Cancer changes everything

My story..

There is a reason for this blog. I always said I wanted to write a cookbook of all the family recipes for my three daughters. I imagined it would be a fun present at a bridal shower or housewarming. To show a more personal side of those who came before them. The memories of our loved ones live on in these little bits of history. I have been putting recipes aside for years and worked on it here or there, because I always felt I had the time to get it done. Then things changed. Cancer happened.

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Sunday Chefs french chicken cover page

French casserole Chicken – Supreme of Old Hen

This recipe brings back such fond memories of my childhood. It is not hard, but it is a bit time consuming. For some reason my late-father who loved to cook did not like to cook this. But he always made it for me on my birthday because he knew it was my favorite. It still is…. I have such wonderful memories of my birthday and this meal. I remember one time, he spent all day making it and we were all sitting at the table waiting for dinner. He liked to make a big deal out of the fact that he made it and was presenting it with a flourish, as he brought it to the table.

To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating” – Julia Child

La Scala In Trastevere, Rome Restaurant Review

I am sitting at my desk today dreaming of Rome… There is nothing like it and now that I have been there I will never be the same. Strolling through Trastevere over the cobblestones on a warm night with family has always been my dream. After cancer, life is all about moments and experiences and Rome was one for the ages.

There were many times during our visit that we walked by La Scala in Trastevere and I kept saying we could not leave without trying it.

The hotel recommended La Scala in Trastevere, but said that we would need a reservation. We took a chance and stopped by without one and got a seat outside. It was raining, but that was not a problem, they had an awning and a heater and the effect was a very romantic dining experience.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

Helen Keller

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Spice and Wine cover pic

Spice and Wine Bistro – Trastevere, Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

Spice & Wine Bistro located in the heart of Trastevere, Rome was a place we just wandered into one night when we were caught in the rain. I was a bit apprehensive as we had not done any research beforehand regarding the food allergies. I like to do research on the restaurants that we go to in advance about how they handle food allergies, so this was a gamble, but they took it all very seriously and were very helpful. (We have allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, legumes, soy, eggplant, zucchini and gluten) We were seated at a lovely table in the back corner and I felt the place was warm and inviting.

 

Every meal should be a small celebration – Fannie Farmer

The staff was lovely and attentive. We had a great time with them. If you head in the back they have this cabinet thing where they collect all the corks from the wine bottles and I just had to get a picture of it. The waiters jumped in and made the pictures great. We had the caprese salad, bruschetta, meatballs, spicy penne, cacio e pepe and carbonara. There were no complaints. In fact, my two older daughters dream about the spicy penne, they loved it so much.

I saw that there were bad reviews on TripAdvisor for this restaurant about the staff. My experience was the exact opposite. I gave them a good review on TripAdvisor. They were wonderful and fun. If I ever have the privilege of visiting Rome another time, I would go back there again, it was very good.

I think people should give them another chance, we had a great evening.

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Baking Tip – How to cut the perfect brownie.

I know this sounds silly, but ever since someone told me about this trick, I use it every time. As a parent of a child with food allergies, I always bring the snacks….so I make a lot of brownies. I tend to cook brownies a bit underdone on purpose, which is our family’s preference. The trick is to use a plastic spoon when cutting them. The edges come out perfect and clean and the brownies do not stick to the knife. It is miraculous. Give it a try next time you are making brownies or blondies, you will be amazed.

 

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life – J.R.R. Tolkein

 

Chocolate Muffins

These seriously are the best muffins ever and so easy to make.  I cannot take credit for these, someone gave me the recipe and I am not sure of the origin. But thank you to whoever thought of it. The idea seemed strange but I quickly realized what a great way to get a vegetable into my child who seems to be allergic to almost every other vegetable except broccoli and cauliflower.  So here it is …. couldn’t be any easier and they will never even know there is pumpkin in them. Preheat oven to 400 degrees  Fahrenheit.

It is always the simple that produces the marvelous – Amelia Barr

  • 1  15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 box devils food cake mix

Spray the mixing bowl and all the utensils with cooking spray because the mixture sticks to everything without it.  Mix the two together, it will take a while, but don’t give up. ( I have tried to do this in my mixer and it doesn’t work… don’t bother).

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (do not use paper muffin cup liners, it will not work) and use an ice cream scoop to split mixture evenly to make 12 muffins.

Add to oven and cook for 15 minutes.  That’s it and they are the best muffins. They are so moist and are perfect for breakfast or a snack.

Chocolate pumpkin muffins

Allergens: Wheat, Check your cake mix for other allergens.

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

parsley - linguine with clam sauce

Linguine with clam sauce - kingsrookdreams 2

Linguine with clam sauce - kingsrookdreams 3

Linguine with clam sauce - kingsrookdreams 4

 Linguine with clam sauce -kingsrookdreams 6
Linguine with clam sauce -kingsrookdreams

Linguine with clam sauce - kingsrookdreams 7

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

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

 

 

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage is that once a year meal I think I don’t like and then I make it and it’s great! I think the problem is, it’s not the prettiest meal to make. But it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day in this Irish House without it.

 

May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows your dead – Irish Blessing

 

Ingredients: 

  • Corned Beef- 3-4 lbs in Brine with spices included
  • 4 potatoes, quartered
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • One large onion
  • 1 medium size green cabbage
  • Mustard (optional)

Put the corned beef in a large heavy pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain off the water and cover it again with cold water. My friend Kristen gave me this tip and I don’t know what I did before. It takes a lot of the salt out. Add the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil again and then lower temperature and simmer for about 2 hours.

Add potatoes, carrots and onions. Bring to a boil again, then lower to simmer for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the cabbage and cook for about another 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm. Enjoy!

Just remember….everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Additions: Mustard for Corned Beef

Allergens: Gluten Free, Nut free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Soy free