Penne with Asparagus as seen on TV

Penne and Asparagus go great together!
watch the video…
Start by placing a large pot of water to cook the pasta on the stove over high heat. Next rinse and trim about 1 pound of Asparagus. Cut into 1″ pieces and set aside. Saute 1/4 cup chopped onion in some olive oil in a large saute pan until translucent. When the water comes to a boil add 2 Tbs  salt and 1 pound of Penne Pasta. Add asparagus to onion and season with salt and pepper. Let cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add about 1 cup of cream. Add partially cooked penne and continue cooking with the asparagus and cream – adding a little cooking liquid if necessary. Serve warm with Parmesan cheese.
Find this recipe and more delicious asparagus recipes in our book:
Cooking Dinner – Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Make.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

St Patrick’s Day Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mint M&Ms

Green M&Ms all in one bag are a great addition to Chocolate Chip Cookies for St. Patrick’s Day. I added an 8oz bag of the chocolate and mint variety along with
2 cups of mini chocolate chips for extra goodness.

Recipe is on pg 207 of our cookbook Cooking Dinner: Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Make.

Cooking Tip:
For soft and fluffy cookies, make sure to beat the room temperature butter and sugar for 5 minutes.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Baked Chicken Teriyaki

Baked Chicken Teriyaki as seen on Sacramento & Co

watch video


1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger

salt and pepper
4 half chicken breasts with bone, remove excess skin and fat – a little skin is okay.

Preheat oven to 425*F.

Generously sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Grease a large oven-safe pan. Place chicken breasts – skin side down inside.
Stir together sauce ingredients and pour over chicken. Bake 20 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it cooks.
Turn each piece and bake for 20 minutes more or until thoroughly cooked.
Alternatively, cook sauce over medium heat until thick, about 3 minutes. Use as a glaze and baste chicken at the beginning and again at the halfway point.

Meal Planning Tip: Prepare some focaccia dough earlier in the day and bake during the last 20 minutes that the chicken bakes. Meanwhile, cook some rice and make a salad or roast some veggies to complete the meal.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Meatballs with Red Wine Sauce

Meatballs with Red Wine Sauce as seen on Sacramento & Co

watch video

For Meatballs:

½         pound ground beef
½         pound ground veal or ground chicken
½         pound ground pork
2          eggs
1 ¼      teaspoons sea salt
¼         teaspoon white pepper
½         teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, or minced fresh oregano & thyme
1          tablespoon minced fresh parsley
¼         cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼         cup bread crumbs
1          clove garlic, crushed

2          tablespoons olive oil

For Sauce:

½        cup red wine
¼        cup chicken broth
1         teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2         tablespoons tomato paste
1         clove garlic, crushed

1.         Combine all meatball ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a medium bow and mix welll. Using food prep gloves or moistened hands create meatballs the size of golf balls. Set on a plate and repeat. Makes about 18 – 20.

2.         Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add meatballs and cook over medium heat shaking the pan and stirring the meatballs to keep their round shape.

3.         After 10 minutes, reduce heat to low and add sauce ingredients. Continue cooking until sauce is thick and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over pasta, rice, polenta or in a panino.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

AAUW Lodi Chapter

A BIG thank you to the Lodi, CA AAUW chapter for inviting me to speak at their monthly meeting last night. I was especially honored that one of the members, Kathy took the time to bake 3 of the dessert recipes from our website (view here) to share with the other members. Good luck with your fundraising goals for educational scholarships!     Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Anjou Pear & Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Tonight we finished the last of my Dad’s – Mario Belotti, famous Anjou pears. He proudly grows delicious produce and shares it with family, friends and neighbors. A few weeks ago I prepared this salad on Sacramento & Co a local TV show.
Watch the video here.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Salad Ingredients:

6  cups mixed greens, about 5 ounces, rinsed and dried

1 Anjou Pear, sliced thin

1/2 cup Mandarin orange segments

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup candied walnut halves

1/4 cup pomegranate juice

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

dash freshly ground pepper

1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil

To Prepare Dressing
Pour juice and vinegar into a small bowl. Stir in salt and pepper. Whisking continuously, slowly add the olive oil until it is thoroughly blended.

To Prepare Salad
Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add pears, Mandarin segments and cheese. Toss with one third of the dressing. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Add more dressing as needed. Plate and garnish with pomegranate seeds and walnut halves. Serve immediately.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

A couple of weeks ago I did this recipe for the TV show Sacramento and Company. It was a great hit! 

Follow this link to see it: 

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

3 lb butternut squash

6 cups chicken broth

1 medium onion, chopped finely

4 tablespoon butter

1 pound Vialone Nano or Arborio rice 

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

1 teaspoon salt

3 leaves sage (optional)

Roast squash:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Halve squash lengthwise and seed. In a baking pan pour a cup of water, place squash cut side down, and roast about 1 hour or until tender.

With a spoon carve squash pulp and discard skin.

Prepare rice:

In a medium saucepan heat broth over low heat. Keep it simmering.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 2 to 3 minutes.

Add rice and sauté until each grain is coated with butter, stirring. After 2 minutes, add wine and stir until liquid has evaporated.

Add squash pulp, stir, add salt then add broth to rice a couple of ladleful at time – stirring after each addition. Allow liquid to evaporate then add another ladleful (about 1 cup) of broth. Repeat.

When rice is tender, but before it becomes mushy, about 18 to 20 minutes, remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese if needed.

Suggestion: for a more flavorful risotto add the sage leaves half way through the rice cooking process.

Cook with your heart.


Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Thank you to Ethan Howard, pastry chef at Cavallo Point in Sausalito for sharing his recipe for this Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. It is baked in a chocolate cookie crust and is enhanced with melted chocolate swirls. I decorated mine with chocolate leaves and will share it today with friends and family.  Happy Thanksgiving!   Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Apple Pie Weather

It’s a great time of year for baking for friends and family. Make this easy and delicious Apple Pie Crumble with a combination of apples either picked from your tree, your neighbor’s tree or the local farmer’s market!  Honey Crisp Apples, Pippin and Granny Smith all have that tart-sweet flavor profile that blends well together when baked in a pie.

Serve warm with a generous scoop of Vanilla or Caramel Pecan ice cream.

Apple Pie Crumble
1 pie crust –

6          large apples, rinsed, peeled and sliced thin.
1/4       cup Port wine
3          tablespoons sugar
1          teaspoon cinnamon


1/2    cup all-purpose flour
1/2    cup rolled oats
1/2    cup brown sugar, packed
1         teaspoon cinnamon
1/2    teaspoon sea salt
1/4    cup butter, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Line a round 9-inch baking pan with the pie crust. Prick with a fork. Bake it empty for 8 minutes.  KITCHEN TIP: The tart dough on page 43 of our Cooking Dinner Cookbook makes a great crust.  You just need 1/2 the batch.

Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with port, sugar and cinnamon and toss to mix. Layer slices in the bottom of the crust.

Stir together flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and “cut in” with 2 knives or a pastry blender until it is crumbly and the butter pieces are the size of peas. (Alternatively, use a food processor fitted with a steel blade.)

Spread topping evenly over apples. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until top is light brown and the apples are tender when pricked with a fork.

Beans and Rice

Fresh, Dry Beans – an oxymoron? – No just the way you should get dry beans…try to buy them locally after a recent harvest.  They rehydrate quicker and taste better.  This recipe features Black Valentines from my friend Steve Smith and the Mohr-Fry Ranch in Galt. Check out his website  Chili Smith. “These beans are reported to be one of the most nutritionally rich foods on the planet. Kids love them and the fiber is almost three times that of normal beans – powerful little packages of energy!”

I soaked them overnight, drained and rinsed them, boiled them for 2 hours, then sautéed them in olive oil with chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic and a bay leaf. I know it is easier to open a can of beans…trust me I buy my carrots, onions and celery already chopped haha….but these Heirloom beans taste so good, they are worth the time!  Add sea salt to taste and mix equal parts with cooked brown, Basmati rice. In celebration of my eldest daughter’s mission trip to Tanzania and her daily meal of beans and rice, I seasoned the mixture with ground cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia