Italian Scrambled Eggs

One should eat to live, not live to eat. – Moliere

I’ve been rather absent from this blog for longer than I like to admit, but I think the above quote really provides an accurate explanation as to why. When you are trying to maintain/lose weight, cooking large Italian meals that are delicious, well…you get the point. And I like to eat, so it takes a good amount of self-control.

So, maybe I don’t post here every month or even every few months, but hopefully you are still able to visit when you need a recipe or some Kitchen Inspiration. I know I do!

Every now and then, when work isn’t too crazy and I have an hour or so to spare for lunch, I drive down the street to visit my Grandma and have lunch with her (I’m so lucky she is only a 3 minute car ride away). It’s not that I don’t get enough quality time with her on Sundays, I do, but I really enjoy our one-on-one time. And I like making her laugh – and she laughs at me a lot during our lunch dates.

One day she made me scrambled eggs for lunch, and as I watched her, I realized  I had never seen anyone make eggs that way. She was  making what I call “Italian Scrambled Eggs.” They were the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had – so I started making them that way too! It’s a nice spin on something so simple that you can throw together quickly for any meal – maybe adding in some tomatoes or peppers for a quick dinner!


Italian Scrambled Eggs

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

3 Large Eggs

2 tbsp Water (milk is optional)

1/4 cup Parmesan or Roman Shredded Cheese

Parsley (optional)

In a medium-sized skillet, add about a 1/2 tbsp of olive and let it heat up on low heat.

Olive Oil

While the olive oil is heating, break the eggs into a mixing bowl and scramble with a fork or a whisk. Add a little bit of salt & pepper, water (milk is optional) and the cheese. Mix well.

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs

Add to the skillet and continuously mix and fold the eggs until they begin to cook. I like my eggs to be a little bit runny, but remove the eggs once they reach your desired consistency.

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs

Sprinkle with a little bit of Cheese and the Parsley and serve!

Scrambled Eggs

Carmela & Gabriella’s Cream Sauce

Life is a combination of magic and pasta – Federico Fellini

When my two younger cousins, Carmela and Gabriella, asked if they could stay the night with me a few weekends ago and hang out, I couldn’t wait. I was really excited to spend some quality time with them and to learn more about their lives. It’s easy to forget what high school is really like until you have two young girls in the midst of it, telling you stories. I was glad I was able to share some insight (which did make me feel older than I would like) on boys, friends, college, etc.

Sometimes we forget how scary growing up can be, and it was nice to be able to look back on my high school and college days and confidently tell them that it really will all work out in the end…and to just have fun while you get through all the “growing up.”

After we ate the amazing Flying Cupcakes they brought over after work (oh to have the metabolism of a 15-year-old girl again…), we decided to make dinner together. Carmela’s Dad owns a pizza place here in Indy (Enzo’s Pizza) and her family is from Sicily, so she definitely likes to cook!

The girls requested a cream sauce with Tortellini, so I thought it would be fun to come up with our own version (hence the name). After picking a few key ingredients, we headed to the kitchen to have a fun little cooking adventure!

Carmela handled the chicken and mushrooms, while I taught Gabriella how to make sauce. This was Gabriella’s first time making a sauce, so I let her takeover for a little bit. I understood how to cook by watching my Mom while I was growing up, but I really learned how to cook by doing it on my own, with a little bit of guidance.

Carmela & Gabriella Cooking

Carmela & Gabriella’s Cream Sauce

with Tortellini, Chicken, Mushrooms and Peas



1-Tablespoon butter

1-Tablespoon olive oil

1-Garlic clove

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1 ½ Cup heavy whipping cream

1½ Cup of chicken broth (use “better than bouillon” to make your broth)

Red Pepper, to taste

Garlic Powder, to taste

2-Tablespoons flour

1-Bag of frozen peas

1-package of baby Bella Mushrooms

3 pieces of thinly sliced chicken breast

David Page’s Special Seasoning

Boil a pot of water and add the bouillon base as directed on the package. Once the bouillon is finished, set aside.

Season chicken with David Page’s Special seasons and slice into small pieces. Heat skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and add chicken. Cook half way and add in the mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms and chicken are cooked thoroughly.

Sliced Chicken

Baby Bella Mushrooms

While you are cooking the chicken, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic clove and salt and pepper. Once the butter has melted and the garlic is translucent, add 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of chicken broth.

Melting Butter

Seasoned Butter

Cream Sauce Cooking

Season with Garlic Powder, Red Pepper flakes and Parmesan Cheese to taste, and let simmer for about 15 minutes while stirring constantly. If the sauce needs to be thickened add about 1-Tablespoon of flour and some more cheese.

Bring sauce to a boil for about 5 minutes and then turn down the heat to simmer. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes (add in more cream and more chicken broth, as needed).

Cream Sauce Cooking

Everything Cooking

After about 20 minutes, add the frozen peas, mushrooms and chicken to the sauce and continue cooking until the peas are cooked and the sauce is at the desired consistency.

While your sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Once the water is at a rapid boil, add the tortellini and cook until finished (once the Tortellini all rises to the top of the pot it is cooked).

Mix the tortellini with the sauce in a serving dish, sprinkle on some Parmesan Cheese and serve!

Cream Sauce with Peas & Mushrooms

Carmela & Gabriella's Cream Sauce

I was actually surprised how delicious the sauce ended up being. I hadn’t made a cream sauce in a very , very long time (dairy is my new enemy) so I was feeling a little shaky on my delivery.

I had to add a little more flour than I would have liked because I wanted to use as little cream as possible, but in a cream sauce that is kind of difficult!

After making Pasta with Carmela, I decided we have to make Pizza together, and soon! Or Bread with my Grandma…Two of my very best friends are getting married in April and May, so I haven’t had enough time to plan our next cooking adventure with all the wedding celebrations lately. Hopefully there will be some time in early April!

Below are two pictures from my weekends in Chicago and Austin celebrating the Brides-to-Be!

Laura's Bachelorette Party
Laura’s Bachelorette Party
Maegan's Bachelorette Party
Maegan’s Bachelorette Party

Strawberry Jell-O Cake

The passion of the Italian or the Italian-American population is endless for food and love and everything about it. – Mario Batali

My last post was a little more personal and emotional than I like to be, but I thought my absence over the past year deserved a proper, and honest explanation. Luckily, it’s not my style to get all sappy and emotional on a normal basis; only when necessary. I prefer my sarcastic and witty self the majority of the time and hopefully anyone reading this does too. I chose the above quote this week because I wanted the focus here to return back to passion and food!

So last weekend as I sat at Uncle Handsome’s babysitting, I was thinking about what I wanted to make next. I decided I would bake a cake for my Grandpa’s birthday dinner that Sunday.

One of my favorite cakes growing up was my Grandma’s Jell-O cake. I had no idea it was a classic American recipe. I always thought it was this secret cake she knew how to make, kind of like magic.

I like Jell-O. I really like cake. I love Jell-O cake. Perfect addition to my recipe collection.

I went to the store and had the intention of being creative with my Jell-O flavors, and maybe mixing things up, but in the end I just wanted the classic Strawberry Jell-O cake.

Strawberry Jell-O Cake

Strawberry Jell-O Cake

1 box of Strawberry Jell-O

1 box of Betty Crocker white cake

1 container of Cool-Whip

Fresh Strawberries

4 Round Cake Pans

Jell-O Cake Ingredients

Bake cake according to the directions on the box.

(You could always make your own white cake, but I had to pick up miss Concetta who was stranded after a fun night out, so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked).

Betty Crocker White Cake

While the cake is baking, make the Jell-O according to the directions on the package.

Strawberry Jell-O

Strawberry Jell-O

When the cakes are finished let them cool and then switch each cake to a clean plan. This is an important step – so don’t forget! If you don’t do this, you will have a really hard time getting the cake out of the pan and it will more than likely fall apart. Mine did.

(I was not aware of this step, so when I brought my Jell-O soaked cakes to my Grandma’s to ice with Cool-Whip, my Aunt Anette and Grandma had to help me salvage my cakes.)

Betty Crocker White Cake

Stab each cake all-over with a fork (I attempted to do slits to control the color and this worked fine) and then pour the Jell-O equally all over each cake.

Put in the refrigerator for at least three hours to let the Jell-O set.

(This is also an important step. I am the most impatient person, so I took them out way too early. Again, I was lucky my Aunt Annette is a genius and helped me salvage my cake!)

Once the cakes have been in the refrigerator for at least three hours, remove the first cake and place it upside down on a cake tray (rounded part on the bottom).

Ice the top with room-temperature Cool-Whip and then place the second cake, with the round part facing up, on top of the first cake.

(If you buy Cool-Whip and it’s still frozen, don’t put it in the microwave. I attempted this and was looked at as if I was a crazy person by my Grandma. Who knew you couldn’t microwave Cool-Whip?)

Ice the remainder of the cake and add sliced strawberries on the top.

Strawberry Jell-O Cake

Strawberry Jell-O Cake

Strawberry Jell-O Cake

My cake had a few issues, as I noted above, but it really ended up turning out pretty good. Most of it was in part to my Aunt who literally helped me piece my cake back together after it fell apart.

It turned out moist and had a lot of flavor. My cousin Antonia even took the leftover cake home because she thought it was so good. Turned out to be a nice little Sunday surprise!

As I told my Aunt and my Grandma while we were holding my cake together, hoping the Cool-Whip would help to bind it, “that’s why I call this blog ‘Kitchen Adventures’ – if you don’t try, you’ll never know!” Learning is always an adventure, good or bad.

Luckily this adventure turned out to be a good one!

So Happy Birthday to my wonderful and loving Grandpa! He is one of the reasons I love to cook and experiment with recipes.  I am so thankful for his influence in the kitchen and in my life.

Some of my earliest memories of being in the kitchen are with him, standing over a bowl of pancake mix and laughing while he threw random ingredients into the batter. One of my all time favorites was when he added Orange Juice.

Grandpa Page

Grandpa Page

It wouldn’t be Sunday dinner without some sort of entertainment. The only person missing in the above picture is Nick, who is typically right next to Michael standing behind Grandpa doing some sort of torment.

Until next time…

Page Family Meat Pie Cook-Off

“Your life is a result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, it is time to start making better choices.”

2012 was a tough year. Not just for me, but for a lot of my loved ones. Change, death, loss, fear, confusion. You name it – we had it.

It was almost a year ago that I made a decision that would change my life as I knew it. Not just my life, but what I had envisioned for my life. It was a hard decision, but it was one that would lead to a happier and more content version of myself. A version of myself that I recognized again and actually liked.

I had come across the above quote, and it made me think about how unhappy I was, and why. Once I started making decisions that were better for me, and not anyone else, I started to love my life for the first time in a really long time.

I also stopped cooking, which led to the lack of posts over the past year.

It’s hard to do things with passion when you don’t know yourself anymore, so I took some time to figure out “me.” One thing is for sure, I still love being in the kitchen. It is still a place where I am comfortable, creative and anxiety free.

I decided that 2013 was going to be a positive, happy and exciting year. I needed it after the past year and so did the closest people to me in my life. We rang in the new year together on the beach and cheered to “new beginnings” and “happier times.”

My brother-in-law lost his mother almost a year ago. She loved “My Big Fat Italian Life” and saved all of my recipes. While I may have stopped blogging last year, I didn’t stop cooking. I was cooking for her when she couldn’t, and I just didn’t feel right blogging about it.

So, for Dianne, I am going to start sharing recipes again. I am going to dedicate the year of “new beginnings” and “happier times” to her. Cheers, Dianne!

Turn the Page

Every so often my family has a little friendly cooking competition. Everyone grew up in the kitchen and in the food industry, so it’s only natural that everyone thinks they are the “best” in the trade. While I was in Chicago I missed a few of the cook-offs, so when they decided to have a Super Bowl cook-off, I jumped at the chance!

I had made the Page Family Meat Pie before, but this time I knew I had to up the ante. These pies weren’t going to be just traditional meat pies, and I didn’t want to come in last! I decided to put a spin on the original recipe and it turned out pretty good!

I did forget to drain the meat all of the way, so I ended up with a runny consistency, but the flavor was great.

My Uncle Paul (aka Uncle Handsome) ended up winning, but I came in second (first for flavor).

Page Family Meat Pie


5 Yukon gold potatoes

1 large onion, finely chopped

7 pieces bacon

1 red pepper, finely chopped

1 yellow pepper, finely chopped

2 lbs ground beef

David Page’s Special Seasoning

Salt & Pepper

Garlic Powder


1 egg

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup milk

½ stick of butter

Philadelphia Cooking Cream, Savory Garlic

Salt & Pepper, to taste

2 pie shells

Box of Puff Pastry

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel the potatoes and add to the boiling water. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the heat and set aside in a mixing bowl.

Yukon Gold Potatos

Yukon Gold Potatos

Finely chop the onion and set aside.

In a large skillet cook the bacon in an ungreased skillet on medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes.

Chop the yellow and red pepper and set aside (do not get rid of the grease).

Red & Yellow Peppers

Add the onion and the beef to the skillet with the bacon grease. Season with David Page’s special seasoning, sage, salt and pepper to taste and garlic powder. Add the chopped peppers.

Meat Pie Filling

Take the bacon and chop into tiny pieces. Add to the meat.

Chopped Bacon

Add milk and butter to the potatoes and mash with a mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste and the cream cheese. Make sure to leave some lumps in the potatoes.

Add the pie shell to the pie pan.

Drain the beef. Once the meat is drained, mix with the potatoes and add to the pie shell.

Meat Pie

Beat 3 eggs in a bowl and brush on the edges of the pie crust and the top of the pie.

Meat Pie

Preheat the oven to 350° and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (if the edges start to brown faster than the pie, add foil to the edges).

Lucia's Meat Pie

If you have left over filling, you can make mini meat pies, as well!

Roll out the puff pastry dough on a well-floured surface and cut dough into 3-inch squares.

Add filling to the center of each square, but be careful not to add too much filling or the pastry won’t close.

Brush beaten egg on the edges with a pastry brush.

Fold the square into a triangle and push the edges together (you can even use a fork to make a pattern).

Add more egg to the edges.

Place triangles on a baking sheet

Preheat the over to 375° and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Mini Meat Pies

The meat pie contest was a lot of fun, but I am pretty sure no one in my family wants to see another meat pie for a long, long time! It was a bit excessive…

Meat Pie Cook-Off

And to start 2013 off with a bang, we welcomed the newest member of the Page family at the end of 2012. Introducing baby Augustus or “Gus.” He is as cute as a button!

Baby Gus

I have a very, very long list of things to make and I’m excited to share them with you throughout the year! More updates to come…I promise!

A Valentine’s Day Treat: Mini S’Mores

Obviously Valentine’s Day is long over, but for some reason life has gotten in the way of updating this post! So ignore the below ramblings…

I have always disliked Valentine’s Day. Even when I was in relationships, I thought it was a silly day and never felt like celebrating it. So when I mentioned to one of my friends that I was making dinner for Valentine’s Day, she wanted to know what I had done with her best friend. Well, I decided that instead of thinking it was a stupid day, I would change my attitude and celebrate my love for everyone in my life and make a big dinner!  I even went as far as buying Valentine’s themed plates, napkins and a Valentine’s day present for everyone that night! 

Apparently I got hit by the love bug and, I have to admit, it was so much more fun celebrating Valentine’s Day than it was despising it every year.

My sister helped out with dinner and we made stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer, spinach salad, steak, potatoes, roasted asparagus and then Mini S’Mores for dessert! I found the S’mores on Pinterest (my new obsession) and couldn’t wait to make them!

The S’Mores were so simple to make and only took about 30 minutes total (15 of which you are just letting the graham crackers set)! They were so good that my sister, who rarely eats sweets, kept going back for more, and my brother has asked me to make them almost every night since.

Our Valentine's Day Celebration
Stuffed Mushrooms from Skinny Taste
Seasoned Vegetables

Everything was so good and perfectly timed, but the S’Mores were the real hit of the party! They were so simple to make and even more delicious.

Mini S’Mores

Preheat Oven to 350º


Mini Cupcake Pan

7 Whole Graham Crackers

1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

6 tbsp Butter, Melted

4 Milk Chocolate Hershey Bars, divided (or chocolate chips worked perfectly for me!)

12 Large Marshmallows (halved)

**My brother Jack loves Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough/Cookies, so the next time I made them I added some cookie dough!

Place Graham Crackers into a large ziplock bag and finely crush (I used a meat tenderizer). In a small bowl, combine Graham Cracker Crumbs, Powdered Sugar and Melted Butter and mix together. Spoon one tablespoon of the mixture into each cup of the mini cupcake pan. Press crumbs with your fingers to help stick together and make shallow cups.

Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling.

Once the crust is finished, add the chocolate chips or one chocolate rectangle and a Marshmallow half on top of the chocolate and bake for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes.

Once they have cooled, carefully remove  cups from the pan and continue to let cool on a plate. While they are cooling, melt the remaining chocolate and dip the Marshmallow tops (I skipped this step). Let set for another 45 minutes to an hour. And then Enjoy!

If you want, you can add some decorations to spruce up the S’Mores if you are bringing them to a party or entertaining guests. I found these cute little “Be Mine” stickers to go along with the plates and napkins at Hobby Lobby.

It’s becoming apparent that I am busier than usual in Indianapolis than I was in Chicago, but I guess that is what happens when you have a Big Fat Italian Family to keep you busy. And that is exactly why I moved home, so no complaints here! For all of my readers, please keep my Great Aunt Nancy in your prayers. She fell and broke her Femur and will be in a Nursing Home/Rehab Facility for a while until she heals. She needs all the prayers she can get to help her rehab and get home!

Until next time…


Nutella and Peanut Butter Cookies

If I was bad about updating this blog before I moved back to Indianapolis, I am even worse now. If that is even possible! Since moving home I’ve been pretty busy with work due to the Super Bowl and living at home has put a kink in my desire to cook for some reason. Here is another recipe that is LONG over due…Nutella and Peanut Butter Cookies. I made these and the Fried Nutella Pies right before I moved back from Chicago for my going away dinner. The cookies were ok, but I thought they were kind of dry. That may have been my fault as I didn’t follow the recipe and added peanut butter, an egg, cinnamon and vanilla.

Nutella and Peanut Butter Cookies (Adapted from A Busy Nest)

Preheat oven to 350° and bake for 10 minutes.

1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup JIFs Natural Peanut Butter (my favorite!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Add the Nutella, Peanut Butter, Sugar and Eggs to a large mixing bowl. Blend all ingredients together and slowly add the flour. Once the flour is mixed in well, add the cinnamon and vanilla.

Fold the dough until everything is mixed in. Form dough into 1-inch balls on a cookie sheet and bake!

In my rush to get ready for dinner, I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but unfortunately they didn’t look a lot different from what you see above.

Until next time….!

Fried Nutella Pies

This post is LONG overdue. I made Fried Nutella Pies on one of my last nights in Chicago, while I was sitting at home bored. I had spent the day packing and running errands, so when I was got home I didn’t have anything to do until my friends got home from work. While I was waiting on Laura to get home so we could head to my final going away party with some friends at Club Lucky (I highly recommend making a stop if you’ve never been), I decided to make these yummy looking Fried Nutella pies and Peanut Butter Nutella cookies (post to come soon)!

I had some food I needed to get rid of before the move and Nutella was one of the ingredients! I found the recipe on Our Best Bites and was excited to give it a try. I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but I had some things I thought would work as a substitute. They turned out pretty good once I got the frying thing down.

Fried Nutella Pies (adapted from Our Best Bites)

Pillsbury Pie Crust (I didn’t have wonton wrappers – but I did have pie crusts I needed to get rid of!)



Cinnamon and Sugar (mixed)

Peanut Butter

Chocolate Chip


frying oil

Let the pie crusts sit out until they are at room temperature. Fill a bowl with cinnamon and sugar and mix. Set aside the bowl (near the stove) for dipping the “pies” once they are fried.

Cut the pie sheets into small squares and fill them with a small bit of Nutella and any other ingredients you want. I added craisins to some, peanut butter to a few and to be honest, I can’t remember what else I used, but I know I pretty much cleaned out my pantry of sweet stuff. I just put Nutella on all of the pies and then made some with chocolate chips and peanut butter, some with just craisins, some with coconut, etc.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, but make sure it doesn’t get too hot or the pies will burn. Remember the Kitchen Adventure I had with Caprese Wontons? Once the oil is hot enough, begin folding the pies together and adding to oil. Fry until the outsides are golden brown and then immediately add to the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

My first few attempts didn’t go over so well. The pies were falling apart and getting stuck in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. I figured out that the oil wasn’t hot enough and the pies weren’t really frying, so I turned up the heat and let the oil get hotter before I added the pies.

After a few attempts they turned out pretty good – and didn’t taste bad either! They weren’t my favorite dessert, but they were definitely something different and they were fun to make. I love anything with cinnamon and sugar on them, so they got my approval!

Up next: Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies



Chicken Tortilla Soup

Now that I am back in Indy I suddenly have so much time on my hands. It’s not that I was really busy in Chicago and now all of a sudden I have nothing to do, it’s just a different way to live now, I guess. I get off work at 5 instead of 7. It takes me 20 minutes to get home instead of an hour. I can still go to the gym, which takes 5 minutes there and back compared to 20 each way. It’s amazing how much more time I get to myself or to find something fun to do.

I also actually get to spend time with people when I feel like it and it doesn’t have to be a production. I can’t remember the last time I got off work in time to go to the grocery store, go to the gym, hang out and then make dinner. That is, until I moved back to Indianapolis.

Now that it’s getting colder out, all I want to eat are soups! I came across this delicious recipe on Pinterest (my new addiction) for Chicken Tortilla soup and have wanted to make it ever since.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe adapted from The Review Lady)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 6 corn tortillas, chopped

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

White pepper to taste

6 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can sweet corn

3 Boneless Chicken Breasts (2 cups shredded chicken)

Cheese of choice for garnish

Tortilla chips

Boil the chicken breasts until cooked and set aside. In a large pot, sauté onions in butter until transparent, add garlic and sauté until aromatic. In a separate skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté tortillas for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and tortillas. Bring to a boil and add cumin, chili powder, garlic, pepper, and chicken stock. Return to a boil. Reduce heat. Add salt and cayenne pepper. Simmer 30 minutes.  If you prefer a non-chunky soup, remove from pot  and puree soup. (I didn’t do this, but think it’s a great idea!)

Cooking the vegetables
The Finished Product!

Shred your chicken and add to soup along with the corn. Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and add more seasoning if necessary. Garnish with cheese and tortilla chips.

Next Up: Nutella and Peanut Butter Christmas Cookies

Pecan Pie

In order to get in the Thanksgiving spirit, I decided to bake my very first pecan pie. And to celebrate my last week of work. That’s right, I left my job. My great, amazing, big time agency dream job that I worked my butt off to get. I might be losing my mind and left reality for crazy town, but I did it. Reality has yet to set in, but I feel it will hit me sooner rather than later. I still feel as if I am on vacation, but I am hoping Indianapolis starts to feel like home again soon.

I decided that my big fat Italian life, what I write about on this blog (besides cooking adventures), is more important to me than any big city job or life. And that big fat Italian life is all in Indianapolis, not Chicago. I’m excited for this new adventure and to be able to spend more time with my family – not wishing I was with them all the time and sad every Sunday when they were all together while I was sitting alone in my kitchen eating a lean cuisine (I’m being dramatic, but you get the point).

So, to celebrate my last full day of work and Thanksgiving, I decided to bake a Pecan Pie. Baking is also what I do when I don’t feel like processing or dealing with emotions. It’s a stress relief and I am able to zone out and focus on the recipe, one line at a time.

Pecan Pie (recipe adapted from Baking)

1 pie crust sheet (I used Pilsbury)

4 tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup dark corn syrup (I opted for the water/brown sugar mix)

**If you don’t have dark corn syrup, for 1 cup dark corn syrup: 1/4 cup water and 1 cup packed brown sugar

2 extra-large eggs

1  1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup pecan nuts

1 tsp cinnamon

Optional: add 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I didn’t, but want to next time!)

Preheat the oven to 400°F and remove the dough from the refrigerator until it’s room temperature. Line a 9 inch round tart pan with dough once it’s at room temperature.

Place butter, brown sugar and corn syrup (or replacement) in a pan and heat gently until melted. Remove from the heat and quickly beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Chop the pecans and stir into the mixture and add in chocolate chips now, if you want.

Mix in the Pecans

Pour into the pie pan and add a layer of whole pecans to the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until filling is just set. Serve warm or cold.

Pecan Pie

Be sure to take the pie out around 35 minutes when the crust is done. I had never made Pecan Pie before and didn’t know how the inside consistency was supposed to be, so I left the pie in a few minutes too long and the crust was a little burnt on the outside.

I wanted to bring it home for Thanksgiving, but decided to have a small piece anyway! I’ve only had Pecan Pie once before, but I thought it tasted pretty good. It definitely fell apart once I put it on my plate, but the flavor was good!

It was good, I promise!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and celebrated everything they are thankful for. I am trying my best to get in the Christmas spirit now and am hoping it will happen with the first snow fall!

Up next: Chicken Tortilla Soup

My Return to Venice

To say I was happy to be back in Italy is an understatement. I am so fortunate to have seen so much of the world and have the opportunity to travel around Europe, but of all the places I have been, Italy just feels like home. My mom once said to me, after returning from a trip to Paris, that she felt as if she belonged there. I always wondered what she meant by that and it took years later to find out. From my first moment in Italy, in 2005, I fell in love and felt at home.

My first Gondola ride in Venice, 2005
San Marco Square, 2005

While I was studying in Italy in 2007, I loved every minute of living there. I loved the food, the sights and culture. I loved the people and their life style and most of all, I loved the language. It was such an amazing experience and I could not wait to get back. I knew I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to go more than once in my life, but in my heart I knew I would be back one day. Every trip I made to Rome, I visited the Trevi Fountain, turned my back and threw a coin over my left shoulder. They say that if you do this you will return to Rome and so far this has remained true! While I was studying in Florence, only my cousin Michael was able to make the trip to visit me and we traveled to Venice and the Amalfi coast.

Again, in San Marco Square in 2007, next to Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)

My first time in Venice, I was so taken aback and overwhelmed by being in a new culture for the first time, I thought it was HUGE and couldn’t ever really get my bearings. The second time I was there with my cousin, Michael, we spent the day at a restaurant near the Rialto Bridge people watching, eating amazing food and drinking wine.

This trip was different. I knew where to take my family and what to see. I knew how to get around and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the culture, making it so much more enjoyable than ever before. When my cousin and I sat near the Rialto bridge in 2007, it was just something we stumbled upon. I’m glad I took time this trip to plan the day and take it all in.

We arrived in Venice bright and early and were some of the first people walking the streets. It was really cool to walk through an empty San Marco Square, get an espresso and sit in front of the San Marco Cathedral. We spent the day walking every street, shopping, eating and exploring along the way.

Enjoying some pizza in Venice
My Brother, Jack, sampled about 15 different Gelato flavors throughout the day
Shopping and being "touristy"
View from the Rialto Bridge

By the time we got to Italy, I was starving for something delicious and I was in luck. Every meal I had in Venice was delicious. We even stopped at a restaurant near the train station and it was possibly one of the best meals of the trip. Everywhere you looked there were dessert’s in the windows, in the cafes and restaurants. Sweets were everywhere!

Desserts - Sicilian Cannoli!

After lunch we continued to make our way around Venice. We stumbled upon an amazing little market that had some of the brightest and freshest looking foods. My sister got in trouble for touching the peppers because they were so beautiful and vibrant she thought they were fake.

Mini Peppers at the market
Market in Venice
Checking out the Venice Market

My sister and her husband, Grant took a break from the family to have a romantic Gondola ride before we had to head back to the ship to get ready for our night out in Venice. While they were enjoying the romantic qualities of the city, my Dad, Mom, Brother and I continued to explore the city. After walking a while I noticed there were a lot of children playing in the Piazza we were in. There were mom’s everywhere chatting and watching their children. I realized we had stumbled into a very residential part of Venice. I am so glad we did, as it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We stopped and got directions back from a man who was chasing after one of his children and he was wearing a Chicago t-shirt! What a small world.

Gina and Grant's first Gondola ride!

After regrouping on the boat and getting ready for dinner, we headed back into Venice. We had heard from a friend on the ship that Drew Barrymore was in Venice and they had seen her walking around. My sister and I were hoping we would get to see her too – but weren’t getting our hopes too high.

Venice was even more beautiful and romantic at night. The streets were lit up and it really wasn’t overcrowded. As we shopped around looking to buy some leather purses my brother-in-law motioned in another direction to me and whispered “there is Drew Barrymore.” I wanted to get a better view so I sped down the street, pretending to be heading in the same direction as her and got a pretty good look as I walked by. We were in an empty street at this time and I heard her say to her friend “that girls dress is really cute.” I was the only person in front of her so she was definitely talking about me. I felt pretty cool and will probably never get rid of that dress now.

The boys trying to get us to stop shopping!
Last family photo of the trip before heading to dinner
Where we had dinner

After dinner we headed back to San Marco Square and sat at an outdoor cafe and had a few cocktails, some coffee and dessert. Even my parents felt the romance of the city – my Dad swept my Mom off her feet, literally!

Enjoying some romance in the city of love!

It was such an amazing vacation and not just because I had the opportunity to visit a new country and return to Italy. Family is everything and I am glad we were able to experience new cultures together and take some time out of our busy lives to just enjoy one another and spend quality time together! We were all sad to leave Venice and I think everyone would agree that a family vacation around Italy is a MUST in the future!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my family, friends and everyone who takes time out of their day to read these posts and share their experiences as well! Next up, my very first Pecan Pie (or as I say to my sister, Pe-CAN Pie!)


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