I have been making this date nut bread every Christmas morning for what seems like forever! Originally I got this recipe from my longtime friend, Linda O'Donnell. We were next door neighbors and best friends since 1970. A lot of baking went on between us during our children's youth. Every Christmas morning Gary & I would spread some cream cheese on a slice, grab a cup of coffee and watch the kids open presents. We absolutely love it.
Fresh asparagus marinated in olive oil & garlic are combined for some heavenly flavors on this light side dish. Top it with crumbled blue cheese (our husbands favorite, Boursin garlic & herb (Barbara's favorite) feta or Parmesan. Whatever cheese you choose, you will love these asparagus! 😋
ice water in a large bowl (have ready while asparagus are cooking)
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the asparagus & cook uncovered for 2 minutes. Immediately remove asparagus & put them into a bowl of ice water. Drain well & pat dry with paper towel.
In a large plastic resealable bag, combine oil, vinegar, garlic, green onions, salt & pepper. Add asparagus; seal the bag and turn several times to coat well. Refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour.
After an hour, remove from refrigerator and drain asparagus. (Discard remainder of marinade if not using for salad dressing or a rice dish)
Place the asparagus on a serving platter and sprinkle with your favorite cheese.
Note: Left over marinade can be used to season rice or as a salad dressing. It’s really good and why waste all those great flavors!
March 19th has always been a special day of celebration for our family for that’s the day we celebrate the Feast of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph). This feast honors Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and earthly father to Jesus. Considered by Sicilians as the Patron Saint of their region, St. Joseph is said to have saved Sicily’s residents during one of their many devastating droughts. It is believed that the residents prayed to St. Joseph for rain. Their prayers were answered when the rain came. Their spring crops were spared from being destroyed, which prevented a widespread famine for Sicily. It is believed that this is the reason the celebration is held in March.
We celebrate every year because Joseph is the namesake of several of our family members, starting with our grandfather, father, son/nephew and 2 grandsons (Joseph as their middle name).
The menu for a St. Joseph celebration is rooted in the Sicilian tradition and because the holiday falls during Lent, meat is not eaten during the celebration, hence the sardine sauce. We can remember Grandma Tessie cooking spaghetti with a combination of sardines, onions, fennels, & raisins for the sauce topped with toasted breadcrumbs, known as the “poor man’s Parmigiano”, representing the sawdust left behind after a day’s work in his carpenter’s shop. She cooked this meal (which we grew to love) every March 19 until she was 97. At that last celebration, she asked who would carry on this tradition when she was gone. I told her not to worry, that I would. For the past 16 years, I have been making the Pasta con Sarde just as Grandma did, which is especially enjoyed by our Dad. The focus of the meal is on the Pasta con Sarde but we also enjoy the St. Joseph’s pastries. I always get them from Patsy’s & Son Italian Bakery in Lindenhurst, New York. They are the best I ever tasted and I’m a bit of a cannoli cream snob! If you find yourself on Long Island, do stop in to try their cannolis & cassata cake.
Our beautiful Grandma Florence DeBlasi. She cooked wonderful Neopolitan cuisine which was learned from her native home in Naples, Italy. She was a master seamstress and made many of our childhood clothing and costumes. How lucky we were! ❤
Would you like to make dinner in one roasting pan and have an easy clean up?
This simple recipe comes from our maternal grandmother Florence. Our family has been enjoying this dinner for as long as we can remember. We regret not having a written record of her wonderful meals but we’re on a journey to recreate them to share with you. Some crusty Italian bread to soak up the juice is a great way to enjoy this meal.
4 chicken thighs (bone-in thighs, boneless thighs, drumsticks), skin on or off
2 sweet onions, sliced in half then quarters
2 cans Le Sueur® very young sweet peas in their liquid
4 russet potatoes, cut in quarters & quarter again (We’ve been using young Yukon gold that you can leave the skin on and cook whole or cut in half if too big)
Place potatoes, onions, and smashed garlic in a large roasting pan (9x12x2 or larger) and drizzle a little EVOO to coat well. Season lightly with Kirkland Organic No Salt Seasoning plus salt & pepper to taste
Place in the oven for 15 minutes, stir 2 or 3 times. (This starts softening the potatoes & onions)
Remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the skin side with salt, pepper, garlic powder.
Place the pan back in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes then turn the chicken skin side up.
Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken starts to brown. Raise the oven temperature to 475ºF.
Add the 2 cans of peas with 1/3 liquid from one can. Mix well and cook 5-6 minutes longer or until chicken skin is crisp and pulls away from the bone.
Note: Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken thighs or drumsticks. The smaller the part, the quicker the cooking time.
After our mother passed away, Dad made his own version sometimes adding mushrooms and Italian sausage. Most of the family loves Mom’s original but Dad’s is tasty too! Feel free to add your own favorite veggies.
When our families were young, Barbara used to host Christmas Eve dinners in her tiny cape cod house. We never had a sit-down dinner back then so we would be scattered all over the kitchen and living room with 25 adults and children, give or take, but who’s counting? Her shrimp scampi became a favorite part of Christmas Eve dinner but you don’t need to wait for a holiday to enjoy it. In our families, we usually serve this over pasta topped with Pecorino Romano grated cheese. 😋 😋
2 lbs large raw shrimp (if using frozen, defrost first)
2 sticks salted butter
1 tsp salt
6-8 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
lemon slices for garnish (may be omitted)
16 oz linguine pasta (reserve some of the cooked pasta water for sauce)
For additional sauce, double the butter, garlic, salt, lemon peel, & lemon juice to have plenty to add for individual tastes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Remove shells from shrimp, leaving the shell on the tail section only.
Devein then wash under running cold water, and drain on paper towels.
Melt butter in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish in the oven. Watch that it doesn’t burn as it melts quickly.
Add the salt, garlic, and 2 Tablespoon parsley; mix well.
Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in a baking dish.
Bake uncovered for 5 minutes.
Turn the shrimp. Sprinkle with lemon peel, lemon juice, and remaining parsley.
Bake 8-10 minutes, or just until tender. Do Not overcook shrimp or they will be tough. (If using smaller shrimp, cut down on the cooking time)
Arrange shrimp on a heated serving platter or serving platter on top of the linguine. Place a few spoonfuls of sauce over top. Garnish with lemon slices then serve with extra sauce in a gravy boat.
Serve over linguini pasta†, rice or a nice crusty Italian bread to soak up the butter.
†If serving over pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water after cooking to add to the butter sauce before serving.
Variation: Try adding some bay scallops to the shrimp and for those who don’t like shrimp try some seared chicken bites!
I learned early on not to put spaghetti squash in the microwave oven to shorten the cooking time. As you can see in the below picture I left it in for a few extra minutes just to be sure it was soft enough. I did this only once… enough said!