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.