Rome

So we decided to take the 3 hour drive to Rome. One it was quite an interesting drive being both me and my husband are still learning how to drive manual. We stopped along the way for cafe and cornetto’s. Once we got to Rome we found parking and headed to the place we wanted to start, which was Piazza del Popolo.

So we started walking straight from the Piazza towards the Colosseo. We wanted off a few of the side streets heading towards the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. We ended up heading towards the Trevi Fountain first. Of course my husband immediately wants to climb all the steps. I was not up for that, so we got about half way up before I couldn’t go any further. However next time we come I will climb them.

Next we made it to what I knew was going to be my favourite place the Trevi Fountain. I was not disappointed. Even before we got there my husband could tell I was getting excited. Now I know some of you have heard the news saying that they roped off the Trevi Fountain. Which is true, BUT when we got there it was around 9am and they hadn’t roped it off yet, lucky us! When we were on our way back later in the day it was all roped off. However we were able to get close and throw a coin in, take pictures. By far my favourite moment of our day in Rome, and it wasn’t even before 10AM.

As we finally started making our way to the Colosseum we passed some Roman Forums that were amazing to see. I am always amazed at the history here. My inner history nerd wants to tell everyone the history of everything we’re seeing. As my husband reminds me quite frequently not everyone is as amazed as I am at the history of a place. Oh well, their loss. Once we made it to the Colosseum we realised how packed it was. Note for next time: buy the tickets ahead of time. So we wandered around the outside and decided to skip the plan of going to the Colosseum and just wander around and see what we could find.

As we were walking my husband kept seeing this beautiful white building with brass statues off in the distance. So he kept demanded we go find that building. So we started walking towards checking out things as we walked towards the building he was attracted to. On the way we came across Santa Maria della Salute a Primavalle. We wandered in and saw the most amazing presepe I’ve ever seen. Also as we came in the Father told it was free to look around. Sweet! I also wanted to light a candle for my Grandfather’s who passed away recently in a church in Rome. His family was originally from a village near Rome.

So we finally made it to the building my husband was obsessing over, and come to find out besides it being the Altar of the Fatherland there is also a military museum here. Which is hysterical because my husband is obsessed with military history. We made jokes for quite a while that even when not trying he’s drawn to military history.

Finally it was lunch time and we were ready to relax, so we wandered the streets again until I found a restaurant that had Cacio e Pepe and Spaghetti all’Amatriciana. So we were quickly seated, ordered drinks and food and waited for our pasta to come. Well first I was shocked at the drinks. This was the first time we hadn’t ordered Vino with our food and got cocktails. Prosecco and limoncello was what I got. I could tell a few sips it was going to be a fun filled afternoon because I was getting tipsy. The food was delicious I was pleasantly surprised by the Cacio e Pepe. This was something I’ve been waiting to try in Rome for years. I’ve tried making it state side with no success, I’ve tried ordering it and it was never any good. However here, it was fantastic. Simple, delicious, heavenly, basically every word you can use to describe how amazing something is.

Finally our day was coming to an end, and I was tipsy and hot so we searched for some gelato and went back to Piazza del Popolo and sit on the steps and relax for an hour or two. There’s no better way to absorb a culture then to sit back and watch it happen around you. It’s sometimes hard to see this place when we’re looking through the lens of tourist, or too busy snapping pictures. Sometimes the best way to see the place you’re visiting is to sit back and watch.

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Sant’Agata de Goti and wine tasting

So we decided to head to small town near Napoli called Sant’Agata de Goti for a wine tasting and just to explore. So on a Sunday morning we headed. As we got to the town we parked and walked across a bridge into the actual town. I’ve never seen a town that looked like that. It looked like we were stepping back into a medieval town. I was so excited for this experience.

As we wanted the town waiting for noon so we could go to our wine tasting, I’m amazed at the history of this place. It looks like this whole town was made from stone but it’s volcanic ash that they used to form pieces that look like stone. Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. I’m not sure if that’s the eruption that they used to form this town. If anyone knows please let me know. Let’s get back to the town, we saw some beautiful artwork in the church, as well as the architecture of the town.

As we were walking I started seeing signs that said Mayor DeBlasio. Last time I checked we’re in Italy not NY! So I had to go check it out. I asked a local in my broken italian. He told me that Bill DeBlasio’s family is from Sant’Agata. So they have signs and a US and Italian flag over where his family lives.

So finally it was noon, and we were ready to explore the winery and try some delicious wines. The winery we were going to is called Le Cantine di Mustilli. This winery is the oldest winery in the Campania region. It’s also the first winery to bottle the Falanghina wine.

So after meeting with the owners of the winery they opened up their cellar.

This was an amazing experience. The family that owns this winery has an amazing history. As they walked us through the labyrinth of tunnels and barrels of wine, you could feel the pride and passion this family has for wine making. Once we were topside we walked across the street to the family’s restaurant where we could begin our wine tasting.

Now I don’t usually complain but we were with quite a large group of Americans for this experience. Once we sat down at our table the group we were with quite a few people started complaining that the waitress wasn’t giving enough wine for them to get drunk. This group was being very rude and disrespectful to the staff because of it. This group almost ruined the experience for me. However the staff handled them wonderfully and I felt embarrassed to be in a group that acted that way. Now on to the good stuff. Wine Tasting!

So after we finished everything we purchased bottles of both the white and red wine. Those will be coming back stateside with us. What a wonderful day and experience.

Adventure to Ravello

We moved to Naples, Italy 2 months ago. My love affair with Italy started a long time ago. I grew up in an Italian-American household and I’ve always be interested in visiting. So when we got the change to move here for 3 years I jumped at the change. Since moving here I’ve never fallen in love faster with any place I’ve ever lived.

This blog will chronicle the many adventures I will have in Italy. First place we visited was Ravello. It’s a small town that was founded in the 5th century as a shelter place against the barbarian invasions. The drive up to this town was intense, my fear of heights was tested a lot on the drive. Once we got out of the car and caught sight of the view…

No wonder this place was a refuge town. I was blown away by this view.

This was our first view of the Amalfi coast and what a sight! I can’t describe to you how beautiful this.

As we finally made our way into the actual town, we got to see this small town bustling with life. There are only a few streets, tons of shops, food everywhere, great churches, and of course so much history. I felt overwhelmed and immediately wanted to spend all day here. However we only had a few hours before the sun set and we really wanted to go to Villa Cimbrone.

Of course getting to Villa Cimbrone took us a while because we kept getting distracted by the amazing view. You wouldn’t think staring at rocks and water from this far up could be so fascinating but it is…

We finally made it to Villa Cimbrone. The amount of stairs we climbed was intense, but it was worth it. Next time though maybe not come in the end of June and stock up on water.

Villa Cimbrone is a historic building in Ravello, on the Amalfi coast of southern Italy. Dating from at least the 11th century AD, it is famous for its scenic belvedere, the Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (the Terrace of Infinity).

Much altered and extended in the early twentieth century by Ernest William Beckett (later Lord Grimthorpe), the villa is today composed of many salvaged architectural elements from other parts of Italy and elsewhere; little of the original structure remains visible.

The gardens were redeveloped by Beckett at the same time. The villa is now a hotel, its gardens open to the public.

After exploring all of Villa Cimbrone, it was finally dinner time. We found a little restaurant as we were walking down the stairs back to the main part of town. My husband had his first OMG experience with the pizza he got. I got to try homemade pasta with razor clams. If you’ve never had them they’re amazing.

So after dinner we got to explore the town. We found tons of cute little shops. I found a pair of shoes there that I fell in love with. I will be back for those. They were making sandals with these beautiful jewels in these amazing summer colours. I wish I had gotten a picture. As we wandered we noticed the sun was setting. We immediately rushed back to some benched that overlooked the mountains and watched in awe as we were blown away by the sunset.

As our day was coming to an end we were ready to head back to Napoli. However on the way out we caught sight of the Amalfi coast light up. Well we can’t not take a picture of that, and stand at the bridge and enjoy that view for a bit.

For our first experience exploring Italy I’d say this was a wonderful surprising success. I can’t wait to share more of my amazing adventures.

Super Bowl and Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup.

What you need to make this delicious slow cooker soup, especially on a busy day like the Super Bowl. 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips, 1 can whole-peeled tomatoes mashed, 1 can enchilada sauce, 1 medium onion chopped, 2 banana peppers chopped, 2 cloves garlic minced, 2 cups water, 1 can reduced-sodium chicken broth, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 package frozen corn, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, 7 corn tortillas, vegetable cooking spray.

Place Chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, banana peppers ( be careful with these. These were a lot hotter than expected so I ended up only using one) and garlic into slow cooker.

Pour in water and chicken broth.

Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, ground pepper, and bay leaf. I know this looks like a lot of spice but once mixed in and it cooks this is not a super spicy soup.

Stir in corn and cilantro. You can definitely chop the cilantro better, but I didn’t chop it finely. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours. Your house will smell so good while this is cooking. Trust me, a bowl of this on a rainy day is perfect.

So if you didn’t think that this soup could get any better wait for it… I toasted up some tortillas in the oven to make tortilla strips. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray.

As you can tell I like big strips, but I love to break them into little pieces. So cut your tortillas into strips, as big or as small as you’d like. If you cut them smaller you’ll have to cook them for less time.

Bake in the preheated oven until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. I ended up going closer to 15 because I cut them so big. Crumble tortilla chips over the top, then top your soap with some shredded cheese, and chopped cilantro.

Now to sit back and watch the game on this rainy day. I hope everyone has a great sunday!

Blogging prep fail turned into a great meal!

So let me start by saying that I had everything planned to make my Upside Down Pizza. However when I went in my fridge yesterday to make sure I had everything I couldn’t find one of the key ingredients……the crescent roll dough…. I saw my whole blogging adventure coming to a screeching halt. How could I do a blog about something I love to do when I can’t even plan ahead! So after a few minutes of complete panic and possible breakdown I decided to embrace my imperfections and do it anyway. So I spent all night looking for a way to make crescent roll dough from scratch. After quite a few searches I found one that I had everything for and got to work. Well today I used it with all of the other ingredients to make my Upside Down Pizza and it was amazing. My new favorite way to make this is with fresh croissant dough! Definitely took a lot of work but it was well worth it. I will definitely be doing a separate post about the recipe and method I found.

So onto what I was really planning on talking about tonight. UPSIDE DOWN PIZZA. It’s very simple and doesn’t take long to do. To start I made a simple basic tomato & basil sauce. You need: 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, 1 small onion, peperoncino, salt, fresh basil.

In a pan, add 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, add the onions that’s been finely chopped, and 3 garlic cloves minced.

Once the garlic begins to turn lightly golden ( DO NOT BURN THE GARLI if you do throw everything out and start again! That is a very important rule for anytime you cook with garlic. This is some of my Grandma’s wisdom), add the can of crushed tomatoes.

For anyone that doesn’t know this is the best smell in the world! The smell of onions and garlic cooking in the house is amazing! I know many Italian American Kids that grew up with this smell. This is the smell of my childhood and happiest moments. Back to cooking the Marinara sauce:

Add salt and peperoncino flakes. Tomatoes always need salt. I usually put in about 1 teaspoon for 1 28oz can. My husband loves spice and I don’t so we compromise on the peperoncino flakes. I put in 1/2 teaspoon of them. You can add more or less as you like. This is the time to taste your sauce and see what you need more of.

Once the sauce comes to a boil, set the flame to medium/low and the basil. I always use fresh basil but if you don’t have any by all means use dried basil.

Cook the sauce for about 10 mins and you’re all done! So simple and so much better than jarred sauce. Put this to the side why we work on the filling for the pizza! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. For anyone that’s dealing with this freezing cold weather turning on your oven probably feels great right now.

Brown 1 pound lean ground beef ( I usually stick to 93-96%), 1 onion chopped, about 2 cloves garlic chopped, in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Once browned, drain fat and stir in our beautiful marinara sauce.

Oh My I can’t explain how amazing this smells right now!

In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread a layer of sauce. Top with 1/2 of the 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese and 1/2 of the 1 cup of Parmesan Cheese, another layer of sauce and the rest of the cheese. Top with the crescent rolls.

I’d love to say I rolled this out perfectly, but as you can see I did not.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. I had to do the full 30. You want the crescent dough to be golden brown. While that bakes I had some time to entertain one of my kitchen companions.

My other kitchen buddy decided to take a nap and couldn’t be bothered….

So finally the 30 minutes is done. We are getting hungry over here and my husband is circling the kitchen. A clear sign he’s ready for dinner.

This cheesy, meaty, deliciousness is finally ready to eat! I hope everyone enjoys their dinner. Manga Fatta Grossa!

Upside Down Pizza:

1 pound lean ground beef

1 onion chopped

2 cloves minced garlic

whole recipe of Marinara sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Brown beef, onion and garlic in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Once browned, drain fat and stir in marinara sauce.

In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread a layer of sauce. Top with 1/2 of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, another layer of sauce and the rest of the cheeses. Top with crescent rolls, pinching seams together.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown.