Boozy Limoncello Panettone Bread Pudding! Say What?!!

bread pudding

What to do with all that leftover Panettone from Christmas???? Turn it into a delightfully warm and gooey bread pudding. My recipe takes it to another level by adding limoncello and lemon curd!! This is my husband’s all-time favorite dessert.

Ingredients for Bread Pudding :

  1. 1 loaf of Panettone broken into small pieces (break apart by hand so that it looks more rustic)
  2. 1 1/2 cups of Milk
  3. 2 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream
  4. 4 Eggs
  5. 1/2 cups of Sugar
  6. 1 cup of Limoncello
  7. 1/4 cup of Lemon Curd

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:

  • 3 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 1 cup of Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Limoncello

Let’s Get Baking!

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 1.8 quart rectangular baking dish with butter.
  3. layer the bottom of the pan with the pieces of Panettone.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together ingredients 2 through 7.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the pan.
  6. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake on middle rack for 35-45 minutes. Pudding should be lightly brown and a toothpick, when inserted, should come out clean.
  8. Let cool (slightly) then top with gelato or limoncello whipped Cream (see recipe below)

Whipped Cream Directions:

  1. Place your mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 cup of whipping cream to the bowl.
  3. Whisk until you begin to see stiff peaks. Whisking with an electric mixer will work best.
  4. Fold 2 Tbsp of limoncello into the whipped cream.

panettone 2

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No Zuppa For You!! Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

pasta e fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a comforting classic Italian soup that I loved as a kid. My mother always served it with a large piece of crusty bread that went down before I even picked up my spoon.

As a mom, I love Pasta e Fagioli because it’s a great way to get even the most “Veggie Averse” child to eat their vegetable and legumes. Below is my family recipe along with ideas for how you can get even your most picky eater to gobble it up.


  • 1/2 lb orcchiette pasta (swap with your kids favorite pasta)
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans rinsed
  • 1 can of pinto beans rinsed
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups of chicken Stock
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (preferably homemade)
  • grated parmigiana to top each bowl
  • CRUSTY BREAD to dip!

Time To Cook!

  1. Cook your pasta al dente, drain and set aside.
  2. In a blender, blend together 2 cups of chicken stock and one can of cannellini beans.
  3. In a deep pot saute the carrots, onion, garlic and celery in 1/4 cup of olive oil until tender. Add the rosemary sprigs to the veggies while they cook. (NOTE: feel free to add pancetta or sausage to make heartier meal)
  4. Add 1 tsp of salt.
  5. Once the veggies are tender add the chicken stock/cannellini bean puree from blender to the pot with the veggies. (NOTE: IF YOUR CHILD IS VEGGIE AVERSE; 1. remove the rosemary sprigs, 2. to the blender with the chicken stock/bean puree, add the veggies, 3. blend thoroughly. Return the mixture to the pot.)
  6. Add 1 can of rinsed cannellini beans and 1 can of rinsed pinto beans.
  7. Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
  8. Add 3/4 cup of pasta sauce.
  9. Add cooked pasta.
  10. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of ground pepper.
  11. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the rosemary sprigs.
  13. Ladle into a soup bowl, top with grated cheese and serve with a big hunk of crusty bread!

Be sure to encourage your kids to break up the bread and dunk it into the veggie rich sauce!


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Spaghetti, Zucchini and Turkey Pie! Oh My!

spaghetti pie


  • 2 medium Zucchini Spiralized
  • 1/2 lb of Spaghetti
  • 3/4 lb or Ground Turkey
  • 2 Cups of Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup of ricotta
  • 1 Cup of Italian Blend Shredded Cheese (Provolone, Asiago, Fontina). You can also use high quality Mozzarella.
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Grated Parmigiana
  • Salt and Pepper

Let’s Start Cookin!

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cook the ground turkey, breaking the meat into small pieces. Season with salt, pepper and any of your favorite Italian spice.
  3. Cook spaghetti al dente, drain and add about 1/4 cup of sauce to keep the pasta from sticking.
  4. Combine the spiralized zucchini and the cooked spaghetti. Set aside.
  5. Beat together eggs and 1/2 cup of the grated parmigiana.
  6. Add 1 cup of sauce, ricotta and egg mixture to the ground meat. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Add the ground meat mixture to the spaghetti. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the spaghetti mixture to you pie dish.
  9. Top with 1/2 cup sauce and shredded cheeses.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Just before serving broil for 5 minutes.
  12. Devour!
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Roasted Corn Salad!

Roasted Corn

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my fruits and veggies. I’m always going out of my way to make my barbecue sides more than just an after thought.

Here are two dishes that I make regularly. They are quick, easy and huge crowd pleasers for the young and old.

Spicy Roasted Corn with Cotijo Cheese:


  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn
  • 2 green jalapeno, deseeded and diced
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Grated Cotijo Cheese
  • Cilantro
  1. In a large skillet melt the butter
  2. Add the shallots, red onion, jalapeno pepper and red pepper. Cook until they begin to get tender
  3. Add the roasted corn and salt. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the corn is warm.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with Cotijo cheese and garnish with cilantro


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Raising a Fruitivore


I’m on a mission to convert my youngest child, my little carnivore, into a part-time fruitivore. My four year-old son Harris loves his animal protein. He has no problem putting down lamb chops, burgers, salmon, mahi mahi or shrimp when prepared to his liking and dipped in massive amounts of ketchup (not complaining). But when it comes to fruit, he won’t bite.

So this summer I decided I was up for the challenge. I realized that my child’s long term health was more important than my short term sanity and so I devised a plan.

1. I  starved him. I’m kidding! But seriously I made sure that come snack time he was hungry. Over-snacking  is an epidemic in this country. All of those delish crunchy prepackaged foods work wonders on curbing our children’s appetite for whole foods. So yeah, we nipped that in the bud. Click here to read a fab article from the Chicago Tribune which discusses America’s “culture for snackism” and its effect on our children.

2. I cut the convenience food & made it mandatory.  In the same way that I taught my son to share, not to hit when he is frustrated, to say “excuse me” and “thank you,” I also decided to teach him how to eat well. Teaching our children healthy eating habits should be a priority. We owe it to them. The new rule effective immediately was that all snacks had to be fruit. Done and done. We got rid of  the chips, crackers and snack bars and replaced them with fruit (mostly in season). The result:my kids ate more of their actual lunch/dinner and you’ll see what happened next.

3. I found a”Gateway Food.” The “polite one bite” wasn’t working for us. There were tears, foot stopping, irrational conversations. I knew I needed a vehicle to get the juicy, in-season fruit into his adorable little mouth.  I needed a Gateway Food.

The tricky part was finding a Gateway Food that was just as healthy as the fruit. He loves anything covered in whipped cream (who doesn’t?), but that would defeat the purpose. Then it hit me his Gateway Food is yogurt! The kid cannot go a single morning without a yogurt.

Introducing Yogurt Fruit Fondue*!fruit fondue

  1. Mix Greek yogurt with cinnamon and honey (alternatives: orange zest, applesauce, agave, peanut butter, maple syrup)
  2. Finely crushed walnuts
  3. Finely crushed granola
  4. Finely crushed graham crackers

Skewer the fruit with toothpicks and let your kids dip the fruit into the yogurt then into a crunchy topping of choice.

*to all the foodies out there…I know that fondue traditionally uses a HOT cooking medium

How did it go you ask? Check it out for yourself!

Homemade yogurt fruit pops, parfaits and shakes are all great ways to introduce fruit into your kids diets.  I’ll be posting a few of my favorite fruit pop recipes next week!

Follow me on Twitter @finicky2foodie for more tips on how to convert your finicky eater into a full-fledged foodie!




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Girl Get Your Glow On!

Peace tan

There is nothing worse than slipping into a new spring outfit only to reveal two pairs of pasty white limbs just a shade lighter that the pastels you are sporting. Gone are the days when we would slather on the baby oil and bake in tanning beds to prepare for the start of spring. “Fake and baking” is no longer acceptable… unless of course you are a fan of skin cancer and premature aging.

tanner3If you’re like me and don’t have the time or the patience to schedule and then stand for a spray tan, here are a few great at-home options. I’ve put together a product guide for self tanning/bronzing. These products came highly recommended from TV professionals (my colleagues), beauty professionals (TV makeup artists) and have all been tested by yours truly!

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse This is a industry favorite and for good reason. The mousse glides on effortlessly and leaves you with an even, long lasting, natural looking tan. I’ve tried others, but always end up coming back to St. Tropez. Note- It doesn’t travel well. I’ve tried double Ziploc-ing the bottle, but still the liquid gets everywhere…which leads me to my next suggestion.

Dr. Denese’s Glow Younger Self Tanning Glove– Each package comes with 15 individually wrapped self tanning gloves that are saturated in the “Advanced Peptide Technology”…..throw a few in your luggage and head somewhere warm.  One glove will tan your entire body including your face (in full discloser, I’ve never used it on my face). I prefer gloves to towelette because I find that towelettes are difficult to hold. Gloves allow you to move quickly and apply evenly. Dr. Denese’s Tanning gloves are perfect for travel and give you a very natural looking tan.

So to be absolutely honest, I’ve always shied away from using self tanners on my face. I Vita Liberata Trystalwas terrified of the outcome. Would it look blotchy? Would I turn yellow? Too much risk for this lady. Then I found Vita Liberata’s Trystal Minerals. Trystal Minerals is first self-tanning bronzing mineral powder.  The Trystal13 technology interacts with your moisturizer or liquid foundation to tan the skin gradually over time. It comes with a gorgeous Kabuki brush that makes it super easy to apply.  The beauty is that when you remove your makeup, your face still keeps the subtle natural glow. I just love it!

Ok so maybe your not looking for a full on self tanner, instead you’d just like to glow like Jlo…who doesn’t? Well, I’ve got the product for you. I’m obsessed with Nars Body Glow.

It’s a multi-purpose beauty oil which moisturizes the skin and adds a shimmer for a natural glow. An added benefit is that it smells AMAZING. The scent is pure coconut extract macerated with the bud of the tiare flower (Tahitian gardenia). It works well alone or can be layered on top of an existing tan.

Hope this helps! Warmer weather is almost here!!







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Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Brown Butter Sauce

Roasted Butternut Squash

This is how you get your kids to eat butternut squash! Mine asked for seconds…yup I’m sporting a proud mom grin.

Note: The picture was taken with raisins because that’s what I had, but I would rather have used currants…either work.


  • 1 whole raw butternut squash peeled (click here for instructional video) and cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp of brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of currants or 1 mini box of raisins (how ever many that is)


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Lightly brush each butternut squash half with olive oil (top and bottom).
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through the thickest part of the squash
  6. Just before serving, over low heat melt butter, remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup and orange juice, add raisins and drizzle over butternut squash.

Done and done!


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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner(s)! Two Full Proof Chicken Dinners

Chicken with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Chicken with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

So OF COURSE I grew up on fried chicken cutlets as did every other 1st generation Italian. But the modern-day-mom in me is always looking for ways to improve on classic dishes that I grew up on. Truthfully I’m not a big fan of frying anything…my stomach can’t really handle it plus there are ways to achieve the same delicious crunch without all of the added “bad fat”.  My kids love this recipe and I hope yours do too!

Below is the recipe for Honey Dijon Baked Chicken Fingers as well as an easy breezy next day recipe using the leftovers.

Honey Dijon Baked Chicken Fingers


  • 1 lb of organic chicken breast cut into stripsChicken prep
  • 1 cup of planko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs with Italian seasoning
  • 2 tblsp honey
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tblsp of dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup low fat sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper
  3. In bowl, with a fork, mix planko, Italian breadcrumbs, honey, olive oil, and dijon mustard
  4. Lightly brush the chicken with with sour cream
  5. Coat both sides of the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture. Lay the chicken on the baking pan. Note: Press the mixture onto the chicken to form a nice thick crust.
  6. Bake for 2o minutes then flip and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

I serve this with a honey mustard dipping sauce or ketchup. It also pairs well with steamed broccoli topped with a miso butter sauce. Note: Miso butter can be made by whisking together 2 Tbsp of melted butter with 2 tsp of miso over low heat in a sauce pan.

Chicken with Miso Buttered Broccoli

Chicken with Miso Buttered Broccoli

What to do with leftovers??????? Make Baked Chicken Parm for lunch or dinner the next day!

Baked Chicken Parm

Ingredients (quantity varies depending on the amount of leftovers):

  • Left over chicken fingers
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella
  • Ricotta
  • Grated parmigiano cheese
  • Pasta sauce (homemade or San Marzano)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper
  3. Lay the leftover chicken on the baking pan
  4. Top each chicken finger with a Tbsp of ricotta
  5. Sprinkle about a Tbsp of parm cheese onto each chicken finger
  6. Top each chicken finger with about 2 Tbsp of pasta sauce and a few pieces of fresh mozarella
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted.
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The Perfect Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

I’ve finally perfected this recipe! Follow my recipe and you will have yourself a baked cauliflower head that is crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside!!


  • 1 head of cauliflowercauliflower head
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 2Tbsp
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup planko bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp sea salt (or, if you are adventurous, Anchovy paste)
  • 1 container of chicken or vegetable broth
  1. Preheat oven to 490
  2. Trim away the outer cauliflower leaves so that the cauliflower can sit flat.
  3. Cut a cross into the base of the cauliflower.
  4. Place the cauliflower head into a casserole dish, set casserole lid aside.
  5. In your food processor add 1/4 cup of olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon, parsley and 1/4 cup of the grated parmigiano cheese, 1 tsp salt/anchovy paste. Process for about 30 seconds.
  6. Rub 3/4 of the parsley mixture all over the cauliflower head (bottom and top….in that order), leave the remaining 1/4 in the food processor
  7. To the remaining mixture add 1/4 cup of the planko bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of grated parmagiano cheese and 1 teaspoon of salt/anchovy paste. Process for 30 seconds.
  8. Pat planko mixture onto cauliflower head (just the top) to create a crust
  9. Place the casserole dish with the cauliflower head into oven for 15 minutes without the lid
  10. Drop temperature of the oven to 375, add broth to the casserole dish so that it fills to about 1/2 inch all around. The cauliflower should be sitting is a shallow pool of broth.
  11. Cover casserole dish with lid and allow the cauliflower to cook for at least 50 minutes or until tender (test with a fork). Note: about 25 minute in, check to see if you need to add more broth. The broth should not dry out.

Remove from casserole dish, cut, serve and drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with cheese.


Cauliflower slice


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Little Travelers, Big Memories



Last summer my husband and I made the decision to take our then three and a half year-old, Harris and our five and a half year-old, Joslin to my cousin’s wedding in Ravello, Italy.

The trip included 3 days in Rome and five days in the Amalfi coast. My entire immediate and extended family on my mother’s side travelled 7 hours by plane and three hours by car through the winding hills of the Amalfi coast to arrive at the small and vibrant town of Amalfi.





It was a “pinch me I must be dreaming” kind of vacation. There were four generations of

H-man eating cacio and pepe

Italians and Italian-Americans…cousins, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters together in what in my opinion is one of the most beautiful places in the world. My parents were in heaven. It has always been their dream to have their grandchildren visit their native home so they could show them the beauty they have never forgotten.

In a few year, my children may not remember; walking amongst the ancient ruins, standing in the Colosseum, being in the presence of Michelangelo’s Moses, sending wishes in the form of euros into the Trevi Fountain, boating into the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) or dining at Villa Cimbrone.

Torrone, Neopolitan Pizza, Roasted Chestnuts (Street Food), Homemade Gelato


Still I trust that the sights, the smell and the love they felt in my parent’s hometown will live somewhere in them.

I’m hopeful that we’ve planted a tiny seed that will grow into a love of travel, adventure and an understanding that the world while big is not intimidating.






I trust that they will remember…

  • the purr of the Vespas on the cobble stone streets. Perfect white noise for a peaceful night’s sleep

Rome with my daughter and my shy son

  • the taste of the salty Mediterranean Sea water balanced by the smell of sweet Amalfi lemons
  • the taste of homemade gelato or torrone
  • the chatter of my father’s native Neopolitan tongue and the signature hand gesturing that reminds them where their mother’s tendency to “over express” comes from
  • the affection whether it be smiles, hugs or “due baci” from local store owners, waiters or distant cousins
  • the sweet sound of the rolling “r”.  Buon giorno! Buona serra!
  • the bottomless plates of cacio e pepe, amatriciana and carbonara!
  • the controlled chaos that is Italy

The many drinks of Italy! Limoncello, Cafe Freddo, Champagne, Negroni

Thank you Italy for the memories. We will be back soon! More of my personal pics on Instagram @erekav

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