CUCINA CARA MIA.......Random thoughts from "my dear kitchen" about food, travel, Italy, San Diego and life!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Back in college my husband won two pizza eating championships at San Diego State. To say the least, he knows pizza and of course, whenever I make one, he is right there gobbling it up. We have talked about building an outdoor fireplace/pizza oven in our backyard....Don't have the money for it, but always watching HGTV for inspiration.
Last night I used a new dough recipe and added the following toppings:
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
small jar artichoke hearts, chopped
1 small orange bell pepper, chopped
3-4 T. pesto
4 slices of mozzarella
2-3 oz. goat cheese
bunch of baby asparagus, steamed first
grated parmesan cheese

I don't know if it was the rainbow of veggies, the combination of the cheese, but he said that is the best pizza you have ever was good, but if we ate like that every night we are going to be the next contestants on The Biggest Loser!

Friday, January 22, 2010


I was just reviewing my entire blog looking for inspiration, looking for something....and I thought about all of the things, places, and experiences that speak to me...

If you are interested, here are a few...

*** Ceramic bowls, in any shape, size or color

*** Glossy design magazines

*** Gleaming wood floors

**** Ocean photos

**** Soft, old quilts

*** A field of lavender

*** Italy, and all that it encompasses

*** An antique store, explored for the first time

*** Traveling

*** Olive oil soap (italian of course)

*** A favorite book that someone has passed on to you

*** Anthropologie-I tingle when I walk in!

*** Nutella, limoncello, gelato...

Making a great recipe for the first time ....pictured above is last night's Chicken Pot Pie, courtesy of Janie at Panini was outstanding!

So there are just a few of my favorite things! What are YOURS??

Sunday, January 17, 2010


We are blessed in San Diego with abundant citrus fruit - even during the winter. My daughter Courtney's friend has a small grove of fruit trees on her property and brought a large bag of oranges, grapefruits and lemons over last week....great, but how many Greyhound's can you possibly drink before you don't want to see another grapefruit! Just kiddin...

Ina Garten has a recipe for a lemon yogurt cake, which she claims is much lighter than her usual is a version with oranges.

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (I used fat free)
1-1/3 c. sugar, divided
3 extra large eggs
2 t. grated lemon zest (I used orange)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease an standard loaf pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, orange zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup orange juice and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the mixture over the cake and allow to soak in. Cool.

We are heading to my sister's house in LA today..... I will be stopping at a local grocery store for a 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream to serve with it....did I say this was a healthy dessert???

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I love going to movies on rainy days...although there haven't been too many in San Diego lately. The movie "Nine" is wonderful and it sucks you right into the fantasy of the Italian movie director Guido, played most convincingly by Daniel Day Lewis...with over the top musical stage numbers, beautiful actresses, exquisite costumes and lovely scenery from Italy - it took me away from my problems, if only for a few hours....really enjoyed Penelope Cruz as his mistress, and Marion Cotillard as his wife.
And who else but the legend, Sophia Loren should play Guido's Mama!