A Traditional Italian Meal


Here's a Traditional Italian Dinner I served to our family with six courses that lasted over 2 hours. This type of meal is more like an "event"--perhaps on a Sunday afternoon with family and friends and plan for plenty of visiting in-between courses. Because there are so many courses, the portions are quite small. It was such fun learning about the courses of an Italian dinner and the wines to serve with each dish. Here's to Italian Food! 
Buon Appetito!

Cheese, Pistachios, Salami, and Olives, served with Pinot Grigio
First Course - Antipasto - "Before the Meal" similar to appetizers in America.

Fettuccine with Truffle Butter and Sourdough Baguettes served with Chardonnay
Second Course - Primo - A pasta dish, risotto, gnocchi, or soup served with a hard bread.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin and Zucchini Boats served with Pinot Noir
Third Course - Secondo with Cortorno - A meat dish with a vegetable.

Spinach Salad with Fig Dressing served with Sauvignon Blanc
Fourth Course - Insalata - A salad, served after the main dish to cleanse your palate before dessert.

Crescent Lined Baked Brie with Apricots served with a Sweet Riesling
Fifth Course - Formaggio e Frutta - Cheese and Fruit

Cannoli with Ricotta Filling served with Prosecco followed by a cup of coffee
Sixth Course - Dulce - A final sweet or dessert

See more Italian Menu Ideas HERE.

Fettuccine with Pesto

Here's a delicious side dish to make before the frost gets your herbs! 

2 whole heads garlic
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup each loosely packed fresh parsley and basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound Fettuccine (homemade recipe HERE)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tops for the garlic and wrap each in tinfoil, drizzling each head with 1 tablespoon olive oil and seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast until softened, 45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Squeeze the roasted garlic into a food processor. Add pine nuts, parsley and basil and red pepper flakes. Process to make a paste, and while machine is running, add 6 tablespoons olive oil. Scrape pesto into a serving bowl. 

In a large pot, bring water to boil, adding a tablespoon of salt to the water. Cook fettuccine to al dente. Using tongs, move pasta to the bowl of pesto and gently fold to mix. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a little pasta water to the dish if it seems too dry. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan to serve. Serves 4-6.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Pumpkin Walnut Scones


Pumpkin isn't necessarily my "favorite" ingredient, but these scones are wonderfully delicious. Our family loves them!

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup half and half
1 egg
1/2 cup English walnuts

Cream Cheese Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Cut in butter with knife or fork until mixture is crumbly. Add pumpkin, half and half, egg, and walnuts. Stir into flour mixture and work together until completely mixed. Pat out onto a floured surface. Cut into eight pieces and place each in lightly greased scone pan. Press to form into the pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan.

In small bowl, combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth and creamy. While scones are still warm, drizzle cream cheese icing over tops. Makes 8.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Kathy McKinsey's Boston Brown Bread

Kathy McKinsey grew up on a pig farm in Missouri, and although she’s lived in cities for nearly 40 years, she still considers herself a farm girl. She’s been married to Murray for 32 years, and they have five adult children. She’s had two careers before writing—stay-at-home-Mom and rehabilitation teacher for the blind. She lives in Lakewood, Ohio with her husband and two of her children. Besides writing, she enjoys activities with her church, editing for other writers, braille transcribing, crocheting, knitting, and playing with the cat and dog. Learn more about her and her writing HERE. 

Kathy's Latest Book Release: Millie's Christmas
Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie’s best friend, so she’s sure Ruthie’s right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?

Millie, an orange kitten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas—food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus!

Millie’s friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.

When Ruthie’s big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can’t visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie’s family love each other through the sadness, and find joy in Christmas. Buy the book HERE.

Kathy's Boston Brown Bread

My mom baked this every year at Christmas, and I believe I’ve managed to do the same most of the 32 years of my marriage.

2 cups water
2 cups raisins
2 tablespoons margarine
2 heaping teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 eggs

Boil water; Add raisins, margarine, and baking soda. Let this mixture soak for four or five hours. Then add cinnamon, flour, sugar, and eggs. Mix and pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.

Variation: For cute round loaves, pour into, and bake in, four or five 15 or 16 ounce vegetable cans.

Lemon Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Here's a quick and easy recipe when serving Salmon to your family. Serve with Rice and Barley Pilaf and Glazed Sweet Potatoes. Enjoy!

16 oz. frozen salmon fillets
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Place fish in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle each with olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon pepper and salt. Bake at 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with fork.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, combine orange juice, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, cornstarch and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. To serve, pour sauce over salmon. Serves 4.
Wine Suggestion: Cambria Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Octoberfest Recipes

Being Lutheran, our family always enjoys Octoberfest and German food. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to try this month.

Apple Fritters

See more German recipe ideas HERE.

Black Currant Biscuits (Cookies)


I have to admit that I have been a bit obsessed with English teas this past year. Here's a biscuit (cookie) my daughters and I love to serve with a hot pot of tea. 

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cups dried black currants (not raisins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add pieces of butter to bowl, and rub into flour with fingers, until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together milk and egg. Reserve 2 tablespoons of milk mixture to use as egg wash for the top of the biscuits later. Add remaining milk mixture to flour, mixing in to make a dough. 

Tear off a piece of parchment paper (12x15") and lightly flour. Roll dough into a 12x10" rectangle. Sprinkle black currants evenly over one half of the dough. Place the other half of the dough onto the top of the dried fruit. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 15x8" rectangle. It will resemble the thickness of a pie crust. Placed the dough that is on the parchment paper, onto a large baking sheet. Using a fork or pie docker, poke holes in the dough. Using a pasta wheel cut the dough in half the long way and then into 1" strips to form biscuits. Do not separate. Spread dough with egg wash. Bake biscuits 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cook on wire racks and break apart. Makes 30 biscuit cookies. Serve with your favorite cuppa tea.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Sourdough English Muffins


My adventures with sourdough has led me to try my hand at homemade English muffins. They are so easy to make and so good to eat. We've been enjoying them with butter and jelly, and also as an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich for breakfast.

1 cup "fed" sourdough starter (Recipe HERE.)
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
cornmeal for coating

In large mixing bowl combine starter, warm water, butter, sugar, yeast, salt, dry milk, whole-wheat flour, and 1 cup all-purpose flour. Mix well. Gradually add enough remaining all-purpose flour and knead to form a smooth dough. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1-2 hours until noticeably puffy. Gently deflate the dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes to relax the gluten. Divide the dough in half. Roll each 1/2" thick and cut in 3" rounds until all of dough is used. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.

Place the rounds, on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal, 12 per sheet. Sprinkle rounds with additional cornmeal. Cover and let rise 1 hour until light and puffy. Transfer rounds to a preheated griddle (low heat). Cook the muffins for 5 minutes, and then place the bottom of a large cookie sheet on top to help flatten the muffins. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Turn muffins and cook for another 5 minutes, being careful not to burn the sides. Remove the muffins from the griddle and cool on a wire rack.

*If muffins aren't cooked through to the middle, place muffins on a baking sheet in a 325 degree oven and bake for 5-10 minutes. Store in zip bags for 3-4 days or freeze for longer storage. Makes 20-24 muffins.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Gail Kittleson's Quick Mushroom Soup

An Iowa farm girl, Gail Kittleson appeared with thick glasses and a pile of books at the local library counter every Saturday. After earning her MA in TESOL, she taught English as a Second Language and college expository writing. After publishing a memoir, the World War II bug bit her and she’s never been quite the same. 

Gail’s husband Lance has deployed with the Army several times, and says between him and their son, she has experienced more deployments than anyone in the family. He shares her delight in historical research, their grandchildren and gardening.

The desire to increase appreciation for the tremendous sacrifices veterans have made for our freedom motivates Gail's work. She also loves cheering other writers through facilitating workshops. Learn more about Gail HERE.

Gail's Latest Book Release - Until Then 

March 3, 1943 - Bethnal Green, London’s East End

Shortly after a quarter past eight, a siren split the air. Marian Williams lifted her sleeping daughter from her bed and darted down the stairs. Her mother and father-in-law, off on air warden duty, had left the front door unlocked. She hugged her youngest child close. The blackout made the going difficult, but her husband’s instructions echoed in her brain: “Whatever you do, get down inside the station fast as you can.”

She hoped for a spot near the canteen, with access to milk. Uneven light shone over the paved steps. Then she tripped. Her knee hit the concrete, then something bashed her left side. Someone cried out. Another blow scraped her arm on the landing floor. Where was her baby? She attempted to get up, but an even heavier weight slammed her face down. A crushing burden descended, then all went black.

Riding in the backs of Army trucks across North Africa, throughout the Sicily campaign, up the boot of Italy, and northward through France into Germany, Dorothy Woebbeking served as a surgical nurse with the 11th Evacuation Hospital.

During World War II, US Army nurses worked and slept in tents through horrific weather, endured enemy fire, and even the disdain of their own superior officers, who believed women had no place in war. But Dorothy and her comrades persevered, and their skills and upbeat attitude made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers. Dorothy and Marian’s stories converge on a simple, hand stitched handkerchief. Buy the book HERE.

Gail's Quick Mushroom Soup

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a soup pot. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour with 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms. Gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and stir until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 1-2.

Vinegar Chicken Thighs with Green Beans


Here's an easy one pot recipe to make for your family this week. 

6 skinless boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to season
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1" cubes
1 pound fresh green beans, broken into halves
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 3 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Arrange chicken thighs in pot and cook, turning once to brown. Add onion, carrots, and green beans. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine vinegar, broth, tomato paste, and garlic. 

Pour over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Cover with lid and transfer to oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until chicken is tender. Let rest 10 minutes. Serves 4-6
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's a chewy cookie recipe when you're craving chocolate and peanuts.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted peanuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, margarine, and sugars. Add eggs, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Makes 4-6 dozen, depending on size.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Susan Miura's Amaretti Cookies


Faith, family, and a passion for nature, writing, and photography nurture Susan Miura’s soul. She loves to visit the world’s amazing places and has a travel bucket list that includes the Northern Lights, sunsets anywhere, Jamaica’s Luminous Lagoon, and basically anything that glows. Her background includes several years as a newspaper and television reporter in the Chicago suburbs and Albuquerque before switching to public relations. Susan is the author of three young adult novels: Healer (2018), Shards of Light (just released), and Show Me a Sign (2014). Her poetry and wildlife photos are featured in her children’s book, Pawprints in the Snow: How God Protects Animals from the Cold (2017), and she has short stories published in three anthologies. Susan is president of the American Christian Fiction Writers Chicago Chapter and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Learn more about Susan HERE.
Susan's Latest Book Release: Shards of Light (Book 2 in the Healer series)

Ice crystalizes around Shilo’s heart, threatening to plunge her into darkness as she’s gripped by evil. And it is only Week Two of her summer-long exile to Sicily. But Shilo will face the evil, and the torment of missing Kenji, because the reason she crossed an ocean is worth that and more.  Becoming a Healer has already led to danger and heartache, but it is nothing compared to what lies ahead. High on Mt. Etna, in a centuries-old convent, Shilo will unravel the mysteries of her healing power, discover the horrors of human trafficking, witness heroic feats propelled by courage and faith, and suffer the unbearable pain of another loss.

On a ballet stage halfway around the world, Melody grand jet├ęs into a life-changing moment. But after years of strenuous preparation, something goes terribly wrong. When she regains consciousness, her ballet dreams lie shattered, piercing Melody with shards of hopelessness. What is life without ballet? And how will she survive this ordeal without Shilo? As Melody struggles to piece together the fragments of her broken life, she reflects on the Nigerian-Russian parents she never knew, and a pair of hauntingly familiar ebony eyes. Buy Susan's book HERE.

Susan's Amaretti Cookies

October is Italian Heritage month, and these soft, chewy Italian cookies represent my Sicilian heritage and are among my top favorite desserts. They are also one of the foods mentioned in Shards of Light, which is partly set in Sicily. They may appear plain, but they explode with almond flavor and have a fantastic texture. You’ll be amazed at what can result from just three ingredients. 

1 cup castor (superfine) sugar*
2 large egg whites
1 8 oz. can (or 7 oz. tube) almond paste (DO NOT use almond filling, which is very different.)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. This is important, as these cookies will stick to the pan without parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place sugar and almond paste into mixing bowl and crumble together with your fingers, then use a mixer to finish combining. Add egg whites in two batches and continue mixing until batter is smooth: 3 to 4 minutes.

Use a tablespoon or piping bag to mound batter onto cookie sheet, about two inches apart. At this point, you can place them in the oven “as is” or choose to add a little color or texture with sprinkles, colored sugar, sliced or slivered almonds or pecans, or unsweetened coconut. These cookies are already very sweet, so if you add a sweet topping, do it sparingly. Bake for 13 -15 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing. A metal spatula works best. Place on rack to finish cooling before storing in an airtight container.

*Caster, or superfine sugar, is just smaller granules of regular sugar. You can buy it at most grocery stores or easily make it by pulsing regular granulated sugar in your blender or Magic Bullet. Be careful not to go too long or you’ll have powdered sugar.