the fairies.

Here is a link to some more photos of the Ann Arbor doors.

by Rose Fyleman

There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!It's not so very, very far away;You pass the gardener's shed and you just keep straight ahead -I do so hope they've really come to stay.There's a little wood, with moss in it and beetles,And a little stream that quietly runs through;You wouldn't think they'd dare to come merry-making there -Well, they do.

There are fairies at the bottom of our garden! They often have a dance on summer nights; The butterflies and bees make a lovely little breeze,And the rabbits stand about and hold the lights.Did you know that they could sit upon the moonbeams And pick a little star to make a far,And dance away up there in the middle of the air?Well, they can.

There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!You cannot think how beautiful they are;They all stand up and sing when the Fairy Queen and KingCome gently floating down upon their car.The King is very proud and very handsome;The Queen - now can you guess who that could be(She's a little girl all day, but at night she steals away)?Well - it's ME!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli (macaroni and beans), was a standard Friday night dish when I was growing up. My mama's way of making this dish was meatless, which made it ideal for our meatless-Friday night meal. I still make this dish today, as it is inexpensive, fast, and most of all....delicious. It tastes even better if made the day before and it freezes well. Here is how we make Pasta Fagioli. This makes about six servings.


2 cloves garlic

1 small, chopped onion

1 or 2 finely chopped carrots

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. oregano


2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (red or white)

1 Tablespoon Tomato paste

1 cup water or wine


'1 pound of Small Macaroni (can be ditalini, small shells, elbow or whatever you have on hand)
a separate pot boiling, salted water to cook macaroni in


Grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese for serving.


Put the first 9 ingredients in pot. Stir and cook until the onions are clear, but do not burn.

Add the kidney beans and tomato paste. At his point I also add the wine or water. Bring to to very low simmer, cover and cook until carrots are done. (about 10 minutes or so). Give it a stir every so often, so the bottom doesn't burn.


I cook my macaroni in a separate pot of boiling, salted water. When it is al dente, (not mushy) drain the water from the macaroni, saving a cup or two of water aside. Add the cooked macaroni to the bean pot, continue cooking on low for about ten minutes. We like it fairly thick at our house, but if it seems too thick for your family, add a bit of the water you saved from the cooked macaroni.

Serve in soup bowls with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese on top. A nice piece of crusty Italian bread and a salad make a good meal. As I mentioned above, this dish is even better if it is made ahead of time and reheated.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


We live in the city, but we have a shady and welcoming back garden. When we sit in the garden, it is almost as if we are in the country, with lots of birds, wildlife (squirrels and raccoons), butterflies. and Cala (our dog).
A few years ago, we noticed a gnome or two working their way into our garden; moving closer and closer to the very back of the yard, near where the fairies live. The population of gnomes is now well over forty. Today, a few of the more friendlier gnomes have allowed me to post their photos on the blog. I hope you enjoy seeing them. Maybe, one day, the fairies will come out of hiding to be photographed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My name is Rosemary, also known as Nonna to my family. I come from an Italian-American family, born and raised in the USA. I married a man who was born into an Irish-American family. We moved to Canada almost 42 years ago, and have raised a family of four. (two boys, two girls) My wonderful children have given me loving daughter-in-laws, great son-in-laws, 2 grandsons, and there are two more grandchildren on the way! Life is good. I praise God for the gift of my family, and I hope to share the joy they give me with you.