Hi, and welcome to Mariooch’s Kitchen! When I was a little girl, my Italian father called me Mariooch, a variation of Mariuccia (pronounced mar-ee-ooch-ee-a), which means “little Mary” in Italian, and the name stuck. I got the Italian cooking gene from my grandmother, Maria Libra. I have so many fond memories of cooking with my grandmother, aunt and my parents in our family kitchen. Over the past 16 years I have honed this skill and become what I call a “homegrown chef”.
The essence of my blog is to share healthy, easy to follow delicious family style meals that can be adapted to meet your families’ needs and tastes. When you are a busy family, we are all pressed for time, but still want to provide healthy meals to our families. I’m here to help! I’ll focus on Italian dishes, all-American fare like chicken soup and many varieties of salads and dips as well as some international dishes. Also, I typically only have 5-6 ingredients in one recipe, and there are not too many steps to follow, too many steps adds up to too many dishes! Who wants that! (unless, of course, you are making homemade Italian bread or Mariooch’s Tomato Sauce.)
A little about me, my family and I live on the East Coast in the suburbs. We are very close to many farms. I cook using fresh ingredients and tend to shop a few times a week. I typically buy organic produce, but some conventional produce I buy as well. I have three kids who are very active, but we sit down to a home cooked meal most nights. No one is more sympathetic than me about running our kids around (we do competitive dance & cheer, soccer, lacrosse, leadership groups, the school play, volunteer and I am in the process of writing a cookbook!), but I promise you, you can sit down to a meal together, just make it a priority at least a few nights a week. During dinner we share the highs and lows of the day and everyone gets a turn. Guard, honor and cherish the dinner hour!
I am a fitness enthusiast, love being outside and love nature. Most of my meals are relatively healthy, except for the occasional margarine and cream. I will let you know the health benefits of certain foods (like herbs, veggies & fruit) as I introduce them in different recipes. Also, I use a lot of olive oil and I really like salt. That is one thing I tend to not measure (sorry).
Also, we have multiple allergies in the family so freshly made home cooked meals have been essential to managing my son’s multiple food allergies. Eating out poses too many risks for us as a family, mainly due to cross contamination. I don’t use nuts/or peanuts in recipes and tend to avoid eggs in some recipes as well as sesame.
I LOVE to entertain. Hosting a party is right up there with one of my favorite things. Feeding guests is in my blood, after all I’m Italian (half, the other half is Swiss and Irish, thanks to mom). When I have people over, there is always lots of delicious food to enjoy. But another important aspect of any good party, is in the details. Make your food appealing visually, use your best dinnerware and platters. And always have flowers or greens, even if you just get them from your garden. Lastly, I am very organized. Everything in my pantry is in glass or plastic jars, so the kids and my husband can see what’s in the pantry. So I’ll be sure to share by organizational tidbits with you.
In addition, I like to spend my time volunteering to cook for underprivileged children. It is truly one of the most important meals I make. I think it’s important to identify ways to help alleviate hunger. Volunteer at soup kitchens, stock food pantries, or help plant a garden in the inner city. Teach children how to cultivate and grow their own foods.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I have so many friends who are overwhelmed by the thought of cooking. The process starts with one step, even if it’s a baby step, you can do it. I was overwhelmed when I first got married over 16 years ago and was responsible for the meals. My mom had died a year prior, and none of her recipes were recorded, so I pulled out my mom’s old and I mean old, falling apart, cookbook by Betty Crocker to learn how to properly cook meats. Then I just jumped right into it and made everything from scratch. I am looking forward to taking you on the journey of cooking with me in my kitchen! You hungry? I’m cookin’!