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

Ingredients:

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…

Lucia

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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….!

Banana Bread

Where has this summer gone? Oh yea, it just started here in Chicago! I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve still been cooking and having adventures in all kinds of kitchens! The summer started off to a great start, so I thought. I couldn’t wait to head home to Indy for the Italian festival in June. Ryguy had just gotten home from Europe so I was not only going to get to see my family, but finally spend time with him! Long story short, I got to Indianapolis and instantly felt sick. I was lucky enough to make it to the festival Friday night, but honestly, I couldn’t enjoy it because I felt so miserable. Ryguy definitely enjoyed himself though and I’m pretty sure he tested food at every booth, which is a good thing because we didn’t make it Saturday night and got stuck staying in with a no fun, sick girl watching movies! Here are a few pictures of some of the delicious food I remembered to take this year.

Breadsticks

Cheesecake

Before I left for the Italian festival I was so anxious to finally see Ryguy and get home to my family and I couldn’t sit still. Whenever I’m anxious, nervous or stressed, all I want to do is cook. For some reason, it calms my nerves and really allows me to think clearly. Maybe this is because it takes me out of my head and allows me to just be in the moment – in the food – which is what I need sometimes! So, while I was waiting for my fun-filled (or so I thought) weekend, I baked Banana Bread! I didn’t have a family recipe for this (that I know of, hint hint Mom!) so I used the cookbook, Baking, my sister gave me last year as a present for my blog! I didn’t have all of the below ingredients and kind of just went on my own with this one – and it didn’t turn out the BEST, but it was still good and I enjoyed them, but I am going to share the actual recipe below!

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

Butter, for greasing

1 cup flour

3/4 cup light brown flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 large ripe bananas, peeled

3/4 cup orange juice

2 eggs, beaten

4 tbsp canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 2-lb loaf pan. Sift the flours, sugar, salt and the spices into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with the orange juice, then stir in the eggs and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour; then test to see if the loaf is cooked by inserting a skewer (I use a knife or toothpicks) into the center. If it comes out clean, the loaf is done. If not, bake for an additional 10 minutes and test again.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. Turn the loaf out, slice and serve! This recipe serves 8.

(Sorry for the awful quality of this photo!)

The banana bread wasn’t my best, but I was glad to finally attempt making one of my favorite breads! Stay tuned for adventures of an Italian out west and one of my new favorite recipes!!

A Big Fat Italian Wedding

So my sister got married last weekend and now I find myself bored. My mom is enjoying her time to herself, but for some reason I can’t sit still and am anxious to get back to being so busy, I can’t think straight. I have truly enjoyed and loved every single minute of helping to plan her wedding, from the engagement parties, the showers, the bachelorette parties, the bridesmaid bags, every last detail. I am so happy she had the most perfect and beautiful wedding day. It really was a dream wedding.

I don’t even know where to begin to describe the chaos and all of the thrilling events that took place on her wedding weekend. The guest list had topped 500 people (more than 300 were family members who I personally know by name…), but luckily with the holiday weekend there were only around 450 in attendance on Saturday. My only important part on that beautiful Saturday (it truly was the most beautiful, perfect day of the year!) was to make a toast to Gina and Grant. Most maid of honor speeches are all about the bride and her relationship with the MOH. A lot of toasts don’t touch on the love between the married couple or the groom himself. I didn’t want my speech to be like that, so I took the path of not only depicting my love for my sister, but doing my best to describe to everyone in the room, the love between Gina and Grant. Everyone could feel  it in the room that night and didn’t need me to explain it in order for them to realize the tremendous amount of love and respect they have for one another, but I am glad I had the opportunity (and I kind of liked the spot light).

My family and Grandparent’s

The church was beautiful and it was a special experience for my sister to get married in the Italian Church where my Grandmothers, Aunts, Uncles, and parents were married. It is in the old Italian neighborhood in Indianapolis and is where my entire family comes together throughout the year to celebrate life in general. Holy Rosary is such a beautiful Church that it does not require any flowers or decorations. We provided handkerchief’s for “tears of joy” and mine was definitely useful, as my mother and I cried all day!

Holy Rosary Catholic Church

Gina and Grant lighting the Unity Candle


My brother, sister, and I

I can’t believe my sister is old to enough to be married…I don’t remember the picture below, but I swear it was just yesterday that we were in my aunt’s and uncle’s wedding’s as the miniature bride and flower girls! For example, here is a picture of Gina and Tommy in my Aunt’s wedding, oh so many years ago. How did time go by so quickly that now Gina and Tom are able to reenact this picture at Gina’s wedding?

Gina & Tom

The food was amazing and the Indiana Roof Ballroom out did themselves! My aunt Antonia and my Dad did an incredible job and the bridal entrance was one of the coolest parts of the night!  My aunt Antonia surprised my sister and Grant with a Saxophone and thunderstorm entrance into the ballroom. I am pretty sure it took everyone by surprise and was one of the most memorable parts of the night, besides my speech (!)….

Caprese Salad

Dinner! (wish I wouldn’t have been so nervous about my speech that I didn’t get to eat this deliciousness!!)

Dessert – Tiramisu and Baked Alaskan! Gina wanted dessert instead of a cake, but my mom surprised her with one anyway!


There was a delicious Lasagna as the appetizer, but I thought that since I had JUST made my first lasagna and it was so good, I would have a separate post of the lasagna we had as an appetizer. It was slightly different and from what I heard, one of the best things people had that night (I wouldn’t know considering my nerves did not allow me to enjoy any food that night, and I somehow missed the late night cheeseburgers and fries, which is not typical behavior from me!)

My mom and sister spent months with David, the wedding planner/designer on the tables. Each table had its own unique charm and special memory attached. There were 10 square tables and on each square table there was an antique tray with candles, pearls, a vintage golden box, framed pictures of family weddings in black and white, as well as sugared fruit (which to my surprise was real and SO delicious!!) Also included on the tables were notes Grant had written to my sister throughout their relationship. Each note was different and expressed his love for her. That is typical of Grant. He is a true romantic and loves my sister more than anything.

The room looked stunning and was lit by lights wrapped around the balcony. (the picture above isn’t the best, but it’s the only one I could find for now!) I am sad that is all over, and it is weird to say that my sister has a husband and she is a wife!  I called Grant her “husband” yesterday and it was the weirdest thing! It really does feel like yesterday we were little kids running around my Grandma’s house!

From L to R: Antonia, Gina, Concetta, Tommy, Nick and Me (the baby) – 6 cute little Italian kids in the 80’s

It’s hard to describe and show just how big and crazy my Italian family is, but I hope you enjoyed another glimpse into “My Big Fat Italian Life!” Coming soon…Lasagna from the Indiana Roof Ballroom, Blueberry Steak (I promised this a long time ago and it’s finally coming) aka Fileno al Mirtilio, and Colts Kickoff (GO HORSE!!!)

Baking Binge

So, unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to cook on Sunday.  It started off as a really pretty day and I had every intention of baking a lasagna, but I went to brunch with my friends and ended up sitting in a cute French restaurant, drinking Mimosas, and watching it pouring rain outside.  It turned out to be a wonderful Sunday, but the time to cook got away from me.

I must have really needed a good “cook” because last night I came home from work and decided to bake something.  Well, I decided to make shortbread, but when I put that in the oven, I still wasn’t satisfied, so I decided to make Peanut Butter cookies too! I was a little nervous about the Shortbread cookies because I had never made them and had no idea what they were supposed to look or feel like.  It seemed way too simple…and I assumed I did it wrong.  Basically, you mix the butter, salt, sugar and flour in a bowl until it forms a dough.  But the dough doesn’t really feel like dough because it isn’t sticky and it kind of falls apart. It’s very crumbly.  Then you just spread it in a pan, poke it with a fork a few times, and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 300°.

The Shortbread right out of the oven with sugar sprinkled on it!

The Shortbread cookies turned out really good!  As soon as they come out of the oven,  sprinkle them with sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Then, slice into pieces (I did triangles, but you can do whatever you want) and serve!  Nikki’s mom, who is a professional baker, apparently cut them into hearts for Valentines Day and spread different preserves on them! I am beyond happy to report that they were a success and everyone got to enjoy some.  Nikki added some Blackberry preserve to hers and it was the perfect combination!

The Finished Product!

Shortbread with Blackberry Preserve!

While the Shortbread cookies were baking, I started on the Peanut Butter cookies.  I didn’t have all of the necessary ingredients (oats & crunchy peanut butter), but I decided I could create my own version of the recipe and use regular peanut butter and chocolate chips instead of oats.  I think that is more fun anyway!  I also did not have a sifter for my flour, sugar, and salt. I knew from baking with my mom that sifting really does make a difference when baking and you shouldn’t just dump the ingredients into your mixture.  I got creative in the kitchen and put the ingredients into a pasta strainer and shook it over a mixing bowl, then added the ingredients to my batter.  It worked perfectly!

Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I baked the cookies for about 15-20 minutes at 350° and let them cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  They were yummy.  I love peanut butter.  I love chocolate.  And I loved these cookies.  It is probably not a good thing that I now know how to bake my favorite combination of sweets!  I am glad I was feeling restless last night and decided to be productive.  It’s always a good feeling when you come home from work and get so much accomplished!  I even went and looked at a few apartments after work because I am moving in August!

This weekend I am heading back to Indianapolis (yes, I do go home every other weekend and it will continue this way until after my sister’s wedding apparently), to go to the annual Holy Rosary Italian Street Festival.  The festival started the year I was born, and I have been in attendance ever since.  Both sides of my family run the dessert booths and have so much fun spending the weekend together.  Over the years I have had to train myself to not try all the desserts…but when you love sweets and Italian food…this place is not safe for your waist line!  Keep your fingers crossed it doesn’t get rained out and if you are in the area check it out!