Gordon & Julie Italian

Gordon & Julie Italian

Welcome to Gordon and Julie Italian

Click on the picture above for our video!


Italian apps close up_small

 Tomatoes, Grapes, Rustic Italian Bread, Mozzarella and Olive Oil

Julie Gigi dress wine_small

Gordon and I love Italian food. Actually, we love most food, but what we love best about Italian food is that it really is healthy for you. Lots of fresh ingredients like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, fresh herbs including lots of parsley and oregano, oh, and lots of olive oil. I especially like the white cheeses like Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago, and Provolone. White cheese has less cholesterol than the yellow varieties and is healthier for you.

Wine is also a staple with any Italian meal. Maybe, that is why in Italy the people live longer and are healthier than in other parts of the world. Red wine is loaded with antioxidants, don’t even bother with the whites, unless you want to whip up some lovely Chardonnay gravy.


Afternoon Espresso

The Perfect Treat

My Cute Little Vintage Espresso Maker

You just fill the bottom part with water, then add the espresso powder grounds to the filter, screw on the top and then place on top of the stove to boil away.  It only takes a few minutes and then you have the best tasting espresso.

Bring to a Boil

(The handle is broken, it is so old.  This cute little pot was made in Portugal).

The espresso bubbles up through the top and then you pour into an espresso cup.

Add some biscotti and you have the nicest afternoon treat!



(Julie in Italian)


Hey, you never know.


How To Make Your Own Oven-Dried Tomatoes

In the photo above, I am having some of our own oven-dried tomatoes on an Italian Naan bread pizza.

Oven Dried Roma Tomatoes

We also added our home grown basil leaves to the jar. Gordon topped the jar off with a nice little sprig of basil which makes it look like a flower on top.

For this recipe, the first thing you need is a lot of Roma tomatoes.

I would say I bought about 60 – 70. We find that using Roma’s just makes for a more perfect looking, tasting and textured tomato.

First, put down some parchment paper so they don’t stick.

For the perfect thickness, simply slice them in half as below.


We baked them on 300’F for two hours and achieved this result.

We felt they needed a bit more cooking to dry out a bit more, so we put them back into the oven.
After another hour and a half (for a total of 4 1/2 hours cooking time) we achieved the results we were looking for!

So chewy and caramelized!


Next, you just want to store your oven roasted tomatoes into a jar, adding layers of basil and even some of our oregano fresh herbs or garlic, while covering in extra virgin olive oil.

Makes an excellent gift!


Here we used some of the oven roasted tomatoes on a pizza for me.

Buon Appetito!

Between the 60 – 70 Romas that I bought and the two Naan bread pizzas we ate, they all fit into these two jars. They do shrink down, so consider that when you make them.

How To Make our Italian Naan Bread Pizzas

The first thing you want to do is to cook the Naan bread in the oven for about 8 minutes bottom side up on 400’F . We buy the prepackaged Naan Bread.
Next, take the Naan bread out of the oven and cover the top in a layer of your favorite red sauce (spaghetti sauce), next place a layer of oven dried tomatoes and some cheese, which in our case we used Gordon’s homemade mozzarella. We then put it back into the oven for about 8 minutes longer, mainly to melt the mozzarella. When you remove it from the oven, let cool and add your fresh herbs, roasted pine nuts, a sprinkling of garlic salt, etc.
Then you are ready to enjoy!


In this photo we added some shaved Parmesan as well. 

You can also drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it.

Our Fresh Herbs

Most of our meals begin right here, in our backyard with our herbs.

and the Tomatoes

Backyard Picnic

A Sexy Backyard Picnic  🙂

Beautiful Tomatoes

Zucchini Fritters

Gordon and I are incorporating more vegetables as a main course into our diet.
You always think of vegetables as a side dish, but they can also make a great entrée.

Here is an excellent zucchini fritter recipe to try.
From the Nigella Summer cookbook by Nigella Lawson.
4 Zucchini (about 1 ½ lbs)
5-6 scallions, finely chopped
9 ounces of feta cheese
Small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Small bunch of fresh mint, chopped, plus extra to sprinkle over the top at the end
1 Tbs dried mint (We left this part out as it doesn’t really make much of a difference)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes (This was our idea.)
1 cup of all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for frying
3-4 limes (optional, to spritz over at the end)


Coarsely grate the zucchini with either the grating blade in the food processor. Spread the little shreds out on a tea towel or paper towel, and leave for about 20 minutes to get rid of any excess wetness. Ours were still a bit too wet, so we rung out the extra water by wrapping the towel tightly around the shredded zucchini and squeezing over the sink.

Put the chopped scallions in a bowl and crumble in the feta. Stir in the chopped parsley and mint, along with the dried mint and paprika. Add the flour and season well with salt and pepper. Gradually add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly before stirring in the drained, grated zucchini. Don’t be alarmed by the straggly lumpiness of this batter; It’s meant to be this way.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil to medium high in a large frying pan and drop heaped dessertspoons of the mixture in the hot oil, flattening the little cakes down with the back of the spoon as you go. Cook the little patties for about 2 minutes on each side until golden, and then transfer to a couple of waiting plates.

Chop up the limes and tumble them about the edges of the plates. Sprinkle over a little more mint and eat them just as they are, spritzed with lime juice as you go.



Mother’s Day Italian Dinner For Julie

This was a new recipe we wanted to try and as usual, we always change things around and gear it toward our health needs.

Zucchini Stuffed Pasta Shells

Topped with our new Purple Basil as well as our Green Basil from our garden.

As usual with all of our food we pack it full of our herbs.

Above on the rustic whole wheat Italian bread (around the dish) I’ve added some fresh oregano and chives.

I also added some of our new lemon basil to the stuffed shells giving it a hint of a lemon taste to the dish.

Zucchini Stuffed Pasta Shells
5 or 6 medium zucchini’s
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
6 egg yolks
3 garlic cloves
1 cup roasted pine nuts


Place the nuts into a saute pan and turn the heat on medium/high, then brown them. Just toss them around in the pan until ready.
2 -3 tsps of fresh lemon thyme leaves
1 tsp of dried red pepper flakes
10 cups of any favorite tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce
24 ounces large pasta shells
Basil Leaves for garnish
(Always eat the garnish.)


Preheat oven to 350’F
You want to spray your cooking dish with an olive oil Pam.
Grate your zucchini and garlic cloves.


Combine the zucchini, garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, egg yolks, roasted pine nuts, lemon thyme, and chili pepper flakes into a large bowl.

In the meantime, you want to cook your large pasta shells for about 2 minutes in boiling water, just to soften them and make them pliable. When finished cooking, drain, then set aside. You want to begin your assembly.

You want to place a layer of the tomato sauce (red sauce) on the bottom of the dish to prevent the shells from sticking while cooking.
Then, start the assembly of stuffing each shell with the mixture and place them into the dish to be baked.


When you have finished stuffing the shells, cover with your red sauce.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Then you want to uncover the dish and bake for an additional 15 minutes until it is a little browned.
Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese and top with fresh basil leaves.
The base of this dish is Julie’s homemade red sauce. Into the red sauce we add lots of herbs, mainly our own chives and Italian oregano.


Before and After

Although very hard to tell the difference in these two photos, Julie added our “magic ingredient” and it changed the color of the sauce from red, to orange. So what is the magic ingredient in addition to our herbs, you may ask?

We put it in most everything, because turmeric kills cancer cells, so eat up!


If you have an Indian grocery store near where you live, then you can buy a huge bag for just a few dollars and it will last you a long time.

We added about a full Tablespoon here. It is a earthy bland spice and will not affect the taste of your food much. We also add it to simple things like chicken salad and egg salad. It gives the salads a lovely golden color. But here, it brightened Julie’s red sauce into a beautiful orange color.
Julie’s NOTE: It is good for women to eat two cooked tomato dishes per week, such as a spaghetti sauce, a bruschetta, or some sort of stewed tomatoes.
Good for our breasts.  : )


Our 2015 Mother’s Day Dinner

Italian food is beautiful. Usually tomato based. In addition to our stuffed shells, we also have an excellent artisan salad with sliced mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers, roasted pine nuts, and topped with shaved parmesan cheese, with a healthy lite Italian dressing.

The Appetizers

I added some pretty vine tomatoes as decoration to the table as well as pretty grapes.
Olives with feta and stuffed red peppers and a spicy hot goat cheese.

Bruschettas with little parmesan toasts that we made out of a stale whole wheat bagette, as well as store bought bread sticks that Julie placed in her Buca di Beppo souvenir glass.
Parmesan Toasts


First, slice a baguette into small half inch slices.
You can also buy an already sliced whole wheat baguette.
Next, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil onto each piece of bread.
Sprinkle some garlic salt and some powdered Parmesan cheese onto each slice.
Place into a 350’F oven for about 10 minutes.  Then turn the oven on broil and keep them in the oven until they turn brown in color.
Nice and crispy.
Eggplant Parmigiana
Dinner is Served
Eggplant parmigiana with an olive oil and garlic pasta and rustic Italian bread topped with grated Parmesan and our fresh herbs from our garden.  Purple Basil.
You want to get as much moisture out of the eggplant as possible. 
Gordon sprinkled the eggplant with table salt to help release moisture. 
-4 Medium Eggplants Sliced
(Gordon adding salt to the eggplant.)
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Frying Eggplant
-1 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
-3 Cups Seasoned Bread Crumbs (Italian)
-6 Eggs, beaten
-8 Cups Tomato Sauce (We used my spaghetti sauce)
I always add Marinated Artichoke Hearts and Turmeric to my sauce, along with several herbs of chives and oregano.  This is in addition to the recipe listed.  All of this is part of my “tomato sauce”.
-2 Cups Grated Mozzarella
-1 1/2 Cups Grated Parmesan
1/2 Cup Fresh Herbs
(We used our Italian Oregano and our Lemon Thyme)
Preheat the Oven to 350*
Heat your olive oil in a shallow pan on the stove on a medium-high heat.
Next dredge your eggplant slices in the flour, egg, and then bread crumbs.  Then place in the pan to fry until a nice golden brown.
Gordon Frying the Eggplant
This in itself is perfection to eat on it’s own.
The Eggplant Casserole Assembly Line
We placed a layer of my tomato sauce, or red sauce, on the bottom of the casserole dish. This helps to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the bottom and burning.  Next we start to place the fried eggplant onto the bottom of the casserole dish. 
Then you want to add a layer of herbs and Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses.
Next you want to add another layer of tomato sauce, then eggplant, then herbs and cheeses.
We do this until we get to the top of the casserole dish.  Whether you want to add two layers of three, that is up to you.
Once we get all of our layers of sauce, eggplant, herbs, cheeses……
Top with aluminum foil and then bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Ready to Consume
Pasta, Pasta, Pasta
This is a multi-colored pasta side dish that is so delicious!
You start by boiling the pasta to al dente on the stove top.  In the meantime you want to heat up some olive oil and some chopped garlic on the stove.  You are literally infusing the olive oil with the garlic.
Infusing the Olive Oil with Garlic
When the pasta is ready you want to add the garlic olive oil and then grate some Parmesan cheese over top.  Then add a row of olives all around the dish.
Don’t forget the Rustic Italian Whole Wheat Garlic Bread
Help Yourself!



Leftover Fried Eggplant and Leftover Red Sauce and Leftover Parmesan Cheese

Nice Easy Lunch the Next Day


And to think, it all started here, in our garden.

Chives and Italian Parsley

Lemon Thyme

Italian Oregano and well as regular Oregano

Basil Leaves

Purple Basil


It All Starts Here

The base of a healthy meal.

Gathering the Herbs

Wash the Herbs

Then you eat them!

You know, fresh herbs are cancer killers so why not incorporate more of them into your daily meals?  If we can do it, then so can you.

Julie’s Note:  I was brought up to view food as medicine, because that is what it is.

You know when you were a little child and you got sick, your mother gave you this nasty tasting spoon full of medicine that you choked down and it tasted nasty but then later on you felt better?

Well, that is what food is.  I will sometimes eat something that I don’t like but I know that it is good for me and it will make me feel better later on.

It’s my medicine.

I want to have a good quality life and that starts with good health and healthy foods.  Problem is that we live in the age of cancer.  Well, there are things that we can do about it.  🙂

We’re mother’s so let’s educate our children and grandchildren on how they can be healthy too and survive in this age of unhealthy.

What a great Mother’s Day Dinner


Mother’s Day Cocktail

Cocktail anyone?

Limoncello Cocktails

Limoncello is a lemon liqueur imported from Italy.  It can be a bit pricey but this was a special occasion…..  🙂

To create this cocktail we just chilled a bottle of Limoncello, (I do not have the bottle pictured here), then we added some lemon-lime sparkling water, and the last of our Italian volanic lemon juice (pictured above with a sprig of our lemon tree leaves from our backyard.coming out of it).   I sliced a few limes and lemons and added them to the pitcher, as well as some sprigs of our new lemon thyme herbs.

I like using the Italian Volcano 100% organic lemon juice because it has an excellent taste.  Made from the organic Sicilian lemons that grow near Mt. Etna Volcano in Italy.

Shh…….  That’s our secret ingredient.  🙂

Looks Very Pretty and Summery

Not to mention, refreshing.

I also added some basil to the drink.  Not just for decoration, be sure to eat it as well..


Mother’s Day Leftovers

We Never Got Dessert

Limoncello Gellato with Sugar Free Lemon Cake

Gellato is Italian ice cream.  It is superior to our American version of ice cream because ours has more air in it than theirs.  Gellato is spectacular, for lack of a better word.

In the photos above I placed some limoncello gellato in an ice cream dish with some lemon cake and a slice of lemon as a garnish.  I also grated some fresh lime over it to give it that nice green flecked finish.

We also had a chocolate roll cake with some chocolate chip gellato.

Excellent Mother’s Day Dessert


Leftover Mother’s Day Salad

We had such an excellent Mother’s Day dinner and I especially loved the artisan lettuce salad, so I threw together all the remaining ingredients from yesterday to make this.

Of course we had the leftover artisan lettuce and the mushrooms and fresh broccoli.

Beautiful Artisan Lettuce

We also had some herbs leftover that we didn’t use so I added them into the mix.  After all, never let fresh herbs go to waste.

Leftover Herbs

We had some leftover roasted pine nuts that I added and some leftover shaved Parmesan cheese.

Leftover Roasted Pine Nuts

They are so creamy tasting!

Leftover Shaved Parmesan Cheese

And next the best thing ever…..

Leftover Parmesan Toasts

They make excellent croutons.

Now just add your favorite salad dressing, preferably an oil and vinegar type, and you have an excellent dinner.


Italian Appetizers For Dinner


Fresh flowers in a vintage coffee pot.

Cheeses, wine, breads, olives, sundried tomatoes, artichoke bruschetta, focaccia, and roasted garlic.

This is my perfect dinner.



Reading some old vintage cookbooks with lovely photos of days gone by.  Not to mention excellent old recipes.


Little Parmesan toasts wrapped up in a pretty ribbon.


Here I used my little Chinese rice bowls to house all these little extras.  I even used the Chinese spoons as well.  I’m sure Italians wouldn’t like it but oh, well.


Feta and an herbed goat cheese.


 My plate. 

A little bit of everything that makes me happy.



Pasta Party

Our pasta party dinner table.  3 different kinds of pastas.

Eggplant Timbale

Our eggplant timbale (recipe is featured way down the page), as the centerpiece.  Who needs flowers?

I forgot the bread basket and didn’t have time to go and dig it up so I just placed the bread all around the sides of the dish.

Origami Napkins


Napkins folded in lovely shapes make such a bold statement to any dinner table.  Gordon folded these.

Here is just a simple place setting but the place mat is a nice bold color for the table.


Here are some more examples of folded napkins.

The red napkin is called Fire.


What to do with the leftover pasta dish ingredients???

Gordon’s Stuffed Portabellas

The leftover ingredients from our pasta party.

(Minus the lovely jar of pasta)

2 Portabella mushrooms
Olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 lb of ground pork
1/4 cup Marsala Wine
1/8 cup Merlot Wine
1 1/4 cups Ricotta cheese
1/8 cup Fresh Oregano leaves
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Asiago and Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

This recipe makes enough for 5 total stuffed Portabella mushrooms.

Simply take off the stems of the mushrooms and lightly pour some good olive oil on both side with a little salt and pepper to taste.  Now, cook the mushrooms either on a grill pan as I did or other large pan on medium heat until wilted.  I would say about 6-8 min. on each side.


In another pan cook/sautee your onions for about 2 min then add your sausage and garlic.  Cook the mixture until the sausage in lightly browned then add you Marsala and Merlot wines. 

Cook the mixture until the wine is about gone (3-4 min).


In a medium sized bowl mix together your Ricotta, Asiago, and Parmesan cheeses, fresh oregano and bread crumbs.

When the meat mixture has cooled, mix it together with your cheese mixture and then taste it to ensure it has enough salt and pepper to your liking.

Stuff the mixture onto the underside of the mushrooms as shown below.  Bake the stuffed mushrooms in a 400’F oven for 20 minutes or until the mixture turns a slight golden brown.




Leftover Portabellas?

Here is a quick recipe that you can do with leftovers from the frig.

Gordon_rummaging_through_the_frig._smallWe liked the stuffed mushrooms so much above that we wanted them again, but I didn’t have the exact same ingredients to create more of the filling.  We did have some leftover filling from the above recipe, but we still had more mushrooms to fill so….
I dove into our well stocked refrigerator and came up with a great recipe.

The_ingredients_small3 Portabella mushrooms
6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Asiago cheese
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
4 cloves roasted garlic
8 fresh Basil leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Remove the mushroom stems and sprinkle both sides with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cook/sautee the mushrooms for about 6-8 min on each side until wilted.

Leftover_Roasted_Garlic_smallIn a medium sized bowl, spread the roasted garlic around the bowl so it mixes evenly withe rest of the ingredients then add the other ingredients, mix well and taste.


Here we stuffed three of the mushroom with the previous recipe and three with my leftover ingredients from the refrigerator.


Bake the stuffed mushrooms in a 400’F oven for 20 minutes or until the mixture turns a slight golden brown.



Julie’s Spaghetti Sauce

I have to brag that I make one Hell of a spaghetti sauce.  Even though you see the Classico sauce pictured above and your probably thinking that my sauce is hardly original.  But actually it is.  The Classico is my base and I build on it.

I start off with 2 or 3 jars of Classico spaghetti sauce.  Anything that doesn’t have any meat in it.  I prefer just the sauces.  Then I add two cans of tomato paste, a good sprinkling of garlic salt all over the mixture and a few good shakes of Tabasco sauce.  Also about 35 grinds on the pepper mill.

My ‘Made In Italy’ Olive Oil Bottle


I’m very proud of this bottle that I found at a thrift store.  He houses my extra virgin olive oil that I use in my Italian cooking.  It is rare to find ‘made in Italy’ here in America.  Very vintage.  If you look closely my lovely man has a mustache.

Back to my sauce.  I think the secret is for the sauce to simmer for hours on the stove top.  To me this is a ritual.  I want my sauce to thicken and get a bit darker.  It always bubbles up and spatters so I like to keep a lid on it as my sauce is very messy.


Once it has been simmering on the stove top for a good hour and a half I like to add a jar of marinated artichoke hearts.  Sometimes two jars, depending on how I feel, and half the jars marinade.


Cooking Italian for me is almost a ceremony of sorts.  I love to light candles and have an atmosphere to the whole experience.

Herbs in our Garden

Fresh herbs are an important part of our cooking.  We have our own herb garden in our backyard.  Chives and oregano are a big staple for us.  Especially with my spaghetti sauce.

Wash the herbs thoroughly.  Then let dry.

Here I am snipping the chives into the sauce.  I do this about an hour before my sauce is ready.

Here’s Monk looking for any food scraps that may fall onto the floor. 


Adding the Oregano


I love a thick sauce and the secret to having a thick sauce is in having it simmer for a long time.  We like our sauce to become so thick that it literally becomes a paste.

I LOVE to cook with wine.  Sometimes I put it in my food.  🙂


Now for the spaghetti pasta.  Add a little bit of olive oil to the water so that the pasta won’t stick together.

How to tell if your spaghetti pasta is ready, throw it against the refrigerator.  If it sticks then it is ready.  REALLY!!


Kind of looks like a fish, huh?

Grated fresh Parmesan cheese, some cheese sticks to snack on while I create this delicious meal. 

Bottom photo is our bread that we have sliced and added seasonings and fresh herbs to.  Prefect!


The photo at bottom is my son Brodie’s dinner.  The photo to the left, below is my dinner.  His is on a regular dinner plate and mine is on a luncheon or salad plate.

It helps when you are trying to loose weight or eat less to use a smaller plate.


Bon Appetite!!





World Pasta Day is October 25th. and we wanted to unveil some of our favorite pasta dinners.  Some of these recipes were given to us by old friends that we added or subtracted some of the ingredients.  We will also be posting some of our own recipes.   Also recipes from cookbooks, and even a cookbook brochure that I picked up at our commissary deli, and even a simple ‘pasta salad’ from a box where you just add water and olive oil.  Who says everything has to be homemade?

My Pasta Set

This was a Christmas gift to me from my mother last year.  The colors match my kitchen at home very nicely.  I love it and use it quite often.

Getting out our pasta accessories for our monthly celebration of World Pasta Day.


Below are some of my vintage pasta containers that I found at thrift stores.

Above is my copper garlic holder that I found at an antique mall for just dollars.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pasta shaped pineapples and palm trees are right up my alley.


Eggplant Timbale


This excellent meal is cut and served like you would a pie.

Very hearty dinner.


Add some delicious roasted herb bread and you have a wonderful dinner.

Eggplant Timbale Ingredients

1 large Vidalia onion diced

2 tbsp. olive oil plus 1 cup for eggplant

I lb. turkey sausage

1 lb. Italian pork sausage

½ cup Marsala wine

2 cups Marinara sauce

2 cups diced Mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup frozen peas

Fresh Basil leaves thinly chopped (Chiffonade – cooking term used to thinly slice)

3 medium eggplants sliced long ways ½ in. thick

1 lb. penne pasta

Salt and pepper to taste



Sautee the chopped onions in the 2 tbsp. olive oil until translucent.


Add the pork and turkey sausage and brown until done.


Drain off the grease then lower the heat a bit and add the Marsala wine, cooking it down until mostly evaporated then add the Marinara sauce, stirring the entire mixture and cooking it for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the peas, olives and some basil.



  Cook the penne pasta until al dente, as directed on the package and drain in large colander.


Spoon the ground turkey and Italian sausage mixture into a larger pot before adding the penne.

You need only simmer at this stage just to keep the mixture warm.


Now Gordon is cutting the cheese.  🙂

Fresh mozzarella, Pecorino and Parmesan.


You want to cut the mozzarella into cubes, and grate the Pecorino.

Again, you just want to keep the mixture warm so that it will melt the cheese.

Timbale Filling

Looks delicious, doesn’t it?

Slicing the Eggplant


Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and grill until cooked through, making nice grill marks as shown then season them with salt and pepper.   Brushing on too much olive when grilling will make the eggplant too soggy and hard to work with.

Arrange the grilled eggplant slices in a pinwheel shape overlapping them as you go in a 10 inch spring form pan.  Do this as nicely as you can since you will invert the dish when done.  The slices should go up the pan’s sides.


PA210104_smallAdd some more fresh basil to the mixture.

Spoon some of the sausage pasta mixture on top of the eggplant slices.


Place more eggplant slices down the sides of the spring form pan and over the outside edge.

PA210110_smallLooks like a scary creature!

  Now, fill the pan with the sausage penne mixture until full then fold the eggplant slices over the top of the filling in a pinwheel fashion as before.


PA210117_smallAdd more cheese.  Pecorino-Romano and Parmesan.  Then fold eggplant slices overlapping each other.

Bake the entire dish on a pizza pan to catch any drippings for 30 min. in a 350’F oven.  Once cooked set aside for 10 min. to cool which will help mixture set up.


Now invert the eggplant timbale using another dish and open the spring form pan.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and slice and serve the timbale like you would a pie.


If you don’t like eggplant then you can just eat the mixture as it is. It is quite delicious!

One final grating of cheese and then viola!

BREAD!  Always bread!!


Here Gordon sliced the bread in a diagonal pattern, adding some olive oil, herbs, and grated Parmesan after roasting.


Baked Rigatoni

Serves 8-10 people.  You can halve the recipe if you like, we don’t, we like lots of leftovers.


Add some bread and maybe even a fresh garden salad.

My mouth is salivating as I post these photos.  🙂

Country Italian bread with lots of delicious fresh herbs from our garden.

Baked Rigatoni

(Otherwise known a Baked Ziti)

I never used ziti pasta for this, I would always use rigatoni so there is no reason to call it ‘Baked Ziti’ now is there?

1 16 oz. box of Ziti or Rigatoni pasta

2 pounds of Ricotta Cheese

4 cups grated mozzarella cheese

3 eggs

2 Tablespoons dried parsley

2 cups Parmesan cheese

3 jars of spaghetti sauce

(We use our own homemade spaghetti sauce here).


Boil your pasta till al dente and then drain.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, and parsley.  Stir in pasta , combine.  In a large baking dish spread one layer of the pasta, cheeses, eggs and parsley, then top off with your tomato sauce.  (Whether you make it yourself or use a spaghetti sauce from a jar).  Then add another layer of your pasta and cheeses, then another layer of tomato sauce.  Top the mixture with a final layer of tomato sauce and then add your grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350* for 30 – 45 minutes depending on your oven. 



Bowtie Pasta


I found this little cookbook at my deli counter at the commissary on MacDill Air Force Base where I do my grocery shopping.  It’s from Boar’s Head.  I just couldn’t believe all the great recipes inside.  It is a free cookbook for all their customers.  If you ever see one, pick one up you won’t be disappointed.

Prosciutto and Pea Bowtie Pasta

6 oz. Prosciutto, thinly sliced

16 ounces Bowtie pasta

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. garlic, finely chopped

1 (9 ounce) package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed. (We used marinated artichoke hearts in a jar).

1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

1 cup Peas, frozen and thawed

3 T. fresh Parsley, finely chopped

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shredded

Salt and Pepper to taste


!.  Cut prosciutto into strips and set aside.

2.  Cook bowtie pasta according to package directions.

3.  While the past cooks, heat oil in a medium skillet and sauté the garlic.

4.  Drain the artichoke and add them to the skillet with the red pepper; cook just until the garlic turns golden brown.

5.  Add the peas and cook 1 minute.

6.  Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl.

7.  Add the artichoke/pea mixture, prosciutto, and parsley.  Toss gently.

8.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.


Gordon’s Pasta with Tomatoes and Olives


– 4 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.  A mixture of red and yellow are a nice look.

 – 10-15 pitted and chopped olives (We used Thassos oil-cured black olives) but you can use any type of olive that you like.

– salt or garlic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

– 3/4 cup bread crumbs.  We used seasoned Italian.

– 3 tbsp olive oil

– 1 pound Ziti pasta noodles

– 1 ½ cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

– ½ cup Italian flat leaf parsley roughly chopped

– 8 Fresh Basil leaves thinly sliced into long stripes (Chiffonade style)


Preheat your oven to 375’F.  Mix your halved tomatoes, bread crumbs, and olive oil together seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in the oven for ~30 min. or until golden brown.  Once 15 min. have passed, start to cook your pasta in boiling salted water until tender (al dente) being sure to save ~1 cup of pasta water after draining.  When both the tomato/bread crumbs and pasta have cooked properly combine them and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Add some of the pasta water to the mixture to create a thin sauce which helps the ingredients adhere to each other.  Taste to ensure it is to your liking adding more salt/garlic salt or pepper then serve immediately.

Al Dente Rigatoni!


Gordon putting the finishing touches on our excellent Italian dinner.

Photo right, the roasted tomatoes, bread crumbs and olives.  We usually like to double these recipes because we love leftovers.     


Top, the finished results.

Julie getting ready to dig in.  It’s great having a husband that goes to culinary school.


Bread, seasoned olive oil with spices.  Great for dipping.


Top, the candles.  Remember in college when you would place a candle in an empty wine bottle so that the wax would drip down the sides?  This was a great memory to recreate.

Top left, I put a basil plant into this kitchen utensil holder to act as a vase.  Who needs flowers when you’ve got basil?

The Place Setting



Italian Sausage Hoagies

Cooking Light is an excellent magazine for delicious recipes that are light in fat, sugar and calories.  The recipes are quite tasty.  We tried this hoagie over the weekend and LOVED it!


From the October 2012 edition.

Broiling the Hoagie Bread

Italian Sausage Hoagies4 (2-ounce hoagie rills, halved lengthwise

9 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch-thick pieces

½ cup pre-chopped onion

1 t. minced fresh garlic

1 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

¼ t. freshly ground black pepper

                  2.25 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about ½ cup)

1.      Preheat broiler to high. 

    2.     Hollow out top halves of rolls.  Arrange rolls, cut sides up, on a baking sheet.  Broil 1 ½ minutes or until toasted.  Set aside. 

  3.     Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Add onion and garlic; cook 1 minute.  Add marinara, bell pepper, and black pepper, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until bell pepper is crisp-tender. 

     4.     Arrange about ¾ cup sausage mixture over bottom half of each roll; sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoons cheese  Place on a baking sheet; broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.  Top with top halves of rolls.



The Gift of Italian

Italian gift bag_small

A Great Edible Gift Idea

This was so much fun to put together.  I simply bought several of these purple reusable grocery bags and filled them with an Italian food cookbook and some basic ingredients for creating a few lovely Italian meals.

Inside the bag_small

All Italian Ingredients:

One colorful bag (Made In America) of course.

Various Pastas

Olive Dipping Oil

Marinated Artichoke Hearts


Kalamata Olives

Marinated Sun Dried Tomatoes

Panettone (Italian Christmas Bread)

Lots of Chocolate Tuffles sprinkled all around.

Italian Cookbook

In this VERSION of the Italian Gift Bag I added Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Nigellissima.

  I also included some of my homemade Spaghetti sauce.

In this version I added Giada De Laurentiis’s Italian Cookbook.

Here are also some extras that I added to the gift.  Some wooden spoons and a Ghiradelli chocolate brownie mix.  Taylor the gifts to fit the recipients.  For your local giftee’s you could include a loaf of rustic Italian bread or some pancetta, (Italian bacon).

Everyone that we gave this gift to loved it!  That’s all that we wanted to hear.  That they were happy.  Isn’t that what gift giving is all about?

Buon Appetito!