Restaurant Review – Luciano’s, Wrentham MA

Restaurants in Wrentham, Ma. appear to be on my list of favorites lately. Luciano’s is one of them. My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. Where to go? Saw a Facebook post from Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA with a picture of their baked stuffed lobster and I was sold. We have been to Luciano’s before, but not since before Covid, so this was going to be a treat.

Established in 1991, Luciano’s is hidden away in a very unassuming location on Rte. 1 in Wrentham, MA. When you enter you are brought back to a classic Italian steak house of old. Great bar with weekend entertainment and a classic, sophisticated ambiance. This was just the “lets get dressed up and celebrate” location that we were looking for.

As we were being seated it occurred to me, “What if the baked stuffed lobster was a special that night and not available tonight…. I should have called first!”

Our waiter was wonderful and told us the long and complicated list of specials (Baked stuffed lobster was there!!). Explaining them all perfectly. I ordered a chardonnay and my husband got the house red wine. I don’t usually go for red wine, but the waiter’s recommendation was fantastic. The waiter noticed me stealing sips and brought a glass for me, so my husband could be left in peace with his drink. This is the kind of service and attention to detail that Luciano’s is famous for. We started our meal with the focaccia and Italian bread with olive oil for dipping. I could have had this for my meal alone it was so good.

For the appetizer we got the classic shrimp cocktail to share. It was prepared perfectly and served ice cold. For something so simple it is so easy to get wrong. They did not get this wrong. It was wonderful. We knew we were getting big meals, so we did not want to fill up on appetizers.

Ordering for me was easy and I told the waiter it was the Facebook post that got me here. He let me know that I would not be disappointed. He was correct. I cannot even remember how long it has been since I had a baked stuffed lobster. A very classic dish that isn’t on a lot of menus these days. It was my late mother’s favorite and I cannot help but have fond memories of this wonderful woman while I am eating it. Anyone who knows me knows that I feel food is love and food is memories and this meal checked off quite a few of those boxes.

The lobster came and to say I was speechless was an understatement. A two and a half pound lobster, prepared and stuffed to perfection. I actually couldn’t even finish it. The waiter chuckled at my reaction. I brought the leftovers home and my college student, home for the summer, finished it in a flash.

My husband got the Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romana and was thrilled with it. I am not a huge fan of veal normally, but I would order this. It was an amazing dish. I had every intention of getting dessert because it was a special occasion but I was just too full to get anything else.

Going to Luciano’s was the perfect choice for this special occasion. The waiter even noticed the breast cancer pin on my purse and asked if I was a survivor. I am and this year will be five years since my diagnosis and we had a very sincere chat and I appreciated his thoughtfulness. As we were waiting for the check, there were a few elderly ladies sitting across from us having a grand celebration of some sort. One woman had a walker and was tired and was having a hard time using the walker on the carpet. This wonderful man that was our waiter (I wish I could remember his name), had her sit in a chair and he slid the chair across the rug until she was in a place to use the walker more easily. He was charming and made her feel special and she had a great smile on her face throughout the whole adventure.

I cannot recommend Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA any more highly. It is the perfect special occasion restaurant. But let’s be honest, life is short, every day should be a special occasion.

Café Assisi, Wrentham MA – Restaurant Review

Now that life is getting back to normal (Crossing my fingers here, that we keep on a positive trend) it is time to start to returning to our favorite restaurants. As a recent cancer patient, I think we have held out a little longer than most. But we are active take-out customers. One of our favorite haunts, that was our regular Friday night destination before Covid hit, is this cute little, local, Italian restaurant in Wrentham, MA called Café Assisi. It is so important to support our local businesses, they have struggled so much and for the ones that made and survived we need to make sure they thrive. These are our friends and neighbors, the ones that make donations for school fundraisers and pour their heart and soul into their business and make this our community. For a couple that loves nothing more than going into the North End of Boston for dinner, this hidden gem in Wrentham, MA is a godsend and most likely responsible for some extra pounds I have been trying to get rid of.

When you support a small business, you support a dream.

-Unknown

Café Assisi is a little Italian bistro hidden in a corner of Wrentham, Ma, right around the corner from the Wrentham Outlet Malls. It could be very easy to drive by unless you knew it was there. The owners have committed themselves to doing it right and it is working! I have never had a bad meal there. Café Assisi does a vibrant take out business and the pizza is fantastic.

A few years ago, we had them cater our daughters’ Confirmation and everyone raved about the food. We called last minute and had multiple food allergies to deal with. They pulled it all together, it was reasonably priced and a lot more food than we anticipated. People are still talking about how good it was. I am very loyal to restaurants that are open to helping with food allergies and they have always been very respectful and upfront about what they could and could not do and I completely respect that.

It’s important to support people who put their heart, soul, and last dollar into something they believe in.

-Unknown

On the spur of the moment we decided to try and get a table and completely forgot that they recommended reservations. Luck was on our side and we got a parking spot right in front and they were crowded but said they could seat us outside. Over COVID, they built a beautiful outdoor seating area with heaters, lights and plants. It is very beautiful and romantic.

We got the shrimp and pasta in a red sauce special, which my husband adored and could barely finish because there was so much food. There was lots of shrimp and it was fresh and cooked perfectly. I got the Cod in spicy, tomato sauce over sauteed spinach which was fantastic.

I am not one to get dessert, but the craving for anything lemon lately has been overwhelming. Walking in to get a table I spied the dessert case and that limoncello cake was calling to me and it did not disappoint. It was out of this world!

I cannot recommend Café Assisi any more highly. So much so that I am afraid to post this as it may get busier and I will never get a table…..but they deserve all the business they can get.

Simple Mango Salsa

Spring is here …. despite the 40 degree weather. And it is time to break out all the spring and summer recipes. This Simple Mango Salsa is the first one that I thought of. It is so wonderful and versatile. I first made this salsa years ago and it has been on regular rotation ever since. It is simple to make and elevates anything you put it on …. grilled chicken or fish, tacos, salad, chips or in any bowl now a days.

Chop all the ingredients and combine in a bowl. Good luck cutting the mango. I think mangos are my least favorite thing to deal with. I make a huge mess trying to cut them, but it is worth it. Well worth it.

My advice is to let the salsa sit in the fridge for a few hours, but if you don’t the time, feel free to eat immediately.

Life without Mexican food is like no life at all.

-Unknown

Simple Mango Salsa

This mango salsa is great as an appetizer, condiment, side dish. Great on fish or chicken. Perfect to bring to a party as chips and dip also. So easy and fun to eat.
Course Appetizer, condiment, dinner, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Fresh Mango Peel, sliced and diced
  • 1 cup Black Beans Rinsed
  • 1/2 Red onion Diced
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Fresh cilantro Chopped fine
  • Salt To taste
  • 1 Jalapeno De-seeded and diced fine. This is optional and you can add as little or as much as you want to.

Instructions
 

  • Peel and dice the mango into small pieces.
  • Chopped the red onion fine and add to mangoes.
  • Rinse the black beans and add.
  • Chopped the Cilantro fine.
  • Combine all the ingredients along with cumin and orange juice.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Notes

This mango salsa is the perfect addition to any meal. It goes great as an appetizer or snack combined with tortilla chips as a chip and dip recipe. You can also serve on top of grilled chicken or fish or a side dish. 
This fruity salsa is healthy and kid friendly. Mango salsa is also allergy friendly. 
Allergens: Contains black beans which are a legume. DAIRY FREE, TREE NUT FREE, PEANUT FREE, EGG FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE
Keyword appetizers, black beans, chips and dip, condiment, fish tacos, fruit salsa, grilling, healthy salsa, mango salsa, mangoes, salsa, side dish

This Mother’s Day is different – I’m choosing to celebrate all women instead.

Sitting here thinking about the Mother’s Day Social Media posts that I am going to create and honestly, not really up for it. I don’t need flowers or brunch. I think we need to change the narrative. I have decided instead to celebrate all women, not just mothers. Because what we really need is to not feel helpless. I need to do something and I feel helpless. I need to feel empowered and for my girls to feel empowered. I did not fight and survive Breast Cancer to be told I am less than and for my girls to be told that. Life is fleeting, don’t let anyone tell you, you are not worth it. I am not here to debate, I am here to celebrate and empower. So I have decided that I am going to start some #dailybadasswomen posts. I am sure there are people who will disagree with my views, but I think as women we can all agree that we do not want to live in a world where our daughters have less rights than we had or even their grandmothers. I will try to do it every day. Can’t promise everyday will happen in this crazy world. But we as women, we need some inspiration and encouragement in this scary, crazy new world. Because there are a lot of bad ass women out there and they just woke up.

As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.

JM Storm

Easy Linguine With Clam Sauce

When I was a young girl we had a summer house on Cape Cod and my godfather would go clamming and make steamers.  I loved them… I would eat more than most of the adults.  Then I got a little older and turned into a squeamish teenage girl and that was the end of that.  Well this dish made me love clams again.  I was so intimidated to make it, but my husband told me to give it a try. It is so easy to make and everyone is always impressed with how it looks even if they won’t eat it. This one is so good, all my children eat love it!

Set a large pot with salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water for later. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until garlic is translucent. Add the white wine and simmer a few minutes. If you can use a good wine. It always helps to use a good white wine. But if you don’t have it, anything will do. Add the reserved water. Bring to a boil. Add the clams and cover the pan. (I always buy my clams at our local fish monger, Fresh Catch. The employees are great and always help me find quality stuff). Leave the cover on and cook for approximately five minutes. Until the clams have all opened. If you need a few more minutes, take it. If after that there are any clams that have not opened, discard them. Add the juice of half of a lemon. Frankly, in my opinion the more lemon the better, so on my plate, I always add more. Take off the heat and add the pasta to the pan and very gently toss. At the last minute, add the parsley, some lemon zest and serve. Garnish with lemon and grated parmesan cheese. This meal is so easy and I was always so afraid to make it. If you swap out the linguine for a gluten free version it makes a great gluten free meal.  I have even done this recipe on the grill outside and it works great. This meal is fantastic paired with a great with a Chardonnay and crusty bread. Enjoy!

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Easy Linguine With Clam Sauce

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. linguine Regular or Gluten Free (reserve a cup of the pasta water)
  • 2 lbs. clams Washed and scrubbed clean to get ride of the sand that may have been left on.
  • 3 cloves garlic Diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Wine I use a good Chardonnay
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Parsley Chopped. In a pinch you could use dry but fresh parsley is a game changer here.
  • 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper To taste.
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese To taste.

Instructions
 

  • Set a large pot with salted water to boil for the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water for later.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover.
  • Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until garlic is translucent.
  • Add the white wine and simmer a few minutes.
  • Add the reserved water. Bring to a boil
  • Add the clams and cover the pan.
  • Leave the cover on and cook for approximately five minutes. Until the clams have all opened.
  • If you need a few more minutes, take it. If after that there are any clams that have not opened, discard them.
  • Add the juice of half of a lemon.
  • Take off the heat and add the pasta to the pan and very gently toss.
  • At the last minute, add the parsley, some lemon zest and serve.
  • Garnish with lemon and grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

This meal is so easy and I was always so afraid to make it. If you swap out the linguine for a gluten free version it makes a great gluten free meal. 
Goes great with a Chardonnay and crusty bread. Enjoy!
Allergens: Shellfish, Dairy, Gluten (Does work good with gluten free past also)
Keyword Allergy Friendly recipe, clam chowder, family dinner, food and wine, gluten free recipe, home cooking, Italian dinner, italian recipe, sunday gravy, spaghetti sauce,, linguine with clam sauce, mediterranean food, mediterranean recipe, pasta, pasta dinner, seafood, shellfish, simple meal

GREAT GLUTEN FREE PANCAKES

I am the only gluten free person in our house (intolerance not allergy), so it can get complicated sometimes. On the rare occasion that something is so good my family likes to eat it even though it is gluten free is a true miracle. This recipe is one of those rare instances. I have tweaked this recipe a few times over the years, but I think I have found the sweet spot. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour is a game changer and I recommend everyone give it a try. This is an unsolicited recommendation. I made Irish Bread the other day (another recipe to come) and it was fantastic. Now I am going to get fat eating all this stuff I had to avoid before!

We are a big breakfast family and we are always making pancakes. Undoubtedly, I will try them and end up feeling horrible for a few days, so I am always on the lookout for a good gluten free pancake. There are multiple food allergies in our family and this one helps with a lot of them. It is peanut free, tree nut free, gluten free and can be dairy free if you substitute the dairy milk for almond or oat milk. I am always on the lookout for recipes that are family friendly and easily adaptable to be allergy friendly.

I have also used this in a waffle maker to make gluten free waffles and it came out wonderful also. I do recommend making these on the smaller side. I have found that when making gluten free pancakes they can be a bit grainy and mushy in the middle. Cooking them slowly and on the smaller side helps with this a lot. Also, for leftovers, I find they work best when toasted.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you have tips on how to make them even better, I would love to hear them.

What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?

Anthony Bourdain

Great Gluten Free Pancakes

With the invention of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, making pancakes is now a regular occurrence in our house. So good even my non-gluten free family will eat them for breakfast. These gluten free pancakes are easy to make and very easily adaptable. A very kid friendly recipe your whole family will love.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • 2 Mixing Bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Griddle or skillet Waffle Iron if you decide to make waffles instead

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Cup Gluten Free Flour I recommend Bob's Red Mill 1-to1 Baking Flour
  • 1 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Melted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk I only had the light buttermilk on hand and it worked fine. I bet you could substitute Almond or Oat Milk in this for those with Dairy Allergies.
  • 1/4 cup Fat Free Milk This is all I had but I think any would be fine.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla (Optional) I have left this out and might almost like it better without.
  • Chocolate Chips, blueberries, bananas Optional ideas

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl mix all your dry ingredients. (Flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Put the butter into a microwave dish and cover with a paper towel to avoid messing up your microwave. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • Combine the milks with the vanilla and the butter.
  • Add the egg to the milk mixture and whisk together.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the flour ingredients and mix until just combined. Will be a little lumpy. Feel free to add a little more milk here if needed.
  • Warm up your griddle to medium heat. When a splash of water bounces on the griddle it is ready. After the grill is warm enough grease with a bit of butter or cooking spray. You should not have to do this between every pancake. Usually only once but if you are making a lot you may need to add more down the line.
  • I like to make these on the smaller side because they can be a bit mushy if large and cooked to quickly. So I stick with the 1/4 cup size.
  • This is where I add some additions, like chocolate chips or bananas. (You can add to the mixture if you want also. When the edges start getting bubbly check to see if they are browning. If they are, give them a flip.
  • These are best if eaten right away.
  • Leftovers: I freeze them if I will be eating a lot later or a Ziploc bag in the fridge.
  • Because Gluten Free pancakes can get a bit mushy inside, I find that toasting them to reheat works best.

Notes

These are the best Gluten Free Pancakes I have ever had. Give them a try and let me know how you like them. Also, this recipe could easily be used in a waffle maker too!
Allergens: Dairy, Egg
Keyword Allergy Friendly recipe, Breakfast, cajun recipe, Family Friendly Gluten Free, Gluten Free Breakfast, Gluten Free Pancakes, gluten free recipe, Gluten Free Waffles, Pancakes

Pink Mandala Journal

  • This Pink Mandala Journal is the PERFECT GIFT for the writer in your life. Journal/Diaries are great for daily reflection, journal, affirmations, sketching, poetry, five minute daily journaling or just for notes on the go. Perfect for Christmas, Hanukkah, Birthday, Graduations…any special milestone.
  • GREAT SIZE – our 6″ x 9″ journal is the perfect size to fit in your bag, desk or bedside table. 200 pages of space for daily affirmations, mindfulness and reflections.
  • Five minutes a day to a more mindful/peaceful life.
  • Available here on Amazon in Paperback for $17.99.

The Easiest Homemade Barbecue Sauce

This barbecue sauce has been a staple in our house for years. It is so easy to make and easily adaptable. Everyone loves it and it freezes wonderfully. It is great on chicken, spareribs, hamburgers, shrimp and even cauliflower!

Almost Everybody’s Happy to Be a Fool for Barbecue

-Jack Nicholson-

The Easiest Homemade Barbecue Sauce

This basic barbecue sauce is easily adaptable and great on chicken, ribs, burgers and cauliflower!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, dinner, lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp. Avocado oil vegetable or canola will work too
  • 1 Shallot finely chopped, (onion will work too)
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic finely minced
  • 2 cups Ketchup
  • 3/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (I have used red wine vinegar in a pinch and it was great)
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar White sugar will work also.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper I have used Tabasco Sauce instead on many occassions.
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the shallots for about three minutes
  • Add the garlic and sauté for another few minutes until translucent.
  • Add the Ketchup, Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, sugar, chili powder, cayenne and cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. (Don't put the vinegar first, the smell will burn your eyes. Like cutting onions x 100)
  • Mix and bring to a soft boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. It will thicken up.
  • Makes about 3 cups.

Notes

This recipe is easily adaptable and freezes great. I hope you enjoy it!
Keyword barbecue,, dinner, easy recipe, family dinners, food allergy friendly, gluten free, grilling, home cooking, vegetarian friendly

Keeping it bubbly! – Trick to keeping Champagne and Prosecco bubbly

Smile…. There’s bubbly

Unknown
The easiest trick to save that leftover bubbly. Whether it be Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or even sparkling cider.


We like to celebrate things in our house. So it is not unusual for us to have a bottle of Champagne or Prosecco in the fridge. You never know when you will need to make a quick toast or have a Mimosa or an Aperol Spritz. But, we are not big drinkers so we tend to have some leftover and there is nothing worse than flat champagne. Well of course there are worse things, but you get the picture.

I used to work at a French company back in the day and after work on Friday’s we would buy bottles of champagne (good champagne) and celebrate the end of a good week.  That was a great job! There were a lot of tipsy train rides home but we were young and not driving, so who cared. My boss, who was French and grew up in champagne country taught us a trick to preserve the bubbles so you could finish the bottle the next day.

It’s very simple…… Put a spoon in the bottle and put it in the fridge…..That’s it!!!  It is so simple and it works. Thanks Thierry! This holiday season, I was telling someone and they did not believe me so we tested it…. and I was right. Everyone was extremely impressed.  My daughter even tried it with Sparkling Cider and it worked. It is a great tip, that you will probably never have to use…..because who has leftover Champagne or Prosecco or Cava!

I make Prosecco disappear, what’s your superpower?

-Unknown

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Sausages

I do not claim to be Italian but this Irish/Scottish Mom makes a pretty good Sunday Gravy or Sauce, however you would like to call it. It will never be as good as my childhood neighbor, Mrs. DiScipio’s Gravy. Anything she made was amazing. Once a year she would make a homemade tomato sauce from tomatoes from her garden. On Friday nights she would make pizza with that sauce. I dream about that pizza. But the whole point of this blog is to share our family recipes with my children. Because food is love.

It has taken many years but I have finally figured out the meatballs. Adding the pork mixture from the sausages to the ground beef mixture was a game changer. Whenever I made the meatballs before, you never knew how they would come out.

My kids love this recipe and it is a good staple recipe for a great Sunday Dinner.

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

-Julia Child

Spaghetti & Meatlballs with Sausages

Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. 80/20 Ground Beef Can add pork or veal too
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Bread crumbs homemade, italian style or even Gluten Free
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese or romano Or any combination of the two
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Chopped parsley
  • 1 15 oz Can of Tomato Paste
  • 3 Cans of warm water
  • 2-3 32 oz Ground Peeled Tomatoes I use Pastene
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Wine I use white, but red is great too
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1.2 tbsp dried parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions
 

Meatballs

  • In a large bowl, break up the ground beef.
  • Take one or two of the sausages that you are planning to put in to the sauce and slice the casing off. Break apart the sausage meat and add it to the ground beef mixture.
  • Add the eggs, bread crumbs, cheese and parsley. Gently mix. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  • I use a cookie scoop so all the meatballs are the same size, but you don't have to.
  • Get a bowl of warm water to keep your hands and the scoop wet. Gently form the balls and put on a greased cookie sheet with a rack.
  • Poke holes in the remaining sausage and add them to the rack also. Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, flipping after 20 minutes.
  • ALTERNATIVE: My mother just put the meatballs and sausage directly into the sauce to cook there completely. They were always very good. It will just take longer too cook. I have also cooked the meatballs and sausages in a cast iron skillet, this works well too.

Tomato Sauce

  • In a large, heavy pot, over medium heat, saute' the garlic in the olive oil.
  • When the garlic becomes translucent add the wine and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and three cans of warm water. I like to use a whisk here as it helps to mix the paste. When the mixture is smooth, bring to a boil, add the bay leaf and the cans of Ground Peeled Tomatoes. Add the rest of the spices and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce mixture to a simmer.
  • When the meatballs and sausages are done, add them to the sauce and simmer for at least two hours.
  • This is always better the next day.
  • Serve with your favorite crusty bread and a salad.

Notes

Allergy Information:  Nut Free, Tree Nut Free. This recipe is easily adaptable to suit your allergy needs. I use Gluten Free breadcrumbs. You could leave the cheese out of the meatball mixture. 
Keyword italian recipe, sunday gravy, spaghetti sauce,, sunday dinner, spaghetti and meatballs, pasta, meatballs, spaghetti and meatballs