Tag Archive | Italian Recipes

Sassy. Sexy. Saucy.

Yeah! March is national sauce month.

What is a sauce holiday?

I don’t have a clue, so I researched this holiday on the Internet and couldn’t find its origin. There are several articles, stating this holiday does exist, so I’m going to roll with it.

Celebrating any holiday is never a bad thing. Right?

To commemorate this saucy holiday, I’m sharing my authentic, sassy tomato sauce recipe.

I’m also sharing links to some sassy, sexy, and saucy romance novels.

Roll up a chair, check out this easy-to-make sauce, so you can celebrate Sauce Month.

This sauce pairs extremely well with laughter, family and friends, pasta, meatballs, bread—anything that welcomes the delicious sweetness of tomatoes, the nutty savouriness of roasted garlic, aromatic olive oil, and delicate sweet-savory basil.

Three important things to remember when making this sauce, and any Italian fare.

  1. Italian cuisine is simple and rustic, using fresh ingredients.
  2. Every time someone calls jar sauce, Italian tomato sauce, an Italian Angel eats a slice of Devil’s Food cake and goes over to the dark sauce. If that doesn’t worry you, then any time you are tempted to use jar sauce, a hot-alpha-book-hero will lose a quart of testosterone and his washboard abs will disappear.
  3. Always cook with L O V E.

Selena’s Sassy Sexy Authentic Tomato Sauce




I usually use fresh tomatoes for this recipe, however since it’s not summer in this part of the world, we will use canned tomatoes.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (good quality)
4 large (16 oz.) can San Marzano Plum Tomatoes (or any other good quality plum tomatoes)
1 small can of good quality tomato paste
1 head of roasted garlic, mashed until smooth
1 whole carrot, peeled, (leave it whole)
1 cup Fresh Basil, washed, dried and chopped
1/3 cup of beef or vegetable stock (Or you can use dry wine that you would drink. Never ever use cooking wine, it’s just not good.)
Sea salt to taste
A few flakes of chili pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy, you be the judge)


  1. Put tomatoes into a food processor and whiz them through, this will make a thicker sauce – or – You can use a food mill, which will take the seeds out and make for a smoother, more liquid consistency sauce. Your choice. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom pot, coat the bottom of pot with olive oil and heat on medium-high.
  3. Once the oil is heated add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and roasted garlic.
  4. Turn up heat to high, stir well and rapidly so the bottom doesn’t stick, for about 2 – 3 minutes. Then turn heat down to MEDIUM-HIGH.
  5. Stir in: stock (or wine if you are using wine), baking soda, and the carrot. Then turn the heat on LOW. 
  6. Cook, semi-covered for two hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. After an hour of cooking season with salt and chili peppers. Taste it, so you know whether or not to add more salt. Also at this point, remove the whole carrot. The carrots adds a bit of sweetness to cut down on acidity.
  8. You want the liquid to evaporate. Keep simmering for the two hours (or more), depending on how thick you prefer the sauce.
  9. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  10. Add the fresh, chopped basil, and 4 TBSP of olive oil and stir.
  11. 1


(click on image to take you to teasers and excerpt of my romance novels)




Donna June Cooper

DB Darlene Kennison

Rosanna Leo

Sophie H. Morgan

Barbara Meyers

Lauren Smith

Melanie Burt Stanford


Italianizing a British Favorite


Bringing two cultures together in one delicious dish

My husband and I are both first generation Canadians as our families immigrated from across the ocean—mine from Italy, his from England.

Remember the movie, Big Fat Greek Wedding? Substitute Greek for Italian and you have our families in the same situation. The rambunctious, informal side meets the formal-high-tea, quieter side. However, it didn’t take long for my husband to become an I.B.M. (Italian by Marriage) and for his family to join in with our family’s boisterous get-togethers. they even embraced the way I enjoy Italianizing many dishes—including their beloved traditional British fare….(at least that’s what they tell me), 🙂

One of the dishes I put an Italian spin on is Shepherd’s Pie.

This is an unforgiving (put your own twist, substitute the herbs or type of vegetables and/or meat if you wish) no-fail recipe. This is a delicious crowd pleaser, I hope you’ll give it a try.




For the vegetable layer:

3 zucchini (green or yellow or a mixture of both)
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Wash, dry and slice zucchini into approx. 1/4 inch rounds and put in a bowl
  3. Drizzle zucchini rounds with olive oil, and stir to coat all the rounds
  4. Add bread crumbs and toss to coat all the zucchini
  5. Spread the coated zucchini onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Set aside.

For the meat layer:


1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. Italian sausage (spicy or mild, your choice)
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce (or if you don’t have any, tomato paste)
1/4 vegetable broth (or chicken or beef broth, whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

  1. In a skillet, cook the meat until browned and cooked through.
  2. To the skillet add the sweet red pepper, shallot, tomato, broth, and stir well.
  3. Bring the meat mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, simmer for 10 – 13 minutes (you want the liquid to evaporate as much as possible)
  4. Once done, remove from stove, stir in the fresh basil and set aside.

For the potato layer:

1 ½ lbs. potatoes (I use Yukon Gold, you can use whichever variety you enjoy)
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (this will be used later, when assembling the dish)
salt to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of cold water (add salt to water) to boil.
  2. Peel and rinse potatoes, cut in about 1-inch chunks and add potatoes to boiling water.
  3. Cover pot until water boils again.
  4. Reduce to medium heat and simmer until potatoes are tender enough to mash.
  5. While potatoes are cooking, add milk and minced garlic to a pot. On medium-low heat, cook milk and garlic, stirring—for five minutes.
  6. Once potatoes are done, drain them and return to the pot, then add: milk-garlic, oil, mozzarella cheese, and mash until creamy and smooth. You can add a bit more milk if desired.
  7. Taste, and if needed, add a bit more salt.


  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray (I use a 9 x 13 one, or you can use an oval one, whichever you have on hand)
  3. Spread the meat mixture at the bottom, as evenly as possible.
  4. Add the zucchini slices on top to cover the whole dish
  5. Top with the mashed potatoes to the edge of the baking dish, which creates a seal, preventing any of the juices from bubbling over.
  6. Add Parmesan cheese all over the top, then smooth potatoes with spatula.
  7. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes—until the potatoes are browned on top.
  8. Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve with bread, salad or a side of your choice.




For more recipes (over 100 family dishes), PLUS, two stories (children’s book, and a comedy short story for adults) download a sample or purchase WISHES. STITCHES & DISHES: Bundle of Family Fun.

Available on AMAZON for only $1.50.


Growing Up Italian

It’s re-run season in TV land and blogging land. Re-posting this post for all the new followers (thank you for hooking up with me here, I appreciate each and every one of you who support this blog—may all your pizza be delicious and your meatballs melt in your mouth, and the luck of Italian be with you always. 🙂 )

1. The word calm is not in the Italian dictionary.


2. Thanksgiving dinner included; antipasto platter, lasagna, meatballs. Turkey was a side.

3. I don’t want to be that girl, but roasted peppers, Nutella, pesto, deep fried zucchini was a staple for us way before it was trendy.

4. You learned how to make pasta before entering Kindergarten, and you didn’t practice with play dough.

5. When your friends came to your place to play, they were asked no fewer than five times if they were hungry.


6.  We had gardens—not flower gardens. Huge gardens with rows and rows of tomatoes, along with peppers, basil, squash and zucchini.

7. We knew that the word “Latte” is an Italian’s way of saying, “You paid way too much for that coffee.”

8. It is drilled into your mind at a very young age how to make pizza, but if you have absolutely no choice then you know how to order pizza properly, asking for 75% less cheese than your non-Italian friends would order.


9. You have multiple family members named Maria, Angela, Joe, Tony and at least two Uncle Mario’s.

10. You know how to properly pronounce “gnocchi,” “bruschetta,” and “tagliatelle,” which means you’re the spokesperson when out to dinner with your non-Italian friends and family.

11. Salad was always eaten AFTER the main course. (I still do this.)

12. Chamomile tea cures everything.

13. Every Sunday afternoon lunch time with extended family started at 1:00 and ended at 6:00, and there was enough food for everyone to have a second helping and take food home for their week’s lunches.


14. Your Saints day is even more celebrated than your birthday. (Except for me, I don’t have a Saint’s day, but then again I was born in Canada, and that seems to be a loophole according to my siblings, which brings me to number 15).

15. If you were the first generation Canadian, your siblings convinced you that you were adopted.

16. Shocked when you heard someone’s last name did not end in a vowel.

17. Surprised to discover that wine was sold in stores. Wasn’t everyone’s basement a winery?



19. You know a lot of people who came from the same village as your parents or grandparents, they’re not blood related, but call them Aunt, Uncle anyway.

20. Thought everyone got pinched on the cheeks and had money stuffed in their pockets by their relatives.

21. You couldn’t date a boy without getting approval from your mother, father, brothers, sister, a nanna and nonno if they are in the picture, and a few uncles and aunts, by that time, you didn’t have to worry about dating. Ever again.

22. You have at least one irrational fear or phobia that can be attributed to your mother, which of course you pass on to your own children when the time is right.

23. You know that it doesn’t matter what happens; loss of job, divorce, headache, flu, clumsiness….it’s all because you did not eat properly that day and of course, you didn’t listen to your parents.

24. No matter what city you are in, you need to go and visit their Little Italy.


25.  You did the dishes for Nonna or a Zia (Aunt) and got $50.00.


All this and more, but you love every minute of it, and look forward to sharing these traditions with the next generation. 







I’ve included many Italian recipes in my book: WISHES, STITCHES & DISHES: Bundle of Family Fun, available on AMAZON.

Plus, you get a children’s book and a comedy short story along with OVER 100 recipes.