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

Smile…. There’s bubbly

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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

Simple Suppers – Chicken Tortellini Soup

This soup is a staple in our house and now that my college student daughter has her own apartment, it is time she had some simple dinners for college students that are easy and cheap. We need to get her going, so she and her friends can join the Sunday Chefs Club and not starve in college. Soups and Stews are always a great go to when you are looking for a simple and hearty meal. This meal is both impressive and simple.

Nothing brings people together like good food…. Unknown

  • Two 32 oz. cartons of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 8 -16 oz package of tortellini (depending on how many you are feeding)
  • diced chicken (Optional)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (Optional)

Boil water and cook the tortellini separately. Cook it a little al dente. If it says 7 minutes cook it for 5, so it doesn’t get mushy when you add it to the soup.

In another big pot add the chicken broth, chicken (if you don’t have leftover chicken for the soup, you can leave it out or add a raw boneless chicken breast and poach it in the broth until its done, then remove it, shred it and then add it back) and spices. Bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes and then add the spinach. It will seem like too much but it wilts down to nothing. Simmer for a few more minutes. Put the tortellini in a bowl and spoon the soup over the tortellini. Top with a little Parmesan cheese and serve with some crusty bread.

Allergens: Gluten

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

 

Sunday Chefs – Holiday Edition

My dad was a Sunday Chef. He discovered a love of cooking in his 40’s after his doctor told him to find a hobby to deal with his stress. He tried model ship making but that didn’t last long. His path to a great Sunday Chef was not without its pitfalls. Our family will never stop laughing about the 18 Sundays in a row we had Fettuccine Alfredo until he got it right and then never made it again or the French apple chicken he only made for me on my birthday because he knew it was my favorite but the smell of the apples and onions cooking together always made him feel ill. And none of us will ever forget the family attempt at making Limoncello!  It was obvious we were Irish/Scottish and not Italian, but a fabulous memory all the same.

Every Sunday was an event… all day experiments of food from all over the world. Some Sundays just one course, other Sunday’s five or six. My husband jokingly tells me this is why he married me so he could keep coming to Sunday Dinner. My father passed on his love of cooking to his son-in-laws. My brother-in-law was fully entrenched at a young age and he continues to amaze us. Christmas Day is his show! This year was an amazing display of five courses and not one them disappointed.

When my husband and I got engaged my dad gifted my future husband with a cookbook and a welcome to the Sunday Chefs Club. Christmas Eve is his show! He makes a massive pot of marinara sauce. This years included 14 shelled lobsters, mussels, shrimp and little necks!  It was amazing.

I love to cook, but I love the tradition that these wonderful men have chosen to embrace and follow in the footsteps of my amazing father. My children are growing up with this wonderful tradition and the people that my daughters choose to marry will be getting cookbooks. I am sure he is smiling and toasting us with a glass of Limoncello!

Marry someone who knows how cook. Looks go away but hunger doesn’t …. Unknown

Roscioli Salumeria Con Cucina – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

When I let my sister know that I was going to Rome all she kept saying was you need to go to Roscioli Salumeria Con Cucina located in the heart of Rome!  She and her husband said it was the best meal they have ever had and they tell everyone to go there. When we discovered it was only a three minute walk from our hotel we were thrilled. It did not disappoint!  I would highly recommend a reservation and to dine in the wine cellar. The reservation is very easily made on their website. When you travel to Rome with food allergies there is a lot of research to be done and I had a hard time finding information on specific restaurants. But if you do your research it can be done. We have a daughter with a lot of food allergies and there was a comment section on the reservation form where we inquired about what she could eat.

Our first night in Rome we ventured out for a beautiful walk through Rome to the restaurant. We were greeted by our waiter Ricardo and brought to the wine cellar. He was aware of the food allergies and let her know that she would have a fabulous meal. She is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, legumes, zucchini and eggplant but they had it under control. Honestly, I do believe he was very relieved that we were not uptight about it and she didn’t care what she had, she was just happy to be there. We were told to order the cacio e pepe and we would be amazed. We were! The wine was wonderful and the caprese salad, bread, gnocchi, ravioli, the limoncello, tortellini in brodo (homemade tortellini in broth) was so simple and to die for. The menu had a food allergy labeling system that made it all so easy. If you are gluten free, I found the restaurants bent over backwards to accommodate you. Roscioli is comfortable, relaxed and not very expensive, the perfect restaurant for our first night in Rome. They even brought us a little dessert with cookies you could dip in chocolate to welcome us to Rome. Roscioli is a must see.. I do believe it was the best meal I have ever had in my life.

I’d much rather drink wine and eat pasta than be a size zero – Sophia Loren

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

 

 

 

 

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

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)