I got 99 problems but shade ain’t one

This is all I have for you today…enjoy.

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Taralli Memories

Yesterday I spent the day with my parents, as my mom recently got home from the hospital after having some surgery complications. It was great to be with them to and help my mom out for the day.

On the way down (they live an hour from me) I stopped at a bagel place near their house to get my new favorite, egg everything. These don’t exist near my place so I take advantage whenever I’m visiting!

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While my mom was resting, my dad showed me what he’s been up to in his garden and we fed the fishies.

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One recently jumped out and committed fishie suicide…my dad is quite saddened by this, as it was his favorite.

Afterwards, we headed to a new-to-us Italian market called Livoti’s to get some ingredients to make a special dinner for my mom.

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I was excited to see that they had taralli, which is an Italian snack that is shaped in ovals. They can be made with many flavors, but the fennel ones I enjoy most, as they remind me of my grandfather. I have memories of him eating fennel taralli when I was a child and whenever I smell fennel, it fills me with nostalgia for him.

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We picked up about 6 of the fennel flavored tarallis to snack on.

The assortment of Italian foods at the market was definitley impressive. From Brooklyn breads to proscuitto stuffed everything, it was hard to choose.

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We decided on their broccoli rabe flavored chicken burgers, potato croquettes, and ingredients to make an Italian salad (recipe to come soon).

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Can you tell we’re excited?

Once arriving home, we snacked on some fresh mozzarella slices and taralli as a light lunch before taking my mom to the doctor.

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Later came dinner. The burgers, side salad, and croquettes were delicious and enjoyed by all.

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Can’t have dinner without dessert! My uncle Sal owns and operates an Italian bakery and his black and white cookies are famous. I mean it, they’ve been written about in magazines! He visited my mom recently and she saved me some because they’re my favorite <3.

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I’m so happy I got to spend time with my mom and take care of her, help her, and just be with her.

Have you ever tried taralli? If so, which flavor? 

What is your favorite Italian snack?

Italian Home Cooking: Caprese

For those of you who don’t know, I used to have a blog called La Piattini (the little plate). I chose to delete it for personal reasons and it was one of my biggest regrets. What I miss the most is the cooking posts that I did with my mom. One of those was when she taught me how to make a simple, yet very delicious Italian Caprese recipe. I recovered this picture from that day, but many others got deleted. 

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I made this same recipe for my Memorial Day party and it’s a must share!

Caprese

Ingredients:

  • Fresh mozzarella (I used 1 1/2 half balls)
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Salt and pepper

Slice your mozzarella and tomatoes into slightly thick slices. Lay tomato slices on a platter. Top with mozzarella slices, followed by fresh basil leaves.

Mince your garlic and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Lastly, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Simple and done!

Do you have different variations to caprese, such as using balsamic vinegar?

Memorial Day Party: Planning Tips

Happy Memorial Day!

Yesterday Pete and I had our first party as homeowners, a Memorial Day/Housewarming party for our friends. I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous. Would there be enough to eat? Enough seating? Entertainment?

On the menu:

  • Caprese (recipe coming this week)
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Spinach Dip
  • Veggie Platter
  • Tray of Baked Ziti
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Watermelon

As for drinks, we got a 1/2 keg of Bud Select, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, sodas, and waters.

Below are some time and money saving tips when preparing for a party:

1. Have everything out a few nights before.

I find it helpful to take out all of the platters I would need for various appetizers and to pair them up with the serving spoon I would use. This helped me visualize where everything would go and if I had enough platters.

2. Make as much as you can yourself to avoid spending $$ getting your party catered.

I know, I know, you’re thinking time. If you plan it right, time will not be an issue. For example, while the ziti was in the oven, I sliced up the mozzarella and tomato for the caprese, etc.

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Think about how much a tray of ziti would be from a caterer…I did a little research of Italian caterers online and came up with $65. It cost me no where near $65 to make it myself. Just a little bit of time.

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I also made two half trays instead of one full tray to save room in the fridge (easier to stack half trays then find room for a full tray). This was you could serve one while keeping the other warm.

And the veggie platter? I was totally planning on buying a premade one from the store until I saw the price tag of $14.99. And it didn’t have a great assortment of veggies! I easily made this one myself by chopping up veggies the night before, covering it with Saran wrap, and putting it in the fridge till party time. I saved about $5 and had a better variety of vegetables that I picked out.

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3. Pick a category (desserts, appetizers, etc) to tell people who offer to bring something.

Our friends are always so kind and generous and will ask us what they can bring. I usually pick a category, in this case desserts, and anyone who asked me I said it would be great if they could bring a dessert.

Many friends brought appetizer dishes as well and our table went from this (some food was outside)…

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…to this!

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Once it was dessert time, I cleared away the appetizers and put out all of the delicious offerings our friends had brought.

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We had a great variety and it was one thing as a hostess I did not have to worry about.

Pete and I had purchased watermelon as well, which was put out alongside the dessert. I asked my friends Lauri and Ryan to slice up some watermelon (as I most likely would’ve chopped a finger off) and they did a really nice job.

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4. Make sure you have plenty of seating.

We were having 2o people, which doesn’t sound like much, but our backyard is mostly trees so space was a concern. Even though every time we’ve entertained people are up and about most of the time, I want to ensure there is ample seating. This ended up being no problem after borrowing some tables and chairs from friends and family to set up in the side yard.

5. Have your entertainment planned out.

The night before the party, Pete created a “BBQ Playlist.” He made sure it had about 6 hours worth of songs that would cater to all crowds. He received many compliments on it throughout the night!

I borrowed horseshoes from my dad to set up on the side of our house and there were a few games going of that. Later, one of our friends brought quoits which seems to be a “Northwest New Jersey and Northeast Pennsylvania” game, so I’m told. The objective is to get the rubber disk on the slate board closest to the ring.

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As night descended…flip cup time!

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For our first party, I’d say it was a success 🙂

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What are your money and time saving tips for party planning?