The Italian Crock Pot by Selena Robins + Giveaway!

Congratulations to Savannah Miller. You are the winner of WHAT A GIRL WANTS by Selena Robins!

Not to be confused with The Italian Crack Pot, as I had accidentally typed crack pot, but decided to proofread one more time before submitting this blog post. Although, I’ve met my share of crack pots during my life and yes, some of them may have been Italian, but it would totally change the theme of this post. 

The Crock Pot is a writer’s best friend. It’s like having a chef in the kitchen after you’ve instructed it what to do. 

I’m going to share an Italian crock pot recipe (below), but first wanted to chat how learning how to cook at a very young age from my mom is similar to my writing journey. When I say a young—young, as in by the time one can stand on her own without tumbling over, one must know how to make homemade pasta and tomato sauce. 

It was during these cooking sessions with my mom that she would tell me stories about her childhood and of course impart her wisdom about life. At the time, as most of us do, I didn’t appreciate the stories until I was much older. My mom was a natural storyteller, she was also extremely funny, but she didn’t know it. 

I love comedy and my family members (especially the females) are hilarious. It was during these cooking sessions with both my mom and sister where we would let loose, and enjoy our mom’s unique sense of humor. It’s no wonder the kitchen is my favorite room in the house, brings back a lot of fond and fun memories. 

Saturday morning cooking lessons were not like those home-economics classes. No note taking, no recipe books (goodness, Italian mamma’s pride themselves on cooking without instructions). 

We’d ask our mom, “How much salt and pepper do we put in this? Don’t we have a measuring spoon for the olive oil?” 

Mom: “Measure? How much? What you asking me these questions for? You reading those recipe books again? Like I told you, cook with your eyes, feel, taste, listen to your mamma and also to the sizzle in the pan.” She’d point a finger to her head and say, “Use your imagination. It’s not going to be perfect first time, but it will when you trust your instincts.” 

My mom’s creativity in the kitchen kept a family of seven well fed on a limited budget. 

As you can imagine most of our training dishes were akin to a science project, however, with all the trials and errors and really paying attention to her basic instructions about cooking with passion, love and using our senses, slowly but surely, my sister and I did turn out some great dishes. (To this day, I still think I make a better sauce and pizza than my sister. I’m sure if you ask her, she’ll say hers is better. Typical sisters, but I still say my way is better.)

My school lunches were packed with homemade bread, roasted red pepper, zucchini and eggplant sandwiches, with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (which she also made at home) and homemade cookies. My school mates would look at my lunch and ask, “what the heck are you eating?” I did trade my lunch one day, for the more popular peanut-butter and jam sandwich and a couple of Oreo cookies. I liked them and the girl I traded my offerings with didn’t like my lunch; so she traded the Italian feast with the boy next to her. He loved it and asked if I could bring extra the next day. 

How is similar to my writing journey? That it’s okay not to follow a trend and to stick to my own individual style, some will question it, some may try it and like it, some may try it and not like it (maybe even pass it on to someone else) and that’s okay. 

What A Girl Wants by Selena Robins

The main thing my mom taught me while we baked and cooked together was to add a lot of love into cooking. She emphasized how important it was to cook with passion, to use all my senses, touch, taste, sight and smell (and hear too, for the fire alarm that is, when I had accidentally burned a pot or two in my learning process). 

This too can be applied to my writing journey, as I create characters, dialogue and plots that will give the reader not only a visual experience of what’s happening, but hopefully they can taste what the characters are tasting, smell the scents of the scenery, close their eyes and hear the voices (not the ones in our heads, that’s another story), but the tone of the characters, and most importantly, feel the passion I (and other writer’s) have put into creating a wonderful story to draw you into a comical, suspenseful, mysterious and romantic world. 

Here’s a recipe to warm your bones (if you live in a colder climate, still tasty if you live in the tropics as well). Let the Crock Pot do the cooking, while you’re writing, reading or just hanging out with family and friends. 

Crock Pot Italian Sausage Soup

 Ingredients

3 TBSP olive oil

2 pounds Italian sausage (sweet or mild, your choice)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium Vidalia (or any other sweet onion), chopped

2 (16 ounce) cans tomatoes

1 ½ cups dry red wine (not cooking wine, if it’s good enough to drink, then it’s what you cook with)

6 cups beef broth

3 TBSP fresh basil, chopped

3 TBSP fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 yellow zucchini, thinly sliced

1 green zucchini, thinly sliced

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 package of frozen spinach (defrost and squeeze the liquid out)

salt & pepper to taste

Package of pasta (16 oz. your choice of pasta)

Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese 

Directions 

In a large pot, add olive oil and heat, add sausage and cook over medium heat until brown.

Remove from heat, pat with paper towel and cut into slices. 

Add garlic and onion until tender (about 2 – 3 minutes). 

Heat up your crock pot to low and add: sausages, onions, garlic and stir in the rest of all the ingredients. 

Cover, and cook on Low for 6 hours. 

When soup is done you’re ready to make the pasta to add to the soup. (Tip: soup tastes better when you make it a day ahead and warm it up on the stove, but it’s also delicious the same day as well).

Cook Pasta al dente (according to package directions). 

Drain water and add pasta to the soup, simmer for a few minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper. 

Ladle in bowls and add cheese if desired. 

Buon appetite!

Readers, do you have a favorite memory of cooking or reading with your mother? Comment and win a copy of Selena’s book WHAT A GIRL WANTS. 

About Selena Robins: Genre-defying, witty, humorous, suspenseful, romantic and sexy— words used to describe Selena’s novels. A self professed foodie and chocolate guru, she loves to dance with her dog, sing into her hairbrush and write in her PJ’s. In love with her family, friends, books, laughter, hockey, lively discussions and red wine (sometimes all at the same time). Selena is a dragon slayer who enjoys reading and writing sassy heroines and hot heroes (the ones your mamma warned you about, but secretly wished she’d dated a few in her life).

About Misty Evans

USA Today Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter.
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35 Responses to The Italian Crock Pot by Selena Robins + Giveaway!

  1. Loraine hunziker says:

    Reading with Mom is like reading with a breathing statue! You could tell her the house is on fire but she would not hear you! It doesn’t matter what she is reading. I guess that my love of reading and books came honestly. I do try to hear and know what is going on around me…unless it is a really good part! :cool:

    Your recipe sounds awesome! I am a Crock Pot cook.

    • Hi, Loraine, thanks for stopping by.

      I can relate to your mom, I’m the same way when I’m deep into a book, especially if it’s one that’s a page turner. Writing tends to get me into that trance as well. I’d love to hug the person who invented crock pots.

  2. Selena, as a first generation Italian from the wilds of Brooklyn all I can say is … mama mia!! Yes, I was that kid on springs who followed her mother around the kitchen, who drove the aunts nuts, who started collecting their recipies in seventh grade and who still loves the memories of those golden years, the scents of their food wafting throught the air, me and my brother standing on the first floor landing enhailing to guess what she was making, the thrill of my first pasta gravy (we didn’t call it sauce when I was growing up) and the delight of watching others enjoy what I cook or bake. Thanks for the memories :)
    florence fois`s last blog was …Where stories come from …

    • Ciao, Loraine ;-)

      We also called it gravy, growing up, however, I’ve since changed to calling it sauce because my non-Italian friends and in-laws, thought I was talking about “gravy” as in beef or chicken gravy. LOL

      I remember home economics class, the teacher would be adamant that I follow a recipe exactly. When I explained I was an FBI (full blooded Italian), she said, okay then, I get it. LOL

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Selena. I am going to try your recipe. It looks interesting and more importantly, delicious. How is this feast for a type two diabetic? I am one. I have to watch my sugars.

    • Hi, Michael, thanks for stopping by and for linking this post to your facebook page.

      To answer your question, you could replace the sausage with lean, ground turkey, or chop up a skinless, boneless chicken breast. If you have a concern with the sugar in the tomato, then I would recommend you check your diabetic book to see how many you are allowed, if you can’t have any, you can skip them all together.

  4. Hi Selena,

    Nice thoughts on learning to cook with your mom. My mom worked full time, so her teaching me how to cook was mostly done by notes or phone calls. However, it did the trick for the most part and I learned. I still can’t replicate some of her recipes, though.

    I do have one treasured memory of her and I learning to cook something together. My son had given each of us an Italian cookbook for Christmas, so Mom and I made a yummy rack of lamb, and a Tiramisu from scratch. It was the last time we would make anything from those cookbooks, though, as I lost my mom a couple months later. However, I have that great memory of that wonderful meal and making it with my mom. Your memories filled me with warm thoughts for both our moms.

    BTW, you don’t have to enter me in the contest for the book since I already have it. ;-)

  5. Thanks Selena. The chicken thing works for me. Yes, I’m not allowed to have tomatoes. So, I’ll discard them. I like your idea of the crock pot since it allows me to take care of so many schedules at home. :smile:

  6. Fedora says:

    YUM, Selena! What a gift your mom gave you all, both cooking for you and teaching you to do it for yourself! :) While we didn’t spend a lot of time learning to cook together when we were young, my sibs and I have all called Mom at one point or another to ask, “Hey, how do you make…” when trying to figure out some of our favorite dishes she used to make :) And even now, my kids prefer the way she makes them and is excited when I visit and bring some home for them!

    Don’t include me in the draw–good luck, everyone! Awesomeness awaits the winner! ;)

    • Thanks for stopping by, Fedora, I always enjoy hearing from you.

      There’s something about the way our mom’s (and you will get that experience too with your children when they are older) make something that tastes that much better. Even a sandwich tastes better in our parents’ kitchen. I think it’s the nostalgic familiarity of our childhood.

      Thank you for the wonderful compliment on my book, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. :grin:

  7. Savannah Miller says:

    I remember when I first moved out I use to get so frustrated because none of my food tasted like it did when my mom made it. So I asked her if she could come to my house and teach me how to make some of my favorite meals we spent the whole week making everything and anything. If not for my mom I think my family would have either starved to death or been sick for my sad attempts at “my mom’s classics!!” Thanks for posting and sharing about your mom too

    brandon_savannah@yahoo.com

  8. LINDA B says:

    HI SELENA! SOUP SOUNDS GOOD AND YOUR BOOK SOUNDS HOT!!

  9. Tracey D says:

    When I was a kid, my mother and I went to my grandmother’s house to make sugar cookies for Christmas. There was an extra “something” my grandmother added to the recipes to make the cookies turn out just right. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away and making the sugar cookies lost their appeal. But we still have the fond memories.

    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  10. Nancy Lauzon says:

    My mother worked as a school teacher, so it was my grandmother who did a lot of the cooking. I still remember watching her knead the dough for her bread and rolls. At the time I didn’t appreciate how lucky we were to have homemade bread and desserts, but I miss the smell of that kitchen!

    My Grammy ate some unusual dishes for lunch. She was from Nova Scotia, so I’m not sure if it was native to that area, but she ate creamed peas on toast and fried cheese. Different!
    Nancy Lauzon`s last blog was …Clutter F**k Club – Toxic Friends

    • Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts, Nancy.

      I think the recipes of our grandmothers and greatmothers were probably based on the fact that they didn’t waste a thing, and with them living through challenging economic times, they created dishes with what they had.

      I miss the smell of homemade bread, but my hips don’t. LOL

  11. Edie Ramer says:

    Thanks for being our guest today. Your post brought back a ton of good memories. My mother wasn’t a great cook, but she was a great baker. Pies and cookies were her favorites. I don’t know how many batches of cookies I helped mix, just to get a chance to ‘clean’ the bowl. I cleaned them real good.

    I don’t make cookies anymore – because if I make them, I eat them. But for the Christmas holidays, my husband makes my mother’s old recipe for cookies with chocolate chips and oatmeal. And they’re delicious!

    • Hi, Edie, thanks for stopping by and sharing your own memory. I find that if I bake a lot, I lose interest in eating my own baked goods. However, if someone else does all the work, I don’t mind having a few. ;-)

  12. What a sweet memory! And I’m always looking for crockpot recipes.
    My mom makes chocolate chip cookies and pancakes a certain way, they’re very flat. Other people might like theirs fluffy, but thats what we grew up with and love! Honestly, I think it makes her feel kind of special that we like hers so much.

    • Hi, Lori, glad you enjoyed the blog post. I don’t know what I’d do without my crock pot. I think mom’s put special love into their cooking, that’s why it always tastes better when we think of whatever it is they made for us.

  13. Liz Kreger says:

    Oh Yuuuuummmm! Definitely gonna try that recipe, Selena. Hubby and I love trying new things in a crock pot.

    I can totally see the connection between cooking and writing. Both is a learning process to which improvements are forever being added.

    Thanx for joining us here at MM today. Great blog.

    • Hi, Liz,

      Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post, I’m glad to be here and hope I’m invited back. ;-)

      I think cooks and writers both share a love to create and serve up something delicious to people.

  14. Mary Preston says:

    I always loved coming home from school to find my Mother in the kitchen preparing dinner. I never cooked, I did help. When I left home I never starved. All the cooking memories were there.

  15. Debra G says:

    My mother was not a big cooker. But we did love to snuggle up and read together.

  16. Hi, Debra,

    That’s a beautiful memory. I think women are moms of the world, whether we bare the children ourselves or they are our nieces, nephews, sisters, friend’s children, bonus children….the list goes on.

  17. Deb P says:

    My father was the family cook, he would beg my mother to stay out of the kitchen. And the man could cook, Italian. ;-)

    • Hi, Deb, thanks for stopping by.

      My mom wouldn’t let my dad near the kitchen. Even though she taught all of us how to make everything homemade (including my dad and brothers, as she used to say, “one day, I’m making angel hair pasta in heaven you gotta know what to do), the kitchen was her “turf” and got all Pinky Tuscadero when she was preparing a feast. We stayed out of the way.

  18. I remember a story my friend’s father told me a few months back. He was an Irishman who married an Italian. They were on their honeymoon. And she kept getting up during one love-making session. He finally said, “Where are you going?” She said, “I’m getting dinner ready.” His reaction? :smile: “We’ll have plenty of time to eat. Come back to bed!”
    He laughed so hard after telling his story. They were married for 55 years before she passed away last year. He said he misses her cooking but mostly her heart.

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