The Italian Job

Two years ago, my family and I embarked on an Italian adventure through Rome, Florence and a little town known as Lucca in Tuscany. It was here that we decided to take a cooking lesson that turned out to be one of my favorite meals of the trip. Maria and Angelica taught us how to make pasta (which is much easier than one might think), whisk up a mushroom cream sauce, sauté chicken in a white wine sauce along with a few other trips. After letting our wine gather dust for a while and buying a pasta machine for our kitchen, it was finally time to re-create the meal.

Italian Job

Cool Sass playlist for the evening: Dean Martin, Sounds of Rome, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett

Rome Music

Antipasto Plate

Here’s what we had on ours:

  • Fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomato with a balsamic glaze and olive oil drizzle
  • Fresh salami (or you could use packaged from the Deli section)
  • Thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Assortment of olives
  • Artichoke hearts soaked in olive oil
  • Grilled veggies

Mushroom Cream Sauce

What You’ll Need

  • 1 package of dried porcini mushrooms (generally found in a specialty store)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

How To Do It

1. Remove dried mushrooms from the package and all them to soak in a pot of water for approximately 20 minutes.


2. Remove the mushrooms, but keep the liquid as it will be used as stock for the sauce.

3. Squeeze and drain the remaining liquid from the porcini mushrooms- this process really gets some aggression out of your         system. Set mushrooms aside.


4. In a large skillet, add mushroom stock and heavy cream. Cook over medium heat.

5. Add mushrooms and apply salt and pepper according to taste.

6. Let the sauce simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the mushroom flavor has fully developed. Feel free to add other kinds of mushrooms to the sauce. Note that this recipe serves 4 people, so double the ingredients according to the number of diners.

7. Add pasta to the sauce and serve. Click here for the Cool Sass tutorial on how to make your own homemade pasta.

Mushroom Pasta

8. Enjoy!

Mushroom Pasta

Lemon, Sage, Rosemary Chicken

What You’ll Need:

  • A bottle of white wine
  • 3 cups chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 cup chopped sage
  • 8 chicken breasts or whole chicken thighs
  • 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper

How To Do It:

1. Finely chop the Rosemary and Sage. It may appear to be a lot for a small amount of chicken, but as Maria and Angelica told us in Italy, the more herbs the better. Set these aside when finished.

2. Slice lemons about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

3. Wash the chicken thoroughly and clean off all surfaces and counters that have come into contact with the raw chicken.  Seriously- nothing can ruin a meal faster than salmonella, so avoid cross contamination by using different cutting boards and utensils when handling your chicken. For large chicken breasts, you may want to cut them in half.

4. Generously salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Add half of the rosemary, sage and parsley to the chicken as well, leaving the rest until cook time. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

raw chicken

5. About an hour before meal time, place a large skillet on the stovetop over medium heat (I cooked the chicken in two batches because I didn’t have enough room. You can do it this way or you can cook with two skillets at the same time).  If using two, pour half of the white wine into each skillet and then add the chicken. Add in lemon slices and generously apply sage and rosemary herbs to the chicken and wine.

white wine

Chicken in wine sauce

6. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees, or about 25-30 minutes, rotating occasionally. If you do not have a cooking thermometer (you should get one), remove one chicken breast after this time period and cut into the center. If there is any pink color in the center, it needs to cook longer.

7. Remove chicken from the skillet and enjoy with your dinner guests!



Peppers in Sauce

What You’ll Need

  • 4-6 peppers, sliced about an inch thick
  • 1 can of tomato paste (I used one from the specialty store, but regular does the trick too)
  • 2 cups fresh oregano and basil, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

How To Do It:

  1. Add tomato paste and sliced peppers to a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add oregano and basil along with salt and pepper to the skillet.
  3. Cook covered for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until peppers are soft.
  4. Serve as a side dish.

Two years ago:

My sisters and I with our wonderful teachers.

My sisters and I with our wonderful teachers.


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