My grandparents came from the same small Italian town, Gorga. I’ve been there once, and it is a beautiful, quaint place. I would love to post photos of when I went to Gorga, but I went 10 years ago (before digital cameras and before my parents’ house fire). I have to work on restoring the pictures and saving them digitally. I hope to go back soon, but in the meantime the annual Gorga picnic will have to do.

4 Generations

 Every year the immigrants from Gorga and their families try to get together for a day. Because Gorga is a small town, most people know each other or are cousins of cousins. I love it because I get to see my Grandmother and Grandfather’s families and all the other gumbas and paisans in one venue.  ❤ This year there was at least 4 generations of Gorga descendants. We even have a celebrity in our mix: the former bassist of Blondie.

Starstruck. Baby could you blow my heart up?

Now, if you’ve never been to an Italian family picnic, the menu may shock you. I am to understand that a regular American picnic consists of sandwiches, cold salads, chips, cookies, maybe some burgers and hotdogs and some other easily transportable munchies. I assure you, all of these food items were in attendance at our picnic, but they aren’t enough. Antipasto, garden vegetables, lasagna, mussels marinara, eggplant parmesan, sausage & peppers, sautéed pork chops, chicken cutlets, meatballs, biscotti, cake, and cupcakes were some of the foods I saw, but not all. Is it practical? Of course not. We have to lug coolers and sternos and other catering utensils with us the whole way. Is it worth it? Absolutely.


Of course, we worked off the calories with a dance party.

Dance Machine

I brought one of the more “Americanized” dishes…super easy, yummy, and perfect for potluck picnics. I bring croissant pinwheels to potlucks all the time, and they are always a hit.

Roll out the croissant dough
Spread a thin layer of horseradish sauce on the dough (optional)
Lay about 4 pieces of roast beef, leaving about 1/2 inch at the bottom with no meat
Lay down 2 pieces of Swiss cheese, also leaving space at the bottom of the dough (this ensures that the filling doesn’t squeeze out once you roll)
Roll the entire roll top to bottom
Place on a cookie sheet, seam side down
Refrigerate about 20 minutes (this makes it easier to cut)
Cut the roll into 8 slices
Bake in a 350° oven until the tops are golden brown.

If you don’t already make croissant dough pinwheels, it’s time you start. They are the easiest things in the world, and you can fill them with anything. For this picnic, I also made pepperoni and mozzarella rolls. Ham and American cheese is the most popular roll I make.


Spiced Rum Mojitos


My sisters birthday was last weekend, and it has inspired me to make my own mojitos.

We went down to Atlantic City to dance the night away at Boogie Nights and eat like slobs at Cuba Libre. We successfully did both. (You can read my reviews on both places on Yelp) I happen to love 70’s/80’s disco, so I find Boogie Nights in Atlantic City awesome. We danced our socks off, and my brother-in-law was on creeper duty whenever my husband wasn’t nearby.


Our dinner at Cuba Libre was delicious, but I thought the mojitos were just a bit too sweet for my taste, so when I came home I tried to make my own.  They actually came out pretty good…I was impressed with myself.

Mojitos are pretty basic. For 2 mojitos, all you need is:
Handful of fresh mint (About 20-30 leaves)
1 lime, cut into quarters
2 shots of Rum – or more, if you like 😉
3tsp sugar, divided (depending on how you like your cocktail, you may want more or less sugar)
16oz club soda

Divide the leaves and sugar into each glass.
Muddle leaves and sugar.
Add rum and the juice of a quarter of lime in each glass.
Muddle again.
Top with club soda and ice

My mojito was made with spiced rum because that’s what I had (and that’s what I like) and fresh mint from my Mama’s garden.  I used a wooden spoon to muddle the mint, lime, and sugar. I added the shot of rum to each glass, muddled a bit more, and then added the club soda. A few weeks ago, I had some berries that were about so go bad, so I froze them with mint leaves in an ice cube tray. I used those to ice the mojitos, and topped each off with another quarter of lime.

I still thought the mojito was still just a touch too sweet (probably because I used spiced rum), but the nice thing about making this from home is that I get to try and try and try again, until it’s just how I like it ;).

Happy Birthday, Maria!

I can always count on my sister Maria to be silly with me. We never get tired of obscure quotes, impersonations, and scenarios.

What seems random to most people (like why I called our 1st cat Loaf), makes sense to Maria (After all, she was named Olivia, which sounds like Liv, which sounds like Olive, and eeeeeew what’s that gross deli meat over there, Olive Loaf? We’ll just call her Loaf for short…)


People usually stare at us when we are laughing for seemingly no reason, but it’s not our fault they don’t know the likes of Pelinore

or Joanna Stayton.

My mom will yell at us for our random bouts. Usually it is at an inappropriate time, and my mom has tried to explain that it looks like we’re mocking or gossiping. But I swear, if we’ve ever made you feel this way, in all probability we were laughing at this:


or this (which was one of my birthday gifts to her)


Everyone needs someone who can make you laugh when you just want to cry. Luckily, that doesn’t happen often, but when it does I have my sisters to cheer me up again! Happy birthday Maria!

My mom, the Leo

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I don’t live and die by the zodiac signs, but I do find it very interesting when they are accurate. My Mom’s birthday was this past Sunday, and she is a Leo in every sense.


There is no one as straightforward and frank as my mom. You never EVER have to wonder what she’s thinking. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes I have to shush her. She’s also one of the most impatient people I know. When she asks for something, she means right that second, stop what you’re doing, and do it. I’ve read that this impatience in Leo’s also leads to unnecessary anxiety. Combine that anxiety with a Leo’s headstrong nature, and you can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like convincing her that she’s overreacting. 


But my mom (and other Leo’s) faults are fair enough trade-offs. Leo’s are also energetic (this might be an understatement in her case. She’s always the life of the party), loyal (Once you’re my mom’s friend, you’re ALWAYS her friend.), and kind hearted (as gruff and straight forward as my mom can be, she has a huge heart). She rarely, if ever, puts herself first. For example, every year she takes all 6 of her grandkids down to Florida so they can see Disney. Every year. My mom, my dad, and 6 kids. This includes last year, when our whole family and my brothers-in-law’s family went down (my sisters married brothers, for those of you who didn’t know), and this was right after her knee replacement! The Dr told her to be careful and cancel, but the headstrong Leo she is told the Dr she was fine.


She doesn’t think it’d be fair to stop going because the younger ones wouldn’t visit as often as the older ones, and she would never leave the older ones behind either. She could take her time off to go to an island or on a cruise, but she spends her vacation time with the grand kids at Disney. The 2 boys in the pic below are not her grandkids, but by the end of the trip, she was known as Grandma Sandy to them!


Even on her actual birthday she will plan around the kids. She’ll ask for us to make a dinner she knows everyone else likes. Usually she asks me to make a Mickey Mouse cake or some other kid-themed desert to make the kids happy. This year, my sister Maria actually took a page from my book and got crafty with the kids and made these desserts. Our cousin Sue suggested I make Despicable Me cupcakes. The minions are made of Twinkies. (Wooohooo they’re back!) Aren’t they adorable? 



Happy Birthday Mom! I love you forever, I like you for always 😉

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