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.


Vegetable-atarian Burgers Even Carnivores will Love


The Vitameatavegamin I Love Lucy episode and the Grape Stomping episode are my favorites. However, I’d rather have a burger than have to resort to spooning my way to health with unappetizing concoctions like Vitameatavegamin.

We strive to have at least three vegetarian meals per week, so I’m having fun coming up with creative ways to cook protein so that the carnivores in the family will feel sated.

Black bean burgers are easy to make, chock-full of flavor, and super healthy.

My family loves these burgers. Okay, maybe not LOVE the way I love them, but they do enjoy them a lot, and no, they would never (nor would I) become a total vegetarian and give up a juicy sirloin burger, but for something different and vegetarian black bean burgers make a good meal.




Recipes makes 5 burgers.

1 can (16 ounce) black beans

1 shallot (or onion and garlic, your choice), minced

1 sweet orange bell pepper (or red or green or yellow), chopped

1/2 cup grated carrot

1 large egg

3 egg whites

3/4 cup oatmeal (or breadcrumbs)

1 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP Srirachi sauce (or any hot sauce)

Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then give it a quick spray with a non-stick spray
  3. In a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) add the black beans and mix until they form a paste like consistency.
  4. In a large bowl add all the ingredients
  5. Mix well, and form into five patties.
  6. Sprinkle each side with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. Bake for 10 minutes each side.

Serve with sweet potato baked fries, or regular fries, and top with all your favorite burger toppings. Can be served in a lettuce bowl, bun, cabbage leaves, anything you would normally use for a meat burger.

Really tasty with spicy mayo. Add mayo, Dijon mustard and add a few drops of spicy sauce. 


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


Stuff it!

My kitchen runs on love, laughter and lots of experimentation—sometimes it works, sometimes not so much, but when it works, hubby will say, “I hope you wrote this recipe down.”


I wrote it all down and I’m going to share it with you.

Besides the scent of cookies baking in the oven, another mouthwatering essence are roasted anything, especially sweet peppers.



1/2 lean ground beef

1/2 Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, your choice)

1/4 cup of dry red or white wine (the good stuff that you would drink, not the cooking wine)

4 sweet peppers (red, orange or yellow)

3/4 cup COOKED white rice (I cook the rice in chicken broth, to give it that much more flavor)

1 TBSP freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 TBSP freshly grated Romano cheese

1 tomato

10 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

handful of fresh basil, chopped

1/3 cup mozzarella, shredded or sliced thinly

1/2 cup tomato sauce

salt and red chili flakes to taste


  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. Cook rice and set aside.
  3. Wash and dry the peppers, slice in half, and remove the seeds and set aside.
  4. Chop the tops you removed from the peppers into small pieces
  5. Chop the tomato in small pieces
  6. Heat up a skillet, add the wine, sausage and ground beef and cook for about 3 minutes
  7. Then add the chopped pieces of peppers and stir, lower heat to medium and cook until meat is brown and done.
  8. Once the meat is done, remove from heat and add: Parmesan, tomato, olives, basil and rice, and stir well until it’s all mixed.
  9. Taste the mixture, so you can season with salt and red chili flakes
  10. Line a baking dish with parchment, or spray with a non-stick spray.
  11. Fill each half of the peppers with equal amounts of the meat/rice mixture.
  12. Arrange peppers in baking dish
  13. Top each pepper with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese
  14. Cover dish and bake for 45 minutes
  15. Remove cover and bake an additional 5 – 10 minutes, until mozzarella on top is a golden color




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


Tasty Tuesday. “Yes, soup for you!”

Social media has been all a twitter and buzz about the cold temperatures we’ve all been experiencing this winter.

Besides a good comedy movie, book, dancing music, and interaction with family and friends, hot soup on a cold day brings a ton of happiness and gets your glow on.




Swiss Chard, Potato & Bean Soup

One of my favorite vegetables is Swiss chard. It’s not only healthy, but has a mild, unique taste that adds a lot of flavor to any soup.

Recipe yields up to 8 servings. (Leftovers can be frozen)


1 can whole tomatoes

1 small onion, diced

4 potatoes, peeled, washed, diced

8 slices of bacon, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 bunches Swiss chard, washed, chopped into bite size pieces, and also the stalks can also be used. Cut the stalks crosswise.

1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Navy beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely

12 cups vegetable or chicken broth

2 TBSP olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste


Cook diced potatoes in a separate pot in boiling salted water for 6 – 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a big soup pot, heat oil and add bacon, cook until bacon is still soft, then turn heat down to medium and add: onion, garlic and parsley, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, to loosen any bits at the bottom of the pot. Cook until onion is soft.

Add can of tomatoes and stir, breaking up the tomatoes, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, constantly stirring. Add the broth and turn up heat to high and let cook for 10 minutes.

Then add the Swiss chard, potatoes and beans, stir well, and let the soup come to a boil. Then turn heat down to simmer for 15 minutes.

For more recipes PLUS a children’s novel and a comedy short story all bundled up in one book, please check out: Wishes, Stitches & Dishes: Bundle of Family Fun.

Available on Amazon.



He Said – She Said – In the end they baked pasta.

Admit it; the blog title has you intrigued, right?

Just nod and agree with me.  🙂

I struggle with coming up with titles. They’re harder to create than writing a blog. So if you tell me I lured you here because of the title, I’ll throw in an extra recipe next week.

Yes, it’s Tasty Tuesday time, but before we get to the recipe (posted below), I’m re-posting an old blog post for the new followers.

Thank you chicks and chucks for connecting with me here. I’m grateful for all the bloggers and Tweeples and Facebookers (boy, has our lingo changed with social media, huh?) who share the blog’s link.

really enjoy your comments—either posted here or in your head, it’s all good.

Top 10 Lists

He would never say.


1. Did you catch The View today, or are you a Dr. Phil guy?

2. I’m tired of beer and wings, let’s make some Cosmo’s and cut up veggies.

3. Do these jeans make my ass look too big?

4. Do you want all my tools?

5. Let’s go to the mall.

6. It’s nippy out there, come on in and I’ll make us some tea.

7. I wish those Victoria Secret models would cover up more, they’re not leaving anything to the imagination.

8. Action movies? Pfftttt. There’s a Gilmore Girls marathon on Lifetime. Yippee.

9. Let’s take that quiz online and see which character we are. My friends think I’m Charlotte, but I think I’m more like Carrie.

10. You go, boyfriend.

She would never say


1.  I hate chocolate.

2.  I love parallel parking.

3.  My butt’s too small isn’t it? And my thighs are perfect, don’t lie to me, it’s true.

4.  GPS? Map? Nah. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out how to get there.

5. Hairy backs are sexy.

6. Our new neighbor, the gorgeous one that works at Hooters, leaves her drapes open when she’s showering. Remind me to tell my husband about it.

7. They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t bottle a locker room scent?

8. I’ll kill the spider.

9. No, it’s my turn to bait the worm on the hook.

10.  I don’t remember the date of our first kiss. Cripes, I can hardly remember our wedding anniversary.

BOTH guys and gals will say that this easy to make & bake healthy dish is delicious.

Baked Veggies and Pasta


1 package of gluten-free penne or any other type of short pasta (could also use whole-wheat pasta, for those who can have gluten)

fresh baby spinach (about 4 cups)

1 sweet pepper (orange or red or yellow, your choice) seeded and sliced

2 yellow zucchini (sliced)

3 TBSP Olive Oil

1 package (1 lb.) ground, low fat turkey (you can also use Italian turkey sausage or any kind of sausgae you like, remove the casings)

Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 cup low fat milk

8 fresh tomatoes (diced) or 1 large can diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded

2 TBSP Parmasan cheese, freshly grated

2 TBSP Romano cheese, freshly grated


Heat oven to 350 F

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add meat, stirring to break it up.

Cook until meat is browned (about 5 minutes, then put it in a bowl).

In the same pan (keeping heat on medium) add the remaining oil and sliced peppers and cook for about 5 minutes.

Then add zucchini and garlic, and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add all this to the meat bowl.

Cook pasta according to package directions, ensuring you are following the al dente directions.

During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the baby spinach.

Drain pasta and spinach and return to the pot.

Add salt and pepper (or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy) and toss well.

Lower heat to medium-low and to the pasta pot add: milk, tomatoes and meat and vegetable mixture, cook and stir over low heat for 3 minutes.

Spray a casserole dish with non stick spray.

Remove pot from stove and add in all the cheeses, coating all the pasta well.

Transfer all the ingredients to the casserole dish.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top and heated through.

Enjoy in good health.

“Why were the little strawberries so upset?”

Answer: “Because their parents were in a jam.”

I know, I know, not exactly a laugh your ass off type of joke, but I’ve been busy in my writing cave and all my creativity is used up in my projects, and this is all I had for this week’s. . . . TASTY TUESDAY’s Recipe.

Strawberry Pie


Continue reading “Why were the little strawberries so upset?”