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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Gluten Free Bagel Recommendation

So… I stumbled across these in the grocery store a while back and thought I would give them a try. O’Doughs Thins (Sesame Bagel Thin). I am glad that I did! Gluten Free products aren’t always the best, but these are really good. My husband requests them even though gluten is not an issue for him. I have tried the other flavors also and they are fantastic too. O’Dough’s Bagel Things are also vegan, kosher and trans fat free if you are looking for that. I just know they are fantastic and it is nice to find a bagel I can look forward too.

So if you are looking for a gluten free bagel, O’Dough’s is for you.

 

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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Donkey Punch – Rome Restaurant Review

My college student daughter has been studying in Amsterdam for the semester and we wanted to go visit her. I have always dreamed of Rome and after a long battle with breast cancer, we decided to celebrate it was over and take this bucket list adventure with our family. So we all met in Rome for a great reunion.

She has a lot of friends in Rome, so we asked for recommendations for a little place to grab lunch..street food. They live in Trastevere and all agreed we needed to try Donkey Punch. Yes, you heard it right….. Donkey Punch. It is an eclectic little sandwich shop in the heart of Trastevere. There are murals of 70’s and 80’s rockers all over the walls and the sandwich names follow the same pattern.

The college aged girl who made the sandwiches was spectacular and recommended the “Eddie Van Halen” which was porchetta, tomatoes, pickled red onions, mayo and basil and it was done on grilled foccacia bread. I got the “Eric Clapton” which was tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pickled onions and rocket salad.  Mine was fabulous but the Eddie Van Halen was the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. Next time I will get that. 

The girl making them put so much love into making these sandwiches, I told her she was an artist and I meant it. We ate the sandwiches so quickly I couldn’t even get a picture of them. I would highly recommend Donkey Punch to anyone visiting the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, Italy. It was a great meal on the go, with a great atmosphere and great price.

“Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art”

Unknown

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

 

Trattoria Il Lucano – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

As we were walking back from the Pantheon one night on our recent life-changing trip to Rome, the kids were starving and I didn’t have any idea where we could eat. Before our trip I studied and searched for restaurants that would accommodate our family and their food allergies (Peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, soy, gluten, legumes, eggplant and zucchini). Italy is known for being very food allergy friendly but information on specific restaurants is hard to find, so I tried to find blog information and there was a few, but it was outdated and limited. So I looked for restaurants that were recommended by friends or had good reviews and reached out to them. Then I made a master list of the places that I wanted to visit and nearby restaurants that were food allergy friendly. (We made the food allergy cards and they were great but only used them once). It was good old fashioned leg work that got the job done. I will share my hard work with you all to save you some time.

I did a lot of prep work, but on this day I had run out of ideas. It was raining and we took a risk and stopped in at Trattoria Il Lucano and asked if they could accommodate us. We lucked out and it was a fabulous meal.

Our waiter was named Mimo and he was so much fun. He suggested that my husband try the steak which they cook at the table. We got the caprese salad, cacio e pepe, pizza and lots of house wine! Always get the house wine. We sat outside under the awning and had a fabulous meal despite the uncertainty at the beginning. My husband is still dreaming of the steak!

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. – Julia Child

Miscellanea Pub – Food Allergies in Rome

I did a lot of research on restaurants before going to Rome, especially ones that catered to food allergies. I have to say it was difficult. The general consensus was that Rome was very allergy friendly and we did find this to be true. But information on specific restaurants was tough to find. I knew the places that we wanted to visit (i.e. Colosseum, Vatican, Pantheon, etc.) So I wanted to discover restaurant choices near our destinations, so I wouldn’t be wandering with a “Hangry” family trying to find a place to eat. We were not looking for fancy…. inexpensive, great food, great atmosphere and food allergy friendly.

One restaurant that kept popping up near The Pantheon was the Miscellanea Pub. They call themselves the “International Students Pub”, so we knew it would be inexpensive and casual. After a beautiful visit to the Pantheon at night, I told my family I had a restaurant for them.  It is a bit hidden, but the CityMaps2Go App was so helpful, because we didn’t have service most of the time.

Franco was our waiter and he was fabulous. He was very friendly and told us the food allergies were not a problem, they would make it work (I made the food allergy cards, but honestly never had to use them..the one place we tried, seemed confused by them. But I am still glad that I had them, just in case).

We got the Caprese salad, Bruschetta, Pette di pollo al limone (lemon chicken) Penna all’ arrabbietta (penne with spicy tomato sauce), Spaghetti alla carbonara (pasta carbonara) and Margherita pizza and a lot of wine (house wine). Always get the house wine in Italy! The food was amazing.

Please note: Miscellanea Pub is cash only!

I forgot this and we had no cash. Franco was so wonderful and felt so bad he walked my husband to the nearest ATM and then brought us free desserts and “sexy wine”. The “sexy wine” is something you have to discover for yourself. When he brought it and I gleefully cried “Is this the sexy wine?” he was thrilled I knew what it was. (I do my research.. haha). It was wonderful!

As we were leaving, Mickey (the owner) was sitting outside and thanked us for coming. We are from Boston and he is great friends with the former mayor of Boston and former Vatican ambassador, Ray Flynn. We had a wonderful conversation about Rome and Boston. Miscellanea Pub is a must see on your next trip to Rome!

 

 

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food – Anthony Bourdain

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.