Thursday, July 23, 2009

Music in my Family

I love music I have to admit .. I often write about music as a way to change our moods and get us excited .. my taste varies ~I really do enjoy all sorts of music from rock & roll ,to the standards, oldies too !
I have to say that I have never been musically inclined ... so to speak .. never had the urge to take lessons~ I am just a fan .. but that is not to say that music is not in our family .. quite the opposite!

On my father's side we have a very famous Pianist named Anthony di Bonaventura ~ as a little girl I went to see in him preform in Carnegie Hall .. his brother Mario is a conductor and another brother Sabatino was a music instructor ... I also have a cousin who plays the accordion .. he lives in Italy ~ Emiliano ... he plays professionally & also another famous cousin~ Daniele diBonaventura - plays the Bandoneon, an instrument not widely know here in the states !
My Uncle Funsie played the accordion and my cousin Al has taken up in his footsteps . ..but the most famous and highly talented person I know has to be my brother Stephen .

Stephen started to play the Banjo when he was 12 years old .. he was inspired ,as my mother likes to say , by watching the Beverly Hillbillies on TV. That banjo music created a desire that, to this day is as strong as ever !

Stephen was in the Mummer's String band for years and every New Year's Day had us at the Italian American Club eating & waiting for the band to return so we could celebrate! My brother has a collection of Banjos that is out of this world .. each one designed from a theme.. all hand made !
He plays with a concentration that is intense and we often kid him about giving us a little smile . He has released a few albums and is currently working on another.. and everyone who hears his music is enthralled with it !

Last night he and a few others played in an outdoor venue in Swarthmore .. we picked up my mom & dad , grabbed the lawn chairs and sat in the breezy summer evening enjoying the sounds of light jazz ! there guys were phenomenal ! At one point my husband Clint said it sounded as if more than one banjo was playing at one time ! and only Stephen's fingers were flying across the strings making a unbelievable sound !

I am very proud to have such a talented brother ! and happy to report that music does live in our family !!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caponata~ a Great Summer Recipe !

I love the summertime with all the fresh and wonderful produce there is around .. this is one of my favorite recipes.. you can use just about anything from fresh tomatoes to yellow squash in it ! it is great hot or cold and keeps well in the fridge .. I use it for an antipasto or a side dish or even a main course .. sweet & savory at the same time ~it is just tasty and delicious ! hope you enjoy it !


2 LBS eggplant cubed with skin on
2 zucchini cubed ,skin on
1 large onion chopped
2 ribs celery diced
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 red peppers diced
2 tbs. chopped parsley
1 tbs. capers
1/2 cup black imported olives
1/2 cup olive oil or more
salt & pepper
1/4 red wine vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
2 cups marinara sauce

In oil saute peppers, onion , garlic ,celery, zucchini,eggplant till soft .. add more oil if necessary cook for about 15 minutes & then add remaining ingredients ... cook additional 20 to 30 minutes

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Roasted Summer Veggies

Farmer's Markets have been on my mind yesterday I called my mom up and asked if she would like to take a ride with me to the New Garden Growers Market in Avondale .

My mother is always up for an adventure so I gathered all my canvas shopping totes and off we went .

It was a beautiful morning .. low 80's breezy, sunny~ just spectacular for our ride in to Chester County .

I was told about the New Garden Farmers/Growers Market from Jack Hill of Jack's Jam's and Aaron Esh~an Amish Dairy Farmer .. while on our Chester County tour last Spring we went to visit both of these entrepreneurs on our day trip and they told us that they sell their wares every summer at New Garden .. so with a google map and a pleasant ride we were off!

The Market had about 17 or so vendors under white Canopies... we split up and went to work ~shopping .. my mother is a mega shopper .. for whose of you who have been on a trip with us you know that my mom can out~shop just about anybody ! you would think she has an army of people living in her home ! She is FIERCE ! Every time I passed her she handed me another bag full of goodies ! I made 5 trips to the car for her alone !

We bought brown eggs , purple string beans , luscious corn on the cob , beautiful tomatoes, an assortment of mushrooms ~Shitake, Crimini, King Oyster ! we bought yellow beets and big bright sun flowers .. artisan's breads and even organic chicken..pickled beets & marinated mushrooms ! Jellies from Jack's of course ~he has the best jellies I have ever tasted ! . ...cherry tomatoes and baskets of peaches..plumb blueberries..tiny baby carrots.. we filled the back of my car with fabulous fresh produce !

It was such a nice day .. I took the long way home on Old Baltimore Pike and stopped at a dairy to buy raw milk and organic heavy cream ... fresh whipped butter and an assortment of cheese !

We had lunch in Kennett & headed home .. the car fragrant with flowers and fresh produce !

Anytime I shop like this I always have the urge to cook when I get home ... I wanted to keep it simple but I also wanted to make a blueberry cobbler so knowing that my oven would be on anyway for that I decided to just clean all my veggies toss them with olive oil & kosher salt .. fresh cracked pepper .. I laid them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put them in the oven for about 30 minutes or so ! WOW ! what a meal we had for dinner last night !
Fresh baked bread toasted to a crisp .. a creamy goat cheese and then all the wonderful roasted vegetables ! Of course blueberry cobbler with organic heavy cream poured on top for dessert ! it was a taste of heaven .. a taste of Chester County !

Shop local !!! visit your Farmer's Markets !it is a wonderful feeling eating food that came from the land that we live on ! so fresh , so wonderfully good !I can't wait to go back !

Friday, July 17, 2009

Brunch or Light Lunch Recipes Ideas

Here are some fast easy recipes for a Brunch ! add a basket of muffins and bagels and maybe some fruit and entertaining can be a breeze!


2 TBSP butter ~melted
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 TSP salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 cup flour

~in food processor combine melted butter ,eggs, milk, salt , sugar pulse for a few seconds .. then add flour pulse for 8 to 10 seconds until combined

~butter 12 muffin cups and fill 3/4 full with batter .. put into a 350 oven for about 35 minutes until golden brown remove & brush with
4 TBSP MELTED BUTTER ~sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
(1/2 cup sugar combined with 1 TSP cinnamon )


2 LBS asparagus cooked until tender ~cut off tips for garnish
1 large onion diced
1 leek diced
3 TBSP butter
salt ~pepper
1/3 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup cream

~cook onion & leeks until golden and soft .. season with salt & pepper & add wine .. combine onion mixture with asparagus in food processor .. add 2 cups broth slowly & puree until smooth ~add cream .. pour mixture in soup pot and add remaining broth heat & serve


5 eggs beaten
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup triple sec
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 TBSP sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon
1 TSP vanilla extract
pinch salt
12 thick slice of french or Italian bread

~combine ingredients except bread .. dip both sides of bread into mixture` put in dish and pour remaining egg mixture over .. let sit 1 hour
melt 3 to 4 TBSP butter and brown both sides of bread in saute pan .. serve with syrup & butter

4 cups cranberry juice
1 magnum champagne
1 cup triple sec

1 side salmon with skin off
2 TBSP melted butter

~roast salmon in 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayo
1 TBS honey

~whisk together and serve with salmon


2 pear cut into small cubes
1 cup dried apricots cut up
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups white wine
2 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dry mustard

~combine in saucepan , cook 30 minutes till syrupy

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Live your best life NOW !

How would you live your life if you knew your days were numbered ?
If you only had a certain amount of time before you passed from this world ?

What would you eat ???~ freshest most delicious food you could find ? would you drink the best wine you could afford ? Spend time with only the people you love and who make you feel good ? Get as much lovin' in your life as possible .. enjoy each and every day and every minute in that day .. take away as much stress as you can ?

Would you tell the most important people in your life how much they mean to you .. how much you love them ?

Would you use all the good dishes each & every day ? Would you eat by candlelight? Enjoying every morsel while siting down at a table set with flowers & beautiful dishes ?

As I lay in bed last night I realized that all our days are numbered .. we only have a short time here .. each & every day is special .. I lay in bed right before I fall asleep and think about my day .. I remember waking up to the sun on my face and thinking about what I would do that day .. how I did my work but also made time for just me and all the things that are important to me in my life .. I give thanks for a wonderful summer day and I realize that my days are numbered and when I wake in the morning I want to enjoy every minute of each and every day I have left !

Make your life special ~day by day ...minute by minute .. let go of grudges .. open yourself to opportunity and life ! remember ~ your days are numbered !!! So enjoy life NOW !

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Makin' Music

Music is a beautiful thing ! It can lift your spirits and change your mood .. it can calm you and excite you .. you can be entertained or lulled to sleep .. the magic of a song can transport you to a different time and place or bring back wonderful memories .. it can make you feel like a child again , make you feel sexy .. encourage you to dance and twirl around the room !

If I am feeling sad or blue I put on some country western music .. that is enough to make me laugh and smile because they are always singing about something worse that I am going through .. if I want to be upbeat .. Motown will do that in a second .. the Beatles can transport me to my youth and Sinatra or Tony Bennett will entertain me for hours !

I can twist .. cha~ cha and just plain shake my way into laughter & a smile !
I dance around the house with the grand kids showing them how to twist & shout & boogy around .. it is great fun and a wonderful stress reducer .

So next time you're feeling blue go get out that CD or I pod and shake that booty into a smile !

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recipes perfect for a BBQ !!!!!

We have had some wonderful weather lately .. not too hot and perfect for eating outdoors ! here are some recipes that are fast & easy and perfect for outdoor entertaining ! I LOVE these HOT DOG ONIONS .. I use them on steak .. hamburgers .. fish burgers or just plain eat them with a spoon !!!! you can make them ahead and they get better the next day .. if they last that long !


1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 very large onions sliced thin
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
dash hot sauce

In butter & oil saute sliced onions until soft on low heat .. cover for the first 10 minutes and stir often .. cook about 20 minutes and then add remaining ingredients and cook additional 10 to 15 minutes .. delicious !!!


2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
dash or more of hot sauce
1 tablespoon honey
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 cloves garlic minced

~combine in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.. brush on chicken pieces while grilling .. or on anything else for that matter .. this sauce goes with anything !

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fun,Easy to make appetizers for summer entertaining !

I am always on the look out for easy summer entertaining ideas .. something you can make with ingredients you can easily find at your local markets and food that can be prepared ahead of time so you can sit and relax with your guests ! So enjoy these recipes and let me know what you think !

4 scallions chopped
2 cups arugula chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
Toasted Italian bread slices
Combine scallion , arugula, salt ,pepper, olive oil & cheese .. serve on toasted bread slices


1 cup stuffed green olives
1 cup black imported pitted olives
1/2 cup capers
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1 anchovy
fresh cracked pepper
Combine in a food processor until chunky .. serve with crackers or bread slices


1 pound feta cheese crumbled
1 cup olive oil
6 scallions chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried dill
4 large tomatoes diced
salt & pepper to taste

combine and serve with pita wedges


3 lbs cooked & cleaned shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1 tablespoon water
dash hot sauce
salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallion
Briefly saute garlic in hot oil . mix wasabi powder with water add oil, garlic. hot sauce salt & pepper toss with shrimp . garnish with scallion .. can double sauce for stronger flavor .


10 slices of bacon,cooked & crumbled
3 large tomatoes chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon
1/4 cup chopped scallion
8 oz cream cheese softened
dash hot pepper sauce
salt & pepper
Combine in food processor serve with fresh cut up veggies or bread slices

Friday, July 10, 2009

What I know for sure

I am an avid reader .. I love to read ... books magazines , cookbooks , blogs , newsletters.. really anything I can get my hands on .. I love to be lost in a novel .. in a far away place .. in someone else adventure or life... I love to be inspired by stories and motivated by articles.

The rooms in my home are overflowing with books in every corner .. sometimes I read 2 or 3 books at a time .. a novel .. a self help book and a cookbook !

In magazines I have a favorite column .. I look for that each time a new monthly magazine comes out .. one of my favorite is Oprah's " What I Know For Sure " .. usually on the last page of her magazine .

During my reflective quiet time in the early morning hours .. I usually get up between 5 & 6 .. just to have a cup of coffee and write .. I came up of my list for "Things I know for sure "
I encourage you to do this too ! it will make you realize what is truly important in your life .. what really matters to you .. aside for our daily routine and things we have to do .. this will show you what is in your heart ! and in life you should follow your heart ! it never lies !

What I know for sure I need daily

my quiet time
a nap
good food
good wine
a walk
to listen to the sounds of birds
kisses from my grand babies
day dreaming
kisses from Clint
writing my morning pages
a nice hot shower

Make some time in your life to see what really matters to you.. make a list .. set some goals ...incorporate what is meaningful in your life to your daily activities will be surprised at how happy it will make you !
What do YOU know for sure ???

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cocktails on the Veranda

Whether you have a deck, porch or back step .. Summer is a wonderful time to relax with friends and a delicious summertime drink ..It is a gathering place for relaxation & conversation . Fireflies in the dark .. shooting stars.. a full and brilliant moon . the laughter of friendship and the quiet solitude of dreaming ... grab a frosty glass and sit outside and enjoy the moment that is summer !

Peach Margarita
1 cup frozen or fresh peaches pureed
1 cup tequila
1/2 cup peach snaps
1/2 cup lime juice
4 TBS superfine sugar
crushed ice

White Wine Fizz
1.5 liter white wine
1 apple sliced thin
1 lemon sliced thin
1 orange sliced thin
2 cups sparkling water

Watermelon -tini
6 cups fresh seedless watermelon
1 cup vodka
1 cup lemonade
combine in a blender ,serve over ice.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Mother & Michael Jackson

My mother is 80 years old .. she lives 1/2 block from me and I see and talk to her regularly .. but never so much as these days !
It started with a innocent statement"Michael Jackson's kids are not his"and went on from there ... "did you know his casket will be blue & gold ? "
"his mother is really pretty "
"she doesn't live with the father "
"he is $500 million dollars in debt"
"his estate is worth ... " and on & on ......... to say that my 80 year old mother is obsessed with Michael Jackson would be an understatement!
I am receiving a daily account of the life and death of Michael Jackson .. last night while having a light summer dinner at my house she said~
" what will I do after he is buried ??? "
Now that is a scary thought... at home with my dad ( he sleeps alot) my mother watches TV .. she does do some reading but lately she has been glued to the TV with the sights and spectacle that is Michael Jackson .. the king of Pop.
"he only weighed 112 lbs !"
"they towed his doctors' car away"
"his doctor made $150,000 a month! "
"they have his last video "
"he loved his kids "
"the dermatologist was the Father!"
"the sisters are there for the money "
"he was paid in cash for all his concerts "
"his maids all wore black & white uniforms '
As I write this I think you, too, will know as much as I do about Michael!~he has become one of the family ... an everyday subject..
What will we do when he is buried !??!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vibrant ,Colorful Summery Foods

Summer is here ....a time to eat light .. a time to enjoy the bounty of the garden .. here are some great ,light , fun salads to make for entertaining or for dinner .They can be made ahead just don't put the dressing on until you are ready to serve ..... Enjoy !


4 cups frozen corn defrosted
1 large red pepper diced
1/2 cup scallion chopped
1/2 cup red onion diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley
1 ~15 can black beans rinsed & drained

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 red wine vinegar
2 TBSP lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
dash hot sauce (optional )
~combine ingredients for dressing and toss with remaining ingredients


2 LBS String beans cleaned & cooked till tender

2 red peppers sliced thin
1 large onion sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt& pepper
2 TBSP chopped parsley

~cook peppers & onion in oil until soft and caramelized.. season with salt & pepper and toss with cooked green beans .. serve room temp

Italian Potato Salad

3 LBS potatoes cooked until just tender, drain
6 TBS olive oil
salt & Pepper
3 TBSP Italian flat leaf parsley
~combine all ingredients & serve room temp

Orange Salad with Feta & Honey Dressing

6 navel oranges peeled & sliced
1 red onion sliced very thin
3/4 cup Feta Crumbles
1/2 cup imported black olives


1 TBSP honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 TBSP Red Vinegar
salt & pepper
~whisk & drizzle over oranges& red onion sprinkle with feta & olives

Fresh Fruit with Lemoncello & vodka

4 cups assorted berries
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup lemoncello
Sugar if needed

Combine & serve

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Funny how quickly time passes by .. when we are busy with the every-day stuff of life.. going to work ... doing chores... cooking .. dealing with family and friends .. we don't think about time .. but if a slow minute comes upon us .. when things quiet down .. we have time to pause and look at our life .. then we can see that time just goes on it's merry way .. ticking by we get older ... our life gets shorter .. the things we want to do or plans we may have day dreamed about get pushed towards the back burner ....

How many times have you heard the expression " Life is not a dress rehearsal ".. if you stop to think about that saying you will realize that it rings true ...

Hey ! it's now or never ! take a look at your life .. your dreams .. your passion .. where did they go .. are you making time in your life for what you really want ? do you know what it is that you really want ?

Those answers don't come too easily .. you need to make space for your dreams .. you need to think about them plan them take steps towards them ..
you need to DO something !

I once overheard a conversation in a quiet little restaurant on the coast of Oregon .. a gentleman and his companion were sitting behind .. out of sight but not out of earshot .. they were talking about INTENTION & ACTION .. all of us at some point in our lives have INTENTION .. good intentions but do we always take action on those thoughts? .. if we don't .. if we don't make a effort to take a step towards our intention .. take some ACTION .. our intention becomes nothing .. just a dream .. never a reality
We can't sit and wait for a present to drop in our lap .. we need to start to make it happen .. show the universe and our selves that we are serious about what it is that we want in our life .
That is how things happen .. first you dream, then you think, then you do something and guess what .. then it happens ..
Our thoughts are real .. what we think of manifests itself in our lives ..
think good thoughts... think about what you want .. take the time to day dream in your daily life .. make plans .. then take steps to make those plans become a reality
the time is now .. your life is right now .. it's now or never .. make your life the best it can be .. everyday.. every minute ..
Be happy .. don't worry .. all good things will come to you !

"Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music."
Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Well it's July ... how did that happen ? I know time goes by fast but sometimes it still amazes me just how quickly my life is going !

My Spring & Summer season of classes& day trips have come to an end .

Last night was "Be Good To Yourself Class" I cooked lots of fresh vegetables .. the food was vibrant and colorful .. Marilyn Firchow , a personal trainer came and did a presentation on simple things you could do to make your body stronger , healthier and incorporate fitness in you daily life .

It was a great class and it got me to thinking back on this season of classes and trips ... we have been to Chester County tasting the abundance that is at our doorstep .. we ventured into South Philadelphia on a Day "Shopping with Susan" tasting our way through family owned businesses and stocking our kitchens with all the good food to prepare a wonderful meal .. we went to Chinatown on a whirlwind tour .. learning the culture and enjoying the fascinating sights & sounds of Downtown Chinatown . We cooked our way through Tuscany with hands on classes and enjoyed the company of women at the Mother's Day Luncheon . We learned how to incorporate the Art of Fung Shui in our daily life adding passion & abundance and just plain good common sense to make our lives flow more smoothly.

It was a very busy , fun & informative season full of laughter and learning and meeting new Friends and spending time with others who have a passion for food and life!

The summer months of July & August are quieter as everyone is in a summer mood of relaxation and vacation .. but for me it is a time to start planning my fall & winter season .
I have lots of new ideas for the upcoming Autumn .. it is a favorite time of year for me .. a time for renewal and learning .. a time for entertaining and being with family & friends and a great time to go back to school .. so I hope you will check the web site & join me a an upcoming class or local adventure !

Have a great Summer !