Crab Arancini with Cheez-Its!

I have been cooking with Giada’s Italy cookbook and today I tried the Crab Arancini.

Giada uses risotto mixed with crab, cheese and bread crumbs to make these delicious nuggets.  As I go through Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita cooking I try to get creative and come up with my own version of each recipe.  I remember as a kid learning from my grandmother, aunts and mom certain recipes where they did not have exact ingredients written down; they were just in their head and measuring was a handful or a pinch and then sometimes added as they went along. I learned to be creative in tasting as you cook so you know if you need to add anything to make the perfect dish.  I originally thought I would try to make these somewhat healthy as it has been a long time since I have had any grains but then thought I will improvise as I go just as my family does.  I had a box of Trader Joe’s Mushroom and Herb Risotto in my pantry so thought I would use that. There are items in the recipe that I did not have so improvised on those as well.  Here is my take.


Prepare boxed risotto, take off stovetop and cool completely. Add in lemon zest, cheese, cream cheese, crab meat and mix thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.


Prepare your breading station with beaten eggs, flour seasoned with salt and pepper and cheeze-its. Scoop out a tablespoon of risotto mixture and roll into a ball.  Dip in flour, then egg, then cheez-it mixture until you have used up all the mixture.  Cook in a frying pan with heated olive oil, turning to brown on all sides.

Homemade sauce:

(this was an experiment but proved to be pretty good.  You can increase the amounts to double this).  Mix all together and warm in microwave to serve over crab arancini.


Love and Light

Jeanine on the Scene

Lamb Bolognese

Happy Friday and welcome to another day with Giada’s Italy *Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita. I continue to utilize the recipes in this wonderful cookbook; adding my own versions to the recipes.  I used ground lamb and ground turkey instead of ground beef.  Both lamb and turkey are lower in fat but not losing any flavors.  By slow cooking in a dutch oven; the flavors are allowed to marry together and fill your home with delicious scents.This recipe makes 6 cups and yields 8 servings so you can use half for now and freeze the rest for later use.


  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 3/4 lb. ground turkey (90/10)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Calabrian chile paste
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 3 in. piece of Parmigiana-Reggiano rind
  • 1 8 oz. package of pappardelle pasta (see homemade pasta recipe under my favorite things!)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Heat a medium dutch oven and add the butter and half the olive oil until butter melts. Add carrot, onion, celery and 1/2 tsp salt and cook stirring frequently for about 6 minutes until the vegetables are soft.  Add the lamb and turkey and cook and break up into small pieces until meat is cooked through.  Add garlic, Hot Chili Peppers Crushed in jar, McCormick Culinary Ground Hot Red Pepper and tomato paste, cooking for a few minutes; stirring to cook down the tomato paste.



Stir in the milk and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the milk evaporates.  Add the wine, crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cheese rind and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.  Reduce heat once it comes to a simmer, gently cooking for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Skim oil off surface.  Remove half the sauce into a container for later use. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze. Cook pasta in well salted boiling water cooking until al dente. Remove from water and toss the pasta with the herb butter.  To serve place pasta in a beautiful dish : CERAMICHE D’ARTE PARRINI – Italian Ceramic Art Pottery Serving Plate Dish Food Hand Painted Decorated Lemons Made in ITALY Tuscan add the sauce to the top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and some fresh Italian Parsley.  Enjoy!

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

*Adapted from recipes from Giada’s Italy cookbook.

Fresh and Easy Homemade Pasta

Have you ever had or made homemade pasta?  It is light and less filling than store bought and really not as hard as you think to make.  I do have a pasta roller which helps to thin to the right consistency but it is just as easy to use a rolling pin and cut by hand.  I have started cutting my tagliatelle by hand and the joy that I get (and you can too) from making your own pasta and then watching your family and friends enjoy the fruits of your labor, well nothing better than that!  I have been making homemade pasta since I was around 16 when I received my first pasta machine as a gift.   Fast forward to 2018 while traveling in Tuscany, I had a lesson at Agriturismo I1 Rigo in Siena, Italy.  If you are ever in the Tuscany Region look them up, it is a beautiful restaurant and farm to table venue.  The grounds are spectacular with rolling hills and views for miles.

20180607_234633.jpg Lorenza’s rule for cooks she says are not written on the recipe… “that is something we have to learn to read through awareness”.  To use your senses – eyes, nose and hands. In this case touching the dough, working it with your hands and feeling the textures you create.  I recently made a 5 course dinner for 14 friends and made this pasta as one of the courses.  They loved it!


  • 3 eggs
  • 300 gr. white flour “00” (or 200 white flour and 100 gr durum wheat flour)
  • salt


20180808_171118.jpgPlace the flour on a wooden surface, making a well and placing the eggs and salt in the center.


Mix the eggs carefully with the salt. Work the flour with your hands moving it into the well to incorporate the flour with the eggs; working the flour in until it forms a ball.  Work the dough with your hands. To knead it start by pushing out with your right palm of your hand and folding back over with your left hand moving against you and back into you for around 10 minutes.  The dough will get smooth and elastic. Test it by pushing down on the middle of the dough, if it pops back up it is done.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 40 minutes in the refrigerator.

DSC_1167.JPGIf you are going to use it right away, the dough can stay out on the counter but no longer than 2 hours.  Take out ball and cut in quarters to roll out each piece. Press dough down on floured surface to flatten out. Using a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out dough to desired thinness.  I use the pasta machine working the dough through each thickness, turning the knob each time, starting at the highest opening (7) and working the dough down each number until down to 1 or 2 on the knob.

DSC_1174.JPGOnce you have a nice thin sheet, place on floured surface, flour both sides and roll each end of the rectangle towards the center.  Then cut the pasta down in 1/4 to 1/2″ thickness or to desired thickness.

From here you can put the pasta in well salted boiling water.  It only takes a few minutes for the fresh pasta to rise to the top and then it is done, al dente.  Please do not over cook your pasta, it will get mushy.  This recipe can be used for any pasta; ravioli, tortellini etc.  I cut up vegetables and grilled them prior to making the pasta.  Once out of the water I added extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, (and a little of the pasta water if needed), the vegetables and some fresh Parmesano Reggiano on top.  A great summer time light meal.



Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Quick and Easy Apricot Mostarda

Ever heard of the name “Mostarda”? The translation in Italian is a sweet and savory fruit condiment.  Welcome Wednesday cooking with @Giada’sItaly cookbook.

Apricot Mostarda


  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder (or red pepper flakes, crushed)
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 5 TBSP. sugar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 cups dried Turkish apricots, chopped

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and salt.  Cook for 1 minute, or until the shallots are fragrant and soft. Stir in the mustard seeds and cumin powder and cook an additional minute.  Add the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.


Whisk in the mustard and 1 cup of the chopped apricots.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often,  until the mixture has a jam like consistency.  Take off heat and stir in remaining 1 cup chopped apricots.  Cool completely and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.  Serve at room temperature.


Add to your charcuterie platter, spread on crostini with cheese and salami or on a pork loin or lamb loin. Tangy, sweet, delizioso!!

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

(note: This and all the recipes from Giada’s Italy that I share have been modified by me)


Spiced Stuffed Medjool Dates

It’s Wednesday! Cooking With @Giada’sItaly cookbook. Stuffed dates, Tuscan style.  The fun of going through this cookbook is learning new recipes; but also putting my own spin on them, creating a new variation of the recipe.  This one was super easy and made the house smell so good from the cloves and cinnamon.  They were definitely a hit at my Italy dinner party.  Please try them out at your next gathering and let me know what you think.



port wine, apple cider vinegar, whole cloves, cinnamon stick (I did not have a stick so used a tsp. ground cinnamon), orange zest, sugar, pinch of salt.  Medjool dates, parmigano-reggiano, prosciutto di parma.

I brought all the ingredients except dates, parmigano and prosciutto to a boil.  If you use prunes which are heartier you can soak them in the cooled liquid.  I used pitted dates which are softer so mixed them gently in the liquid and poured over the top instead of soaking.  I used shredded cheese to stuff the dates as I did not have a chunk of cheese.  Always good to have on hand for soups and stews as well as appetizers and anything Italian.  You can use the rind in soups.  So stuffed the dates and wrapped them with the prosciutto and baked them in the oven until the prosciutto is crispy.  Cool and toothpick for a yummy bite sized appetizer.



Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene