Bucket List Adventures

Bucket List Adventure – Rome, Italy

Recently I had the privilege of visiting Rome, Italy with my family. My daughter is studying abroad and we could not miss the opportunity to take this Bucket List Adventure. We scrimped and saved and it was so worth it . After a long 14-month battle with breast cancer last year, I have vowed to experience life more and this was a great first start. We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Ponte Sisto. It was in the perfect location to walk everywhere. Right across the bridge from the wonderful neighborhood of Trastevere with all its fantastic restaurants. We spent five days eating, sightseeing, strolling and relaxing. It was wonderful. This trip was a life-changing event for me. Rome is so spiritual and the beauty if overwhelming. To take this vacation with my whole family after the battle we have all gone through, truly makes you appreciate life. 

I spent a lot of time researching restaurants for allergy issues due to our family and their multiple allergies. I found this to be challenging so I will write reviews on every restaurant that we went to and how they handled allergies. Heads up: Italy was wonderful and we found a way to eat everything.  I managed to make it home without gaining any weight… Most likely due to the 24,000 steps/day my Fitbit recorded.

Living La Dolce Vita

 

 

 

 

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 little girl and that was the end of that.  Well this dish made me love clams again.  It is so easy to make and everyone is always impressed with how it looks even if they won’t eat it.

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • 1 lb. linguine cooked (reserve a cup of the boiling liquid) Regular or Gluten Free
  • 2 lbs. clams (washed and scrubbed clean to get rid of the sand that may have been left on)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • fresh parsley chopped (about 2 tbsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • Parmesan Cheese to taste (contains dairy)

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until garlic is translucent. Add the white wine and the red pepper and simmer a minute and the reserved water. Add the clams and cover the pan. Leave the cover on and cook for app. 5 minutes until all the clams have opened.  If you need a few more minutes, take it and then throw out any of the closed clams.  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 and serve. Garnish with lemon.  I put a little Parmesan Cheese on top also. Goes good with a Chardonnay and crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Allergens: Shellfish, Dairy, gluten  (Does work good with gluten free pasta also)

Linguine with clam sauce - kingsrookdreams

lemons and parsley - kingsrookdreams

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Linguine with clam sauce -kingsrookdreams

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Chicken Cacciatore

I was feeling nostalgic today and missing my late father. This dish always reminds me of him. Everyone should know how to make a good Cacciatore!

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (Bone In – chicken thighs or even boneless breast could be used to)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • One red bell Pepper, chopped
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One shallot, chopped
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (No salt added)
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup good white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Parmesan rind – about a tablespoon equivalent (whole)
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. pasta (pasta of your choice depending on allergies – gluten free works great here)

Heat a deep, heavy pot over medium heat until very hot. Add olive oil and chicken breasts. Brown for about 4 minutes or until the chicken releases from the bottom of the pan. If it is still stuck, give it a few more minutes. Just leave it, do not mess with it. Flip the chicken and repeat on the other side.

Remove the chicken from the pot and put aside. Now add the onions, shallots, and peppers to the pot. Saute’ until onions are translucent. Now add the mushrooms and garlic and cook a few minutes more.

Add the wine, broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, Parmesan rind and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pot, cover and simmer for at least an hour. Some will say quicker, but I think the extra time makes all the difference. Add more wine or chicken broth if needed.

Serve over pasta (regular or gluten free) with some crusty bread.

Allergens: Dairy

The Best Beef Stew

My kids Aunt Pam is a great cook and you will see a lot of her recipes here. I wish I had her talent. She is very brave and will try anything.  I am not so brave, but I will gladly copy her tried and true recipes and allow her to have all the glory.

The people who give your their food give you their heart – Cesar Chavez

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  • 5 lbs. sirloin tips (sometimes I use leftover roast beef cut into chunks and it is great)
  • 1 10z. package white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flour (or corn starch to make it gluten free)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large can tomato sauce (i.e. Hunt’s)
  • 1 large turnip (I prefer 1 small)
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced

In large, heavy pot, brown sirloin tips, add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add flour (or corn startch) and mix well. Pour water over the beef mixture.  Add the can of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and turnips.  If you are gluten free, leave out the flour and add a little cornstarch instead. Add more water and salt and pepper to taste.  I like to simmer for a few hours.

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YOU DEFINITELY NEED SOME BREAD TO GO WITH THIS STEW!

 

Allergens: Carrots, Gluten (unless switch flour for corn starch)

Perfect Roast Chicken

I spoke before of the fact that you need to learn how to cook three things in order to survive….one good breakfast, one good lunch and one good dinner.  Well this is the dinner. Roast Chicken is something I can make and be confident of.  Everyone is always so impressed and it is really quite easy.  Plus you can also make a great chicken soup after, which I will show you later. Here is a simple version for you to try….

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces. Just good food from fresh ingredients – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • Roaster Chicken 7-8 lbs.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Softened butter
  • Lemon

Preheat the over to 375 degrees F. Remover the giblets (I have to admit, I did leave these in one time and the whole meal was ruined. I believe more people have done it than they care to admit). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Put the chicken in a heavy duty roaster pan on a rack.

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Salt and pepper the chicken well, inside and out. Loosen the skin on the breasts and insert some lemon slices under it.

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Add the remaining lemon (cut up) into the cavity.  Rub the softened butter all over the chicken (Messy, but worth it!). Add some water to the bottom of the pan, (this helps with broth for soup later on).


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Cook for approximately 2 hours until juices run clear when the leg is cut or pulled on. (Internal temperature should be app. 165 degrees at breast and 175 degrees at thigh).

I usually shoot for 170 degrees at the breast, but that is my preference.   Let the chicken sit for a bit before cutting into it. Everyone in my family loves this and that is very hard to do with five picky eaters. Serve with rice or potatoes and some seasonal vegetables. Great for leftovers also
roast chicken

Fish Tacos – Taco Tuesday

So… Tacos? I could eat them every day. Hubby…not so much. Kiddo and I wanted Tacos today, but we need to win over the big guy. What to do? I know….. Fish Tacos.

I have never made them before, but there is a first for everything. Time to do some research. I looked at some great recipes and decided to wing it. First thing to do … head to the fish monger. Headed down to Fresh Catch to check out the selection. Captain’s Cut Cod it is.

It’s a ‘I want to fake my own death, move to Mexico & live off Tacos & Tequila’ kinda day! – Unknown

  • 1 lb. Captain’s Cut Cod
  • Two radishes sliced paper thin
  • Thinly sliced green cabbage
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Sour Cream Lime sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas

SOUR CREAM LIME SAUCE

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, more if needed
  • zest of lime

I loved this so much, I could eat it straight.

Prepare the sauce and let it sit for 15 minutes or so in the fridge to stay cold.

Meanwhile, on med/high heat, warm up the tortillas in a cast iron skillet. A few minutes on each side and then layer between dish towels to stay warm.

Cut the fish into 1 inch pieces.

Now, warm up another cast iron skillet on med/high heat. Sprinkle a pinch of chili powder and cumin on each piece and add to hot skillet. Heat 2-3 minutes on each side. I found that a small spatula was the best way to flip the fish to prevent it from falling apart. Put the skillet in the oven at 350 to finish cooking.

Now it is time to eat. One corn tortilla, some fish, radishes, cabbage and the lime sauce!

They came out fantastic! My husband now loves Taco Tuesdays!

 

Allergy Information: Seafood, Dairy, Gluten Free, Nut Free

 

 

 

Carbonara

When the recipe card is as old and worn as this one, you know it’s good. Not even sure where I got the recipe, but it is a staple in this house. At my bridal shower, oh so many years ago, the guests all brought me a recipe, it might be from there. This is the ultimate pantry meal.

I split this recipe in two and make half with regular pasta and half with gluten free to accommodate my whole family. It is great both ways!

Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta – Federico Fellini

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked (regular or gluten free)
  • 1/3 lb. bacon
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (I like it spicy, so I add a little more)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup boiling pasta water
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Cook pasta Al Dente.

In large skillet over medium high heat. Saute bacon until it browns. Remove bacon and put aside. Drain the bacon oil and then add two tbsp. olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Saute two minutes. Add wine and reduce by half.

Beat eggs vigorously and stir in a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and to bacon pan and remove from heat. Add egg mixture, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and toss until well combined and cheese has melted. Serve with extra cheese.

Allergens: Dairy, Egg, Wheat (can make gluten free)

Sharing the Sunday Fun

 

I just love that my family is embracing all this. My sister and her husband have always made Sunday Dinners a priority and I have been so jealous. With the loss of our father, who was such a fabulous cook, I feel that my children have been missing out on this wonderful tradition. My brother-in-law made this very impressive Ginger Swordfish on Sunday and he got the recipe from the fabulous website Yummly. I will need to make this soon. Pair it with a great wine and you are good to go!

My hope is for family and friends to share their stories of fun Sunday Dinners …the good, the bad and the ugly! Thank you Kathy and Ron, Hopefully this is the first of many….

Swordfish courtesy of Snug Harbor Fish Company. Wine courtesy of Snug Harbor Wine Company. 

A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal – Pat Conroy

 

 

Coq Au Vin

Growing up, this meal was one of my favorites. My dad, who discovered cooking in his 40’s enjoyed making this one. He got so much pleasure out of presenting such an impressive meal.  He never disappointed. It takes some time to make, but it is not hard to do, so I will give it a shot for my first official Sunday Dinner in a while. We will set the dining room table, pour some wine and have a traditional Sunday Dinner for this one.

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. – Julia Child

  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 12 tiny pearl onions
  • 1/4 lb. bacon strips cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 lbs. cut up chicken with bone (My kids like boneless, so I use a mixture of chicken thighs, boneless breast and breast with the bone)
  • 1/2 lb. white mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour (You can substitute corn starch to make gluten free)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine (a burgundy works best)
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat 4 tbsp. butter in heavy, pan (I use a french dutch oven). Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan.

Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove and put aside.

Add the chicken to the pan drippings and cook until well-browned on all sides. Now set the chicken aside.

Add mushrooms and garlic to pan, cook until mushrooms are wilted. Remove from pan.

Add remaining butter to pan drippings. Remove from heat and gradually stir in flour until golden brown. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly until well blended.

Return to heat, stir until sauce thickens. Add brandy, red wine, thyme, herbs and bay leaf.

Add chicken and veggies (If needed, transfer to a deeper pot). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf.

Alternative: Final stage – Add to roasting ban and cover. Cook in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender to the fork.

Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles or even rice.

It is better the next day!!!

Allergens- Gluten (if susbtitute flour with corn starch it can be gluten free), garlic

Fish Chowder

This is the recipe that started it all – Aunt Betty’s Fish Chowder. Aunt Betty was the best, I don’t know where to begin to even describe her. Betty was my dad’s sister and was like his second mother.  My dad was the baby and the only boy and she loved him fiercely.  Betty never had children of her own, so she doted on him, even though he would never admit it.  She also showered us with love and treated us like her own children as well. Her house in South Boston, Ma., by the beach, was a warm and welcoming place that we would gladly allow our parents to leave us there whenever they wanted. Sadly, Aunt Betty died when I was in college and never got to meet my children, she would have been so thrilled to see our children and to spoil them rotten.

I was cleaning out a drawer one day and found this recipe for a simple fish chowder in her hand writing and remembered it immediately. (As a bonus, it is a great recipe from a food allergy perspective. It is very easily adaptable). I was a very picky eater as a child, but I loved this chowder. I can still see her in the kitchen on Ticknor Street making it for us.

I made the chowder that night and had such a flood of memories that I sat at the kitchen table and cried. My only explanation for the tears is that making her recipe made me remember the love.

The next morning I told my father about the recipe and he said “I make that all the time, what’s the big deal?” My response was, “You have changed it over the years and made it your own, this is the original, just make it.”

He called me a few days later to thank me for the memory. He loved it. Food is love and food is memories, so that is why I have chosen to write this blog. My children have never met my husband’s late parents but maybe making the food they loved and passing on the recipes will help them get to know their loved ones a little better.

What is done in love, is done well. – Vincent Van Gogh

Easy Fish Chowder

Sunday Chefs
This recipe is a simple basic chowder fabulous on its own but can be adapted in a lot of different ways.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine American, irish
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium Onion Diced
  • 3 tbsp Butter Salted or unsalted
  • 1 8 oz bottle Clam juice I use Snow's Bumblebee Brand
  • 1 12 oz Evaporated Skim Milk Can
  • 2 cups Potatoes Cubed
  • 1 lb. Cod Any white fish (haddock or cod)
  • 1 cup Water

Instructions
 

  • Brown onions in butter. After the onions have browned add the potatoes, clam juice Snow’s,Clam Juice All Natural, 8 oz and water. Lay fish on top, skin side up. Simmer, peel skin off fish (most times, I find there is no skin on the fish).  Stir, breaking up fish a little. When the potatoes are tender, add the evaporated milk and simmer a few minutes.  Add butter a few minutes before done.

Notes

Possible additions: crisp bacon, green onions, corn, heavy cream, substitute clams for fish, carrots.
TIP: If you get the fish home and it smells a bit fishy, soak in milk for at least a 1/2 hour and it usually takes most if not all of the smell away.
Allergy Information: Contains shellfish (clam juice), Fish, dairy, but egg free, nut free, peanut free and gluten free. 
Serve with Chowder Crackers
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