Sugar Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

I heart cherry tomatoes, especially with the different combinations of color. The possibilities are endless on what you can do with them. Like little jewels to accessorize your food!

Fortunately for me, now is the time that I’m guaranteed a big bowl full every time I step into my garden!

I’ve been stuffing them with creamy goat cheese, one bite wonders busting with flavor! Warning… Be careful they’re like eating candy you can’t stop!
I constantly roast them on sheet pans, bathing the tiny tomatoes in olive oil and shaved garlic, then I tuck them away in my fridge for later use.
Like when I toss them into my scrambled eggs for breakfast along with lots of green onions and serve it on top of crusty Italian bread toast. Simple, but out of this world!
When you roast them the juice seeps from the tomatoes into the garlicky oil and it becomes the perfect sauce for your pasta, add shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. It’s as close to perfection as you’re going to get!
Thanks again to my friend Linda for sending me the seeds to grow these adorable round zucchini, after I roasted them I stuffed my pasta into it’s perfect edible bowl!
Buon Appetito!




I’m a part of a Bunco group, where twelve of us get together once a month taking turns hosting at each others home. We get together to play a game but really it’s an excuse to connect with friends for some good food, fun and lots of laughs. The month of June was my turn.

See all these women here, they can get pretty wild and crazy!

In case you’re wondering what Bunco is, it’s a game of dice played in rounds. Players take turns rolling the dice and trying to accumulate as many points as possible to win each round. The game is played at tables of four in competing teams of two. The first one that yells out “Bunco!” wins the round. This is a game that requires no skills at all, anyone can learn how to play in 5 minutes!

Yes, we’re high rollers and we play with money, everybody chips in five bucks!

The one hosting supplies all the food and drink but almost always someone will walk in with delicious homemade cookies or a cake. We usually visit and eat first then play the game, afterwards we’ll have coffee and dessert. Finger foods and appetizers are typically served.

Along with various dips and a caprese pizza, here’s a few other things I made when I hosted at my house.
Salami and Bocconcini Bites
On a piece of thin sliced salami place one basil leaf, one half of a cherry tomato, a small bocconcini ball or a cube of fresh mozzarella and one sun-dried tomato in oil. Secure with a pick and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil.

Fruit Kabobs with strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe and blueberries.
If you have extra fruit freeze it into ice cubes it tastes great in a punch, tea or lemonade and it keeps it nice and cold.

Tostada Cups with Artichoke Salsa

The tostada cups are made by spraying both sides of a tortilla with cooking spray and then cutting into 8 wedges. Press the wedges into 8 muffin cups with all 3 points sticking out. Bake in a 450F oven for about 5 minutes or until golden and crispy.

The salsa is simply made by opening a jar or two of your favorite marinated artichokes, draining them and pulsing them in your food processor. When finished pulsing, pour into your bowl.
Then chop some red onion, kalamata olives, 1 clove of smashed garlic and diced and seeded tomatoes. Finish off with salt, pepper, shredded basil, a hint of lemon peel and a little olive oil to taste.

La Bomba, is a mix of eggplant, fennel, roasted peppers, onions, artichokes, mushrooms and olives diced up small and served with Mini Pita Rounds flavored with olive oil and rosemary. This is a perfect party appetizer, it makes a huge amount and can be made ahead of time.
Here’s the recipe.
The pita chips I made before but this time I just used mini round fresh pita’s, split them horizontally and baked them like this.

These bite size spaghetti appetizers were a big hit, I got the inspiration from Joan at Foodalogue, she added bacon and peas to hers but I had a lot of different things going on so I wanted to keep them lighter.

Cooked spaghetti, mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, eggs and fresh basil mixed together and baked in mini muffin tins topped off with a light marinara sauce.

When the cheese melts and the flavors blend together with the spaghetti the result is addicting! Here’s Joan’s original recipe.

And of course sipping on some chilled Limoncello while your playing the game makes everything just perfect!
Buon Appetito!


Oh Baby!!

I wanted to share with you some of the food I had the privilege of making this past weekend for a baby shower we had that was held in honor of my son and daughter-in-law. Their request was to have it very casual, in their home, with finger foods and appetizers. I had so much fun doing it and I can’t wait for the arrival of my new Granddaughter!

The menu was:

Caprese Skewers
White Bean Dip w/ Rosemary and Olive Oil Pita Chips
Artichoke Crostini
Grilled Eggplant Rolled w/ Roasted Red Pepper and Creamy Feta and Herb Cheese
Proscuitto Wrapped… Rosemary and Lemon… and Pesto Marinated Chicken Skewers, served with a Romesco Sauce and a three Citrus Aioli for Dipping
Mini Italian Meatballs
Grilled Shrimp and Orzo Pasta Salad Greek Style w/ Fresh Lemon and Olive oil Dressing
Bow Tie Pasta Salad w/ Spinach, Sundried Tomatoes, Pinenuts, Feta and Olives

The only thing I did not make was the fruit salad, those adorable cookies that you see, (which by the way were homemade) and of course the cake, which happened to be a huge cannoli cake that we ordered from a great Italian bakery!

Four weeks more to go and we’ll be able to meet our new little family member, I’ll be sure to announce her arrival!

Have a great week, and Buon Appetito!


Spring Rolls, Italian Style!

I love spring rolls, but have always been intimidated by them. Maybe it’s because it’s an Asian thing and that’s totally out of my league. I heard horror stories of spring roll skins ripping and sticking together, but even so I was determined to try them!

I wanted to make these for our annual picnic at Ravinia last August, but chickened out at the last minute for fear I would ruin it all. Spring rolls are light, not fried, usually filled with fresh veggies, chicken or shrimp, always accompanied by a delicious dipping sauce, and best of all, everything is enclosed in a pretty little package, easy to handle, great to transport, perfect for a picnic, as a light appetizer, or even a light lunch.

Well I’m happy to say the whole process was very easy! I actually made Asian spring rolls first, with shrimp, shredded carrots, cabbage, cilantro and a little hoisen sauce in each. We dipped them in a great Asian sauce I got from Trader Joe’s.

But since this is an Italian food blog I wanted to do a little twist on the classic and try making them Italian style!

All you do is take your wrappers, place them in warm water til they melt a little and become limp. I then laid each wrapper on a clean dish towel and padded them dry
I had all my ingredients ready, cooked shrimp, marinated artichokes, (drained), roasted red pepper strips, and raw zucchini, julienned. Next, I placed everything onto a wrapper with a dollop of basil pesto, a drizzle of olive oil, a little salt and pepper, then rolled it all up like a burrito!

For my Italian version I used basil pesto as a dipping sauce, but I want to experiment with other things. Do any of you have any idea’s? I would love your input.

Next time you’re hesitant about trying something out of your comfort zone, don’t be, give it a try, because these were amazing!!

Have a relaxing weekend, and Buon Appetito!!


A Limoncello Cosmo, and some Little bites!!

Party time is here, and if you’re a lover of Limoncello like I am, then you’ll love this festive little drink! Vodka, cranberry juice, and the guest of honor… Limoncello!

I would suggest you test out the ratio’s to your liking. Start out for one glass with, 1/2 shot of vodka, 1/2 shot of Limoncello, and a shot of cranberry juice. Fill a shaker 3/4 way with ice, pour everything in, give it a good shake, and pour. Garnish with fresh or frozen cranberries.
Now of course you’ll need something to nibble on while your sipping on these, don’t worry!! I got that taken care of too.

FRIED RAVIOLI’S**** These are delicious, and super easy to make, you don’t need to have homemade ravioli’s either.
Grab a bag of store bought, they cook up so fast and you can feed a crowd. They’re dipped in buttermilk first, a tip I got from Giada, so much better than dipping them into egg. Next, dip them into your favorite flavored breadcrumbs, which have been doctored up of course. Fry them in 2″ of canola oil in a large saute pan. They’ll be done in a few seconds, drain on paper towel, then sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve warm, along with some warm marinara for dipping!

BAKED ZUCCHINI STICKS*** You can make a bunch of these with out even frying. Just cut your zucchini into sticks, these you will be dipping in eggs first, then into your flavored breadcrumbs, I also mixed mine with some panko, adding more chopped parsley, granulated garlic, and grated cheese. Spray your baking sheets with olive oil spray, place your zucchini on, and then spray a little olive oil over them. Bake in a hot 375F oven till golden and crunchy. Maybe 25 min’s. This is fantastic with a lemon aoli for dipping, which I didn’t have time to make, but also good with warm marinara.
Buon Appetito, and Cin Cin!!



I confess… I’m an artichoke lover! In fact my whole family is, we can’t resist them in any way shape or form!

Give us a pan of stuffed artichokes and we are all smiles, as we sit around the table scraping each leaf working are way down to the “heart”, by the time we are finished we each have a pile of scraped and discarded leaves on our plates! Now that’s some good eating!!
But now that it’s BBQ season we enjoy eating them grilled just as much. I think the hardest thing about cooking artichokes is the prep, to prepare them for the grill you have to cut the top off,discard some outer leaves and trim up the remaining ones.

You’ll want to cut them in quarters, and remove any fuzzy center and pull out all pointy and scratchy leaves. Immediately after cutting immerse them in lemon water until ready to cook.
Place them in a pot of salted water and cook till tender.

Drain well, and gently squeeze out excess water, set aside in a bowl.

A couple of hours before they are ready to be grilled, toss them in some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

The lemon aioli is whipped up very quickly with a good store bought mayonnaise, a little crushed garlic, fresh lemon juice, along with the rind, and salt and pepper to taste. Just make sure the consistency is good for dipping.

I actually like to grill these in my indoor grill pan, I feel have more control because they are a little fragile, and besides the marinade flavor seems to not burn off. But you absolutely can put them on your grill outside, just make sure your grill is super clean, you don’t want to take on any other flavors.
These are great appetizers to start off a meal, or to have as a nice side dish.

And last but not least, I want to thank my Florida house guests that were staying with us a couple of weeks ago, they gave me this beautiful blue oval platter ( for my blog!!) I don’t think the picture does it justice you can’t see how huge it is! I thought the green artichokes would look nice on it, what do you think?
Anyway, thanks again, Angie and Pat, Diane, Donny, and of course Lindsey and Lauren.



Spring has definitely sprung here in Chicago! finally!! So long winter! See ya! Ba Bye! Arrivederci! Ciao!!

Time to open up the windows, crank up the grill, clean off the lawn furniture, and enjoy the sunshine! And thats just what we did!

Heres a couple of appetizers we enjoyed over the weekend. CAPRESE EGGPLANT TOWER

Grilled eggplant
Fresh mozzarella
Ripe and juicy tomatoes
Red onion
Fresh basil
Brush eggplant with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill. You can either grill the red onion slice or just keep it raw. Stack in any order you want.

Drizzle everything with your best extra virgin olive oil, and don’t forget a couple slices of good bread. I like the holes you get with a chiabatta, it’s not doughy at all. Oh, and don’t forget to open up your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy with this.


Grill your zuccini, and spread on your favorite pesto! so simple, so good!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 🙂