Tag Archives: side

Of Puppies, Peppers and Potatoes

I want to thank all of you for your words of encouragement about my first steps into puppyhood. I think Chef Mimi is the one that best described what I was about to go through. She said “You are about to experience the worst times in your life, as well as the best times in your life“. She was absolutely right! Only, in my opinion, the worst times outnumber the best times by far!!! 

Let’s not talk about Sofia’s bathroom accidents or the every hour or so that we have to walk her out in this freezing cold weather or the sleep deprivation because she doesn’t sleep through the night. Let’s talk about the chewing and the nipping instead. Just a few descriptive adjectives: constant, unstoppable, devastating. My once lovely and perfect kitchen is a total mess and my once beautiful and spotless hardwood floors are always dirty. Sofia is a bundle of energy that needs constant supervision and training. Every evening, after a seemingly endless day, when she finally falls asleep and I use my last drops of strength to vaguely tidy up my once perfectly organized house, I can’t help but notice a new “gift” left by Sofia’s sharp baby teeth on a piece of furniture. Needless to say, most of the times, it is a piece of furniture that I am particularly attached to because either it is fairly expensive or it took me forever to find. So I go to bed every night with this physical pain in my chest, in a kind of mourning for my cabinet or a chair’s leg, as the case may be, repeating to myself “try not to think about it because Sofia will be up in the blink of an eye”. 

Potato and Pepper Side

When I got pregnant with Her Majesty, I did not read any books about babies and/or motherhood nor did I attend any preparatory class. I entered that hospital labor room thoughtless and clueless. Same thing with Sofia. That sneaky husband of mine did all the puppy reading and disclosed to me only 10% of what he had learned, knowing that, had I been well informed, I would most likely have changed my mind again.

So if I may, let me give a word of advice to anyone of you that is considering getting a puppy: make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Beside the workload that is required of you which, believe me, is humongous, I have come to the conclusion that your heart must have a special disposition to sacrifice yourself, your time and your things for the sake of the happiness of your puppy. Does my heart have it? The jury is still out on that! 😉

Potato and Pepper SideI guess by now and with the above being said, you have started realizing that cooking has not been one of my priorities lately. I simply cannot afford to devote more than 30 minutes to make a dish. Like this peppers and potatoes side dish. As you may notice, it is a pretty basic one, with only few ingredients. When I want to spice it up, I add some tomatoes and harissa, but I cannot do it when my mom is around because my family recipe does not call for them and my mom does not like when I… “tamper” with her recipes. Once again, the quality of the ingredients is paramount in this dish as there is no seasoning other than salt. 

Ingredients:

1 cup, extravirgin olive oil
5 potatoes
5 peppers
8/9 cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 Tsp, harissa (optional)
Salt 

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and slice them (about 1/4 thick). Cut the peppers into halves and slice them as you would with an apple.

In a large skillet, pour the olive oil, add the potato slices, the pepper slices and some salt (to taste). Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10/15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the harissa and keep cooking for another 10/15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Et voila! Ready by the time of one of Sofia’s naps! 

I wish you all a super fun and relaxing Super Bowl weekend! 

When Kidlandia meets Foodlandia – Part 2: the Princess and the pea (& ham)

Peas and prosciutto side dishPeas… such a kid-friendly shape veggie and still I have yet to hear a kid say “I love peas!” Who can blame them after all? Have you noticed how these little green fellas are generally served to those innocent tummies? Boiled, maybe with some butter if they get lucky… totally tasteless! I wouldn’t eat them unless I found myself starving on a desert island, so why should children?

What are you saying? Ah! Your kid is a picky eater! Well, let me tell you what I think about picky eaters and please, please don’t take it personally because it’s just my opinion and not the truth about the Holy Grail’s whereabouts. I tend to believe that picky eaters do not really exist: oftentimes it is the parents who do not try hard enough. Ouch, I know!!! Why do I think that? But because I was one of those parents (shame on me)!

During the first three years in my daughter’s life, her majesty didn’t eat anything but milk and fruit. I was feeding her kid’s food (including the contents of those bland, tasteless baby food jars), without putting much effort into it, and she simply refused to swallow it. Every meal was a fight. Every meal was a defeat! Oh gosh! I used to hate meal time!

Then, one day, it just struck me: maybe she wanted something else, maybe she was ready for real, grown-up food. Next thing I remember is me holding a pen and a notepad and calling my mother for my first cooking class ever. That’s how I started, that’s how everything started. 🙂

The recipe I’m sharing today is a classic side dish of the Italian cuisine. Every Italian family has their own recipe. This is how it goes in my house.

Ingredients:

A quarter of a small onion
4 small (or 2 large) slices of ham
1 1/2 Tbsp, butter
1 Tsp, extravirgin olive oil
1/2 pound, peas
1 cup, beef broth
salt

Directions:

Peas and prosciutto side dishChop the onion. Cut the ham into slices and cut the slices into cubes.

In a medium non-stick pot, put 1 Tbsp of butter and pour the oil. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 1 or 2 minutes on a very low heat. Add the ham cubes and keep cooking, stirring often, until the onion cubes soften.

Add the peas, some salt (to taste) and the broth. Keep cooking, stirring often, until the broth completely evaporates and the peas are tender (if the peas are not completely cooked yet after the evaporation of the broth, add some water until the peas get tender).

If you want to make the dish extra moist, once the peas are ready, add a 1/2 Tbsp of butter, toss to coat and serve.

Extra Tip: Although this dish was born as a side dish, sometimes I serve it to her majesty with some pasta. When the peas are almost ready, put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. When the water is boiling add some pasta (I usually use butterflies) and cook it until al dente. Drain the pasta, put it in the pot with the peas and toss to coat. If you want, you can even dust the top of the dish with some grated parmigiano cheese.

Just give it a try. Who knows? Maybe your picky eater will like this. 🙂

We have a couple of rules that we developed with our daughter during the years that – I think – are worth sharing.

First, we taste a dish at least twice before putting it in the “I don’t like it” category.

Second, since her majesty was able to articulate her thoughts, I have been asking her to explain to me why she doesn’t like a particular dish so that I can change the recipe accordingly. And it usually works!

Of course, these rules are not carved in stone… just a little bit of mom-kid experience that I would like to share out there. Quoting Sid from Ice Age: “Worth a shot”! 😉

Tomato green beans and the need to spice my diet up

Green beans and tomatoesSpring is a synonym of many things to me. One of those things is… diet. Yup, spring coincides with the opening of my dieting season. My season usually lasts about three months. Why? Because at the end of June, I will go to Italy for a summer vacation and face the judgment of the fiercest people on earth: my so-called friends and acquaintances. They will greet me with one eye and with the other eye they will weigh every single organ of my body to check if I gained weight during the last year.  😉

I know what you are thinking: I shouldn’t care but I do and, to be honest, I dare anyone to find a woman who deep inside doesn’t. Plus, Italian women are all about being skinny and in shape and I’m afraid I’m not different. Unfortunately, I do not belong to that category of women that lose weight just breast-feeding or chasing their kids (by the way, have you ever met one of those women in real life?) Shedding even a single pound requires a Gargantuan effort on my part and year after year it is getting harder and harder and the results less and less satisfying. I guess it is the aging factor along with the metabolism slow-down that I just cannot defeat. 😉

Anyway, a few days ago, I was about to eat the nth, very-sad looking plate of steamed green beans while I was asking myself what I did wrong to deserve such a punishment. Then I remembered a very simple yet tasty recipe for green beans that my mom used to make a few years ago. Of course, next thing I did was asking her to refresh my memory about the details of her recipe.

Sure, it has a few more calories than a mere steamed green bean dish, but at least it is something to look forward to eating either at lunch or dinner without feeling too guilty 😉

Ingredients:

1/2 cup, extravirgin olive oil
1 garlic clover
4 cups of green beans
10 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup, capers (optional)
red pepper flakes
salt

Directions:

Green beans and tomatoesCut the tomatoes in halves. If you decide to add the capers, remember to put them in a cup with some water at least 20 minutes before using them and then to rinse them under some tap water before putting them in the skillet.

Put the olive oil and the garlic in a large non-stick skillet and brown the garlic. When the oil has gotten the garlic flavor, throw the garlic away and add the tomatoes and some salt (to taste). Toss to coat and cook, on a very low heat, for about 5 minutes.

Add the green beans, the capers and some red pepper flakes  (to taste) and toss to coat. Cook on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20/30 minutes.

To those of you who are in my shoes, I wish you a very happy dieting! 🙂