Baked Eggplant Rollatini Appetizers

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Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well as we start at the beginning of another weekend. Here in the Northeast, it seems we are in for a chilly weekend in the 30’s and possibly snow. Even though it’s Spring, Mother Nature is still unsure.

Of course in the cooler weather, I love to be in the kitchen making a hearty meal, but on Friday, I decided to change that pattern, and Bob and I ordered lunch in from a local restaurant and it was quite filling and delicious.

When dinner rolled around we were still full from lunch and we wanted something that was not a heavy meal, but fast and delicious.

I looked in the refrigerator & cabinets for something quick and we had pasta & fish with lunch so that was out and then I spotted a lonely eggplant in the veggie bin.

I hadn’t used this eggplant because it was a lot smaller and thinner than what I usually buy to make a meal (it was part of an instacart food delivery) and then I had an idea…..

Bob and I Love eggplant rollatini but this eggplant wouldn’t make a complete meal because of the size, but it would make some appetizers and then the dinner idea blossomed…

I had ricotta and mozzarella and I always have homemade tomato sauce in the freezer. I would just use my eggplant rollatini recipe with a few adjustments.

I also had a bunch of fresh spinach that needed to be used so I sauteed the spinach in garlic and oil and added it to the filling. It worked out perfectly.

These mini eggplant rolls would be a great idea for a party platter.

So, I wanted to share my “adjusted” recipe with you. Also, if you increase the number of eggplants and serve it with a small side of pasta or a salad, it could be a complete Lenten meal.

The recipe below is for the appetizers, but if you are interested in a full meal, as I said above, just add additional eggplants and increase some of the ingredients.

I usually bread and fry the eggplant but I decided to make the meal extra easy and skipped that step and baked the eggplant with no breading.

I hope you try it and enjoy it.

Baked Eggplant Rollatini Appetizers


  • 1 medium eggplant (long and thin for the appetizers), sliced lengthwise (¼ inch)

Cooks Note: if you are making the eggplant rollatini for a dinner, then use 2 large eggplants and double the other ingredients.

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated cheese (I used Locatelli Romano)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (1/2 for filling and ½ for topping the eggplant rolls)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 shakes of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2-3 tbsp of fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2-3 cups of pasta sauce (homemade is preferred or a no-salt jarred sauce).
  • OPTIONAL: sauteed fresh spinach or frozen spinach, thawed and drained well.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Slice the eggplant lengthwise in ¼ inch slices (they will shrink a little when cooked)

Lay the eggplants on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat (if you don’t have either then use cooking spray or grease the pan lightly with olive oil). Season with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes

Remove the eggplant slices from the oven and let cool for an additional 10 minutes so you can easily handle the slices. The softer they are the easier they are to roll.

If you are using spinach in your filling, sauté in olive oil and garlic and cool (use a slotted spoon to add this mixture to the filling so you don’t add the olive oil making the filling too watery) or if using frozen spinach, drain the thawed spinach & squeeze dry to remove the water before adding to the filling.

Prepare your filling:

In a large bowl, ADD the ricotta, grated cheese, mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, nutmeg, minced garlic, basil, and an egg. Mix well.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish

Once you can handle the eggplant, place a 1 tbsp scoop of the filling on each eggplant slice and then roll the eggplant slices up and place them in the baking dish with the seam side down.

Once completed, add the remaining tomato sauce on top of the eggplant rolls and follow with the remaining mozzarella cheese

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. If you want additional crispy cheese, broil for 2-3 minutes but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.

I hope you give this recipe a try for a Lenten meal or an appetizer platter at your next get-together or holiday. Enjoy!


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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Happy St. Joseph’s Day 2022

Hi everyone,

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Happy St. Joseph’s Day! I know I have posted this holiday for many years and for all the new members I will repost the history of St. Joseph’s Day before I share some food items and recipes…..

In Italy, St Joseph’s Day is considered the same as our “Father’s Day”

A little background for Saint Joseph or San Giuseppe that might help you understand the holiday a little better. Saint Joseph was the husband of Mary. It is in Sicily where Saint Joseph is regarded as their patron saint for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought and the people prayed to Saint Joseph for rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers and the rain came they would prepare a feast in his honor.

Well, the rain came and the people prepared a large banquet. Legend has it that the fava bean was the crop that saved the population from starvation and that is always part of the Saint Joseph day dinner.

Some people keep painted fava beans as a good luck charm.

When I was a child, on Saint Joseph’s Day my Grandmother would take me to bring food to the Saint Joseph’s Day altar of her local church after Mass. Many of the older generations set up altars in their homes, but we did not. We always wore red to honor Saint Joseph, in the same way that green is worn on Saint Patrick’s Day.

The altars are quite a sight to see and they have 3 tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. The top tier holds the statue of Saint Joseph surrounded by flowers (especially lilies). The reason is that – “The lily is associated with Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary, through an ancient legend that he was chosen from among other men by the blossoming of his staff like a lily”. 

 The other tiers hold candles, figurines, special loaves of bread, pastries, lemons for luck, fava beans, pineapple for hospitality, and wine. There is also a basket on the bottom tier where you can place prayer petitions.

Different regions celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day differently but all involve meatless foods (because this holiday always falls during Lent), minestrone soup and pasta with breadcrumbs (The breadcrumbs represent sawdust since Saint Joseph was a carpenter)seafood, and fava beans for luck and for dessert, the star of the show, zeppole, and sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Here is a picture of my minestrone soup.

In my family, we made minestrone soup followed by bucatini with anchovies and breadcrumbs. (For those of you who are not familiar, bucatini is basically a larger spaghetti with a hole inside. Another traditional pasta is Mafaldine pasta; this looks like thin strips of lasagna noodles with curly edges). Sicilians usually make the dish with sardines (Pasta con Sarde) instead of anchovies.

This is a photo of my pasta dish today for Saint Joseph’s Day.

Bucatini with olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and parsley- a tradition and a favorite in my home, delicious.

The Saint Joseph’s Day bread was another special part of the meal and my Dad would buy the bread and have it blessed before he brought it home. It is a crusty loaf of bread flavored with anise- so delicious.

This year I tried my hand at bread making and here is my version of St. Joseph’s Day bread….

Bob loved it and said it was better than the bakery, but I would have liked a little more anise flavor so I think next time I will add double the anise seeds….

And now back to the pastries. They are called zeppole or sfingi di San Guiseppe and I am sure you have all seen them. Zeppole has vanilla custard filling and sfingi are filled with ricotta, which is the same filling used for cannoli.

It’s a sweet dough like a big cream puff split and filled. They can be filled two ways. One with cannoli cream with tiny chocolate chips and candied fruit and also with custard cream; both topped with powdered sugar and cherry and both delicious. Every year I always have to have one with each filling.

A fine tradition I passed along to my son.

A lot of the old traditions unfortunately are not practiced as much today. Grandparents and parents have passed on and lives have become much busier, but I try to keep as many traditions going in my family as I can.

All in all this holiday brings back great memories for me when I was younger and my family was still here with me, enjoying each other’s company and a great meal together.

I am not making the traditional minestrone soup this year but I am making bucatini pasta with garlic, olive oil and anchovies, and toasted breadcrumbs. Plus I am trying my hand at making the traditional St Joseph’s bread. I usually go to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to all the Italian bakeries but this year I won’t be able to get there so wish me luck!

Below are the recipes I am using this year. Have a blessed and joyful St. Joseph’s Day!

Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs

Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add 1- 3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. I add a little grated cheese to the breadcrumbs as well. You can never have too much cheese.


Bucatini with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs



12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, finely chopped with the oil from the can (small can- 2 oz.)….for a stronger anchovy flavor add two cans.

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound bucatini

1/2 cup olive oil + 3 TBSP

4-6 large garlic cloves, sliced and divided

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Grated cheese

1 and 1/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs (1 cup for sauce * 1/3 cup for garnish)


Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve pasta water.

In a small skillet, add 3 TBSP of olive oil and approximately 3 cloves of sliced garlic and warm at a very low temperature (you want to flavor the oil)

While the pasta is cooking, heat ½ cup of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat

Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and the finely chopped anchovies. 

Cook, stirring until the anchovies dissolve. (Be careful of splatters)

Remove from the heat. 

Add 1 cup of toasted breadcrumbs and stir for 1 minute to combine the oil and breadcrumbs

Add 3 ladles of pasta water to make a sauce 

Return to the heat on low and stir in the parsley

Add the drained cooked pasta to the pot with the anchovy sauce. Toss until the strands are well coated

Slowly add the warm garlic oil with sliced garlic and mix well.

Season with salt & pepper

Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved breadcrumbs and grated cheese.  


St Joseph Bread

(Makes 1 loaf – approx. 18-inches in length)


2/3 cup warm milk, 105 – 115 degrees F.
1 (1/4-ounce) package dry active yeast
3 cups bread flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon anise seed or 1 teaspoon anise extract  ( I use both for a strong anise flavor)   

Egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds


Stir the yeast into the warm milk and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, anise seed or extract, and another cup of flour. Beat for 2 more minutes.

Change from the paddle attachment to a dough hook. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough starts to come together. You may not need to add all of the flour. Then allow the dough hook to knead the dough on medium for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20 – 22-inch rope. Place the 2 ropes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Loosely twist the ropes together, tucking the ends under. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


And a bonus recipe for St. Joseph’s pastry

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles



1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs


1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

 Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Maraschino cherries


 To make the pastry:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.

Return to low heat.  Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan.  Remove from heat. 

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each addition until smooth.  Continue beating until dough is satiny and breaks into strands.  Allow the mixture to cool.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip. 

For each pastry, pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool before filling.

 To make the filling:

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolks  Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture. 

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat. 

Stir in rum, orange zest, and vanilla.  Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until cold.  Fold in the whipped cream.

 To assemble the zeppole:

Cut the pastries in half horizontally.  Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry bag with a star tip.  Pipe some of the fillings onto the cut side of the bottom half of each pastry.  Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.

Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.

Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.  Dust the pastries with confectioners’ sugar.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” “share” and JOIN 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2022

Hi Everyone,

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I hope all is well and you all recovered from the weekend of “Daylight Savings Time” – losing an hour is tough.

Anyway, I wish you a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day with many blessings!

Bob and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day yesterday which was unplanned but sort of fell into place like this…...

We had a lot of appointments starting very early yesterday morning and decided to save some time and get a quick breakfast on the way home.

We walked into the local bagel store and there in front of me in the showcase were baskets full of green bagels for the upcoming holiday and I just had to have one. I added some scallion cream cheese to my bagel just to add even more “green” to the meal.

I haven’t had a bagel store bagel in so long that it was a bit of heaven with each bite. This bagel was so huge I could only eat half and now I have the other half for the official St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

I mentioned to Bob that I wanted to celebrate a day early and not wait until the actual holiday because now I was in the mood to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just because of this one green bagel.

My darling husband went into the basement for my St. Patrick’s Day dishes. These dishes are melamine and manufactured by the company “Upware” and they make an appearance once a year on my table.

I started taking out all my grocery items to get my St. Patrick’s Day meals in order.

When I ordered my groceries this week, I ordered the traditional corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, Guinness beer and I also ordered some shamrock-shaped ravioli that caught my eye. This would be perfect for lunch.

When lunchtime came around I made a quick pesto sauce to go along with the ravioli (keeping the green theme) topped with pine nuts because I was pressed for time but I was originally thinking of making an “Irish Vodka Sauce” for these ravioli.

I listed both sauce recipes below if you are interested in trying either one of them.

Basic Basil Pesto Sauce


  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves (no stems), washed & dried in between paper towels
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts (walnuts or pistachios can be substituted)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


Combine basil leaves, pine nuts, salt, and garlic in a food processor and process until finely minced.

With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth

Add the cheese and process very briefly to combine. Store in the refrigerator or freezer*.

Cook’s Note: * if you freeze the pesto, I will add the cheese before you serve the sauce and not freeze with the cheese added.


Irish Vodka Sauce


  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup of Irish Vodka
  • 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a skillet over medium heat, saute onion in butter until lightly golden.

ADD the vodka slowly to the pan and simmer for 10 minute

MIX IN the crushed tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes

Pour in the heavy cream and cook for another 10 minutes on a simmer and season with salt and pepper

Cook pasta in boiling water as per package directions and drain. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and enjoy.


After lunch, I started to prepare the veggies and get my corned beef prepped. I usually prepare this meal in the slow cooker but this year I search for a recipe for the Instant pot and found a great recipe from the website, “Striped Spatula”.

I want to thank the author Amanda Biddle for not only her great recipe but for all the time she saved me with this meal.

I copied her recipe below for your convenience so you don’t have to look it up.

Instant Pot Corned Beef

courtesy of Amanda Biddle from Striped Spatula.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 28 minutes

Pressure Build and Release Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 48 minutes

Servings: 4 to 5 servings

Estimated Calories Per Serving: 706kcal

Author: Amanda Biddle


  • 1 small yellow onion , sliced (use 1/2 if large)
  • ▢4 cloves garlic , peeled and lightly smashed with the back of a knife
  • ▢2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • ▢2-1/2 cups water
  • ▢4 pound corned beef brisket , rinsed
  • ▢12 ounces lager-style beer (nothing too bitter)
  • ▢1 pound tiny potatoes (about 1-1/2 inches in diameter), or red-skinned potatoes cut into 1-1/2 inch wedges
  • ▢1 head cabbage , cut into 8 wedges
  • ▢1 pound baby carrots
  • ▢1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley , for garnish
  • ▢2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted (optional)
  • grainy mustard , for serving (optional)


  • Combine onion, garlic, pickling spices, and water in the insert of a 6-quart Instant Pot. Place the corned beef brisket, fat side up, on a rack on top of the onions. Pour beer over the brisket.
  • Seal lid and set the unit to HIGH pressure for 85 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.* Remove corned beef and place on a dish or a cutting board, spooning a bit of the cooking liquid over the top. Cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Strain cooking liquid and discard solids. Return 1-1/2 cups of liquid to the Instant Pot and add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage wedges. (Reserve remaining cooking liquid.) Seal lid and set the unit to HIGH pressure for 3-4 minutes, depending on how soft you like your vegetables. Quick release pressure.
  • Slice corned beef against the grain. Spoon a little bit of the reserved cooking liquid over the corned beef slices on your platter. Sprinkle parsley over the vegetables, and if desired, drizzle with melted butter. Serve corned beef with mustard. 


*Since the beer foams up in the pressure cooker during the corned beef cooking process, you might find that the initial force of manually releasing the steam (after the 20-minute natural release) causes some liquid to spray out of the valve. Sometimes it’s happened to me, other times, it hasn’t. 

A little bit of liquid is fine, but if you release the pressure and find that too much liquid is coming out, re-seal the valve, and try releasing the remaining pressure again in another 5 minutes. Or, release the steam more slowly by turning the valve just until you hear a hissing noise and carefully holding it in that position (be sure to wear a heat-proof glove).

Read more about gradually releasing the steam in this article, section #3.

Some have recommended covering the lid/valve with a towel while releasing the pressure. Do not do this, as obstructing the vent can damage your pressure cooker and cause a safety issue.

To Glaze The Corned Beef (Optional)

This corned beef is also delicious served with my Irish Whiskey-Mustard glaze. The ingredients and directions can be found in my recipe, Beer Braised Corned Beef with Whiskey Mustard Glaze. After fully cooking the corned beef in the Instant Pot (instead of Dutch oven braising), follow the directions to “Glaze and Serve”.


Our delicious meal……. the corned beef was wonderful in the Instant Pot.….. the store-bought Irish soda bread was a little dry and I am going to try making my own and if I do, I will post the results and the recipe….stay tuned.

After dinner, there is always room for dessert, and Bob and I had shamrock-shaped Linzer tarts (they are my all-time favorite cookie.)

Have a fabulous day and now we start the countdown to St. Joseph’s Day on Saturday and more great traditional food…..


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” “share” and JOIN 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Escarole Stromboli

Hi Everyone,

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Well, we are officially in the Lenten season and I know I am trying to find some new menu items for “No Meat” Fridays.

I know we all start out with our list of tried and true no meat meals and then we get stuck trying to think of something different to serve.

I don’t usually have trouble with dinner because it is usually some veggie and bean stew, a soup, a portion of pasta with fresh tomato sauce or a pesto sauce, pasta with a veggie, shrimp, or clams, or simply grilled fish.

It’s the lunch items that are a challenge, especially if you have limited time to prepare a meal and eat.

When I was a child, my mother and grandmother used to make a traditional Neapolitan “Escarole Pie” during Lent which was escarole, kalamata olives, anchovies, roasted pine nuts, raisins, capers, and either shaved pecorino or mozzarella cheese or both.

A top and bottom layered veggie pie in a buttery crust. I know the anchovies frighten some people but the meal does not taste fishy– it’s absolutely delicious.

Well, I decided to take all the ingredients of an escarole pie and make it a stromboli– a little easier in case you want to pack it to go.

So I made pizza dough with “Fleischmann’s instant pizza crust yeast” (truly a lifesaver because of no rising time) or you can get a ball of dough from the grocery store or pizzeria and you are on your way to stromboli.

So here is my recipe and I hope you give it a try. If you don’t care for escarole you can substitute Kale (removing the large stems and only using the leaves) or Spinach – (just make sure you use 3X the amount of spinach because it really wilts to nothing).

Escarole Stromboli


  • 1 large head of escarole (approx. 1 lb. or more), washed WELL and cut in sections.
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • ½ cup of pitted kalamata olives, rough chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained.
  • 1-2 tbsp of capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/8 tsp of Calabrian chili paste (Optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated Locatelli cheese
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 egg beaten with a tsp of water for egg wash for the top of the stromboli
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • Sesame seeds for the top of the stromboli (Optional)

For the homemade dough: follow package directions …

  • Pizza crust yeast
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar
  • AP flour
  • Salt
  • Warm water

To clean the escarole

  1. Trim off the root end and discard any discolored leaves. Cut the escarole into 3-4 sections.
  2. Put the escarole in a large bowl with 1 tbsp of baking soda and cold water. Swirl the leaves around.  The dirt will sink to the bottom.
  3. Scoop out the cleaned escarole and into a strainer. Rinse well under cold water and let the escarole sit to drain while you boil water in a large pot.
  4. ADD the escarole to the rapidly boiling water and when it comes to a full boil again, let the escarole cook for 2 minutes
  5. Drain the escarole well and when cool enough to handle, squeeze dry. (This will prevent a soggy stromboli and also prevent splashing when the escarole leaves hit the oil to be sauteed). You can also use a salad spinner.
  6. Rough chop and set aside


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes until it starts to turn golden. ADD the garlic & Calabrian chili paste and sauté for 1 more minute.

ADD 1 tbsp tomato paste to the center of the skillet and toast it for 1 minute and then mix the onions, garlic, chili paste, and tomato paste together well.

ADD the escarole and stir to coat with the oil and sauté until the escarole cooks down for about 5 minutes.

ADD the anchovies, pine nuts, capers, and olives and saute for an additional 5 minutes stirring occasionally and making sure the anchovies melt into the olive oil. After 5 minutes, remove to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, ADD the raisins, grated Locatelli cheese, and mozzarella cheese and mix well….

Prepare your dough…… I used Fleischmann’s instant pizza crust yeast (no rising time). Follow package directions OR purchase dough from the grocery store or pizzeria.

On a lightly floured board, knead the dough into a smooth ball and flatten.

Roll out your pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper the size to fit your sheet pan. ADD a thin layer of breadcrumbs to the dough to absorb any remaining liquid so you don’t have soggy stromboli.

Layout the escarole filling (using a slotted spoon to avoid adding any liquid collected on the bottom of the bowl) across the dough from left to right, leaving some room on the edges.

Slightly fold over the left and ride side toward the center (burrito style) and then bring the long ends over, pinching closed.

Place seam side down and place the stromboli and parchment paper onto the sheet pan. Cut three slits on top of the dough and brush with egg wash.

Now it is ready for the oven. If you are using sesame seeds add them now.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Slightly cool before serving. Can be served at room temperature. Enjoy

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it.

I made a new category for Lenten Meals and I will be adding new recipes for the entire season of Lent.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” “share” and JOIN 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Have a Blessed Day

Hi Everyone,

Just stopping by to wish all of you a blessed day. I pray for peace in the world and I wanted to wish my member’s many blessings today and always.

I will be back soon with another recipe and another tablescape but for today I just wanted to wish you peace, love, and happiness and send you my warmest regards and love.

Stop for a minute, take a deep breath and be grateful for what we have.

Stay well,


Mardi Gras 2022 – Sheet Pan Jambalaya

Hi Everyone,

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Well, as we say goodbye to February, we say hello to the month of March, and along with that, we welcome Carnevale, Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, 1st day of spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and St. Joseph’s Day. We definitely have a big month ahead of us.

The first day of this new month brings us Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday refers to the last day of events and celebrations for Carnevale.

Carnevale is a traditional celebration with parties and parades where many people used to wear masks and elaborate costumes. The masks were worn originally so different classes of people could mingle without fear of tarnishing their reputations. Venice in Italy still holds a beautiful Carnevale celebration.

Also during Carnevale, rich foods are eaten before the season of Lent and the beginning of fasting and reflection. People used up valuable meat and other supplies that they would be abstaining from during Lent.

You have to celebrate the end of Carnevale with a rich meal. This is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and ushers in a time of fasting. It is also known as Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras.

In my family, at the end of Carnevale, my family usually makes “Lasagna de Carnevale”. This lasagna from Naples is made with meat sauce and layered with mini meatballs, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella, parmigiana, and pasta sheets. We use all the rich fatty meats and cheeses before the 40 days of Lent begins and fasting.

This year I decided to stray a little from my Neapolitan tradition and look to New Orleans and some cajun food for a change of pace to celebrate Fat Tuesday. After all, New Orleans is famous for its celebrations during Mardi Gras. Colorful King Cakes and savory muffuletta sandwiches filled with cold cuts and olive salad and the regional specialties of Po’boys, Etouffee, and Jambalaya all contribute to the celebration.

I love jambalaya for the combination of meats, fish, and vegetables. In fact, the meaning of Jambalaya is “mixed up” so this recipe was easy to put together with ingredients I had in the house and sounded great to make for a change.

I found a new recipe to try for “Sheet Pan Jambalaya” (I love minimal pots and pans to clean) from the website Pinch of Yum by the author Lindsay and I wanted to share it with you. Easy and delicious and consisted of sausage, peppers, onions, shrimp, and cauliflower rice all roasted together.

Of course, as with all recipes I find, I had to tweak a few things. My changes are in red text.

Sheet Pan Jambalaya


  • 6 oz of kielbasa sausage, sliced – recommended no sugar added (I used andouille sausage because of the spices and I think it is more of a Cajun sausage)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced ( I used the leftover orange and yellow in my veggie bin. I think this recipe needs 2 peppers)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of Cajun seasoning, divided
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bags of cauliflower rice (I used 2 bags of cauliflower stir fry rice with added peas) 20 oz
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on ( I used 1 pound of shrimp)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • Fresh parsley, to garnish
  • Fresh lemon juice, to serve
  • I added scallions, to garnish


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

ADD the sausage, onion, and bell pepper to a large sheet pan along with the olive oil and 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning. Toss the vegetables and sausage to make sure they are all well coated.

Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes

Remove the vegetables and sausage from the oven, ADD the tomato paste, and stir to thoroughly mix it in with the vegetables.

ADD the frozen cauliflower rice and remaining teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to the pan. Again, toss all the ingredients together until they are all well incorporated and return the pan to the oven.

Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower rice is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Season with salt and pepper and ADD the raw shrimp on the top of the jambalaya and drizzle the butter over the top.

Return the pan to the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and pink. Garnish with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

The Final result was so delicious…


Bob surprised me with a King Cake today for the holiday and as thrilled as I was to receive the gift; I was also disappointed in the bakery. It was very overpriced and underwhelming and extremely tiny for a holiday cake- barely 6 inches.

Whole Foods make a great King Cake for anyone interested.

Anyway, back to the King Cake. A King Cake is a brioche or sweet roll dough with added cinnamon and is braided, baked in an oval shape, and decorated with icing and purple, green and gold sugars. 

King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake. The baby symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it.

If you want to make your own version of a King Cake I was given this recipe by a friend years ago. It is a shortcut to the original King Cake recipe and unfortunately, I do not know where it originated from.

I have never made the cake myself, but I have tasted the cake at my friend’s house and it was delicious. It is a semi-homemade shortcut to the original King Cake.

The original recipe is very time-consuming and this recipe is great if you want to have a nice family Mardi Gras celebration and you don’t have the time to put into baking.

My suggestion is if you use the plastic baby in the cake to TELL your guests before they eat a piece, so no one chokes on the plastic and I would omit it if there are children eating this cake.



This King Cake is a semi-homemade version of the traditional Mardis Gras dessert, made with canned cinnamon rolls, icing, and colored sugar.

Prep Time10 mins— Cook time 20 minutes


  • 2 cans store-bought cinnamon rolls I used Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Butter Cream Icing
  • Yellow green and purple sugar
  • 1 plastic toy baby if desired (cut a hole into the baked cake to insert).


  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Place cinnamon rolls sideways on a large cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with a silicone mat. Arrange cinnamon rolls in a circular pattern. It should look like a flower when you’re done. Press down on cinnamon rolls with your hand to flatten them slightly.
  • Bake according to package instructions. Let cool.
  • Frost with the buttercream that comes with the cinnamon rolls. Add yellow, green and purple sugar. Serve immediately or store covered for up to 24 hours at room temperature. It is best when eaten the first day.


I hope you have a wonderful Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebration and try one of these recipes.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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Have a terrific Lenten season

Butternut Squash Chili…

Hi Everyone,

Well, we in the Northeast had another crazy weather weekend. It started out on Saturday morning with the sun shining and a little breezy and then suddenly changed to snow squalls with almost white-out conditions and the temperature dropped and stayed that way all day and into Sunday.

When the weather gets like this my first instinct is to head to the kitchen for some comfort food. I don’t know what it is about the cold and snow but it makes me want to cook either bread, a stew, or a dessert.

I chose chili for Sunday afternoon.

I love all types of squash and I just purchased a butternut squash that I wanted to use. I looked around at the other ingredients I had on hand and decided to make chili. I had some canned beans, a little bit of fresh spinach (leftover from last night’s spanakopita melts), and some ground beef. So this was the perfect meal coming together nicely.

I also bought a jar of “Za’atar” spice recently (Za’atar is a Middle-Eastern spice combining oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds) and I wanted to use that in the dish as well.

I had two separate chili recipes and I combined what I liked from each one and added some of the spices I wanted to try. The following is my combined recipe. I hope you try it and enjoy it.

Butternut Squash Chili


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 lbs. of ground beef (or turkey, pork whatever you prefer for chili)
  • 2 bells peppers any color cut in strips
  • 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and diced in bite size pieces
  • 2 cans (14 oz) of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz of chicken broth (homemade or low sodium)
  • 1 can (14 oz) black beans -no salt- rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 oz) of garbanzo beans – no salt – rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsps. canned green chilis (found in Mexican section of grocer)
  • 1 pkg of fresh spinach cut in strips (or a bag of fresh or frozen spinach) KALE or your favorite leafy green can be substituted
  • 1/8 tsp Calabrian chili pepper paste or ground red pepper (Optional for a little heat)

Spices: mix together in a ramekin

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Za’atar spice
  • 1 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • Salt to taste

For garnish (optional)

  • Green onions for garnish (optional)
  • Sour cream for garnish (optional)
  • pumpkin seeds (optional)


  • Heat oil in a large pan, over medium heat. ADD the onions and peppers and sauté until soft (5 minutes).  ADD the garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. ADD the Calabrian chili paste and tomato paste and sauté 1 additional minute until the onions are soft and all is incorporated
  • ADD the ground meat and season with salt and pepper and break the meat with the back of a wooden spoon into medium pieces and cook until no longer pink.
  • ADD the butternut squash and all the spices and mix well.
  • ADD the roasted diced tomatoes and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  • ADD the beans to the pot and mix well.
  • Partially cover the pot and simmer on medium for 40 minutes.
  • ADD the baby spinach the last 10 minutes to wilt.
  •  Adjust seasoning and serve with a dollop of sour cream and green onions and pumpkin seeds.


I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it and make it your own. Change the greens and beans to whatever you prefer, no recipe is set in stone.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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Roasted Cauliflower Steak & Spanakopita Melts ….

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well. I just had to pop in real quick to share a great recipe I found yesterday and I think that all of you will like this one.

Very easy, very tasty, and a nice presentation. Something that you could serve for a luncheon with a side salad or as a side dish for dinner.

I know there are times when we all feel that we cook the same food over and over again and there isn’t much variety in our meals. That is how I was starting to feel about cauliflower.

Cauliflower has made a big comeback over the past few years with cauliflower pizza crust and crackers and riced cauliflower and I have tried it all because Bob loves cauliflower.

I have made cauliflower many different ways but Bob prefers roasted cauliflower so I just had to find a new recipe.

The search ended when I found a very intriguing recipe on the EatingWell website by author Adam Dolge. This is a great site and this recipe serves 4 and combines the flavors of Greek spinach pie (spanakopita) and tops it on a roasted cauliflower steak.

Bob and I both loved it and I knew this had to be shared with all my members. So the recipe is below and please let me know if you try it and enjoy it. I served it with chicken cutlets but this dish is filling and so versatile it can even stand on its own.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay warm.

Some of my other cauliflower recipes….. type “cauliflower” in the search box to bring them up:

  • Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
  • Fusilli with Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas
  • Cauliflower Veggie Stir Fry Rice & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers
  • General Tso’s Cauliflower
  • Cauliflower Tater Tots


Roasted Cauliflower Steak & Spanakopita Melts


  • 2 medium heads cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped shallot
  • 1 (11 ounce) package baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup shredded smoked Cheddar cheese


  • Step 1

Arrange racks in the middle and upper third of oven; preheat to 450 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil.

  • Step 2

Remove any outer leaves from cauliflower but keep stems intact. Place on a cutting board, stem-side down. Using a large chef’s knife, cut two 1-inch-thick slices from the center of each head to make 4 cauliflower “steaks.” (Reserve remaining cauliflower for another use.) Place the steaks on the prepared baking sheet. Brush both sides with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt.

  • Step 3

Roast, turning halfway through, until the cauliflower steaks are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

  • Step 4

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 1 minute. Add spinach in batches and cook, stirring, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in dill, parsley, garlic and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the spinach mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in ricotta and feta.

  • Step 5

Turn the broiler to high. Top each cauliflower steak with 1/2 cup of the spinach mixture and 2 tablespoons Cheddar. Broil the cauliflower until the cheese melts and starts to lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.


Serving Size – 1 melt

Nutrition Facts per serving

305 calories; protein 16.6g; carbohydrates 12.8g; dietary fiber 4.2g; sugars 3.3g; fat 21.8g; saturated fat 9.8g; cholesterol 52.2mg; vitamin a iu 5584.5IU; vitamin c 70.6mg; folate 68.3mcg; calcium 455.7mg; iron 3.3mg; magnesium 79.8mg; potassium 379.3mg; sodium 576.4mg.


2 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat, 1 high-fat protein, 1 medium-fat protein


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” “share” and JOIN 

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Valentine’s Day 2022

Hi Everyone,

(Click on the photos to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to the original post).

Happy Valentine’s Day! …. I am so sorry this posting is a day late but for the life of me, I could not get my pics to post yesterday. I don’t know what happened to my computer but I was completely frustrated all day. But things happen and you have to go with the flow as they say and make the best of a bad situation.

I was considering deleting the post since it was late and then I decided to share the post anyway with everyone because I wanted to wish you not only on Valentine’s Day but every day, a day of love, happiness, peace, and joy and you can still take away a few ideas for any celebration that you have coming up.

So here is Valentine’s Day 2022……

I chose the colors red, pink, and white for the tablescape and found a great new tablecloth that is stain-resistant on Amazon. This tablescape was quick to put together and I used standard red placemats to start.

I still can’t find a well-made heart-shaped placemat and if anyone has a source please let me know.

The dishes are a great set that I have had for years and unfortunately, I don’t usually use them because I have been favoring the pink heart-shaped dishes over and over. This set is pearl white and includes a dinner plate, salad plate, soup/pasta bowl, and a mug.

In between the dinner and salad plate, I used a paper plate by Papyrus that was a brilliant red with gold trim to bring a little bit of color to the all-white set.

I used everyday casual red enamel flatware.

Add a pink cotton napkin with a red metal napkin ring with the word “Love” in script with some filigree around the word. Plain, pretty, and simple.

Here is the place setting with a pink heart paper doilie for a little more color and another heart added to the table…….

Table accents were just some mini crystal hearts in rose and red and they added a nice little sparkle to the table especially when the sunbeams caught them from the window and I added a few paper red rose petals.

The second little table accent I used was a heart-shaped measuring spoon set in baby pink to remind us all to “measure our blessings”. I saw this in Macy’s and just thought it was too cute to pass up.

And the last table accent was a Willow Tree statue that my son sent me for Valentine’s Day that reads “Everyday Blessings” and I thought that was a good message for the table. I placed it on a “Love” trivet I had and placed the trivet in a pink heart dish surrounded by Valentine’s Day candy.

My centerpiece was also simple as well and I chose Valentine’s Day spray from Party City and 3 heart-shaped balloons in red and pink.

I added another bowl to the table that matches the trivet and used it to hold assorted candy.

We had a late lunch early dinner combination because the food was so rich and we knew we had a lot of dessert coming up.

I made our first course, heart-shaped cheese ravioli with a Vodka cream sauce. Always a crowd-pleaser. I purchased the ravioli at an Italian grocery store that we have locally (Uncle Giuseppe’s). I would have made them myself but I felt like relaxing this year.

Our second course was heart-shaped shrimp stuffed with crabmeat stuffing and instead of the traditional way to stuff the tails and have them sit upright in the dish, I wanted to make the shrimp heart-shaped. So I skewered the tops of two jumbo shrimps (shells removed except for the tip of the tail) and stuffed the crabmeat stuffing inside and baked. I think they looked cute and went with the Valentine’s Day theme.

I served this alongside a simple salad with oil and lemon dressing and added heart-cut-out shaped mozzarella bites and beets.


Now on to the best part of any meal- Dessert…

I started out just making heart-shaped brownies. Just a simple dessert for the two of us.

Later in the day Bob and I were discussing how we should have purchased a few chocolate-covered strawberries and Bob said he would go out and see if the bakery had any left.

Well, Bob came home with a lot more than chocolate-covered strawberries and said that he couldn’t decide what to get because they had so many of our favorites so he bought a sample of “Everything”.

We now have dessert for a month and we cut little pieces to sample and made a small dessert plate for each of us and all the leftovers are now in the freezer. It was a great variety. Let me share…..


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Heart-shaped Linzer tarts and sugar cookies and chocolate lace cookies…

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Bite-size Heart-shaped Rainbow Cookies


It was a wonderful celebration!

And lastly, two wonderful gifts from my honey, who never forgets any occasion no matter how many years that pass. You think he would run out of ideas since 1986.

This Valentine’s Day is our 36th Valentine’s Day together- It is truly a blessing and our time together each year gets better and better.

Two everyday eternal wedding bands full of hearts (one in pink and one in red) to remind me that I carry Bob’s love everywhere I go and a lovely ring tray.

And a new bag (he knows all my weaknesses) to match the rings along with a Valentine’s Day card that plays music, flashes lights and I can’t get this song out of my head now.

Have you ever had that happen where you hear a song and it stays with you for days? I am a current victim. The song on the card is Happy by Pharrell Williams- take it from there, the song is addicting.

But the way I see it, it’s much better to be “HAPPY” and sing rather than be sad.

That was our day. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our Valentine’s Day tablescape this year and maybe picked up a few ideas for a special occasion in your home or a birthday or even a regular weekday that you want to celebrate with your love.


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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Escarole, Beans and Pork Spareribs

Hi Everyone,

We had very odd weekend weather here in the Northeast this weekend. It was sunny and 60 degrees on Saturday and then it was 30 degrees and snowing on Sunday. It made you want to have ice cream in the park one day and then the next day crave warm comfort food.

Well, I chose one of my favorite comfort foods for Sunday and the cold weather and it was an Italian peasant dish that my mother used to make quite a lot when I was a child. It’s “escarole and beans” and you have probably tried it or have at least seen the dish on an Italian restaurant menu.

The escarole is wilted in chicken stock and garlic and cannellini beans are added with lots of grated cheese. It can be made a little spicy with the addition of red pepper. My mother used to make this dish quite often and on occasion added pork spareribs.

I found the most beautiful pork spareribs at my local butcher and this dish came to mind immediately. And the escarole I bought was beautiful and organic and I was all set. I had all the other ingredients I needed in my pantry at home.


It turned out to be a great Sunday meal and I served it with grilled olive bread (ciabatta would be perfect as well). I suggest you give this recipe a try on a cold day.

Escarole and Beans with Pork Spareribs – 4 servings


  • 1 lb. pork spareribs (St Louis or country style)
  • 1 quart of chicken stock (homemade or low sodium boxed)
  • 1 medium yellow onion – diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic -minced
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil– (enough to cover the bottom of the pot).
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 lbs. of escarole or 2 medium heads (it will shrink)
  • 2 (14 oz) cans of cannellini beans (I prefer low sodium) – drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes or Calabrian chili paste (optional)
  • Parmesan rind (optional)


In a large pot, coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and brown the spareribs.  Add chopped onions and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes or Calabrian chili paste plus a pinch of salt and sauté for a minute or two.

Add the tomato paste and sauté or toast it for a minute in the pan before mixing it well with the garlic.

Add the broth, cheese rind (if using), garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium heat (partially covered) for 45 minutes to 1 hour to braise and tenderize the spareribs.

In the meantime, thoroughly wash the escarole (it can be very dirty and I wash it twice in water and baking soda than a good rinse). Cut the escarole into large pieces.

Add the escarole to the broth and cook until the escarole wilts to your liking (some like it with a little crunch some like it completely soft- your choice). Add another pinch of salt.

Stir in the beans (1 ½ cans whole and ½ can mashed) * you can mash by hand or in the food processor.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes

If extra liquid is needed, add a little more broth and let the flavors blend for a few minutes stovetop. Adjust seasonings.

Serve with a drizzle of more olive oil over each serving, add grated cheese and more red pepper flakes (optional).

In addition, serve this with a little grated cheese and grilled ciabatta bread to dunk in the broth.

Enjoy every bite…


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


Please ask your family and friends to “follow”, “like” “share” and JOIN 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.