Monday, November 12, 2012

Hey Everyone,  I hope that you can follow me at my new blog where you can easily sign up to receive new posts by email.  Thank you for all of your support.

Chicken Cacciatore

In the final chapter, entitled "Keeping the Good" Silvia and her family gather for a dinner commemorating Vince's graduation from high school at a restaurant called The Central Cafe.  This was the name of a restaurant in Hammonton where my mom and I would go to eat gnocchi with marinara sauce. One of the dishes they order is Chicken Cacciatore and you can find the recipe below from

Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter Style Chicken)

·         One 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into pieces
·         2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
·         1 cup thinly sliced onions
·         2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
·         Salt and freshly ground pepper
·         1/3 cup white wine
·         2 cups peeled and chopped, firm ripe tomatoes (or canned plum tomatoes in their juice)
1 Rinse chicken and pat dry. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat, add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Push the onions to the side. Season the chicken pieces with salt on all sides. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side down. Cook until the chicken skin is golden brown, then turn pieces over and brown on the other side. Add the garlic to the pan and cook a minute more.
2 Sprinkle pepper over the chicken. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, lower the heat and cover the skillet with the lid slightly ajar.
3 Cook the chicken on a low simmer, turning and basting from time to time. Cook until the thighs are very tender and the meat is almost falling off the bones, about 40 minutes. If the stew starts to dry out, add a couple tablespoons of water.
Yield: Serves 4-6.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Site!

Hey Everyone,

Please check out my new site and the future home of my blog!

Hope you can follow me as there will be many more wonderful posts to come!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

In Chapter Seven, "Too Late for Saving," Silvia goes through a box of family photos to get inspiration for finishing her painting.  She comes across one from Cosmo's Confirmation and recalls the party after the ceremony in which Frank and Donna's father, Cosimo got into a fight over the last piece of eggplant Parmesan.  If it had not been so delicious, they may have not gotten into a fight. But prepared correctly, this dish is almost worth fighting over!


1 large eggplant sliced thin
2 large eggs beaten
2 cups flour
1 16 oz.package shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 cups marinara sauce


Drain the eggplant of excess moisture and coat with egg and flour.  Cook until soft and tender in olive oil. It is crucial that the eggplant is cooked for a long time in a good amount of olive oil. Blot excess oil off egglant with paper towel. Layer into casserole dish. Layer with sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.  I also learned, from my grandma, to sprinkle leftover egg over the first layer.  I am told by my sister, Annamae, that my grandma, who grew up during The Depression, did this because, in those days, it was forbidden to waste any food.  I believe that it greatly adds to this dish.  Continue layering two or three more times, or until you run out of ingredients.  Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until top is golden brown.   

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not The Jersey Shore

I strongly believe in the saying "Write what you know."  And that is just what I did in writing my novel. I grew up in New Jersey in an Italian-American family and so the family of my novel is Italian-American and the setting is New Jersey.  And although the characters are Italian-American and from New Jersey, they are much different than the cast of Jersey Shore or The Sopranos.  Like many other Italian-Americans that come from the great state of New Jersey, I am tired of the negative stereotypical conceptions of us, as gangsters and morons, that have been created and nurtured by the media.

The Greco family are all highly educated for one thing.  There is no mob affiliations here!  In fact, Vince, the youngest child, is so politically correct that he won't set foot in the WalMart because he does not agree with their politics.  The patriarch of the family, Frank, works as a courtroom judge.  The matriarch is a college professor.  The oldest son, Cosmo, studied astronomy at an Ivy League school. And the main character, Silvia, studied painting in art school which she attended on a full scholarship.

All in all, they are a lovable, quirky bunch of characters, all very unique and distinct from each other and all very different from how we are used to seeing Italian-Americans depicted.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Get Your Copy Today!

The first book of a family saga trilogy, Olive Branches Don't Grow On Trees, has sold over 1,000 copies and has been downloaded over 20,000 times.  It has reached best seller status in Amazon's humorous fiction category, and has received several rave reviews from reputable book blogs:

“A truly enjoyable read. Perfect for a cozy evening snuggling under a blanket, blocking out the world. The sequences of Silvia's recollections into the past with her strong willed, born ahead of her time grandmother, the jobs she has held, and lost as it were, are nothing short of brilliant.”
Chapters and Chats Book Reviews

“The author weaves a tale that is a moving and realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional family with enough drama and humorous family situations that will keep the reader engaged and entertained, while providing a witty sense of humor and subtle messages of life lessons to extend the olive branch and learn to live, love and forgive.”
Jersey Girl Book Reviews

“The author did a great job of showing what Silvia was experiencing as she tried to reunite the members of her hot-headed Italian family.”
Bella Online: The Voice of Women

Get your copy today from Amazon, available in Kindle for $1.99 and paperback for $8.95.  You're guaranteed to laugh out loud, fall in love with the characters, and maybe even shed a tear or two!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sausage and Peppers

In Chapter Six, entitled "Lightning Bugs at Dusk," Silvia goes home to find Frank making a sausage and peppers sandwich. This has always been a popular dish in my family, and something that we all used to enjoy at a festival in my home town called the Festival of Mount Carmel:  There is a stand at this festival that serves sausage and peppers sandwiches.  My brother Vincent used to work at this stand and now my sister, Annamae, works there.  Hope you enjoy!


11/2 pound hot and or sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 red or green bell peppers
1 large onion thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic
dash salt and pepper
4 crusty sandwich rolls


·         Place the sausages in a large skillet. Pierce the casings with a fork. Add 1-inch water to the pan. Bring liquid to a boil. Cover sausages, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
·         Heat a second skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add garlic, onion, and peppers, salt and pepper.
·         Drain sausages and return pan to stove, raising heat back to medium high. Add a drizzle of oil to the skillet, brown and crisp the casings. Remove sausages, slice into 2 inch pieces on an angle and set pieces back into the pan to sear.
·         Split and toast the bread under broiler.
·         Combine the cooked peppers and onions to the sausages. Toss and turn the sausage, peppers and onions, picking up all the drippings from the pan. Pile the meat and peppers into the garlic sub rolls and serve.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More Books About Peace, Not War

We are and have been in the midst of war for the past several years, and it appears as though there is no end in sight to the current war in Afghanistan.  Both wars that we have been involved in in recent years were completely unnecessary and unjustifiable, and both have left nothing but ruin and sorrow.

I read fiction book reviews for my job as a Librarian, and in the past several years, I have noticed a preponderance of books that are about war, but none that really seem to embrace an anti-war sentiment.  I feel that such literature has been sorely lacking in recent years, and it is ironic that it is lacking considering that we are currently involved in the longest war in United States history.

My novel does embrace an anti-war sentiment in that it is about peace, and specifically about how to make peace.  I have always felt very passionate about this subject. The plot of the book involves a young woman who attempts to bring peace to her constantly feuding family, and in accomplishing this feat, there are several life lessons that she learns. While the story takes place within the confines of one particular family, the lessons that are learned about peace-making can be applied to all people within all families within all countries.  In addition to the universal applicability of the lessons in this book is my strong conviction that peace begins at home, and really, it begins within the soul of each individual person.

Although I have not seen many other recently published books that embrace this theme, I have heard some good music.  Check out the link below for Grammy winning album from my favorite musician, Neil Young!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ricotta Cookies

In chapter five, entitled "Remember the Bonsai," Cosmo bakes ricotta cookies and he and Silvia enjoy them with some Earl Grey tea.  Of course, they are wonderful because every thing that Cosmo endevors to do, he does great.  He tells Silvia that he was inspired to make them from tasting a cookie that she had given him during a previous visit.  It was a cookie with no dairy, sugar, wheat, etc. and Cosmo claimed that it tasted like tree bark.  Ricotta cookies will taste nothing like Silvia's heatlh food cookies.  They are absolutely heavenly!  See recipe below from





Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.


Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Making People Out Of Words

Although I knew the general plot through my outline, around midway through the writing of my book, my characters started doing things that I had not planned for them. They surprised me by certain decisions and or actions.  This was when I knew that I had created demensional characters that came off the page, that came to life.

For example, I did not know that Cosmo would do a magic trick for Isabella in the final chapter or that Silvia would decide to become an art school teacher, or that Donna would change her mind about the party.  I did not know that Frank would be the first to show up at the party and did not know that Donna would decide, definitely, to leave Frank. When I was ten years old, I wrote a story entitled The Magic Pen.  In the story, the main character had a pen, that when used, would create stories as if by magic.

I actually found myself hanging out with my characters in a way.  I would be walking down the street and imagine that I was in a dialogue with them.  Or I would talk about them to myself like they were real people.  A lot of my thoughts went into working out how they would act or what they would say.  And eventually they became so real and so dimensional that they started doing things on their own!  Kind of creepy, but super cool.

See great article on creating characters in the Guardian article below.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Brocoli Rabe with Garbanzo Beans and Ribbon Pasta

In the beginning of chapter four, entitled "To Know Peace", Silvia makes this dish for her and her brother Vince, who are both vegetarian.  In the story, rigatoni pasta is used to make this dish, but of course, you can use any sort of pasta as in the recipe below in which ribbon pasta is used.  She is thrilled to have the kitchen to herself as Frank is always monopolizing the kitchen.  Because he is not home, there is some peace and quiet in the house and she relishes the relaxing meal that she shares with her brother.  This meal is the perfect start to this chapter that is about Silvia contemplating the time she spent with her grandma.  "It was through her Grandma Tucci that she knew peace."


1pound ribbon pasta
3 cubes minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch brocoli rabe
1 can garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese


Saute crushed garlic in olive oil for a minute or two and add brocoli rabe and beans.  In the meantime, add pasta to a big pot of rapidly boiling water, and cook until al dente.  Drain pasta and top with sauteed beans and greens.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Upcoming Free Day!

Just want to let you all know that Olive Branches Don't Grow On Trees will be free next week on September 17, 18 and 19!  Last time my book went free, over 12,000 people downloaded it, making it rise to #1 in the Amazon Humorous Fiction category, and making it into the top 100 for two other fiction categories:  Single Women and Domestic Life.  If you have not yet read the book, this will be a wonderful opportunity to check it out!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Humor in Serious Fiction

All of my favorite writers have one thing in common: Their use of humor.  Flannery O'Connor's use of black humor adds greatly to adds to the characterization and the setting in her stories. Another one of my writers is Nathanael West also employs a similar sort of dark and demented humor in his stories.  Most people would agree with me that the John Kennedy Toole novel A Confederacy of Dunces is a work of comic genius.  I also admire the dry and witty humor of the science fiction writer, Douglas Adams.  Although the humor in the works of these latter two writers is much more accessible and apparent than the former, they all have made me, at one time or another, laugh out loud. And I have learned greatly from all of these writers in how to employ humor in fiction.

When I began writing my novel, I did not intend for it to be funny, but when I read my first chapter to a group of fellow writers, I was delighted to find them laughing out loud at certain lines and or situations that I had written.  I was also delighted when I my book got several reviews claiming that it was very humorous.  I believe that the use of humor in fiction is a great tool, and not just for the sake of being entertaining, but also for the sake of driving a point home without sounding didactic or overly moralistic.  I also believe that it's the sheer honesty of good humor that can really make an impression on people.  If someone is genuinely funny, they are not afraid to say what they see.  There are no pretensions.  There are no lies.

In terms of character development, it is the funny quirks about characters that make them more real, more believable and more lovable.  Vince believes that the recent preponderance of books about war is a government conspiracy.  As a lawyer, Frank bartered with clients who could not make their whole legal fee. Angie is obsessed by the fact that she lives in the very same neighborhood as Bruce Springsteen and is determined to find his house.  Donna is constantly plagued by some new self-diagnosed ailment that keeps her following one trend diet after another.

Humor can really enhance dialogue.  Cosmo tells Silvia that she would have better luck making peace in the Middle East than within their family.  Frank finishes his monologue of complaints with the phrase "I can't complain."  And last but not least, humor greatly adds to the fun of story.  Silvia listens to her boss, a full grown man, rant on about the importance of Gummy Bears.  Donna is sexually harassed by the Three Little Pigs at Disney World.  What fun! 

Below is a wonderful article on the effective use of humor in fiction.  Check  out!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pasta Fazool

In chapter three, entitled "How to Be Free," Silvia goes to visit her older sister Angie at her house in north Jersey and while Angie is deciding what she will make for dinner, Silvia recalls the time her sister used American cheese to make eggplant Parmesan.  She tries to persuade Angie to order out or make something simple.  But to no avail  Angie insist on cooking and to accommodate her sister's vegetarian diet, she makes Pasta Fagioli.  Silvia is happily surprised that the soup turned out wonderful.  This healthy soup, also called pasta fagoli, was served daily at a local diner in my home town of Hammonton, New Jersey.  There are many variations on this recipe.  For instance, frozen or fresh peas can be substituted for cannelloni beans.  It can also be made with or without chicken broth.  See below recipes from  Hope you enjoy!


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried or fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked sea shell macaroni
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, with liquid

  • Directions
    1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook celery, onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper and salt until onion is translucent. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes and tomato sauce, and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes.
    2. Add pasta and cook 10 minutes, until pasta is tender.
    3. Add beans and mix well. Heat through. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

    Vegetarian Version

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
    • 5 1/2 cups water
    • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
    • 1 (15 ounce) can navy beans
    • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 pound elbow macaroni


    1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onionn in olive oil until translucent.  Stir in garlic and cook until tender.  Reduce heat, and stir in tomato sauce, water, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, cannelini beans, navy beans and Parmesan.  Simmer one hour.
    2. Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; strain and stir into soup.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Shut Up and Write!

    I named this post after a wonderful group that I found on  Joining this group has really been crucial in helping me to write my novel.  Writing is such a solitary activity and it is often helpful and motivating to be a part of a group that encourages this pursuit.  That is exactly what I found with Shut Up and Write!  We would gather together at various cafes throughout San Francisco to write in silence.  Writers tend to be a chatty bunch of procrastinators, so I thought that the name for this group was particularly clever.

    Another group I joined to help on my writing and publishing journey was Bay Area Independent Publishing Association:  This particular group assists its members in developing knowledge and expertise in publishing, promoting and marketing their works.

    In addition to joining these groups, I made one of the best decisions of my life over a year ago when I started my novel.  I decided to stop waiting!  To stop waiting for the inspiration to hit me, to stop waiting to feel perfect, to stop looking at other people who were living their dreams with envy and to start living my own dream.  The Night-Time Novelist gave me the idea to set up a certain minimum amount of words to write per day, and I came up with 400.  I found that my writing would usually get sloppy after 400 words.  Of course some days I would be able to exceed my 400 word quota, and some days I would barely just make my quota.

    In fulfilling a daily writing quota, while working full-time, I had to make use of a quality that is often viewed in a negative light, bringing to mind a highly regimented, over-achieving type of person.  But there is a certain real beauty to this quality, and one that we should all strive to cultivate within ourselves.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Tuna Fish and Spaghetti

    In chapter two of my novel entitled "What's Wrong With Here?" Silvia goes to visit her brother Cosmo at his apartment in Philadelphia. While there, he makes tuna fish and spaghetti. My mom used to call this dish "poor man's crabs and spaghetti."  It was very popular in my household growing up, and I still cook it on occasion myself.


    1 can tuna fish
    1/4 cup olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper
    3 cups marinara sauce*
    1 pound spaghetti
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


    Saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add drained tuna and stir thoroughly. Combine tuna and garlic mixture and tomato sauce. Cook over low heat for one hour. Serve with spaghetti and grated Parmesan cheese.

    Alternative Recipe


    1 can tuna fish
    1/2 cup olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
    1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
    1 teaspoon dried or fresh parsley
    1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatos
    1 pound spaghetti
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


    Saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat.  Add drained tuna and crushed tomatoes and stir thoroughly.  Add spices and stir.  Cook over low heat for one hour.  Serve with spaghetti and grated Parmesan cheese.

    *Marinara Sauce

    This maranara sauce recipe is handed down from my grandma.  In my family, sauce was always called gravy, and I believe this is common amongst many Italian-Americans.  Enjoy!


    ·         2 cans, 28 oz. each, crushed tomatoes ( used diced if you like
    bits in your GRAVY-experiment)
    ·         1 large onion-minced
    ·         1TBSP minced garlic
    ·         1heaping tsp.or 1TBSP each of dried parsley, oregano, basil
    ·         Fresh herbs at end if available-basil, parley
     salt 1tsp.  pepper 1/2 tsp


    ·         Sauté onion, garlic, dry spices until they sweat.
    ·         Add tomatoes, salt, pepper. Simmer for about 1 hour or more, until
    you like the taste of it.

    Friday, August 10, 2012


    Hi Everyone,

    Just wanted to share with you all that this past Wednesday, August 8th, Olive Branches Don't Grow On Trees reached #1 in Amazon's humor category, and on this past Thursday, it reached #21 at Amazon free e-book store OVERALL!  Also, over 12,000 copies were downloaded in the past two days!

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    This Tale Grew Into Telling

    The quote above from J.R.R. Tolkien resonated so much with me because I felt that it really spoke of my own process for writing my novel. My novel began with a description of a single character that I subsequently incorporated into a short story, which I shared with a writing group of which I belong.  My writing group responded very positively to the piece and a couple of the members encouraged me to make it into something longer. The story had only two characters- a young woman and her father- and for the story to grow into a novel, it seemed logical to make it into a family saga.

    I wanted the book to have a of which I felt passionate, something that could sustain me all the way through to the completion of the novel.  Peace was the obvious choice as I am a passionate anti-war activist, and as it would be a theme that I could easily illustrate through a family story.  I am from a large family that has always been heavily involved in fighting, and the disharmony that exist within my own family is something that I always wanted to change.  I wanted to have a subplot in the story because I believe that having a subplot can greatly reinforce the theme of the book. I knew that to make this subplot work with the larger plot that it would have to be relevant to the stories theme which is peace.  The protagonist of the novel, Silvia, is a very restless young woman who is unable to stay in one place longer than a few months.  When she realizes that there is a connection between her own internal restlessness and her growing up in a chaotic, fight-filled household, her objective of creating peace in her family takes on a greater significance.

    So I had a theme, a general plot and subplot, the main characters and a setting.  I now needed to develop a structure.  I got a copy of a book that I truly love called The Night-Time Novelist  This book caters to all of us who are not in creative writing programs and who need to work day jobs, and is loaded with very helpful, concrete instruction on the craft of writing a novel that follows the three-act dramatic structure.  I really like following this traditional structure and believe that novels that follow this sort of structure are much more accessible than non-traditionally structured novels.  The outline I created for my book followed this three-act structure, although I was careful not to make my outline too tightly structured, and to allow myself to deviate from it, thereby giving the story room to grow organically.

    Monday, July 30, 2012


    Pastina is a type of pasta consisting of tiny pieces of pasta and available in a variety of shapes, such as tiny stars (stellette).  In the end of the first chapter, "The Sound of Noise," Silvia's appetite returns after being gone for so long, and she craves pastina. This particular food brings great comfort to her as she associates it with her childhood and with her beloved Grandma Tucci.  There are many wonderful dishes that can be prepared with this delightful pasta.  I enjoy it simply with butter, salt and olive oil.  Following are some more exciting recipes.  Enjoy!

    Pumpkin Pastina
    (from Proud Italian Cook Blog)


    1 large pumpkin- about 6 pounds
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    4 cups chicken stock
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


    In a pot, saute about 1 cup of onion in olive oil season with salt and pepper and fresh thyme.
    Pour in 4 cups of stock (I used chicken) and bring to a gentle boil.
    When stock is boiling pour in 3/4lb. of your dry pastina or any small pasta.
    When al dente, fold in about 1 cup of your roasted butternut squash that has been scooped out, and 1/2 cup of good parmesan cheese. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
    The consistency should be loose, so you might want to add more stock to it, so have extra on hand.

    Pastina with Egg and Cheese


    1/2 c. pastina
    2 eggs
    1 tbsp. butter
    3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese


    Boil water, add pastina and cook.  When finished, drain and add butter.  Beat eggs and pour in.  Slowly cook over low heat to cook egg.  Add cheese.  Stir and serve warm.

    Baked Chicken and Pastina


    1 cup pastina
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
    1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
    1 cup shredded mozzarella
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 cups bread crumbs
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    1 tablespoon butter

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
    Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

    Stellette Soup
    (from box of De Cecco pasta)


    8.8 ounce Stellette
    1 sprig marjoram
    4 cups broth
    1 pinch nutmeg
    1 pinch salt and pepper
    4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


    Pour the broth in a large saucepan and place it over the heat.  Add the sprig of marjoram and bring it to a boil.  Cook the pasta "al dente" and drain it.  Pour pasta into broth and sprinkle with Parmesan and nutmeg.  Serve warm.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Free Kindle Book

    Hi Everyone!

    Just want to let you know that my book will be free at Amazon Kindle store on August 8 and 9 so please check it out.


    When I was ten years old, I wrote my first story.  It was called The Gates of Utica and I was inspired to write it during a trip to upstate New York with my mom.  I knew then that I wanted to be a writer; that I wanted to tell stories and make people laugh and cry and think; that I wanted to use words to paint pictures and make music.

    I just completed my first novel which is entitled Olive Branches Don't Grow On Trees.  It is the story of a twenty-three year old girl named Silvia Greco who decides to make peace in her constantly feuding family.  It takes place in New Jersey and is set in the present against the back drop of the current wars. Throughout the course of the story, Silvia learns that peace is not something that is freely existing, but that rather, it is something that needs to be created, cultivated and nurtured.  This book is filled with lovable characters, humor and insight. You can buy it as a Kindle e-book on Amazon for $1.99 (cheap) and $8.95 in paperback (still pretty darn cheap). It will also be available in print format on Amazon shortly.  You can also check out the first chapter on my website:

    This is the first of many posts in which I will be sharing the various insights about the writing process that I have gained from completing this book.  I also want to share recipes for many of the delectable dishes that are mentioned in my novel.  Because the book is about an Italian-American family, food is a central part of it, and so there are several references to yummy Italian dishes. I am delighted to say that the recipes for these dishes will be shared in this blog.

    Hope that you enjoy reading and will return often!