[book review + recipe + giveaway] Lidia’s Egg-Citing Farm Adventure by Lidia Bastianich and Renée Graef

Do you know Lidia like I know Lidia?

photo by Diana DeLucia

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed tuning in to her various PBS cooking shows and browsing through her numerous cookbooks. Besides being a celebrity chef and bestselling author, Lidia Bastianich is a successful restaurateur (4 eateries in NYC, one in Pittsburgh, one in Kansas City), and part of the team who opened Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine market/mall in NYC. She has an exclusive line of high-end cookware and serveware (Lidia’s Kitchen) for QVC. With her daughter Tanya, she launched Nonna Foods, a platform for distributing LIDIA’S pastas and sauces, and with her son Joseph, she produces fine wines at two vineyards in Italy. In short, this woman has a LOT on her plate!

But who knew she also wrote children’s books? I only recently discovered her delightful Nonna Tell Me a Story series, a delightful blend of semi-autobiographical stories and kid-friendly family recipes.

Lidia’s Egg-Citing Farm Adventure (Running Press Kids, 2015), beautifully illustrated by Renée Graef and just released last month, is the third title in the series, and once again features Nonni Lidia and her five grandchildren, who this time are gathered for a sleepover, which includes telling spooky stories by flashlight and eating lots of good food. When young Julia shrieks during a scary fox story, her brother Lorenzo calls her a chicken.

Nonni explains that chickens are actually quite “eggs-traordinary;” she grew up helping to raise them on her grandparents’ farm back in Istria. As a young girl, Lidia helped Nonna Rosa collect eggs twice a day, and they considered an egg a perfect meal in itself, “delicious and full of healthy protein and vitamins.” Nonna Rosa cooked delicious chicken dishes, and Lidia loved seeing chicks hatch each spring: “I was fascinated by the magic happening inside those shells.” These reminiscences made Julia feel better, and that night she dreamed of “happy chicken families and not sneaky foxes.”

The next morning, after making a tasty ricotta frittata with Miles for breakfast, Nonni Lidia takes all the kids to a nearby egg farm, where they are allowed to see all the different chickens, the different kinds of eggs they lay, and to even help collect eggs and scoop food into the feeders. They quickly learn that chickens are so much more than those pink squishy things they see in the supermarket, and add “organic” and “free-range” to their vocabularies.

To top off a perfect day, the kids help Nonni Lidia prepare a fresh pasta with chicken sauce dinner to enjoy with their parents that evening. Mmmmm! Nothing like family gathered around the table under the stars, feasting on good food and funny stories!

There are 14 recipes in the book, all using chicken and eggs, dishes which will get readers salivating even before they start cooking. Besides the Ricotta Frittata mentioned in the story, there’s Roman “Egg Drop” Soup, Baked Stuffed Shells, Fried Potatoes and Eggs, Cappellini with Spaghetti Squash, Chicken and Grand Padano, and Chicken Parmigiana, to name a few. With each recipe, there are suggestions for what Kids Can Do (toss together breadcrumbs, juice the lemons, pluck the parsley leaves, peel the garlic, etc.).

Lidia’s Egg-Citing Farm Adventure, like the other books in the series, is liberally seasoned with Lidia’s undeniable passion for food and family. I love how Renée Graef has captured all the heartwarming goodness in her charming illustrations — hatching chicks, young Lidia feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, all those free-ranging chickens at Hobbs Farm, Lidia cooking with her grandkids, and my favorite — the family-gathered-around-the-table scenes, where the happy feelings of togetherness, stimulating conversation, and satisfied eaters are quite palpable.

Lidia has used the real names of her grandchildren (now grown) in the story: Olivia, Julia, Lorenzo, Miles, and Ethan. We get a wonderful feeling of continuity in the passing on of family traditions, as well as a nice introduction to farm-to-table cooking.

As a child in my grandparents’ courtyard in Istria, we raised our own chickens. I played with them, fed them, cleaned their coops, and collected their eggs. I was thankful when a chicken gave a fresh egg for my breakfast, or more importantly, its life to be turned into a good sauce for our Sunday pasta. Whether chicken, eggs, or other foods, I invite you to join the conversation — thinking more about what we eat, buy, and farm. Our choices today can hep build healthy bodies, strong communities, and a cleaner planet for generations to come.

A wonderful Spring read and the perfect Easter gift. Buon Appetito!

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🍋 LIDIA’S RICOTTA COOKIES 🍋

Biscotti di Ricotta

This is the last recipe in the book, a sweet finish to all the fun. I’d never used ricotta in cookies before, only in lasagna, so I was anxious to try these. They were simple enough to make, though some patience is required because the cookies have to cool thoroughly before you can glaze and eat them. Once they’re glazed, they have to dry for a couple of hours before you can store them — but this may not be an issue at all since hungry munchkins will likely make fast work of them.🙂

These are quite soft, more like little biscuits than what the average person might think of as cookies. Whatever you call them, they’re yummy — buttery with a delicious, lemony icing — just right for a teatime or after-school snack, or a nice addition to the Easter brunch menu.

Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 ounces fresh ricotta, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 lemon

Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • zest of other 1/2 lemon, plus 1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, and set aside.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Cream the sugar and butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, and crack in the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the ricotta, vanilla, and lemon zest, and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, and beat on low until just combined, but do not overmix.

4. Drop the dough in heaping rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets. Place in the oven, and bake, rotating pans halfway through the baking time (about 9 to 10 minutes), until the cookies are puffed, golden, and cooked all the way through, about 18 to 20 minutes total. Remove from the oven, and cool on wire racks.

5. When the cookies are completely cool, make the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and zest to make a smooth glaze. Adjust the consistency with a little water or more confectioners’ sugar to make the glaze thick enough to stick to the cookies when dipped. Hold each cookie with two fingers, then dip the top of the cookies in the glaze and let dry on racks until all are done. Let dry for 2 hours before storing.

KIDS CAN: Sift the dry ingredients; add the ingredients into the mixer; help drop cookies onto baking sheet with a teaspoon or soup spoon; and help dip cookies in the glaze.

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LIDIA’S EGG-CITING FARM ADVENTURE
by Lidia Bastianich
illustrated by Renée Graef
published by Running Press Kids, February 2015
Picture Book/Cookbook for ages 4+, 60 pp.

♥ Check out this wonderful podcast interview with Leonard Lopate. Did you know when Lidia was 14, she worked with Christopher Walken in his family bakery, the Astoria? There’s also another recipe from the book at the site for Lidia’s Mother’s Chicken and Potatoes.

♥ Young Victoria Bonavita talks to Lidia about the book in this video:

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LIDIA’S EGG-CITING FARM ADVENTURE BOOK GIVEAWAY 

🐔🐔🐔

For a chance to win a brand new copy of this book, simply leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite chicken or egg dish is no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!

*   *   *

wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your apron and bunny ears and come join the fun!

 

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*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, copyright © 2014 Lidia Bastianich, published by Running Press Kids. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

110 thoughts on “[book review + recipe + giveaway] Lidia’s Egg-Citing Farm Adventure by Lidia Bastianich and Renée Graef

  1. Oh, those cookies look delicious–thank you for this review. We love Lidia’s Christmas book, too. Favorite egg dish: quiche (savory–there are too many sweet things made with eggs to choose from! Flan, macaroons, etc.). Yum!

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  2. I would have to say my all time favorite, no matter what time of year it is grilled lemon chicken breast.

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  3. I love chicken cacciatore or chicken marsala both with polenta. I also love chicken parmigiana with angel hair pasta. I love a Sunday after church egg frittata or pizza rustica with eggs and ricotta. Or a timballa with eggs and ricotta.

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  4. I don’t have s FaV recipe but I have bought Lidia’s other 2 children books for when I am lucky enough to have grandchildren. Love Lidia. Please pick me!!!!!

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  5. Looks like the same artist as the person who did the picture-book versions of the Little House books!

    Are the cookies soft? Crunchy? They look like mini drop biscuits, just with a sweet glaze.🙂

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    1. Oh, and my favorite egg dish might actually be eggs with pasta. You saute some garlic and herbs in a bit of butter, toss with hot pasta (and leave in skillet), then pour the beaten eggs over everything and toss until eggs are cooked. So yummy.

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  6. My favorite chicken dish is one that was passed down from my aunts Italian mother in law. It has chicken thighs, potatoes and Lima beans in a tomato sauce

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  7. I have been a fan of yours since you first started on PBS! Have many of your cookbooks & would your new children’s book.
    Favorite egg dish is Eggs Florentine!
    One of the many places on my bucket list is to go & eat at one of her restaurants as well as Mario Batali’s! Love Ya Lydia!

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  8. An omelet with garlic, Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh spinach. We love the fresh taste and the zing if the red pepper.

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  9. Love Lydia’s shows and recipes. My favorite dish is egg omelet with Vienna sausage, and peppers and onion for breakfast.

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  10. i love scrambled eggs with ham and my mom’s potatoes & eggs. Simple, quick, & delicious. Comfort food.

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  11. Favorite chicken or egg dish – that is hard. I would say a good roast chicken, nice and moist with crispy skin or spinach, bacon and Swiss quiche. Think I’ll have to make quiche this weekend; I haven’t made one in a while.

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  12. I love pan fried chicken with prosciutto, eggplant,and cheese on top with full glass of vine to make the best sauce ever. Its always the best meal especially when you have friends to share with. Enjoy every meal it might be your last.

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  13. I love all of Lidia’s recipes! I will definitely try the ricotta cookies as I make them every Christmas. My favorite chicken recipe is homemade chicken pot pie! Comfort food at its best! I also love to make poached eggs for Saturday morning breakfast. Although I don’t have any grandchildren yet, I would love to win Lidia’s new book!

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  14. Just like many of the readers of this post, I, too, love Lidia and her wonderful dishes both sweet and savory. I look forward to baking the ricotta cookies. The illustrations in the book, Lidia’s Egg-citing Farm Adventure, are colorful and delightful. This Oma looks forward to reading this book to our grands.
    ~Suzy Leopold

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  15. My favorite chicken dish is chicken with red peppers, garden tomato and asiago cheese, my favorite eggs are soft boiled . My favorite cook is Lidia ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  16. Quiche with soft cheese and mushrooms.Keep up the great work Lidia we so enjoy you and your family cooking and drinking wine and inviting us along!

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  17. great book. I will b getting one for SURE!!
    Favorite egg dish. Fry up any salami ham Bologna or lunch meat. When crispy top with an egg (sunny side up) when the egg starts to get white add a slice of cheese on top and cover with a lid for a few minutes till cheese is melted. These are amazing and delicious. We call them Dagmara Eggs after the person who first made these for us. U can eat alone, with toast or soft bread. C if u can wait long enough for the bread!! Egg stra special 🐣🐣🍴

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  18. Thank you for sharing the ricotta cookie recipe! My son is coming home from his University this weekend and we will make them together.
    My favorite egg dish is egg omelette with spinach and goat cheese. My favorite chicken dish is chicken with prosciutto and mozzarella.

    GRAZIE e Buona Pasqua!

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  19. Everything you make Lydia is delicious!! Your new children’s book looks fantastic. I have to go get it. We go to Di Palma Bros Rest. in North Bergen., NJ. One of our favorite Restaurants. They had told me that they know you and saw their picture in your cook book. Have a Happy Easter with your Family

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  20. a nice panko/Italian breaded pan fried chicken is one of my comforts, I love too cook eggs as a quiche, using different things I have on hand,, my latest is a Polish quiche- red onion, kielbasa, and cabbage was really good.

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  21. I love all kinds of eggs no matter how they are fixed. My favorite “egg dish” is pickled eggs. I make them for Easter, like my mom used to make. I use her container she used to make and store them. I just love the memories it brings back to me as she was the best mom ever!

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  22. I would have to say my favorite chicken dish is lemon chicken. My 8 yr old grandson and I love to watch your show!! He loves when Grandma comes to the kitchen to taste your finished dishes.

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  23. I love U Lidia…I watch your cooking show on CREATE TV every chance I get….You make cooking so enjoyable by the love you place in every bite..I myself enjoy cooking and I find that cooking with my Daughter and my grand daughters such a memorable tradition…I am from a fairly large loving Italian family where everyone enjoys making their signature dishes for all to enjoy…The holidays are every special to me and there is where I love to create memories with my grandchildren…I teach them how to cook …My daughter and I feel it is very important for children to be exposed to the cooking experience….Now that Easter is upon us…I will be making Easter bread..and I will also be making Bacon, Spinach and cheese quiche for Easter Brunch….cannot wait for this weekend…to be with family….and saluting with a fine glass of Vino! To you and yours…May love be with you…Health and prosperity in all that you do….Happy Easter❤ I thank you Lidia for keeping family and tradition a part of your everyday life…❤

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  24. Love watching Lydia in the kitchen, reminds me of watching my own Nonna so many years ago, she made cooking for an army look effortless. Pure magic how she hand made her own dough and rolled it out with a long oak dowel on a cutting board that went over the table and the speed she had hand cutting spaghetti with a long knife! Favorite egg dish- crepes.

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  25. I truly enjoy Lydia’s cooking shows, have watched from the start. I’ve collected all your cookbooks. You’re comforting to watch and every dish looks delicious. I appreciate your love of food and family as do I. My Italian side of the family has a party every year for over 100 years now, Bella Cava, with so much good food.Choosing a favorite dish isn’t easy because I like it all. My favorite egg dish is a spinach and feta omelet. Favorite chicken dish is chicken marsala.

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  26. My son works at Lidia’s pittsburgh and took me to a have a fabulous meal there!
    My favorite chicken recipe is to spread the pieces in a roasting pan and rain down salt over all. Add fresh rosemary or tarragon. Slice a potato into 1″ thick pieces and add in a single layer around chicken. Roast in a hot 400 degree oven for at least an hour. The salt makes it extra crispy.

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  27. My favorite egg dish is Eggs Goldenrod– my mom made it for Easter morning when we were kids. She used the colored eggs from our baskets, and there were little pink and blue and purple streaks peeking out through the sauce!

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  28. Not entering the giveaway Jama but I love this book. I’ll have to see if I can get copies through the library. My day is not complete unless I read your latest post. Have you see the new poetry book The Popcorn Astronauts? I talked about it yesterday on my blog. I think it’s your kind of book. ♥

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    1. We’re on the same wave length, Margie! I do love that book and will be featuring it next week (with a short Q&A with the author). Will definitely read your review!

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  29. I look forward to buying the book for my grandson! You, Lidia are a treasure – I’ve enjoyed your food at your restaurants, have your inspirational cookbooks and you continue to make me want to create incredible traditions for my family!

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  30. I love a nice roast chicken. Thanks for the chance to win this cute book! Love Lidia! I have all her cookbooks

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  31. Chicken croquettes are my absolute favorite. Those ricotta cookies look delicious. I’m going to have to try making them.

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  32. Lidia’s Ricotta Cookies and my Grandmother’s Chicken Cacciatore. I am dying to eat at Lidia’s Kansas City it’s on my bucket list!

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  33. Jama, this is such a delicious post. First of all I love Lydia’s show but did not know that she is an author. Wow! Talented! Thank you for providing me with the recipe for ricotta cookies (just in time for Easter). My Grandmother made the most wonderful Italian cookies. I only have the memories and a few recipes that my Aunt wrote down because my Grandmother was an immigrant from Italy. This post reminds me of my days baking beside her. Thanks, Jama.

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    1. How wonderful that you have those memories of baking with your grandmother. There’s nothing better to flavor any food than the love that goes into it, especially with recipes passed down through generations.🙂

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  34. I love Lidia! My favorite egg dishes are frittatas. Lidia has some great recipes for them. And thank you for the ricotta cookie recipe. I can’t wait to make them.

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  35. Thank you! I would love to win so I could share this book with my Grand nephew, 3 1/2 who already cooks in the kitchen with his parents and my brother, his Pa! He makes French toast and is becoming our fourth generation pizza maker.! One of my favorite egg recipes my Mom made for us on Fridays was Eggs in Sauce. Recently I found the recipe is sometimes called Eggs in Purgatory because you add red pepper to the sauce to make it spicey ! We make a simple marinara sauce adding crushed red pepper flakes, and as the sauce simmers, you gently slide in the whole eggs, poaching them untill your desired firmness. Best part was always dipping the bread in the sauce! I recall seeing you demonstrate that dish recently and it brought back such memories as my Mom has been gone since 1988. Good luck with this book and Bono Pasqe. Thanks for the Ricotta Cookie Recipe. Will make it this week for Easter.

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  36. Have loved Lidia for years. Our favorite chicken dish from our Lidia Italian American cookbook is, thr classic, chicken parm. That page is stained and crusted and perfectly loved, everytime!

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  37. I love that Lidia shows you how to cook foods that anyone can make at home! We enjoy watching her pbs show and seeing her family enjoying the food with her. My favorite chicken recipe is a good homemade chicken noodle soup and we devour deviled eggs. Thank you for the cookie recipe! Can’t wait to try them tonight! Happy Easter!

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  38. I Love to make Chicken Pot Pie! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.
    Erin
    ErinLoves2Run at gmail dot com

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  39. I discovered Lidia on PBS. When she first came on, she was shy and unsure of herself. She blossomed into a delightful story-telling-chef with a huge smile. I did not know she had restaurants and now has a book. The book sounds scrumptious and great for young cooks. I love chicken and eggs of any kind. I try my hand at quiches all the time and love spinach in anything–gotta see that egg drop soup with spinach. I love egg drop soup, but can’t find a recipe I like at home.

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    1. Lidia has made that egg drop soup on a couple of TV shows while promoting this book. I think if you google the book title you can find them. This particular book is the third in a series — I’ve seen the Christmas book but not the other one — would be nice to collect all 3!

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  40. I love Lidia too! My favorite chicken dish is Moroccan chicken with apricots and chickpeas. We also make frittatas regularly for easy weeknight dinners.

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  41. Love your recipes; they are so like my mothers. My favorite chicken dish is Broiled chicken with lemon sauce and a side of home made rice and fine noodles with the lemon sauce. Hey Lidia, do you want my recipe??

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  42. Fried chicken is my all time favorite chicken dish. My mother’s most of all. Egg casserole’s have to be the best and easiest way for me to enjoy eggs, everything all in a single dish of loveliness.

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  43. I love chicken parmigiana. Big fan of Lidia’s been watching her since I was young, have tried doing some of her recipes and always a big hit. Thank you Lidia for sharing them with us! And thanks for always inviting us to eat with you ☺️

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  44. My favorite chicken dish is chicken soup and my favorite egg dish is potatoe and egg frittata.
    It would be heavenly to eat them together!
    Love you Lidia❤️

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  45. My favorite egg dish… Tomato quiche! Would love to have Lidia’s book and I love to watch her on TV

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  46. My favorite egg dish is spaghetti pie. You cook your spaghetti and while you’re waiting for it to be done you mix almost a half dozen eggs with pepper, salt, and grated cheese. You cut up slices of sweet or hot hard sausage and slices of mozzarella. When the pasta is ready, drain and put back in pot. Pour egg mixture into pasta, then get a frying pan, melt butter and put half of the pasta into the pan, layer mozzarella cheese and sausage then place the remainder of the pasta. Let it cook on one side, then when it forms sort of a crust, place a large dish on top of pan and flip the pie onto dish, then slide pie into pan so other side can cook. When done, cut pieces like a piece of pie. You can slice open and sprinkle some parmigiano reggio inside and then close and sprinkle on top. Delicious. Buon appetito!

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  47. I love Lidia’s cookbooks and her restaurants. I had no idea that she had a children’s book. I just love this! As for eggs, I love making frittatas with whatever veggies I have around. An easy and delicious dinner when I’m short on time and inspiration. Chicken? Seriously, what beats a beautifully and simply roasted whole chicken with crispy skin? Pretty much nothing.

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  48. What a nice giveaway!
    My favorite chicken dish is plain old roasted chicken with garlic.
    Loving those cookies you made. Mmmm

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