Old country cooking

August 20, 2010 3 comments

Hey guys,

While I was driving to school to do some work and drop off my schedule (I get to see clients in the fall –  woohoo!) I was thinking of ….



Anyhoo, I was thinking of what I wanted to eat for lunch and suddenly I started thinking of all the things my nonna used to make.  The more I though about it, the more I realized that what she made was delicious and for the most part, relatively healthy. The woman loved bread and cheese, but cooked veggies like nobody’s business. So I have compiled a list of the meals nonna made (both the healthy and not so healthy) that I will try to cook and adapt. I am already more than sure these won’t be even half as good as hers, but even stuff that is half as good as hers is probably pretty good. 😉

1. Green beans in tomato sauce.

2. Cabbage rolls (I am a punk and didn’t want to try them until the last time she made them… they were AMAZING)

3. Biscotti with almond (ps.  you pronounce is as BIZ-COAT-TEE)

4. Veggie Pizza

5.  Rice and peas (She was sneaky… we’d see her making rice or pasta and get excited and then – BAM she snuck peas in there! It was still great)

6.  Tomato sauce – both pomodoro and meat sauce

7. Mineststrone (I feel good about this one… I’m a soup maker at heart)

8. Spaghetti with meatballs

9.  Stew aka spezzatino di Manzo… That should read beef stew 🙂

10.  Chicken cacciatore (my mom makes this  – I have to include this because it’s so flippin’ good!)

11.  Frittatas (like an omelet)

12. Cannelloni (I think of it like an Italian enchilada)

13. Gnocchi!

14. Roasted chicken and potatoes

15. Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans)

16. Pork chop sandwiches.

That last one still cracks me up. When my brother, cousins and I would get home from school, we had a pre-dinner waiting for us usually. My favorite was her pork chop sandwich. I don’t know if I will ever forget the smell! Rosemary, olive oil, pork… She would wipe the oil out of the pan with the french bread she would use for the sandwich. DELICIOUS.

So I may add more to the list as I go. Being that I am trying to be relatively healthy here, I may adapt some of the recipes. I’m excited for this new project!  Today I am going to try the green beans in tomato sauce. I’ll keep you updated!!

Categories: Old Country Cooking

On being where you need to be…

August 19, 2010 3 comments

Good afternoon all!

I have had a busy few days! School, projects, and friends have gladly occupied my time. I find it so interesting that even though I am not working I still feel as busy… BUT I get more sleep, I’m in a better mood, and feel like a better student by leaps and bounds. I can’t believe I taught and did school FULL TIME for a year. If I ever try to do that again, you can slap me. I do hope to sub at the old school I worked at, as there are some great kids and adults alike I miss already! Yesterday I caught up with two of my kids who graduated in June. I had the best time catching up and tried my best to not be in teacher mode. I was helping one of them with her résumé and had to remind myself not to grade her. Haha, I kid, I kid. I knew I had to leave work because school was simply all-consuming, but when I look back, I am so grateful that I spent that time there. I don’t talk about my faith much, and I definitely think it’s a “to each his own” kind of issue, but I believe, for me, God puts you where you need to be.

After an ill-fated attempt to be in journalism school (I didn’t last long… At the end of the day I wanted to help in a different way), I ended up back in town and had almost four months to kill before going back to teaching. I got to spend those four months seeing my nonna all the time.  Whether it was divine or a simple, heartbreaking coincidence, those were four of the last five months of her life. She wasn’t alone.  We were like kids in a candy store some days, drinking coffee, being bad asses, and eating like kings every time we went out.  Today is the anniversary of her death. I am watching cooking shows and think about her. The shock fades, as does the heartbreak. I never thought I could laugh again. I never thought time would keep going without her. It does friends.

So where am I supposed to be now? Right here. Writing, learning, loving, fighting (I get that feisty stuff from my mom ;)).

Annnnyhoo, I am off to get ready for this mixed up evening. At school we have a “community meeting” … none of us know what this means. haha. Then we’re hitting up a comedy show tonight. It should be fun! Tomorrow it’s back to Cinderella, pre-ball… I’m spending the day cleaning, cooking and being all kinds of domestic. I am working on a project for the blog as well!

Love you all!

Categories: Uncategorized

Everything soup and school review, oh my!

August 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Hey everyone!

Yesterday was pretty amazing for so many reasons!

1. I woke up early, dragged my decaffeinated butt to Starbucks and worked on a project for school for HOURS! I love productivity!

2. I got a call informing me that….. I will officially be a trainee starting in the Fall! I cannot believe it’s been almost a year since starting grad school 🙂 Now I cannot imagine NOT knowing my classmates or professors. I have to say my clinical skill professor is probably one of the best teachers I have EVER had. He is so tough on us, but it is somehow ok. He is ridiculously blunt. One day he said, “why do I intimidate you?” Who says that?? He does! He still does intimidate me, but I make him laugh, so I feel like he gets me . He is also the only person who has said to me, ” I’m here to beat you up, you don’t have to do it to yourself.” Last quarter we did a review and somehow, he picked up on EVERY insecurity I had (later I found out he pretty much did this to all of us, which made me feel better.haha) and made me rethink those things that I just couldn’t let go of… slowly but surely, those things that used to bother me about myself are fading like a scar does. It’s still there, but you don’t quite remember how you got it.  Anyhoo, SUPER EXCITED about this whole process!

3. I made soup! It really is a simple pleasure, but I love making tasty food! I found this recipe in

It was a Bacon and Greens soup. While it was the inspiration, I ended up changing it up a lot! It’s almost like an everything soup. You could switch out any ingredients. The original recipe called for kale, but I have tons of spinach so I used it instead. The use of “real bacon” was in the original recipe, but I don’t dig it, so I used Turkey bacon! The thing I really stuck to here was the use of chicken STOCK. I will never use broth again! I cannot tell you how much richer the taste to the soup was. It cannot compare. The best part is that I got unsalted chicken stock… no pesky sodium to worry about! here’s how it went down:

Turkey bacon, onion, garlic, zucchini, broccoli, stock white beans, spinach

olive oil, onion and garlic...sweating it out!

The smell at this point was heavenly… It reminded me of my nonna for some reason. She would make frittatas but I don’t remember her using bacon. It must have just been the onion. I have always heard that smells bring back memories:)

Look at that chicken stock people!! I only added garlic salt and red and black pepper to taste! I’m a little obsessed!

and now onto my secret ingredients that I use for most things…

I have made the mistake in the past to use way too much tomato paste. Just a reminder to all: It is 2-3x concentrated in the tube! I only used about a teaspoon – perfection!

my inspiration next to my reality!

Here’s the breakdown:

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cups of chicken stock, unsalted (or vegetable broth… you can omit the turkey bacon and chicken too. Add your choice of protein 🙂 )

2 cups of water

1-2 zucchini (I used one)

1 handful of broccoli florets ( I like to pull the florets apart a bit to cook faster)

4 slices of turkey bacon

2-3 oz chicken (I didn’t plan to add this, but I had some oven roasted chicken and just thought, what the hell 🙂 )

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

3 handfuls of spinach

salt, red and black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of concentrated tomato paste

I am way too much like my nonna in a measuring sense. Do what looks right! haha.

I sweated the onion and garlic out, then added the turkey bacon and let them cook together. Then I turned up the fire and added the stock and water. When it began to boil, in went the broccoli and zucchini. After about 5 minutes I added the beans and spinach as they need only about 10 minutes. After looking through the fridge, I added the chicken (already cooked). To spice it up a bit I used the tiny amount of tomato paste and added more red pepper!  Altogether the soup making process should take about 20-25 minutes!

It is rich and delicious!

Off to have coffee with an old student and help her with her résumé! Love you guys!!

Categories: Uncategorized


August 11, 2010 1 comment

Kind of super excited for tomorrow I can’t sleep! I get to see my friend and American Studies IDOL  Alicia in one of my favorite places ever: Davis! I miss that old place so much. My mom is laughing while reading this right now as I pretty much complained about it during my first year at school! A girl is entitled to change her mind 😉  Anyhoo, I love Alicia and cannot wait to see her, hug her and wish her well on her grad school adventure. I also plan to hit up Borders and pretend I can get any book I want… and unfortunately leave with just a chai latte… I can dream right?

After seeing Alicia and being a kid in a candy (book) store I get to hang with my pal McCarty and reminisce. She’s moving as well and I’ll miss her a lot.

You know what I won’t miss? Assignments for school! I am counting the days until our break! We get almost a month off which sounds kind of great right now 🙂 Seriously though, I cannot complain. Everything is good. I have good friends, great family and live with great people (maybe if I compliment them they will actually read their favorite roomie’s blog?). Love you guys!

Night..er… Morning!!

Categories: Uncategorized

I want to hold your hand.

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

I was turning off my computer for the night when I saw Blanche grabbing Sofia’s hand on my FAVORITE show, Golden Girls and felt inspired to write instead.  When my nonna was alive we would sit in her kitchen and for no reason at all I would grab her hand and hold it tight. I have no idea why. Maybe I could sense her confusion or loneliness or disconnection from what she knew; other times maybe it was my own similar feelings. When we sat silently holding hands, I felt such a connection to her. When it is difficult to communicate with people, actions definitely speak louder than words. It could be dumb to think a simple gesture meant anything to her, but years later it still means something to me.

What would it be like for us to be conscious of our kindness? As easy as it may seem, life is busy people. Sometimes the nicest thing I do all day is bite my tongue (just kidding). Seriously though, occasionally I think it is important to reassess how we treat people. Sometimes all someone needs is a flipping hug, or a word of encouragement, or a quarter or a smile. Some of the nicest things that have ever been done for me were small but important. Sometimes I wonder if nonna needed me to hold her or if I needed her to hold me. At the end of the day I’m not even sure it even mattered. All I know is that there is no substitute for human contact, for kindness or empathy.

Jeez people, look what watching Golden Girls will spark for someone 😉

Categories: Uncategorized

Spicing things up a bit…

August 8, 2010 Leave a comment


Let’s get down to business!

Friday I surprised my mom and dropped by for her birthday with some, Brie, pita crackers and Peet’s coffee….oh and flowers and some more Peet’s b-day  love.  My parents are getting their driveway re-paved so we stayed at home. My dad was there and my uncle ended up coming over so it was very comfortable and reminded me of old times. Since my nonna died, it has been hard to see family. Her house was sort of our gathering place, and now that she is gone we don’t have that “home base”. I am happy to see our house can become that. I love that my uncle or cousins can come over and hang out. It warms my heart and I know my nonna would be proud of my mom for keeping everything together. I couldn’t ask for a stronger mom…she keeps me in line and what little attitude I have in check. Thanks mom!

I always find it interesting that the things we want to change sometimes stay stagnant and the things we find to be our foundations change all the time. My family and our dynamics were the same for so long and in the last year and a half, EVERYTHING has changed. I am finding things work so much better when we stop fighting change. It happens. My education status has changed as well as my career. Accepting the idea that teaching and being in grad school simultaneously had to end and I had to choose was a little difficult. At the end of the day I chose what was right for me and know grad school was the right choice. My self-image has changed the most. I am not quite sure when it happened but it did. Maybe it was realizing I was the best version of me there ever would be! Maybe I realized I was a beautiful person on the inside so screw anyone who couldn’t see me for who I am? Maybe the Master’s program in counseling psych had something to do with it, or I simply matured. I grew up! Who knew it was possible? 😉

I also find myself going off on a deep thought on this blog… what I meant to say was that I was thinking of trying something new!


So I think of myself as a writer in that I like to write. After getting some encouragement from peeps, I decided to at least look into freelancing. The schedule (or lack of) might work with my school schedule. At the very least I would be getting to do something I love to do. No promises but I think I am up for trying something different!

I am also planning to spruce up my blog a bit… I want to do more recipes, have more body image focused posts and most of all live. it. up.

join me?

Off to a Sunday class on depression and suicide… ahhh the life of a counseling psych grad student… I’m in such a good mood, I kind of wish I could be sitting outside of Starbucks reading this instead!



Categories: Uncategorized

Hey hey.

August 5, 2010 2 comments

Hey! who takes Benadryl, makes dinner and falls asleep on the couch?

This one!

I woke up this morning feeling settled in everything that yesterday brought to me. Being a therapist is what I want more than anything. I am excited to make it my focus. For the last year, it has been split and now I have the time to make it mine. I think I will try to volunteer somewhere that focuses on body image and eating disorder prevention or wellness. It’s a funny thing to think about how we get so distracted from our goals.

Anyhoo, enough of that. Today I am changing everything… ok, that’s dramatic. I am cleaning my room and writing. I forgot how much I loved writing. A million years ago I thought I would be one. My dad used to write short stories and wanting to be like him, I did the same. I think I shall start it up again. The blog has been a great way for me to rediscover this passion.

For those of you who know me, when did I become this laid back, yet driven creative type? I am constantly surprised with the way I am growing as a person.  🙂

Categories: Uncategorized