Santa Approved Holiday Gift Guide

With Chanukah upon us and Christmas LESS THAN TWO WEEKS away I’ve been hard at work hunting down the hottest toys, coolest technology and best deals.  So here you have it… the best gifts for all of the “nice” children on your list!

1. If you are looking for the kid friendly tablet with all the bells and whistles, look no further!! You’ll fall in love with the new Samsung Galaxy Kids Tablet 7.0” – THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE Edition

As a parent I love that its packed with educational content and features designed for younger children from a brand you trust. This tablet has a soft, durable design that is easy for children to grab and grip when they are on-the-go….and they are always on the go!

It gets even better….when you purchase the NINJAGO Movie Edition tablet, you also get three months of Samsung Kids For Free… its an award-winning, all-in-one service featuring a library of expertly curated games, books, movies and TV for children.

The Samsung Galaxy Kids Tablet 7.0” – THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE Edition is available now on Samsung is also offering a special $60 discount bringing the price down to $89.99.  So be sure to grab it while it’s hot!

2.  If you’re a parent like I am, I’m sure that you cherish story-time almost as much as your little ones do.  Well what if I told you I had something that could make story-time more magical! Well I do.

Moonlite takes story time to the next level for both parents and children. All you have to do is attach Moonlite to your phone, pop in a story reel and the colorful pictures from the book are projected onto the wall or ceiling of any room.

Download the free app compatible with most iOS and Android phones and you can read the story straight from your screen. In addition Moonlite has these cool sound effects that add a little bit of magic to the reading experience. It’s an experience you child won’t forget. It’s available exclusively at Target. Click here to grab it now!

3. This next gift is the perfect gift for the little one in your life that loves using his/her imagination and playing make believe.

Luvabella is the most realistic and lifelike baby doll ever – She’s got hundreds of expressions and interactive responses making her the first of her kind. For this reason she was a TOTY 2018 Toy of the Year finalist!

Luvabella’s reactions are unpredictable so that children can become immersed in the imaginative experience of nurturing a real baby. She loves to play peekaboo, recite her animals and she’ll be sure to tell you when she is hungry or tired. Just like a real infant, Luvabella even needs to be burped after here feedings.

Luvabella’s adorable life like expressions and reactions appeals to both girls and boys in a wide age range, from toddlers to young school-aged children.

4. Last but certainly not least let me introduce you to Chappet.

This yellow button is not your grandmother’s button. Chappet is a Bluetooth speaker controlled by a smart phone app. It helps bring stuffed animals ‘to life’ by allowing you to interact with your child through its speaker.

It has more than 1,000 prerecorded phrases and features 20 pre-recorded songs and stories. You can also add your own songs or stories to the playlist. Chappet also allows you to text chat and set up reminders for meals, bed or nap times. To attach Chappet simply sewn on the button or tightly attached with a string around a stuffed animals neck like a necklace. It’s exclusively on Amazon for $54.99.

Good luck with the rest of your holiday shopping. I hope my list was helpful!

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Beef Carpaccio

I recently hosted a 12 person sit down Italian dinner at my house. Menu planning involved me pulling from my childhood memories and my travels to the country that has my heart.

When I was 20 I was lucky enough to study and live in Firenze (Florence, Italy). My mother came to visit/spoil me for a week.  I remember, like it was yesterday, having lunch outside at a neighborhood restaurant. My mother ordered beef carpaccio. I was NOT keen on raw beef, but even then I was adventurous. It was amazing. Simple and delicious….the Italian way.

Here is my interpretation of what I remember tasting that day. It’s an incredibly easy app to prepare for your adventurous guest.


  1. 10 ounces of thinly sliced beef tenderloin. Have your butcher freeze and thinly slice the tenderloin
  2. Lemon vinaigrette: whisk together 3 part extra virgin olive oil, 1 part fresh lemon juice and a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Mix 1/2 a cup of this vinaigrette.
  3. 2 cups of arugula
  4. 6 ounces of aged parmigiano reggiano. A salty Sicilian incanestrato cheese (sheeps milk) also works really well
  5. 2 Tablespoons of Maldon Sea Salt
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon of ground pepper


  1. In a bowl toss the arugula with 1.5 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Set aside
  2. Lay the beef slices carefully on a platter. The slices should be close together, but only slightly overlapping.
  3. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the beef slices.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of Maldon Sea Salt over the beef slices
  5. Top with arugula
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of Maldon Sea Salt over entire dish
  7. Shave about 2 to 3 ounces of parm over entire dish.
  8. Sprinkle the ground pepper over the entire dish
  9. Enjoy!
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What’s Up Doc? Honey Orange Roasted Carrots


1 bundle of organic orange carrots, stems removed (thin carrots work best)

1 bundle of organic purple carrots, stems removed (thin carrots work best)

3 tbs spoons of local honey

Juice from 1 large orange

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tsp of sea salt

6 ounces of goat cheese

1 tbs of chopped parsley

Let’s Cook!

  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper
  3. Cut each carrot in half
  4. In a small glass bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey , orange juice
  5. Toss the carrots in the mixture
  6. Evenly spread the carrots on the pan. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. (If the pan looks too crowded, use 2 pans)
  7. Reserve the remaining honey, orange mixture
  8. Roast carrots for 20 minutes. Remove and drizzle the remaining honey/orange mixture on the carrots.
  9. Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until the carrots begin to brown
  10. Remove carrots and allow to cool for 10 minutes
  11. Plate carrots.  Sprinkle remaining salt, goat cheese and garnish with parsley.
  12. ENJOY!
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Indian Summer Pasta. Feels Like Summer, Tastes Like Fall

Fall Pasta



  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 lb of your favorite pasta. I used “I Sedanini”, but ziti, farfalle, orchiette all work!
  • 3  cups of butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
  • 3 links of sweet Italian sausage. Remove the case. Break into small pieces.
  • 2 cups of shaved asparagus
  • 3/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 1 tsp salt


Serves 4

  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Follow instructions on package on how to cook the pasta al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a nonstick large skillet. Add the sausage and cook until brown.
  3. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of butter to the same skillet and melt over medium heat.
  5. Add the butternut squash. Season with salt and cook until the squash is tender and slightly brown.
  6. When butternut squash is cooked, do NOT remove. Instead, add back the sausage and the shaved asparagus. Note : Add the asparagus last and try to distribute it evenly.
  7. Drain the pasta and reserve some of the pasta water.
  8. Add the pasta to the pan
  9. Add about 1/4 cup of pasta water to the pan and stir until all the ingredients come together
  10. Top with grated pecorino romano and serve immediately


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Mezcal Tinto


I’ve never really been in LOVE with mezcal. Tequila yes. Mezcal not convinced. Then during one of our most recent “moms night out” I was served the most delicious, well balance mezcal drink.  I immediately asked the bartender for his secrets. What is this? What do you call it ? How do I make it? He gave me very little. He quickly blurted out the 5 ingredients and left me just a few words of wisdom, “It’s all in the ratios. Good luck.” Kinda of a jerk move, but that didn’t dissuade me. The next night I successfully recreated what I now call Mezcal Tinto. Have a try…you won’t regret it.

  1. 2.5  oz of premium mezcal
  2. fresh squeezed juice from 1 small lime
  3. fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 a large lemon
  4. 1.5 tbsp of simple syrup
  5. approximately 1/4 cup of cabernet

Shake ingredients 1-4 in a shaker filled with ice. Shake fast for about 1 minute until the ice starts to melt and the drink becomes frothy. Place a large square ice cube into an old fashioned glass. Pour the contents of the shaker over the ice cube. Top the drink with cabernet. SALUTE!

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The Ultimate Fall Frittata

Fall frittata smaller

There is nothing more satisfying than a frittata filled to the brim with all of your favorite things! This hearty frittata has sweet Italian sausage, butternut squash, sweet potatoes,  asparagus and goat cheese. It’s a perfect fall meal that you can serve up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A frittata is also a great way to sneak veggies into your kids diet. My son didn’t think twice about the fact that he was eating asparagus…one of his least favorite veggies.


  • 8 organic large eggs
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1 cup of shaved asparagus (chopped will also work)
  • 1 cup of chopped sweet potato
  •  1 cup of chopped butternut squash
  • 2 links of sausage. Remove cases and break sausage into small pieces
  • 6 oz of crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp of butter


  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, grated parm and the light cream. Set aside for later.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a nonstick (preferably Circulon) 11 inch skillet.
  3. Add the sausage and sauteed until cooked.
  4. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl.
  5. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the same skillet and melt over medium heat.
  6. Add the sweet potato and cook until tender and slightly brown. Remove sweet potatoes from skillet and set aside in the same bowl the sausage is in.
  7. Add another tbsp of butter to the same skillet and melt over medium high heat.
  8. Add the butternut squash and cook until the squash is tender and slightly brown.
  9. When butternut squash is cooked, do NOT remove. Instead, add back the sausage and the sweet potatoes PLUS the shaved asparagus. Note : Add the asparagus last and try to distribute it evenly.
  10. Add the egg mixture to the pan, over the vegetables and sausange. Cook at medium high for 2 minutes and then lower to medium low. Cover and allow for the frittata to cook through.
  11. Once the frittata is full cooked sprinkle the goat cheese evenly on top. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to rest for 2 minutes.
  12. Gently slide the frittata from the skillet and serve immediately!
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Cauliflower Romesco! Presto!

roasted cauliflower and romesco

Romesco sauce is a nut and red pepper-based sauce that originated from Northeastern Spain. The fishermen in this area made this sauce to be eaten with fish. I make jars of it and use it on everything from fish, to chicken to roasted cauliflower and even EGGS!

Try it and let me know what you think!


Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of purple cauliflower broken down into florets

1 head of yellow cauliflower broken down in to florets

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

grated parmigiano or grated ricotta salata (for plating)

chopped fresh parsley (for plating)

Romesco Sauce

2 red roasted pepper (jarred or homemade)

4 roasted piquillo peppers (jarred or homemade)

1/2 cup of jarred roasted tomatoes

5 raw garlic cloves

1/2 cup roasted almonds

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1/2 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp of olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.Place florets on baking sheets and toss cauliflower in olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly.
  3. Roast cauliflower until golden brown and tender. About 35 minutes
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, combine all of the romesco sauce ingredients in a food processor. Process until all ingredients are fully combined. The sauce should not be over processed. I like for it to have texture.
  5.  Generously layer the sauce onto a large circular dish and place the roasted cauliflower on top while still hot.
  6. Sprinkle the cauliflower with parsley and grated cheese of choice. I prefer pecorino romano or ricotta salata.


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Ribollita- Italian Veggie and Bread Soup

Ribollita image

Ribollita (click on link for video) is historically a Tuscan peasant dish. It was originally made by reheating (Ribollita literally means Reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup and adding to it some day old bread.

I first tasted Ribollita almost 20 years ago while I was studying in Florence, Italy. I was reminded how much I loved the dish when I had it again at an Italian restaurant in Seattle about 4 years ago. This hearty comfort dish is full of veggies and legumes which makes it a perfect meal on a cold February day.  I had a hard time finding a recipe that matched what remember tasting in Florence ages ago so I decided to try and recreate it myself. I hope your family loves it as much as mine do!


  • 4 Tbsp if extra virgin olive oil (+ 2 Tbsp for garnishing)
  • 5 gloves of garlic minced
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chipped
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. I prefer San Marzano Fire Roasted Whole Tomatoes if you can find them
  • 32 fl. oz. of veggie or chicken broth. I prefer chicken or veggie
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 large fresh sprigs of rosemary
  • 13 oz. can of cannellini beans. Puree half the can in a blender. Set the other half aside.
  • 1 large loaf of sourdough bread with the crust removed
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano for garnish.


  1. In a large deep pot saute the garlic over medium heat for about a minute or until golden
  2. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the can of tomatoes, the container of broth and the salt. Stir these ingredients and allow to come to a boil over medium/high heat.
  4. Once it comes to a boil, bring it down to a simmer and add the fresh Rosemary and the. Cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the Rosemary and add the pureed cannellini beans.  Mix and let sit for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat and puree. I pureed mine using an immersion blender. You can also puree the soup in a heat proof blender.
  7. Add the other 1/2 of the cannellini beans.
  8. Tear pieces of the sourdough bread. Slowly add the bread while continuously stir the soup. Continue to add the pieces of bread until the soup is nice an thick and the bread is soft
  9. Laddle soup into bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle parm and ENJOY!!
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Veggies Your Kids Will Eat: Baby Elotes aka Mexican Corn


If  you desperately trying to get your kids to EAT THEIR VEGGIES, I’m very confident that this recipes will win your little ones over! My son won’t eat regular corn, but he devours these baby elotes!



1 package of baby corn (approximately 18 pieces)

2 tbsp of butter

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp of light sour cream

2 tbsp of mayo

¼ cup of grated cotija cheese or grated parmesan cheese

smoked paprika to sprinkle

1 tbsp of chopped parsley


  1. Heat butter in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. When butter melts add baby corn and cover. Cook for 2 ½ minutes. Flip corn. Cook for another 2 ½ minutes then remove from heat.
  2. While corn is cooling, mix the sour cream and mayo together well.
  3. Once corn is room temperature, sprinkle with salt and place on serving platter.
  4. Brush the corn with sour cream/mayo mixture.
  5. Sprinkle cheese generously over corn
  6. Sprinkle smoked paprika lightly over corm
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve!
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Ricotta Meatballs with Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pep & MB

No child can resist the classic comfort of spaghetti and meatballs! I present to you a super easy pasta dish paired with the most amazing meatballs you’ve ever had! Cacio e Pepe with ricotta meatballs is a twist on the classic favorite!



½ lb 85% lean beef

½ lb 85% lean veal

½ lb 77% lamb

¼ cup of light cream

½ cup of ricotta

1 egg

½ cup of planko bread crumbs

1/3 cup of grated parmigian cheese

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together planko bread crumbs, grated parm, salt, fresh basil and fresh parsley. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together beef, veal, lamb, ricotta, light cream and egg.
  3. Add the bread crumb mixture to the meat mixture and mix well.
  4. Clean your hand and roll the meat mixture into balls. Space evenly on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
  6. Let cool and enjoy!!


EASY CACIO & PEPE PASTA RECIPE – Pecorino Romano cheese can have a bit too much bite for my children’s taste, so I’ve altered the cheese ratio of this recipe slightly.


1 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

½ cup of Pecorino-Romano

½ tbsp of crushed black pepper

¾ lbs of whole wheat spaghetti or tonnarelli


  1. Boil a large pot of salted water.
  2. Combine the Parm Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and pepper in a large glass bowl.
  3. Add at least 2 tbsp of cold water and mash into a thick paste. Add more cold water if necessary. Spread paste evenly and set aside.
  4. Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook to aldente
  5. Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the bowl with the cheese paste.
  6. Stir the pasta quickly in the glass bowl.
  7. Add a bit of starchy pasta water if  the sauce looks to thick.
  8. Serve and eat immediately!
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