Black-Eyed Peas Salad



1 lb. black eyed peas

1 red onion (chopped)

2 green peppers (seeds removed and chopped)

1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

sea salt and pepper


1. If you are using canned black eyed peas, drain well. Otherwise, boil beans until soft. Drain well .

2. In a large bowl add onion, peppers, tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.

3. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

4. Before serving, add olive oil and vinegar. Mix well. Add an additional pinch of sea salt, if needed.

Serve cold.

Maple Dijon Shrimp and White Bean Salad



1 lb. medium shrimp (cleaned, shell can stay on or be removed)

1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

1/2 lb. fresh arugula (washed and drained well)

1 can (12 oz.) white cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. dijon mustard

sea salt and black pepper

olive oil


1. In a bowl, mix maple syrup, brown sugar, dijon mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour over cleaned shrimp and mx well. Refrigerate for up to two hours.

2. In a skillet, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Brown garlic for a minute and add shrimp. Cook on each side for 2 minutes (total of 4)

3. In a large bowl put arugula, cherry tomatoes, white cannellini beans and shrimp. Drizzle a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix and serve.

Happy Easter


The oven is finally starting to cool down, so I wanted to stop and wish everyone a “Happy Easter”.

Cooking With Mr. C.’s Mallomars Cake



1 (16.5 oz.) vanilla cake mix (Duncan Hines)

1 cup of water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 can of vanilla icing

2 boxes Mallomars

chocolate candies for decorating (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large bowl, add cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs. Beat/Mix well.

2. Use 2 round (8 inch) pans and pour (evenly) batter into each pan.

3. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Use a toothpick to test if cakes are dry in the middle.


4. Let cakes cool. With a knife, go around the edges a few times and take the cakes out of pan.


5. Ice one of the cakes with vanilla icing and put mallomars on top.


6. Put next layer of cake on top and ice all around. Then, put another layer of mallomars on top.


7. Decorate with chocolate candies if you like.

8. Let cake dry a little before slicing. Use a large knife when slicing and cut nice size pieces so it doesn’t crumble.

Flashback Friday: John Contratti and Dr. Ruth Westheimer


For some reason, family and friends love this flashback picture of me. Here I am at “Studio 54″ with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who was very popular at that time. It’s the first time I ever had to crouch down to take a photo.

Arancini (Rice Ball Appetizers)



4 cups chicken stock

1 tbs. olive oil

1  onion, finely (chopped)

2 garlic cloves  (crushed)

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

4 eggs

 2 cups dried breadcrumbs

1 cup plain flour

1 cup fresh mozzarella (chopped into tiny pieces)

Vegetable oil (for frying)


1. Place the stock in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low. 

2.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. (about 5 minutes)

3. Add rice to the onion mixture with a ladle of soup. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the liquid is completely absorbed.

4. Continue to add stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladle. (About  20 minutes or until the rice is tender yet firm)

5.  Once all stock is absorbed, stir in the parmesan and mozzarella. Set aside for 2-3 hours to cool completely.

6. Add 2 eggs and stir until well combined.

7. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate and flour in a bowl. Crack remaining eggs in a separate bowl and lightly whisk.

8. Using wet hands, shape 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into a ball. (makes about 2 dozen)

9. Roll the rice balls in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat.

10. Place on a large pan and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

11. Add enough oil in a large saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat . When hot, add 6 rice balls to the oil and cook, turning occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until golden.

12. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining rice balls. Add more oil while you go along.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Mr. C.’s Easter Turnovers


Ingredients For Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of Crisco
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup ice water
2 oz. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Ingredients For Filling:
1/2 lb. milk chocolate chips
1/2 lb. pine nuts (pignoli nuts)
1/2 lb. walnuts (chopped)
1 box raisins (15 oz.)
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
1. Soak raisins in cold water overnight. Drain very well.
2. In a large bowl, add chocolate chips, pine nuts, walnuts, raisins and orange peel. Stir and mix well. Refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. To make dough, combine all ingredients and mix well to form dough. Roll out dough to make small circles. (We use the cover of a sugar bowl. You can also use a small dish, depending on the size turnover you wish to make.)
4. Remove raisin mixture from refrigerator and spoon mixture on each circle. The amount will depend on the size circles you have created. It should be enough, but not to much where the turnover will break open when you fold it over. Fold the turnover and seal edges with a fork. Place on a greased (about a tbs. of butter) baking sheet.
5. Take one egg and beat it. Add 1 tbs. of water. Beat again. This is your “eggwash”. Brush a little on each turnover. This helps the turnover turn golden brown.
6. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn. Remove and let cool.
Makes about 2 dozen. (depends on the size of your turnover)
Note: If you have extra raisin mixture, refrigerate and make another batch of dough.


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