recipe: Pasta “Fellini” (inspired by Little Italy’s La Dolce Vita)

After our big anniversary night out at Dinner Lab and far too many weekends away from my kitchen during the month of September, I felt like continuing our celebration via a meal at home this past Saturday evening.

I swung by Heinen’s after a solid class at Ride + Workout that morning and splurged a few of our favorite things: a Delmonico steak for Hans, a piece of wild caught salmon for me, and the ingredients for one of Hans’ favorite pasta dishes.

Inspired by a meal we had a Little Italy’s La Dolce Vita many anniversaries dinners ago, I recreated the sauce my redhead still talks about — a blend of tomatoes, pancetta, gorgonzola & parmesan. I did my best to recreate their “Fellini” sauce – at least I’m pretty sure that’s the name that the La Dolce Vita team actually calls it. For our (and this blog’s) purposes, it stuck — much like this sauce does to the right noodle.

pasta a la fellini la dolce vita

Pasta “Fellini”

For 2 large servings or 4 smaller servings for sides

  • 1 cup of dry short cut pasta* (your many options here, thanks to Wikipedia)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup pancetta, diced
  • 2/3 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
  • Pinch of salt (to start, season to taste later)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 cup of cream (milk if you’re in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup of gorgonzola, plus extra for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup of parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling

Heat a pot of water to boil. Add pasta to water when at rolling boil. Cook pasta to right before it gets al dente (you’ll finish cooking it in the sauce, so reserve some of the pasta water, just in case.)

In a large sauté pan set to medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add garlic, dropping the temperature to medium. Sauté for one minute.

Add pancetta, cooking for 2 minutes before adding the grape tomatoes, salt (go easy as there’s salt in the meat), and pepper. Sauté on medium-low until tomatoes start to break down, about 5-10 minutes. Add cream and stir, deglazing all that flavor off the bottom of the pan.

Heat the sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cooked pasta and stir. Simmer until pasta has soaked up the sauce, about 5 minutes. (If it needs a bit more moisture to finish melding flavors, add a very small about of pasta water now.) Stir in gorgonzola and parmesan. Turn off heat and allow cheese to melt into sauce/pasta combo.

Serve, sprinkling pasta with remaining cheese and enjoy.

*For my gluten free friends — this dish is easily made GF by the subbing of your favorite gluten free pasta!

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recipe: Grandma Olga’s Apple Cake (with gluten free option!)

hans and alicia apple picking

Go apple picking. Decide what recipes to make. And on my mom’s side of the family, we don’t make apple pies — we make apple cake.

Since going gluten free five years ago, my baking hobby wained. But as GF options started to improve, I started to dabble. And with the cool temperatures of Fall upon us, I dug out an old family recipe, make some easy breezy substitutions and have been enjoying one of my childhood favorites for breakfast (and lunch and snack time) all week long…

apple cake

Grandma Olga’s Apple Cake

Makes 12 servings

  • 6 medium sized apples (any variety good for baking works), peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider (if available)
  • 2 cups flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill “All Purpose” Gluten Free Flour for gluten free eating)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used vegetable)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (use GF if needed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Combine apples and sugar in bowl. Let sit for one hour, stirring occasionally. Towards end of hour, pour in apple cider.

Preheat oven to 350*.

In a separate bowl, combine the other wet ingredients: oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour into apple/sugar mixture and stir.

In another separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt

Combine the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing by hand to incorporate until batter is smooth.

In a 9 x 13 greased baking pan, pour the batter, evenly distributing the apples. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until dark golden brown (in cinnamon will make it darker than you expect) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

**p.s. this goes EXCELLENTLY with Pope’s Kitchen‘s Fig and Cocoa spread that I purchased at the Cleveland Garlic Festival this past weekend!

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recipe: Enchiladas Verde (℅ Heinen’s)

***Disclosure: Heinen’s approached me with an opportunity to share information about their hatch chile roastings and the new Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook. In return, I received a copy of the cookbook and a gift card to purchase ingredients to make a recipe from the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.***

As much as I’ve explored different recipes in my kitchen over the years, there are still specific dishes that I haven’t tackled. Some seem too advanced, some seem too involved and some just include ingredients that I never knew about. And while hatch chiles are a food I’ve never worked with before, I have no excuse on taking this long to make enchiladas as they really don’t fit into any of those three categories.


For those of us new to hatch chiles, Heinen’s makes it easy to approach this ingredient as they are hosting chile roasting events all over town during the month of August and September. (A full schedule is available on their website.) I happened to find these roasted chiles at the Brecksville location, along with all the ingredients I needed to make my first batch of enchiladas. After after the first, I won’t be waiting nearly as long to make them again — they were a big hit around the dinner table!

Enchiladas Verde

Recipe from the Melissa’s Hatch Chile CookbookMakes 4 servings. 

  • 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 4 Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mild white cheese (Hans picked Jack)
  • 3 cups Tomatillo and Hatch Chile Verde Sauce (recipe also in the book!)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese

Toss together the chicken, chiles, shredded cheese, and 1 cups of the chile sauce. Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Breifly warm each tortilla in the oil to soften.

Lay a tortilla flat and fill it with about 1/4 cup of filling down the center. Bring the edges together over the filling to close, then set the tortilla seam-side down in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled. Pour the remaining 2 cups of  sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the Cotija cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees F.


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