Who Eats Italian Food On Thanksgiving Day? - Soup Loving Nicole Blog at Allrecipes.com - 258644

Soup Loving Nicole

Who Eats Italian Food on Thanksgiving Day? 
Nov. 27, 2011 6:04 pm 
Updated: Jan. 19, 2012 11:51 pm

As some of you already know from my previous blogs, I started my own tradition when it comes to the holiday feasts. So, what theme did I choose this year you ask? Italian. I am actually surprised I haven't done it sooner. After all, my trip to Italy back in 2002 inspired me like no other vacation has ever done. I'll admit that I originally had no desire to go and my arm had to really be twisted. I knew nothing about the country, the language barrier scared me, and even though I was previously not afraid of flying, our tragic 911 attack had just happened and the thought of being in the sky for that many hours made me nervous. As I mentioned, I knew basically nothing about the country and its history. I knew of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the David statue, gondola rides, the Pope lived there, and the Coliseum. And, I only knew of that because of the movie Gladiator. Go ahead and laugh, it is what it is. Finally after a promise of a gondola ride, a trip up the leaning tower, and a whole lot of  peer pressure from friends and hubby, I gave in. I went out the very next day and bought a Learn to Speak Italian kit. Boy, that workbook was fun let me tell you. LOL!

We started in Venezia (Venice) where I never did get that promised gondola ride. The friends we went with deemed it too expensive once we got there and it really was too much to swing for him and I alone. Hindsight I would have done it regardless. Anyway, that struck a nerve with me and I had quite an attitude the remainder of our short stay in Venice. It was a pretty town, the mosaic artwork in St. Marks was gorgeous, and there was lots to see but it was probably my least favorite city of those we visited. 

Next stop was Firenze (Florence) and I absolutely LOVED this city. All of the marble artwork was just breathtaking. My highlights there were Santa Croce, David, The Duomo, and I also got to see where Elizabeth Barrett Browning once lived. 

Next up was my beloved trip up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We were only there for a day and it was a short trip but the feeling I got when I reached the top lessened my disappointment over the gondola experience.

Off to Roma (Rome) we went. I don't even know where to begin with this city. There was so much to see and do and we had a blast. Our friends were not as excited about all of the sites to be had as we were and they moved on to the next city while we stayed for five days. Even though this was originally planned, I didn't foresee how much of a welcome break this would be from them. Never again will I travel to a foreign country with other people. Everyone just has different tastes and what they want to do and there is not enough time to do it all. They were more museum-y type people and museums bore me to no end. I like to get out and mingle among the locals and that we did while in Rome. Oh, we saw all of the major attractions and visited a lot of the places where my beloved Audrey Hepburn was filmed in Roman Holiday while doing it too. The Coliseum was not near as big as I had imagined but it was quite something. I had goosebumps the entire time I was standing in it and I have them now just thinking back. The inside of the Vatican was absolutely gorgeous too. When we left the Sistine Chapel, the streets were lined with people. The police were everywhere and they were barricading the main road. We knew something big was about to happen but no one knew what. The police wouldn't tell us a thing and they were acting very strange. We hung around for what seemed like forever and then suddenly helicopters started flying overhead and here came all of these black limos with men holding machine guns hanging out of them. My terror must have shown in my face because at that moment one of the officers leaned in and said, "your president has arrived". Okay, so I would have been a lot more excited if it was Regan instead of Bush but it was still kind of neat to be able to say that I visited the Vatican on the same day as the president.

Next stop was Napoli (Naples) but it was really just a stepping stone for the day trip to Pompeii. I take it back about Venice being my least favorite city. Naples definitely was. Maybe I was just wore out from Rome or maybe from being away from home nearly two weeks at that point but the town seemed trashy to me and there wasn't much to do. I'm glad we were only there long enough to access Pompeii. I didn't know the history of Pompeii and it was a rather sad place but very interesting too. We spent the entire day walking around and it was an experience I will never forget. 

To end our trip we flew to Sicilia (Sicily). Palermo Sicily to be exact. Not sure why our friend chose this place other than I think he had intentions on diving but the water was way too cold and there were no dive shops in town. Guess he didn't do his homework but I have no complaints. It was relaxing and peaceful there with minimal tourist. I did get quite a shocker though. It was mid afternoon  and everyone went up to the rooms to take a nap before dinner. I am not a napper so I bought a glass of wine and went and sat by the pool. I was lounging in my chair minding my own business when this couple who were sunbathing stood up, stripped off their bathing suits, and dove in the pool. I was MORTIFIED! I do not like nekked anything and am probably the most modest person on this planet. Thankfully it didn't last long and they were back out, dried off, clothed again, and sunbathing in no time. I grabbed my wine and made a beeline to the room before round two came. 

Oh, was I supposed to talk about food in this blog? Hee hee. For the record I will say that it was that last day in Sicily where I had my best meal of the trip. For the record I will also say that Italian food is one of my least favorite cuisines. I know, I know, go ahead and gasp already. I love the flavor of sauces and such but the pasta itself is a huge turn off. It's just a filler to me and it fills me up super fast actually. Bread is the same and I have never cared for bread so pizza isn't overly exciting to me either. Authentic Italian food is different than our American Italian but it still consists of pasta and bread after all. One of the big differences I noticed is that meals were eaten in courses and it was common for the meat to be separate from the pasta instead of in the pasta. Now some of this could have been due to the difficulty in reading the menus (learning enough of the language to get by and trying to read a menu are two completely different things) but none of the pizzas we ordered had meat on them. They sold individual squares with meat at the little corner deli's so again, maybe it was just our inability to read the menu. We all shared a pizza that first night in Venice and it was very plain. It was their nightly special and we went with it but all it had on it was cheese and four whole olives. I am an olive lover and my eyes lit up but OMG they should have put a warning label on it. Yep, they were not pitted and I dang near lost a tooth. Lesson learned early on and I was careful the rest of the trip. My next attempt at pizza was at an outdoor cafe in Florence. The menu was oh so tough and communication with the waiter was even tougher. He had me convinced that the pizza I was ordering was loaded with pepperoni. NOT! Instead it was a thick crust that was loaded with watery bland red sauce and LOTS of cooked spinach. It wasn't good at all. I gave up on trying to order pizza after that and just stuck to the little deli's that had good food that I could see and just point. Hubby and I got turned around one night in Rome trying to find our way back to the hotel and we stumbled on this little place that I am guessing was like a sports bar and they had the most amazing marinated olives. I also had some pretty amazing Carbonara while in Rome. I am ashamed to admit this but after ten days of hit and miss with the food, we were strolling around the Spanish Steps area in Rome and stumbled on to a Mc Donalds. Even though I eat fast food less than a dozen time a year here at home, my craving at that moment for greasy American salty french fries was more than I could resist. At what was equivalent to 4 US dollars, I scarfed down that large fries like it was a ribeye steak and didn't feel one bit guilty about how expensive they were. All in all we had decent food while there but it wasn't the highlight of the trip for me. Again, it just goes back to personal preference and pasta isn't mine. Instead, my highlight was all of the beautiful sites we saw and the people we encountered along the way. The Italians are amazing people and in my opinion the most beautiful race of people in this world. Young, old, male, female...didn't matter. They were fit, extremely full of life, they had beautiful skin and hair, no stress, and they didn't take any lip from anyone. Oh, and they were crazy talented in their scooter driving abilities. I kid you not we saw this one lady driving with two kids on the back and she had an ice cream cone in one hand, a grocery bag full of stuff in the other, AND she was talking on a cell phone. Anyway, I mentioned the inspiration the trip had on me and the locals were a big part of that. Each city we visited had its own feel, spirit, and uniqueness. They were positively beautiful people and people I will never forget. 

One of the first things I did when I got home was set out on a mission to find Italian things to redecorate my kitchen. Once again, I hit all of the antique malls around here and took day trips to the ones in Missouri. It took quite a long time but I finally gathered enough little treasures to pull it off. I have a little of the typical wine bottles, grapes, etc. but most of my stuff is actually imported things from Italy and written in Italian. I thought my "obsession" with Italian stuff would stop and that I would eventually get tired of it but here it is nearly ten years later and the Italian theme did not stop with the kitchen. We are still remodeling but my family room is also being done in an Italian theme. I found a company that sells 5 feet tall David statue replicas and I cannot wait to display that proudly. Marble nudity is the only nekked I can handle. Ha ha. If I knew of someone that could paint my ceiling to look like Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, I SO would. Better yet, a huge mural of an old world city map of lets say Rome that covered an entire wall would be SUPER. This is how serious I am about my love of Italy.

Okay, so back to the food. I said earlier that I was surprised I hadn't done the Italian theme yet but it makes sense to me now after reading back over all of this. My "obsession" with Italy has nothing to do with the food which sounds kind of funny coming from a foodie. In my defense, I was nowhere near a foodie back then. So, I had decided on Italian but what? Soup, salad, and bread were a no brainer but what could the main dish be? I wanted it to be special and all and not just another every day dish seeing how it was Thanksgiving. I searched AR recipes high and low, I combed through all of my Italian cookbooks, Googled, and looked every chance I got but nothing was jumping out at me. Hubby is usually not much help when it comes to specific dishes but I took and shot and threw it out there. Almost immediately he says, "Chicken Parmesan". Wow! I had never made it before and wasn't even exactly sure what it was off the top of my head but it sounded like a winner to me. I immediately started searching for recipes and found some that sounded good but I wasn't sold on the idea. Chicken seemed so boring and every day to me and I mumbled my concerns out loud and before you know it, Veal Parmesan is mentioned. Veal? Neither of us had ever tried it and we both love beef so surely we would like it. Yes! Veal would be perfect. Once again I went to town looking for a recipe and I found a winner. Emeril Lagasse's Veal Parmesan it was. Now that I had picked the main course I could get more specific with the sides that would compliment it. I spent nearly the whole weekend working on the menu but finally made my choices and got my list written out. After all was said and done, it dawned on me that I had one small problem. Where was I going to find veal? After some discussion we realized this had the potential to be a huge problem. I had read the reviews on Emeril's recipe and a good number of people had used chicken instead and all had favorable results. Instead of trying to search for a different recipe altogether that would compliment the sides I had worked so hard at planning, it made more sense to cross out the veal on my list and change it to chicken. Sighs. I went to work the next day with list in hand so that I could pick up everything after work and I'll admit that it was eating at me all morning. That Monday was busy as heck too and I caught myself gazing into my monitor but completely zoned out in another world contemplating over this veal/chicken business. I was too busy to dwell on it and knew I would just have to get over it already and make the most of the chicken. I buckled down in my work and what do you know? I came across a drivers file whose name was Richard. RICHARD'S Country  Meat Market baby! It was too early to call but I looked them up online and sure enough they carried veal AT TIMES. It seemed like an eternity waiting until the store opened but sure enough they had it. I nearly let out a squeal over the phone. In my excitement I almost forgot to ask how much it was a pound but remembered just as I was hanging up. HOLY MOLY! It was nearly $16 a pound!!! My mind was racing and I was looking over my weekly menu trying to cut corners in other places but I couldn't and the irritation kicked in again. I didn't let is show at work but I was irritable the rest of the day. It was Thanksgiving after all but it had literally been one thing after another this year including our hard drive crashing just three days prior to that day and then after pecking away at hubby's laptop for a day, our less than two year old router went out which meant we were looking at the expense of a router on top of a new computer. GRRR!  As I parked my car and started walking up into Walmart, a light went on. Ding ding ding...traditional turkey dinner. Now granted there would be a ton more leftover (too much for just the two of us actually) but look how much a traditional dinner would cost. HELLO! It might have just sounded like a good excuse and I maybe could have done a traditional one cheaper but whatever...it worked for me. My cell went off at nearly that exact moment and it was hubby asking if I needed help shopping at Wallie. I informed him that I had it under control and that I had resorted back to plan A and that it would be more helpful if he went to the out of the way specialty meat market and picked up the veal. 

WOO HOO! I was pumped! I did have anxiety of screwing it up and we ate later than planned but I didn't screw it up and dinner was a success. Wanna know something funny though? All of that anxiety, irritation, etc. and I didn't really care for it as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, it was extremely tender, had a very elegant appearance and taste to it, and hubby absolutely loved it but it reminded me of lamb which I'm not a fan of. He said no so maybe it was the thyme flavor (I've only had lamb once and it was overpowered with thyme) that came through that made me think that? Not sure but I wasn't nearly as partial to it as he was. Regardless, I am glad we got to try it and that it added that special touch to the meal.

Another successful holiday feast has come and gone and again I have Allrecipes, the Buzz, and the dear friends I have made here to thank for helping turn my hatred of cooking into something that is pleasurable to me.

                                     Minestrone (recipe from one of my personal cookbooks)

                                      Romaine with Garlic Lemon Anchovy Dressing (AR's)


                                                           Emeril Lagasse's Veal Parmesan


                                     Spaghetti Olio e Aglio (recipe from one of my personal cookbooks)

                                                        Asparagus Parmesan (AR's)

Until next time...Vive Bene..Spesso L'Amore..Di Risata Molto (Live Well..Love Much..Laugh Often)


Soup Loving Nicole

PS-Doug Matthews if you are out there reading this....no need to fear. I  did "Respect the Bird". I just did it the weekend before the big day is all. Plus if I remember right, your wife is Italian so hopefully you will not be too awful mad at me :)

******Minestrone recipe added 11/28/11 for grannygigi******

Minestrone-8-10 servings

3 garlic cloves

3 large onions

2 celery sticks

2 large carrots

2 large potatoes

3 1/2 ounces green beans 

3 1/2 ounces zucchini 

4 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup olive oil

2 ounces fatty bacon, finely diced

6-7 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 bunch fresh basil, finely chopped

3 1/2 ounces chopped tomatoes (I used canned)

2 tbsp. tomato paste

3 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese rind  (I messed up here and didn't see the rind part. I ended up just adding a little more herbs and spices and then topped each bowl with lots of fresh parmesan)

2 ounces dried spaghetti, broken up

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Finely chop the garlic, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, beans, and zuke.

Heat the butter and oil together in a large saucepan, add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and onion and fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the celery, carrots and potatoes and for for 2 minutes longer.

Add the beans to the saucepan and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the zuke (I didn't actually do this until I added the spaghetti in the step below because I don't like it all mushy) and cook 2 minutes longer. Cover and cook all the vegetables, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes.

Add the stock, basil, tomatoes, tomato paste, and cheese rind and season to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove and discard the cheese rind.

Add the spaghetti pieces to the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated (I used fresh shredded) Parmesan cheese.

*****Spaghetti Olio e Aglio added 11/28/11 for FrackFamily5***** 4 servings

1/2 cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 pound fresh spaghetti

3 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh parsley (pretty certain I used WAY more)

salt and pepper

Reserve 1 tbsp. the olive oil and heat the remainder in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt and cook over low heat stirring constantly until golden brown then remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and remaining olive oil  and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the spaghetti thoroughly and return back to the pan.

Add the oil and garlic mixture to the spaghetti and toss to coat. Season with pepper, add the parsley, and toss to coat again.

Transfer the spaghetti to a warm serving dish and serve immediately. (I topped with shredded parm and fresh tomatoes were nice in it too)

Nov. 27, 2011 7:18 pm
Thank you so much for the tour of Italy Nikki! I am half Italian in heritage and would love to visit there one day. Being with my Grandparents who literally "Got Off The Boat", I can relate to all of the foods that you encountered. It is so cool that you are making your own traditions and cooking things that you may never would have. I will let you in on a secret...(I hate Veal Parm..shhhh!) But, none the less, you did an awesome job, and you totally made my night by inviting me to experience your Thanksgiving! Love ya girl!
Nov. 27, 2011 7:35 pm
Great blog, Nikki! My DIL did her Jr year of college in Germany and my son went to visit her and they spent 8 days in Italy. Their itinerary sounded a lot like yours. They, too, have a love of Italy and would love to go back sometime. Your dinner sounds great. Don't think I could ever eat veal... but your idea and dedication to make it happen is admirable. And now you know!! Thanks for the mini-vaca ~~ I was able to enjoy the trip through your words.
Nov. 27, 2011 7:48 pm
hi nikki1 LOVE YA GAL, i'm a hair different. i love itailian! your menu and pictures are excellent! we are saving for a trip to italy.v i've had veal...not a big fan either. save some cheese for attending the southern round-up in sept next year!
Nov. 27, 2011 8:51 pm
We miss you, too! Thank you for sharing your trip and your Thanksgiving with us. And I don't think you have anything to worry about from Doug. I think "Respecting the Bird" has more to do with honoring the holiday of giving thanks and being grateful than the Bird itself!
Nov. 27, 2011 8:58 pm
Nikki, I loved reading your blog and enjoying the trip to Italy with you! Your photos are amazing and I would love to have your recipe for Minestroni. That is one of my favorite soups. I am not on AR so much anymore and have missed talking to you. Sounds like all is well with you and you are still cooking!! Love ya girl Ginny
Nov. 28, 2011 4:01 am
Good morning, Nikki! This was a fun blog thru Italy - what a trip and a wonderful opportunity. I tell my married daughter to keep a "wish envelope" and be very disciplined about stashing $20 per paycheck and NOT ever touching it. Of course the amount can vary but you should have a miniumum. It's fun to reach the goal and relatively painless. We'll get you back to Italy!!! Your dinner was beautiful - of course not everything will be our "fav" but we don't know until you try it. And, you found a treat for DH!! Enjoyed the blog - thanks!
Nov. 28, 2011 4:09 am
Well I drank a whole cup of coffee on that read...I enjoyed going through Italy with you as I've never been there. The guns and the president cracked me up. You look so cute in the pics. Your meal is so beautiful and even though I'm not a fan of veal, it looks amazing...and I'd give it a try again. You can invite me next year...LOL. Miss you being around gal...glad you had a nice Thanksgiving day with your DH.
Nov. 28, 2011 5:12 am
Hi, Nicole! I was just thinking I have not seen you for awhile, and wondering how you were doing, and viola! here you are. Your feast looks absolutely amazing, I love non-traditional meals on holidays, too fun. And I love the pics of you and hubs in Italy, such a gorgeous couple you make. Good to see you, and looking forward to seeing what you are cooking up for the holidays! ((BIG HOLIDAY HUG))
Nov. 28, 2011 5:28 am
Howdy, Nikki! Beautiful pics of your trip AND your dinner! I made lasagna on Thursday. The big turkey dinner was Saturday. I fed 27!! Good to see you back :)
Nov. 28, 2011 6:13 am
Hi SLN!! I LOVED your blog! My husband and I went to Rome for a week around 10 years ago. I can so relate to much of what you said. We also ate McDonalds. Most of our meals were preplanned for us so we had a good variety of food. We were there in August and it was hot. We were told that the locals leave for the coast in Aug. Funny, I woke up thinking about fixing Chicken Parmasean for supper. If I can find a pic from Italy, I'll post it. Your food pics look delish...now I'm hungary.
Nov. 28, 2011 6:35 am
I too visited Italy and will never be the same. I did advancee research and located my cousins living just outside Naples in the hills on the land, and in the house, of my grandmother and her ancestors. I will do a blog about that another time. As to your pizza experience, you missed the right place to order pizza, it is Naples. That is where pizza evolved. True it is not full of meat, in fact pizza Margarita is just sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, but it was one of the best things I ever put in my mouth. We were just outside the area of Pompeii which of course was amazing too. "Real Italian food" is not what people think it is. I ate at my cousins and she made pot roast and breaded chicken cutlets. It is the way of preparing the food, the freshness of the ingredients, the spirit of the cook imbued in the food that makes it so special. Also, yes more than one entree item, but smaller portions over all. And always a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red on the table. But...I should save the rest for a blog. Thanks for moving me.
Nov. 28, 2011 8:28 am
Molto Bene !!! What a Bellissima Blog ! We will be at my italian in-laws next Thanksgiving. I'll have to try to think of an italian way to twist a Turkey Day classic.
Nov. 28, 2011 11:30 am
SLN, ((hugs))!! Miss you. . .beautiful, blog, gorgeous pictures *wiping drool* LOVE your tour and your Thanksgiving! We had a "different" Thanksgiving, but I was feeling no less grateful for my blessings! And there was all kinds of "Respecting the Bird" around here. . . 1 turkey roasted and three turkey carcasses, roasted, made into stock and frozen. I just now managed time on the computer to check my email. Our power was out this morning (suicidal squirrel) and in the middle of this someone knocks on my door LOL!! not my day! Beautiful! Thanks! :)
Nov. 28, 2011 11:55 am
Oh, and this is probably my favorite part, except the pictures. . .LOL!!! Oh, and they were crazy talented in their scooter driving abilities. I kid you not we saw this one lady driving with two kids on the back and she had an ice cream cone in one hand, a grocery bag full of stuff in the other, AND she was talking on a cell phone. Anyway, I mentioned the inspiration the trip had on me and the locals were a big part of that. . .scooter driving in America . . . not the same thing! ;)
Nov. 28, 2011 1:42 pm
What a great read! Nicole- your food pics are SO BEAUTIFUL!!I WANT THAT SPAGHETTI RECIPE...Is it in your recipe box?
Nov. 28, 2011 4:34 pm
Half Italian huh Alissa? I always thought you were beautiful and that explains it :) You really should go if you ever get the opportunity. Love ya too girl and I've missed seeing you around.
Nov. 28, 2011 4:40 pm
Thank you chris k! It really was one of those experiences you could never forget. I bet Germany was beautiful too. I am not thrilled with the whole veal raising process either but then again I can't drive past a chicken truck without tearing up either. I'm a huge softie when it comes to animals but I love my meat and try my hardest not to think about how they are treated before they get to my dinner table. Lets just hope I don't see a trailer full of baby moo moo's anytime soon or I will absolutely lose it!
Nov. 28, 2011 4:44 pm
gderr, you and Claire will LOVE it I promise. I do highly recommend learning a little of the language if you don't know some already. Our travel agent said about 50% of the business owners would know English. Not true AT ALL. Plus, I noticed we were treated better and they had more respect for us than our friends who didn't bother even trying. Sadly I have forgotten most of what I learned but I bet it wouldn't take long to brush back up on it. You know I will be saving that cheese and wine up for the next Southern round-up! I might even grow some cilantro just for you..lol
Nov. 28, 2011 4:46 pm
Thanks xraybarb! I miss the silly night time people the most. You gals are a hoot.
Nov. 28, 2011 4:50 pm
Hello grannygigi! I am still a cooking fool and I miss talking to you too. I think of you nearly every morning when I drive through Springdale. The Minestrone I chose came from a little cookbook Barnes and Nobles put out. I don't think it will type up very nicely here in the comments but I will go ad it to the bottom of the blog for you.
Nov. 28, 2011 5:11 pm
Thanks for stopping by Maggie and I am glad you enjoyed reading. That is a very good idea you tell your daughter to do. $20 sitting in a wallet it so easy to blow and have nothing to show for it. $20 also adds up fast when it is sat aside and not touched. Yes, I do believe we will get me back to Italy and soon. I've got the itch bad.
Nov. 28, 2011 5:16 pm
Thanks Sherri! I've aged some and also gained a few pounds so I don't know how "cute" you would find me now but you are more than welcome to come down and try my veil...LOL! The gun thing is funny to look back on now but it sure wasn't at the time. For a split second there I thought I was in the middle of a mafia deal gone sour. I think I've watched Godfather too many times..ha ha
Nov. 28, 2011 5:50 pm
Thank you beautiful Savvy! I've been here and still cooking away but just haven't been on the Buzz much at all lately. The themed foods really are fun and I am already looking forward to the Christmas menu, whatever it is that I decide. I need to make a big pot of your Chicken Dill soup soon. That was delicious. Big hug being sent right back at you!
Nov. 28, 2011 6:00 pm
27 Mominator? Oh my goodness that would have stressed me out to no end. I find the timing to have it all done at the same time so intimidating. Lasagna sounds good about right now too. I had to laugh today at work because I was sitting there listening to everyone talk about how burned out they are on turkey now and I found myself craving it in a big way. Might just have to pick one up this week and cook one after all. Thanks for stopping by. I've missed you and your wit a ton.
Nov. 28, 2011 6:09 pm
Hello Skunkee! We went in May so it looks like you went just 3 months after us. It wasn't real hot then but I could tell it was getting that way in a quick hurry. We got lucky on our timing I think because I've heard that Venice smells real bad when it floods or when it gets real hot but it didn't stink at all. Rome was the most congested of the cities but I still loved it. Getting around was fun. We rode the buses around with the people that were going to and coming from work. We almost got pick-pocketed in the Subway a few times too but it was still a fun experience. I'd love to see one of your pictures if you are able to find one.
Nov. 28, 2011 6:20 pm
How exciting covergirl! I look forward to your blog. So, do you speak Italian? It is a hard language to learn thats for sure. Forming sentences is where I had my biggest problem. Now I wish I hadn't given up on the pizza as soon as I did. I'll keep that in mind for next time. You couldn't be more right about "It is the way of preparing the food, the freshness of the ingredients, the spirit of the cook imbued in the food that makes it so special." I agree 100%! I've even noticed a huge difference in my own cooking now that my attitude towards cooking has changed. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to share some of your Italian experience.
Nov. 28, 2011 6:29 pm
Love the blog lady, and your food looks delicious! A great holiday tradition.
Nov. 28, 2011 6:47 pm
Good evening Doug and thank you very much. Congratulations on your success with the Respect the Bird campaign this year! It was very exciting reading all about it in the news. You famous now :) I'll be able to look back one of these days and say, "I knew him back when he was making Alligator Chili and writing football blogs". I joke but I really was very excited to see how the Respect the Bird took off this year. And, I have confidence that you'll be able to pull off an Italian twist on the traditional meal next year. I ALMOST took a stab at an Asian twist this year. I was thinking some sort of turkey stir-fry/ala king with green beans, dressing stuffed wontons, mashed potato filled eggroll wrappers with brown gravy "dipping sauce", stuff like that but man it was all turning out fried and when I got done with it, there was no Asian left to it. I am craving turkey now after hearing everyone talk about it so I might just have to pick one up and make some of your Southwest Turkey Soup with the leftovers. I've made it once before and liked it a lot.
Nov. 28, 2011 7:33 pm
Well hello there Sparkle Britches! Hugs back at you and I miss you too. I often find myself thinking of you and hoping all is well. I don't know if this is the same for you but I find that it really isn't about the actual food that is served but the attitude and love that goes into the prep that sets the mood and makes the day special. And have you ever been busy with that stock. What do you plan on making with all of that goodness? I feel kind of stupid because I didn't know until recently about the roasting of the bones and I thought I had discovered something new doing it with the already cooked rotisserie chicken from Walmart deli and that it was gross and something I would be too embarrassed to admit doing. I had it in my head that people only did it with their raw birds. Turns out I wasn't being gross at all and people have been doing it well before I discovered it. See, I am still learning new things every day. That really does make the best stock ever for soups. It is so rich and packed full of flavor. The worst part for me is getting the fat skimmed off of the top. That and trying to figure out just how much water should be added so that it isn't too rich but not too watered down either. I still have hopes that we will be able to mushroom hunt together some day. And yeah, scooter driving in America... definitely not the same. LOL!
Nov. 28, 2011 7:39 pm
Hello and thank you so much FrackFamily5! I guess my wording was a bit misleading. The spaghetti is not one of my own personal recipes but rather one out of a cookbook out of my personal cookbook collection. I guess I was just trying to show that it was not an allrecipes recipe. I got it out of a no name one that Barnes and Nobles published years ago. The recipe is extremely simple but I chose it for that reason so that it would not overshadow the main attraction. It was good though and would compliment many Italian meat dishes. It won't type out good here in the comment section but I will go add it to the bottom of the blog for you. Again, thank you for the compliment and for stopping by.
Nov. 28, 2011 7:52 pm
Hi Magnolia Blossom! It is good to see you and I am glad you stopped by. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving too. Did John get to come home and spend it with you?
Nov. 29, 2011 6:11 am
great blog...felt like i went on a mini-vacation...have always wanted to go to italy just to eat and drink wine...your pics are gorgeous...and make my mouth water...brilliant...thanks for sharing...
Nov. 29, 2011 6:20 am
I knew you wouldn't have a problem with the veal. That was really a neat travelblog. I hope you do get to go back for your 40th birthday! LOL How funny we are just the opposite with the bread and pasta but your dinner looked stunning!!
Nov. 29, 2011 7:07 am
Ahh, Italy...how I'd love to visit that country. I do plan to get there sometime in my lifetime! But I'm more of a countryside and village kind of girl, so I'd like to just get in a car and drive to nowhere in particular. : ) And I LOVE Italian food and would happily eat my way through the country! I don't eat veal, but kudos to you on your beautiful dinner. I enjoyed your blog, and the pics are great!
Nov. 29, 2011 8:35 am
LOVE your blog Nicole!! I'm half italian and would absolutely love to visit the "homeland!" :) I loved walking the streets with you and seeing all your pictures...and then there was the food! OMG girl you take some awesome pics. Like a lot of others I'm not a fan of veal but if you were to sit me down in front of the spread you made I would definitely try it. Hope all is well!
Nov. 29, 2011 1:24 pm
Funny you should ask if I speak Italian, no parle. Actually just a few words and phrases, I clearly remember how to say Wait a Minute, that from my grandmother who had 10kids and 42 grandchildren when I was little ......what else would you say except Wait a Minute, unless it was I am goingto go jump off the roof. It was a very moving experience going to Italy and I will blog it with your encouragement as soon as I can gather my thoughts together. Thanks for the acknowledgement.
Nov. 29, 2011 7:04 pm
Hi smitty! The wine was STOUT. My go to wine at home is Italian but the alcohol content in that same wine there was off the charts. Good stuff though. Whatever would you do with Sadiedawg if you ran off to Italy?
Nov. 29, 2011 7:46 pm
Cat, you know I am not skeerd of trying anything taste wise but screwing something up that is that expensive does scare me. As you know, I've got to get on the ball saving now if I'm gonna get back there by 40 ;) I'm afraid our winter has kicked in for good and I've been hearing people say that the Farmer's Alminac is saying December is gonna be rough but maybe we will get lucky huh? You seem to get it worse than us though so I shouldn't complain.
Nov. 29, 2011 7:49 pm
Thanks wisweetp! Sounds like a countryside full of vineyards instead of Rome would be perfect for you then. Truth be known, I wouldn't mind that either.
Nov. 29, 2011 7:55 pm
Half Italian K-dub? Again, that explains it some. I've always thought you were beautiful too :) Wanna come with me to celebrate my 40th? That would be something huh? All is well I guess. Still nothing resolved for nearly 2 years now with the whole sibling surprise. I need to sit down and grab it by the horns but it almost seems easier this way. I know you understand. Good to see you and I am glad you stopped by. Thank you!
Nov. 29, 2011 7:56 pm
I look forward to your blog covergirl!
Nov. 29, 2011 8:35 pm
OH, YES. THANKS NICOLE@ :D I am happy.
Nov. 29, 2011 8:55 pm
Hi Nikki! Checked to read more of your blog and saw your comment. No, all by ourselves this Thanksgiving. John won't be home until sometime in May. We went to Tacoma in late October to see him. Thanks for asking!
Nov. 30, 2011 1:21 am
covergirl, I don't know if you'll come back to see this, but your "wait a minute" story struck a HUGE note with me! Kids always need you when you are up to your elbows in dish water or cutting raw chicken, or something. I was always saying, "just a minute!" My then three year old one day said, "Mommy minutes are long!" I want so much to put that on a t-shirt or tote bag! That and "Mommy spit is magic!" (which my kids HATE - but makes me LOL!!!!!)
Nov. 30, 2011 7:03 am
Oh yipee! We are expecting snow this weekend. Great time for soup if the DH liked it :( He also once said "it's too bad your homemade bread doesn't taste like it smells" deep sigh but at least he likes pasta LOLOL!
Nov. 30, 2011 8:15 am
Aww Nicole we're a couple of beauties with baggage aren't we? ha ha ha ha The other half of me is German and I do believe that is where I get my temper from. I'm so sorry to hear about the family situation....honestly ours isn't any better. Lets just say she turned out to be what we were worried about from the beginning....and some of the nasty things she said about my wedding....well jealousy surely looks ugly on her! Lets go to Italy my friend and forget about it all! E-mail me if you need to talk, I'm here for you!
Nov. 30, 2011 5:47 pm
Snow? Ouch! It has been cold enough at nights for sure but I don't think we have any in the forecast down this way thank goodness.
Nov. 30, 2011 5:54 pm
We ARE K-Dub! I have an extremely bad temper too but mine is the Irish I'm afraid. Sorry to hear that she turned out as you had feared. I have a bad feeling about that with my situation too. I cannot even imagine someone saying anything nasty about your wedding. You were a BEAUTIFUL bride and I dare anyone to say any differently. Sounds like she is a real B! Run off to Italy together? I'm in ;) Same goes for you, I am always here for you. Thanks for being there Kelly!
Dec. 1, 2011 7:35 am
What a fun blog Nikki. I would love to travel to Italy. So much to see and as you mentioned, each region is very different.... kinda like the US. I think it's awesome that you have the courage to break from tradition on TG and be creative. We are that way too, only in a different way. We eat turkey waaayyy more than just at TG or Christmas. We even eat it in the summer. Hubs smokes one or two every summer in one of his smokers. Your photos are beautiful (as usual) and those dishes look so tasty. Great blog!
Dec. 1, 2011 11:59 am
Italian food, Italian wines. I can't imagine ANYONE not knowing ANYTHING about Italy when there are so many Americans of Italian descent. Anyway, Nikki, nice travelogue and nice pics! Who eats Italian food on Thanksgiving? Why, Italians, of course! :)
Dec. 1, 2011 7:11 pm
We eat turkey waaaay more than just TG too Candice. Truth be known, it was my favorite for years but somewhere along the way beef took its place. Regardless, it is probably my #2 favorite. Funny you mention the smoker because that was my original plan. I was going to smoke all kinds of goodness including a brisket and some ribs for TG but life happened and our smoker $$ was spent elsewhere. As you know, DH is a hunter so one would come in handy if nothing else for summer sausage, jerky, etc. so a down home Kansas City BBQ Christmas feast is likely in our future but we'll see. Thanks for the compliments and for stopping by. I miss you and have hopes that I will see you at the Midwest gathering next year. I hope your chicken babies are all still doing good and laying lots of golden goodies for you. Mine are done for the season but it was warm enough to let them out and roam about today (had the day off) and I had a blast spending time with them. Glad to see you are still around sweet lady. *Hugs*
Dec. 1, 2011 7:25 pm
Ahhhh I'mabakernotacook, your writing style gives you away. Coming from you, I appreciate the minimal sarcasm. Too bad it had to be there at all. Anyway, glad you liked the pics! :)
Dec. 2, 2011 6:06 am
I must confess I don't read that many of the blogs, just when a title catches my eye, and being Italian yours caught mine! I too, went to Italy in 2009 and was not overly impressed by the food. Maybe because I had grown up eating "our" Italian food all my life. Anyway, just wanted to give my take on an Italian Thanksgiving: we start at noon with an Antipasto and some sort of homemade pasta and a Chigula bread stuffed with Italian cheeses and salamis. Then we rest for an hour or so and do the traditional American TG dinner and dessert! Well, I enjoyed your blog very much brought me back to Italia for a little while, now off to Christmas shop!
Dec. 2, 2011 8:32 pm
My husband is first generation American, his parents immigrated as adults from Italy in the late 1920's to early 1930's. We lived in Italy for 3 years ourselves and "celebrated" Thanksgiving with family that still lived in Italy. It is not an Italian holiday, so it was always very interesting! Anyway, the family here even several generations out still serves Lasagna and Macaroni of different kinds along with Turkey, Ham and a million other specialty side dishes. And of course some of the Italian specialty deserts like Panetone,Pandora, and Canoli.
Dec. 2, 2011 9:17 pm
I am happy to hear I am not alone in the not being overly impressed with the food newman's mom. Your Antipasto sounds delish. I especially like your "resting time". That alone screams Italia and I LOVE it! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you hit the jackpot in your shopping today!
Dec. 3, 2011 6:19 pm
Ahhh Mariposa410 my comments to you did not stick. I love the idea that your family serves a mix of the two. It sounds like you have one heck of a feast this time of year. Lasagna and turkey in the same day sounds like heaven to me. Canoli always tickles me because it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in the Godfather. Love it! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a bit of your traditions.
Christmas Joy 
Dec. 4, 2011 7:39 am
I remember several years ago taking all Christmas Day to make an Italian Wedding Soup for dinner. I started by making the chicken broth from scratch and the soup was marvelous to enjoy with a light salad & garlic bread (after a day of snacking on sugary goodies!).
Dec. 4, 2011 8:32 am
I really enjoyed your rememberances of Italy. I haven't been but I've long maintained that when I finally do my foodie vacation it will be a toss up between Italy and France. I still think the french have a better handle on the foodstuffs but I suspect Italy will win by virtue of the sites to see. Doing Italian for Tday is a gtreat idea! I once did steak and lobster for Xmas lol. Great Blogging
Dec. 4, 2011 9:36 am
We live in the Chicago suburbs. We have many friends and acquaintances who are of Italian descent. They usually have a pasta dish along with their Thanksgiving turkey. My husband has been lobbying for years for me to serve lasagna with ours. I've never given in and I'm glad he doesn't go allrecipes.com or I'm sure he'd renew the pressure for next year. Anyway, a wonderful blog and love your cooking philosophy.
Dec. 4, 2011 11:31 am
hi ya again...well am sure i'd find her a good dawgy hotel with a spa...so she'd be happy...naw...i'd take her with...hehe naw...but just thinking of it and again re-reading your blog and looking at the pics...is making me feel good...and she's right beside me...hago...;0-)
Dec. 4, 2011 3:28 pm
Mmmmm Christmas Joy your soup sounds delicious. It was years ago when I first tried that and that is before I discovered homemade broth. I bet it is to die for with homemade broth. Thank you so much for stopping by and for reminding me of that wonderful soup that I haven't made in years.
Dec. 4, 2011 3:40 pm
Hello Raedwulf! I have enjoyed many of your blogs and am glad you enjoyed mine. I do hope you get to do your foodie vacation. Italy was an experience of a lifetime for me and I'm sure you would feel the same regardless if you chose Italy or France. I wasn't a foodie then and that is the only thing I would change if I could go back and turn back time. Steak and lobster for Christmas huh? I love the idea and just might go with that this year. Stay tuned...
Dec. 4, 2011 3:45 pm
Hi CJ! We do not have many of Italian descent here in NW Arkansas. As a matter of fact, I only have ONE friend and I didn't meet her until years after our trip. Anyway, I am envious of you to a degree but am happy for you all at the same time. They truly are beautiful people. I say you should surprise your hubby next year. You never know, you may really like lasagna paired with your turkey :) Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment.
Dec. 4, 2011 3:48 pm
She is a spoiled little dawgy smity but that's how they should be! I hope you have a good one too. I enjoy seeing all of your wildlife photos. Try and stay warm out there!
Dec. 4, 2011 5:14 pm
Great blog Nikki! You brought Italy to life for me, I could see it, smell it, and taste it! It's been 25 years since I spent time there and I would love to go back. I went because I studied art history in college along with nursing, and wanted to see the David "in the flesh"! He did not disappoint. Most of our time was spent in Florence and Rome...loved it! I'll have to try that minestrone, it sounds delicious!
Dec. 4, 2011 6:27 pm
Awe, Wyatt you've seen David in the flesh then too? LOVE IT! Call me silly but they weave you in and out and all over that museum before leading you up to the masterpiece that is him and when you finally drop out in that room and see all of the peeps before you gazing up at him in all his glory (hee hee) I was a little embarrassed. I am extremely shy and all but where exactly are you supposed to look? :)
Jan. 19, 2012 11:51 pm
http://allrecipes.com/cook/12169507/ Great Blog. Too bad, we can't get all the cooks to think so positively and to actually try the recipes before they bash them with a one star review. I'm a bakernotacook cough cough. Nobody cares that much what you think, if you want to try a recipe then give it a fair review based on the results. Do so. Don't bash one because its your time of the month or you think your opinion is vastly superior to others. Giving people a one star review so you can do your lunatic rants, is so clearly unnecessary, and less than fair. Nobody cares that much what you think. So try the recipe as written and THEN review. If you can't do that then Shhhh.. comes to mind.
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Soup Loving Nicole

Home Town
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Living In
West Fork, Arkansas, USA

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Feb. 2009

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About Me
Hello, my name is Nicole. I am 41 years old and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 17 years now. I haven't always enjoyed cooking but Allrecipes has changed that for me over the years. I now consider myself a foodie and am always up for a good challenge in the kitchen. There isn't anything I won't try at least once. Summer is my favorite time of the year and when I am not recipe hunting, menu planning, etc. I spend my time fishing gardening, and babysitting my chickens.
My favorite things to cook
Soups, Mexican, Italian, Asian, and grilling
My favorite family cooking traditions
I don't really have any so I have started my own. Allrecipes has taught me to "think outside the box". I love trying new and unusual things that I would have never dared or even thought of before discovering this place.
My cooking triumphs
When I got married, I honestly had 0% experience in the kitchen. My mom was the kind that wanted the whole kitchen to herself so that nobody was in her way and I was only allowed in there to grab the plates, utensils, etc. to set the table. I really never thought about what I was going to cook until we got back from our honeymoon and then I was like, "uh oh!". Amazingly enough it all came pretty natural and I am happy to say that I have never ruined a meal forcing us to order take-out.
My cooking tragedies
Me and double battering things do not get along!
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