Stuffed Artichokes

During my four month hiatus I wasn’t only working on content for my new and improved Megan and Eggs. I also was catching up on some much needed R&R.

Back in March my mom came to stay with us for a long weekend. I was super excited! My shopping buddy was in town, my fellow wine taster, and my head chef!! Before she even got here we had a list of things we were going to make. The morning after she landed we headed to the grocery store to pick up some essentials.

When her eyes caught our massive California artichokes she had to get them. Now that I have been here for five years I have gotten used to eating steamed artichokes the west coast way… dipped in mayonnaise. But my health crazy mom couldn’t stop gagging when I suggested we have them dipped in the artery clogging spread. Instead she insisted we have them the Italian way… stuffed.

Since it was a few weeks before Easter I couldn’t help but agree. You see, every year for Easter I remember one of the things my grandmother would make was stuffed artichokes. In a huge family, that was a lot of artichokes!! But it had been so long even my mom had to remember how they were made, so we called my stepdad. They ended up coming out so good before she hoped on the plane back to JFK she picked up two more California artichokes to take home to Connecticut.

Hope you enjoy as much as we did!



2 large artichokes
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 button mushrooms
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1.  Rinse artichokes and cut off stem. Cut close to body of the vegetable allowing it to sit on it’s own. Set aside. Cut off the top of the artichoke and any of the remaining points on the leaves on the outside of the artichoke. Throw this away.
2.  Looking down on the artichoke push the leaves outward from the heart of the vegetable creating a small bowl in the middle. You want a 1.5-2 inch diameter to have enough room for stuffing. Set aside.
3.  Chop steam of artichoke and quickly sauté with garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil and mushrooms. Combine bread crumbs, egg, and sautéed mixture together in large mixing bowl.
4.  Stuff mixture into center of artichoke. Using a small spoon will help push out the leaves to allow a big enough bowl in the center.
5.  Place into large sauce pan with about 1 inch of water along the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and cover. Bring the water to a boil and then lower to simmer.
6.  Allow to simmer for 45 minutes or until outer leaves are tender.
7.  Dip outer leaves in mayonayes or melted butter or eat plain.
**Can also add two bay or sage leaves into simmering water to add flavor to the outer leaves.

Homemade Bruschetta

In the past 6 months or so I have become fanatical about vine tomatoes. I find any excuse to use them in my cooking or as a side to a meal. This summer I started making homemade bruschetta out of vine tomatoes and I am obsessed. I make it whenever we have friends over for dinner or even if it just the two of us. I have really started paying attention to making things that we don’t have to finish in one sitting or throw away. Instead, the bruschetta I can just cover up and keep eating for up to a week. Beside eating the mixture on the normal baguette, you can also pit on top of a slice of Italian bread and make mini pizzas or even on top of chicken and bake it. But here is my favorite way of eating it.

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Mama Bartlett’s Pasta Salad

This weekend we are having Chris’s family down to our new place for the first time since we moved. Last weekend we had a few friends over for the fourth and Chris requested some of the same barbecue foods for this weekend while we relax by the pool. I will be making my Aunt’s Baked Beans which are super easy and equally delicious andmy best friend’s, mom’s Pasta Salad. It is one of my favorites!! To be honest I’m not sure if my family or her family actually introduced me to this salad, both families have been eating it for as long as I can remember. Well now you can all enjoy at your next picnic.

Mama Bartlett’s Pasta Salad


1 lb Tri-Color Pasta
½ red or orange bell pepper
1 can olives, halved
10 oz grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup broccoli, cooked
½ block of cheddar or Colby jack cheese
¾ cup Zesty Italian salad dressing

Cook pasta, rinse and drain. Return to refrigerator and let cool for two hours. Prepare veggies and cheese by cutting them into bite sized pieces. Mix all veggies and cheese in with pasta. Sprinkle with black pepper. Pour salad dressing on top and fold together.

Penne Ala Vodka

In Italian families sauce is a very important thing. Every family has their own recipes that get passed on for generations and generations. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, families actually share recipes with friends. At my high school graduation party my mom made four batches of vodka sauce and everyone loved it. Let me tell you, an Italian women hearing that someone loves her sauce is like a baseball player winning the World Series. But when my friend, whose mother is from Italy, told my mom her vodka sauce was better than his mom’s, I thought she died and went to heaven. Below is her recipe which came to her via a family friend.

¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 shallots, sliced
3 scallions, chopped
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
½ cup fresh basil
½ cup vodka
1.2 cup grated cheese
1 can crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes

1. Saute garlic, shallots and scallion in olive oil on medium-high heat.
2. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes stirring often.
3. Add vodka and seasonings, simmer for 15 minutes covered.
4. Slowly add heavy cream and then grated cheese and let cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Once sauce is cooled, place in a covered Tupperware container and let sit in refrigerator overnight.
6. Heat in saucepan and serve over pasta the next day.

Chicken Picatta


For Chris’s 28th birthday a few years ago I bought us a wine tour of Paso Robles, CA. The central coast is truly a beautiful place and just over the mountain ranges is one of the most up and coming wine regions in the country. Being so close to the ocean, with the marine layer rolling in overnight the vines are able to stay green and bright.

While we were on our trip I found an olive farm that made olive oil. I had always wanted to go olive oil tasting so I figured why not. Definitely not what I was expecting. Straight shots of oil isn’t my idea of deliciousness, but it was really cool and pretty amazing to go up to the top of the farm, overlook all of the olive trees & walk step by step through the process.

Now Chris is very particular where we get our olive oil from since he is not an “expert” on how it is made. Me, I just truly appreciate a good tasting olive oil. I’ve always made chicken picatta but after we bought lemon olive oil from Kiler Ridge I began frying my chicken cutlets in it & it was a whole new ball game.

The chicken taste more fresh, the lemon flavor is dispersed throughout the entire cutlet rather than just on the crust. If you can’t find lemon olive oil, regular olive oil will do but I definitely suggest going on a small man hunt for a nice little bottle. Enjoy!


3 chicken breasts (sliced in half) 1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs 1 tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp Italian seasonings
½ cup Kiler Ridge Lemon Olive Oil, have extra if needed 3 tsp capers
2 lemons, juiced 1 ¼ cup chicken stock
3 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1. Mix Panko crumbs, pepper, oregano and Italian seasonings in a shallow bowl and set aside. Pour flour into another shallow bowl and milk into a third bowl. Create an assembly line of flour, milk, Panko mixture close by the frying pan.
2. Slice each chicken breast in half and place on a cutting board with parchment paper on top and bottom of breast. Using a meat tenderizer, or a rolling pin works also, pound the chicken until they are even across the entire breast. Doing two that are around the same thickness at the same time usually works best so they can cook together in the frying pan.
3. When chicken are prepared dip the chicken throughout the entire assembly line on both sides. Start by coating the breast in flour, drenching it in the milk and coating it with the Panko mixture.
4. Heat pan on medium low with a thin coat of olive oil and place into pan. Allow to cook without moving until you can see chicken cooking ¾ of the way to the top of the chicken, about 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken breast. Flip chicken and cook another 3-5 minutes.
*** Sometimes I cover pan if the oil is spraying too much. If chicken is cooked covered it cooks faster.
5. Remove chicken from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess grease. Add olive oil as needed until all chicken is cooked.
6. After all chicken is cooked pour in chicken stock, and lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste, parsley and capers.
7. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat and serve over pasta drizzling sauce over chicken and pasta.