Another Big Fat Italian Wedding, an Autumn Chopped Salad and Family Fun

I started this blog over a year ago when I heard a speaker at work talk about passions. She said to figure out what your are passionate about and live it. I was in a rut at the time and this task gave me a sense of empowerment and brought a jolt of life back in me. I had a hard time figuring out what I was most passionate about at first , but really, it was pretty simple. I’m passionate about my family, our culture, our family history and cooking family recipes. So I started this blog to talk about my love of Italian food with sprinkles of my love of my big fat Italian family.

Recently, I was told to cut gluten out of my diet, in hopes that it would make me feel better. I did so for a little over a month (hence the lack of posts lately!) and while I felt better, it didn’t really work. I think I felt better because I pretty much cut out carbs from my diet, so I was just eating better overall. I was sad thinking about the prospect of all the cooking restraints I would face and not being able to share my family recipes here anymore, but looked at the positive in that I could creatively try to make all my family recipes gluten-free and started day dreaming about a Big Fat Gluten-Free (Italian) Life!

Luckily, gluten wasn’t the problem! I am excited to finally allow myself to actually look at delicious recipes I come across and dream of new foods to try (I recently tried Oysters, thank to my cousin Michael, and a Beet, thanks to my Grandma!). Not that gluten-free food isn’t good (check out a photo below!), but it had definitely killed my spirits for the past few months.

One of my gluten-free meals (shot with my new camera!!)

While we are on the subject of my family, one of my cousins recently got married and it was nothing short of a big fat Italian wedding! It started at 2:00 p.m. and went until well past 1 a.m. My uncle was still ordering shots at the hotel bar once it was closed and we may or may not have had several noise complaints from the hotel that night. My cousin, in true Italian fashion, did not want any cousin to be left out so he opted to have thirteen groomsmen so everyone could have a role. There were 26 people in their bridal party, not including the ring bearer and miniature bride, which might be an Italian tradition because most people look at me like I’m crazy when I mention a miniature bride.

The Groomsmen! 

My cousins (minus Zach!) Luke, Julian, Michael, Paul,
Jack (brother), Jack and Andrew

Nick and Chelsea Mascari

While I was on my gluten-free kick (which I don’t think I was very good at) I came across a recipe for an Autumn Chopped Salad from the blog Espresso and Cream, and it was the first time I was excited about making something for my blog that was Gluten-Free! I added some balsamic glazed chicken and ate it for every meal until it was gone – it was that yummy!

Autumn Chopped Salad
*I switched up a few ingredients and omitted a few too!

Ingredients
2 boneless chicken breasts
Balsamic Glaze
6 to 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 medium pears, chopped
1 cup dried craisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
4 to 6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Poppy seed Salad Dressing
Balsamic Vinaigrette

In a medium-sized skillet, add olive oil and chicken. Drizzle the balsamic glaze on the chicken and cook over medium heat until done.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, pears, craisins, walnuts and Goat cheese. Drizzle generously with poppy-seed dressing, followed by some of the balsamic vinaigrette. (I would estimate that I used about a cup of dressing: 70 percent poppy-seed dressing and 30 percent balsamic vinaigrette) If you prefer your salad to have more dressing, feel free to experiment with the combination.

Next Up…Italian Neapolitan Cake and my return to Gluten-FILLED Sunday dinners!

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