Homemade Tomato Sauce

Ripe tomatoes are too good this time of year, so it’s a fabulous time to make fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce. My kids love pasta for dinner, and I feel great giving them a homemade sauce filled with no preservatives, sodium or additives. Two out of three of my children will eat raw tomatoes, but all three of them will devour this. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a carotenoid associated with tomatoes’ red color. Lycopene is full of antioxidants which are wonderful for bone health, protection against heart disease, inflammation and cancers. Tomatoes are also a great source of potassium, folic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, so dig in!

Easy Grilled Italian Romaine Salad

Perfect for a busy weeknight or Sunday afternoon, this Easy Grilled Romaine Salad is so flavorful. Use a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette to marinate the vegetables, and then grill them to bring out their flavor even more. Gorgonzola tastes great sprinkled on top, but you may substitute feta, Parmesan or goat cheese if you wish. Feel free to add grilled chicken, steak or shrimp for a main-dish salad. Serve with some crusty bread and olive oil, and dinner is ready.

Part 2 Marche Region: Food, Fashion and Travel

For 4 nights, we stayed at Hotel Emilia in Portonovo in Ancona, Italy which sits on the mountain where you have a spectacular view of the coast. It’s a serene spot that speaks beauty and relaxation. I loved to sit out here overlooking the mountains.

An outdoor bar was the perfect place to sit after a busy day.

The pool was beautiful sitting in front of the rooms of the hotel.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the most exciting part of the trip, but visiting Tod’s headquarters seemed to be the highlight for some of us women. Tod’s is the largest shoe manufacturer in Europe and the largest business in the Marche Region, which is publicly traded on the Italian stock exchange. We saw the entire shoe making process; how they check the leather and why these shoes are such great quality. This is the coolest work of art when you walk in the lobby of Tod’s.

Do you think these boots will be the hit of fall 2011?

After the tour, we went to the Tod’s and Prada outlets nearby. This is also a must stop if you’re in the Marche region :). I love these kid’s shoes.

Next, we were off to lunch in the town of San Benedetto del Tronto at Ristorante Mattia with Chef Marco Cameli. I loved his Miami-style restaurant. His specialty is fish since his restaurants sits right near the beach. This clever way to present an appetizer was a favorite. I call this an Italian version of ceviche.

Next was a pasta course with clams and shrimp. I have never tasted a dish so fresh. I loved that the Chefs don’t over-salt their food.

One of my favorite dishes on the entire trip was this fish dish. It’s monkfish cooked in garlic, olive oil, white wine, with fresh tomato sauce and rosemary. I am trying to recreate this one for sure. Delizioso!

And the dessert was phenomenal and nothing like I have ever had before. Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) with Chantilly Cream and Limoncello topped with chocolate.

There’s more to come. So much to say…This region is too spectacular for words.

 

Sausage and Fresh Spinach Lasagna

When I think of comfort food this time of year, I think lasagna. My 3 kids love it, and it sure makes my life easier when I prepare a one-dish meal. This Sausage and Fresh Spinach Lasagna recipe is one of my favorites because it combines all of my favorite ingredients. I lightened this recipe using part-skim ricotta, egg white and less cheese, and it came out fantastic. Serve with a salad or side vegetable, and that’s all you’ll need.

Easy as Can Be: Grilled Mussels with Lemon and Italian Parsley

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I have never put mussels on my blog before, but since my 9-year-old, Zachary, eats them, I thought, why not? These Grilled Mussels with Lemon and Italian Parsley are so easy, prepared in under 30 minutes. If you don’t want to grill them, you can bake them in the oven at 500F for about 5 minutes or until shells open. This recipe is light and flavorful and perfect with crusty French bread and a salad (and glass of white wine for me).

Mine and My Dad’s Favorite: Eggplant Parmesan

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I take after my dad in many, many ways. He tells me that often, especially lately. I have to admit, it’s a compliment because he is one of the nicest people in this world . One of his favorites (and mine too) is Eggplant Parmesan. My youngest child, Zachary, loves it as well. This recipe is really simple and light. It’s under 300 calories and 9 grams of fat so enjoy.

Love This Lasagna Soup

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If you love lasagna, you will love this soup. All of my favorite ingredients, spinach, sausage and tomatoes and cheese, fill this soup, and it is so quick and easy. Using the mini farfalle noodles works perfect in this recipe as they truly look like mini lasagna noodles. My family was wowed by the soup. Serve with a salad and some fresh crusty bread, and dinner is on the table in no time.

 

Lasagna Soup

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced carrots

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups low-salt, fat-free chicken broth

1 (141/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 cup mini farfalle pasta (piccolini) “Barilla” makes it

2 cups fresh spinach

2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil, (optional)

Preparation

1. Brown sausage in a large Dutch over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and garlic; saute 3 minutes more.

2. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning; bring to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. 

3. Place 1/4 cup Asiago cheese into each bowl; pour soup on top garnish with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with basil, if desired.