Childhood favorites with an Italian flair

Food Therapy

Lately, I’ve been thinking about childhood memories, probably because I’m entering my grown up life. I’m 24, I probably should feel “grown up” by now, but it just hasn’t hit me yet…maybe a little. Why are we in such a rush to grow up anyways? Well, this had me thinking of childhood favorite foods. Not surprisingly, my parents tell me that I wasn’t a picky eater. I loved food. I loved pasta and sweets of course; I called broccoli trees. Comfort food for me was a bowl of little pastina pasta with butter. A favorite childhood memory, I used to stop my dad at the door, jump into his arms when he would come home from work and search his saw dusty shirt pocket where I would always find a candy bar for us to share, I remember Rollo’s, these were fun to eat.

I’m sitting here with my husband Thomas and his friend/best man, Milti and I ask them,

“what was your childhood favorite foods?”

They look at me confused and then reply,

Thomas: “fries and ketchup, you know that.”

Thomas to Milti: “When we started dating (the summer after 8th grade), she asked me what my all-time favorite food was and I told her fries and ketchup.”

Me: “Yeah, and I told you that that didn’t count as a food.”

Milti: “Mine would be a  bologna, cheese, salami, ham and mustard sandwich that I used to order from this tiny grocery store across the street”

Thomas: “Isn’t that an American sub?”

Milti: “Yeah, I used to order all of that, I didn’t realize that back then.”

Cute, two peas in a pod these two…

Speaking of friends, my friend and past guest chef, Lauren came over to cook with me and this time was my turn to pick (I love it when it’s my turn!) It’s great when she comes over to cook, we have a lot of fun with it and I can get a lot of shots in while she does most of the work! ;)

Lauren said that there’s never any photos of me in the kitchen, so with not too much trial and error she took a photo of me enjoying some scrumptious brownie batter  (another thing that I did when I was little – my dad would always tell me I would get a worm, but yet he still handed the bowl and a spatula over to me!) She successfully took it and I was very proud!

So, what did we cook? Well I have had these two Giada at Home & Everyday Italian episodes/recipes saved on my DVR for probably 6 months now and I’ve had it on my chalkboard bucket list and I couldn’t be happier to delete/cross them off. We made childhood favorites with an Italian flair – brownies in pie form, with a biscotti crust and Mozzarella in Carrozza, an Italian grilled cheese! It’s deep fried! Cheese and chocolate? Lauren and I were in.

Menu & Recipe Links 

Brownie-Walnut Pie

Mozzarella in Carrozza

Food Photography

Review the Dish

Giada’s Walnut-Brownie Pie was another simple but decadent chocolate dessert. Food Network labels this recipe as “intermediate” and I agree, it was easy enough but was a little time consuming with multiple steps, which makes just a little bit of a mess, using the food processor to make the biscotti crumb, baking the crust, melting the chocolate, making essentially homemade brownie batter and baking it again. All worth it though! It was hard to cut the first slice of this warm, chocolatey pie and take a bunch of shots of it on the window sill, the life of an amateur food photographer! After all of that work, Lauren and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down and devouring the slice.

If you give this one a go, if you want to decorate the top of the pie with walnuts like Giada does in her video,  then to be safe, you need about 1 cup of walnuts. I had a mini panic attack because you need 1/2 cup for just the pie filling and more to decorate and I had picked up only a 1/2 cup bag. Thank goodness I had some extra! When Thomas got home from work that night, he went straight to the freezer to find his ice cream and I said, “there’s pie…” and his his eyes lit up when I showed him. He likewise devoured it.

Giada’s Mozzarella in Carrozza recipe was as fun to make as she makes it look. I loved the smoked mozzarella, probably because it tastes like bacon, and I love bacon. Lauren liked it too but would prefer either half smoked and half regular mozzarella or just regular mozzarella. I bet that would be just as delicious. It is definitely worth repeating to find out! We were both unsure about the basil but we both really liked it. Next time I’ll make sure that my basil doesn’t freeze in the fridge beforehand. It’ll save time defrosting it on a paper towel. Plus, this is a heavy meal, it’s all that oil!

What I’ve Learned

Some history behind the Italian version of a grilled cheese sandwich: Mozzarella in Carrozza, which she explains in Italian means “mozzarella in a carriage: the bread being the carriage that carries the mozzarella”. In Naples, she said, they sell these next to the pizzerias and bakeries.” This was a childhood favorite of hers.

Well, besides these two fabulously fun dishes and a little bit of Italian, Mrs. De Laurentiis reiterated to always wear oven mitts when deep frying! You don’t want to “fry yourself”!

As always, I got to practice my food photography. It was a race against the clock to shoot these dishes in the sunlight but the sky was filled with ominous clouds. I figured that there was no point to go down to my laundry room studio…we food styled on the window sill and although the lighting wasn’t ideal, it was ok! Note to self, no matter how dull and dark it looks, take it easy with the exposure compensation!

Last, sometimes its worth it to stop and ask for directions. We looked far and wide for this smoked mozzarella. At Shaws, we found this apple-smoked mozzarella, but feared that it would have an apple taste. A nice guy that works at the deli asked us if we needed help and we figured why not, asking him if this was the only smoked mozzarella they carried and if so, what his opinion was on the apple taste. He didn’t think it was appley, but just in case, he offered to open up the package and cut us a cube to try, he could use this package as samples. We did and it did not taste like apple! I thought that this was so nice of him and so helpful! It’s great to know what your buying, especially when it comes to cheese! Thanks!

To leave you with today, I thought it would be fun to include a cool kitchen gadget. I saw this in the most recent Sur la Table catalog. Okay, so I have a splatter screen, but this one not only prevents splatter, as a lid cover it strains pasta (genius!) and…and you can steam vegetables on it! It’s on my wishlist. Check it out!

Kuhn Rikon Splatter Screen

I’ve heard that food bloggers sometimes…when they get famous enough…get some gifts ;)

I swear, I try to keep  these posts short and sweet…Try these recipes out guys, you’ll love them! Thanks,’s your pick next time, start thinking!

What are some of your childhood favorite foods?

<3 Cait

23 thoughts on “Childhood favorites with an Italian flair

  1. looks delicious! and please check out my blog at! Thank you very much

  2. This actually look really good, Coming from someone who tries nothing knew at all. I think you did a great job Caitlin…. Also I too have not yet been hit with the “grown up” thing and I’m going on 25 so no worries.

  3. Pingback: Current Cravings . 15 « Food Whims

  4. That pie looks delicious! I am so happy that you dropped by my blog and now I’ve discovered yours! LOVE it!

  5. Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

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