Essential Italian Recipes You Need To Master

If you are keen to try and cook Italian at home as well as possible, there are many essential recipes that you will need to master along the way. Italian food is arguably some of the most delicious food in the world, and it is a well-loved cuisine which pretty much everyone enjoys eating at least some of the time. If you are keen to improve your Italian cooking, first consider getting these basics down as strongly as you can. You will then find that the rest follows in turn pretty easily and quickly, and you are going to be able to keep a lot of people happy this way.


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Marinara Sauce

Every great Italian restaurant or household has its own marinara sauce. This is simply a basic tomato sauce, but the beauty of it in Italian cooking is that it can be used as a base for many other meals that are important in Italian cooking, from pizza to pasta dishes and beyond. Good marinara recipes are straightforward and yet complex; easy to learn but hard to master. But once you have your own homemade marinara sauce down, you will find that your Italian cooking improves greatly thereafter.

Pizza Dough

What would Italian cooking be without its pizza? This is arguably the single most popular Italian cuisine export, as it is now one of the most beloved foods all over the world. If you want to make true Italian pizza at home, you will first need to learn how to make a fantastic pizza dough. There are many methods to do this, but a traditional Napolina pizza dough consists of 00-grade pasta flour mixed with a little strong bread flour. And the really important thing is to leave it to rise for a long time, and always stretch the dough to size – never roll it with a rolling pin!

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Homemade Pasta

Pasta is one of those beautiful things which appear to be very difficult to make but are actually very easy indeed to make – and yet, it’s absolutely delicious, and one of the most versatile foods in the world. To make pasta, all you need to do is combine 100g of pasta flour with an egg yolk, mix it with a fork or just with your hands on a work surface. Knead it into a dough and then you can roll it through a pasta machine, or simply use a rolling pin. Fold it over and roll it out again and again to make it silky. The more work you put into it, the better of course. Then it’s just about turning it into whatever preferred shape you might have in mind, and adding it to your favourite sauce or recipe. Carbonara, anyone?

Those are three of the most important Italian recipes to master at home. Each of them is perfectly within your grasp, if you want to learn them. And you will find them incredibly satisfying to create for yourself, your friends and your family.


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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Autumn Charcuterie Board


Who doesn’t love a good charcuterie board?

Presentation is what creates a great charcuterie board. On this board we chose a fall theme. We looked for shapes, colors and fall flavors such as maple shaped cookies, cranberry, and cinnamon. It was important to us that both sweet and savory flavors were available.

Our cheeses were:
Cinnamon Cranberry Goat Cheese
Mild cheddar cubes
Sharp white cheddar slices
Mozzarella balls

Meats chosen:

Raspberry preserves
Apple slices
Dried Dates

Praline Pecans

Additions were pumpkin seeds, grape tomatoes, a variety of crackers and a bit of basil for a great burst of color and flavor.

There are no hard rules for charcuterie presentation.  Make it with your own taste in mind, change it up, think outside the box!

A few fall suggestions you may want to include on your next Fall charcuterie board: apple butter, pumpkin hummus, figs, or pears. The options are endless.

Share with us your favorite charcuterie board foods in the comments, we’d love to try them!

Written by Nicole Valenzuela


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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3 Amazing Appetizers You Can Make In Under 15 Minutes

If you’re planning a dinner party or a get together of some kind, coming up with the menu can be hard. A lot of people find it tough to think of ideas for appetizers and sometimes, the idea of cooking extra dishes on top of the main, all of the sides, and maybe even a dessert can be stressful. 


The good news is, appetizers don’t have to be hard and there are some great dishes that you can make with minimal effort. These are some of the best appetizers that you can make in 15 minutes or less. 

Baked Brie 


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What could be better than rich, melted cheese with lots of breadsticks or chopped vegetables to dip in? That’s why baked brie is such a perfect appetizer for a dinner party and the best thing is, it’s so simple to do. Once you try one of these brie recipes, they will become a regular feature at all of your parties because they are always a huge hit. Everybody can dig in, so you don’t need to worry about plating anything up, and baking the brie is as simple as adding whatever toppings you like (fruit and nuts work well) and then baking it in the oven in a dish for around 10 minutes or so. You can buy special dishes that are perfectly sized for brie, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry. The recipe will still work fine with a standard dish. 

Homemade Guacamole

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Guacamole is so simple to make and when you make it fresh, you’ll wish you never wasted your time and money on the store-bought stuff. This is the perfect appetizer for a family BBQ when you want a fresh, delicious appetizer that takes no time at all to prepare. Simply take your avocado and mash it up as much as you like, depending on whether you want it chunky or smooth. Then, add some lemon juice, diced red onion, chill (you can use chili flakes) and season with salt and pepper. It’s as simple as that and everybody will love it. 


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A Quesadilla is a delicious appetizer that is perfect if you have bits and pieces that need using up because it’s very adaptable. The key components of any quesadilla recipe are the tortilla and the cheese. Beyond that, it’s up to you what you put inside them. Chicken and cheese is a popular filling but a lot of people also like to use beans. Butternut squash makes a great healthy alternative as well. 


To make your quesadilla, get some store-bought tortillas and put one in the pan. Heat it until small air pockets start to form, then add your toppings and cover the pan. Once the cheese is melted, you can fold it in half, cut it up and serve it. It’s so quick to make a bunch of quesadillas and serve them in slices for your guests. 


Next time you are hosting a party and you are stuck for appetizer ideas, why not give some of these recipes a try?


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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5 Superfood Smoothies to Start Your Day Right


Superfoods are nutritionally dense foods that are deemed to have various benefits capable of positively affecting health. The term is coined for marketing purposes and is still considered popular today. While nutritionists and other experts have come to agree that there is no such thing as a superfood, the buzz around it has made thousands of people become more conscious of healthy living and wellness, so it isn’t too bad.

One of the many ways superfoods are enjoyed is to combine them in a smoothie. The idea is to blend as many vitamins and antioxidants as there is in one single serving to help nourish the body. Breakfast is said to be one of the major meals to never skip on, and if you’re not a breakfast person, a superfood smoothie that you can leisurely sip while on the go may sound appealing to you.

With a breakfast smoothie, you don’t need to heat up a pan or produce several dirty dishes aside from the food processor or blender. Using the right ingredients can help boost energy, keep you full, and get started for the day. Here are some creative concoctions that will leave your taste buds fulfilled and happy.

Chocolate and Avocado

Avocado is considered a superfood because it is rich in folic acid, lutein, fiber, omega-3, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. It is said to have more potassium than bananas have and to be loaded with fiber and antioxidants. While incredibly nutritious, avocado is also known for its flavor and texture, which is why avocado toast has been popular in the last few years.

If you’ve never gotten into the avocado-toast trend for breakfast or brunch, then you may want to consider combining it with chocolate and turning it into a smoothie. Those who say you can’t have chocolate for breakfast clearly never had this nutritious drink to wake up to. Take a look at this great recipe so you can make one at home.

Matcha Green Tea, Banana, and Tofu

Ever since the term superfood was coined, the health industry has been constantly looking for foods to add to the group, and matcha green tea is one of them. For those who don’t know, real matcha only comes from Japan, and its purported health benefits include a substantial amount of antioxidants. To be more specific, the particular antioxidant found in matcha is called catechins, which are said to improve overall health, metabolism, and heart health and to have antiaging properties.

Matcha is more potent than regular green tea is and has a unique flavor that is completely on its own league. It has a slightly bitter taste and grassy aroma, which can complement a lot of flavors. While matcha is already good on its own, a smoothie made from it and blended with banana and tofu can make the drink taste more full-bodied. This recipe can show you how you can make matcha green tea, banana, and tofu smoothie on your own.

 Kale and Pineapple

Kale is also a popular vegetable known in the superfood category and is known for its deep-green color and slightly bitter taste. It makes sense to pair it with a sweet fruit like pineapple to balance the taste and add more nutritional vitamins and minerals in the mix. A quick breakfast smoothie should only have a few ingredients, and luckily, this recipe has only five.

You only need to add a tablespoon of chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk or nondairy milk of your choice, and either a banana or an avocado, depending on what you have. If you want to add more sweetness, you can add a splash of maple syrup. The great thing about smoothies is that ingredient substitution is easy.

 Cucumber and Mint

Suppose it’s a hot summer morning and you want to refresh yourself and have a hearty helping of daily fruits and vegetables. A cucumber-and-mint smoothie will be perfect. While cucumber is not everyone’s cup of tea, it gets mistaken a lot as a vegetable, but it is, in fact, a fruit. It has a sweet aftertaste and is great for low-fat smoothies and suitable for those who are trying to lose weight.

Pairing cucumber with mint and lemon will serve to amp its refreshing factor when drunk on a hot day. This recipe teaches you how to make one on your own with easy-to-find ingredients that may already exist in the kitchen. Take it on the go or sip leisurely at will.

Acai Berry

You’ve probably heard of the trendy acai smoothie bowls, and while you can eat acai any way you can, why not turn it into a literal drink? Acai is the OG superfood, and it is packed with many nutrients.

In this recipe, the smoothie will also include two other superfoods, raspberries and pomegranate juice. If you don’t have acai berries on hand or if they’re out of season, you can use the powdered form instead. For a nutritionally dense breakfast smoothie, the prep time of five minutes is ridiculously short.

What other superfood combinations do you like to turn into breakfast smoothies? Share your answers below.


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I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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Add a Latin Twist to Your Next Holiday Party with Cocina!

The Latin Food & Lifestyle Destination Shares New Festive Recipes



¡Feliz Navidad! Add a Latin spin to your next dinner party with these vibrant recipes from Cocina, the first online food destination dedicated to celebrating the Latin lifestyle through its vast culinary culture and libations. You’ll impress all of your dinner party guests with these beautiful treats and mouthwatering recipes.


‘Tis the season for spreading cheer and sharing recipes. We’ve included some of our holiday favorites below and you can find more at!


It’s almost too cute to eat! Learn how to make this fun and delicious snowman cake using regular chocolate cake mix and ground Mexican chocolate.


A fun twist to a classic treat. Learn how to make four different kinds of empanadas for this holiday season, because who doesn’t love an empanada?


The perfect dish to curl up with on those cold wintry days. Make this delicious and traditional ‘cuchuco’ this holiday season, a classic staple from central Colombia.


A refreshing and easy cocktail for any holiday party, take a sip and kiss under the mistletoe!


We LOVE food and we are incredibly excited to bring you even more amazing recipes, riveting stories from Latin countries and culture, and highlight local chefs and personalities with contrasting backgrounds. Be sure to check out for a year-round celebration of all things Latin-flavored, so pull up a chair, relax, and get ready for the first bite—the food is on us.

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My name is MJ. I have two wonderful children and work part time as well as volunteer at my children's school.

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