I created this recipe out of my inability to toss out even a smidgen of quality food. Requiring just a little over 3/4 cup of buttermilk, you will garner 2 dozen plump, flaky croissants, and that little bit of buttermilk sitting on your refrigerator shelf gets a lot of mileage. For the full story, go to Deseret News: January 24 – 25, 2018.  PLUMP BUTTERMILK CROISSANTS FOR JUST ABOUT ANY LEVEL OF COOK. Or click on: Good Friends, Yummy Recipes for the list of ingredients. Perfect for Sunday dinner, breakfast fares, sliced open for sandwiches or munched with honey or jam. If you have basic pantry staples, grab two large bowls and begin creating your own batch. ENJOY!









One of the easiest, and most elegant recipes I own is created in one deep baking dish. Prepare one box of stuffing (6-ounce package), per directions and set aside to cool. Take trimmed pork loin cut into 4 (1 inch thick) medallions or 4 pork chops with bone removed– dredged in flour with pepper, quickly fry for about 5 minutes on each side, on medium- low in a little oil. Prepare a large deep baking dish with lid, and evenly pour/spread your favorite apple pie filling. Place partially cooked pork loin on top of apple pie filling. Top browned pork with cooked stuffing. Cover and bake at 350, 40-45 minutes. Remove lid and bake 10 minutes more.  Use a meat thermometer to gauge for thoroughly cooked pork. Recommended is 145-160 degrees. A simple test: Juices should run clear when pork is pierced. Add one more layer, just as you remove baking dish from the oven. Top with one cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Serves 4. You’ve got everything in one dish, protein, carb and fruit (yes, another carb but in the form of fruit). Add the cheese for some dairy. What’s not to love about this, especially with all the kudos from those you are serving? These layers of unexpected flavors harmoniously unite with texture and deliciousness. For full story and more recipe details: Deseret News, December 14-15th, 2017. Pork loin, spiced apples and stuffing for festive dining.   Merry Christmas!



CORN and BACON CHOWDER, just in time for fall. 


Sweet corn, bacon and one big, fat Idaho potato, creates a thick chowder serving 4-6 hungry people. Only two steps in prep, this meal is perfect as we transition into soup season and welcome simplicity in cooking. Start this recipe in a large frying pan and finish in your slow cooker. For the full recipe: Deseret News, October 18-19, 2017. Sweet Corn and Bacon Chowder combines flavors for fall.

CHEESE WITH A SIDE OF MACARONI~ Another cheesy recipe from my kitchen.

As fall approaches and flip flops, beach towels and picnic baskets are stored for several months, it’s time to dust off vintage comfort food recipes as lazy days are replaced with demanding schedules to juggle. This recipe is one of our favorites and one of my oldest. 52 years ago my mother started making this dish. Her recipe is best described as: cheese with a side of elbow pasta. The crown is the crunchy bread crumb and paprika topping. One pot and one baking dish and you are on your way to a delicious meal. Easy and very cheesy. Serves 4-6.          Deseret News, September 6-7, 2017

CELEBRATE WITH COSMIC COOKIES~ Your guests will be over-the-moon.

If you need a stellar treat to celebrate this lunar experience, here’s an out-of-this-world cookie recipe that requires 3 main ingredients. I’ll take my chances and bet you’ve got them all in your kitchen right now. Step-by-step instructions below. It’s not rocket science. Make sure to have plenty of Milk(y) in your fridge. Cosmic Cookies! Heavenly.

1 Cake Mix, chocolate is my preference but I have whipped these up with other flavored mixes, preferably without pudding in the mix. 2 eggs. One stick of butter (or 1/2 cup), softened. In large mixing bowl blend well, making sure you have no pockets of dry cake mix hiding. CHILL, 30- 40 minutes (longer if you have the time to spare). * Occasionally, the batter is too dry. This does not happen often, but when it does I put a drop or two of milk into the batter- carefully, as not to make it too wet. On a greased cookie sheet, making sure the dough amounts for each cookie are about the same/uniform, and spaced well, drop 12 rounds of batter. In a 350 degree oven bake for 11-14 minutes. Ovens and altitudes vary. Check your cookies at 11 minutes. Cookies should be puffy and slightly under cooked. Let the cookies cool 10 minutes ON the cookie sheet. Transfer cooled cookies to cookie rack. Let them cool another 10 minutes. With a sieve you can tap powdered sugar over top of each cookie or thickly spread frosting on flat side of one cookie. Bring frosting to the very edge of each. Top with a second cookie. Roll the edges of the cookies in candy sprinkles, shredded coconut or shaved chocolate. You want the frosting to catch the embellishments as shown. Makes about 32 single cookies (or 16 sandwich cookies with filling). Enjoy!




When I was a young girl, growing up in an Italian family environment, garbanzo beans were only referred to as “chi-chi beans.” It wasn’t until my teen years did I realize they were not commonly called that. Garbanzos, chick-peas, no matter how you refer to these buttery legumes, they are healthy, and a wonderful ingredient to veggie burgers, soups and some excellent desserts.  If you’ve got my book, “Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook,” this salad is found on page 46, or check out my story and full recipe in the Deseret News, August 16-17th, 2017.  Mangia!


Go ahead and sneak these colorful, nutritious tubers into your meal planning. Your kids (and significant other) will never know how good they are for them, only how great they taste. The perfect change up to deep-fried potatoes or bagged, processed chips.

Deseret News July 26-27, 2017


MARINARA , or classic RED SAUCE~ 

No recipe collection is complete without a wonderful Marinara or Red Sauce. A perfect go-to, meatless and versatile sauce that can smother pasta, roasted vegetables, top pizza dough or used as a fun dipping sauce for thick yeast baguettes.  This is my personal recipe and among the simplest to prepare. Mangia! Deseret News June 20-21, 2017



Decadent, delicious and NO BAKE. The hard part is waiting for them to chill to perfection. As you prepare this recipe make sure to measure as precisely as possible and place all ingredients separately into bowls.  Have a place in your fridge ready and cleared for a seamless transfer. This exceptional dessert is created in a few short steps. Click the tab: Good Friends, Yummy Recipes OR check out my story in Deseret News published May 11, 2017.



I’m not sure where you live, but it is still very much winter, weather-wise, in Idaho. Unpredictable spring days can bring chilly nights, rain, wind and sometimes a few snow flurries. To change up the usual soup fare, I dusted off a very old family recipe recently. I’ve altered it a little over the years, to make it a healthier family favorite.  I honor and give gratitude to my grandmother who was my inspiration. Her very progressive attitude in all aspects of life and her ease of creating spectacular meals with a few fresh ingredients, has influenced me deeply.

Side step the usual soup and sandwich meal and try my family goulashPerhaps you can dish it up for your own grandmother! You can find the full recipe by clicking the tab above: Good Friends, Yummy Recipes OR check out my feature story in Deseret News published March 21, 2017.


There is a thrill for me when discovering an old recipe. It is a window into a simpler time and era. I pause and think of my grandmother and great grandmother, their kitchens, their daily regime, how they fed their family and kept up with few gadgets and kitchen helps to assist and save time.  Vintage Soda Biscuits, an 81-year old recipe, calls for “sour milk.” In our day that equates to buttermilk. 81 years ago that may have meant taking lemon juice or vinegar, just a little, and adding it to fresh whole milk. Using a few pantry items of flour, baking soda, salt and sugar with a small amount of butter, you’ll be whipping up some delightful, light golden biscuits with a taste of yesteryear.  The recipe is fairly fool-proof. I have experimented with it adding other ingredients, as well. The results are always delicious! For the full recipe click the tab: Good Friends, Yummy Recipes, or refer to DESERET NEWS, February 22, 2017.



Who needs a holiday, birthday or anniversary to enjoy a delicious dessert? Easily whipped together, this recipe was prepared by my mother often while growing up. Simple ingredients, big taste. Perfect for a last minute get together, sliced to your liking for big or small gatherings. If there is any left over, try this as a midnight snack with milk, or a thin slice for breakfast (!). If love is expressed in the form of food in your house, serve this at your next family gathering. There will be “ohs and ahhs,” with each yummy bite.  Enjoy, enjoy~

This recipe was featured in the Deseret News, February 16, 2017. Click the tab: Good friends, yummy recipes for the ingredients and simple steps.


Skinny Dipping through the holidays~ Before you hide your bathroom scale until Ground Hog Day, begin healthier feasting with my favorite specialty condiment. Served with fresh vegetables, fruits, on salads, as a spread for yeast breads and crackers– you’ll find this protein-packed dip infused with one fresh squeezed lemon and a shake of Parmesan cheese. All ingredients are blended together in under a minute. The secret is changing up the texture of cottage cheese, any type. For complete recipe go to: DESERET NEWS, DECEMBER 20-21, 2016 or click on the tab above: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES.  Merry Christmas and a bright and healthy New Year!





Chicken and cream~ If chicken is a mealtime favorite at your house, but you occasionally feel you’re in a cooking rut, here is a creamy twist and solution as you menu plan. This smooth blend of whipping cream and vegetables will quickly rise to the top of a recipe collection. Calling for 2 cups of unwhipped cream it brings the chicken and vegetables together creating a happy marriage of flavors. Serve with pasta, rice or a simple green salad. For the full story and recipe: DESERET NEWS, OCTOBER 11-12, 2016. CHICKEN WITH A CREAMY TWIST.




After-school cookies~ Cookies are a great conversation starter with your children and teenagers. Who doesn’t like a freshly baked cookie or two after a long day at school or work? Welcome them home with a yummy, healthy platter of good-for-you snacking. No matter what their day looked like, treat your family to these “kitchen sink” morsels-loaded with goodness. For the full story and recipe: DESERET NEWS, August 30-31, 2016. COOKIES FOR AN AFTER-SCHOOL TREAT.

after school cookies



SUMMER 2016!

Lemon to lemon cake~ If you love all things lemony, you’ll be eager to dive into this yummy, tart, summertime dessert. Requiring just one medium sized lemon and a few basic pantry ingredients, this cake delivers a moist center and a lovely crown of golden crust to top. Finish it off with a simple glaze combining the juice of your freshly-squeezed lemon and granulated sugar. It does not get much easier. For the full article, recipe and story: DESERET NEWS, July 5-6, 2016. From lemon to lemon cake, this is one sweet loaf.

Lemon Loaf cake        Cookbook Photos 9.2.12 102



Sweet satisfaction, Butter Pecan and Coconut Cookies~

Butter pecan and coconut cookies

If you are looking for a quick dessert, look no further. Sometimes it’s nice to serve something non-chocolate (but, believe me, I LOVE chocolate!). Whether you’ve got a block party, barbecue or last minute family gathering, this cookie recipe will be a staple to your recipe collection. For the full story, go to Deseret News, June 7, 2016. Or click the tab above: Good Friends, Yummy Recipes.



SPRING 2016~

Baked Cheese Crackers. Easy-cheesy.

cheese crackers plated 2           Mormon Mama Book Cover

So simple to prepare and absolutely the best option for a needed cheese fix. All the trickery happens in your food processor. This is a great recipe to make with your kids, too. For the full story and recipe go to Deseret News, April 12, 2016. Making homemade baked cheese crackers.

cheese cracker dough   cheese cracker into freezer


Cream Cheese: Beyond the Bagel!

March 30, 2016 Deseret News. Have you tried adding cream cheese to your cookie dough? The results are delicious. Moist, cake-like cookies. Don’t skip the simple step of chilling the dough. About 30 minutes in your refrigerator does seem to add magical power. Dark chocolate and cream cheese… Pour yourself a tall glass of milk!

Find my complete recipe in Deseret News: March 30, 2016 Use Cream Cheese Beyond the Bagel.

cream cheese cookies cooked     Mormon Mama Book Cover

bowl of ingredients cookie dough bowl of cookie dough


Fox 13/ Salt Lake City, Utah GET THE SCOOP ON PASTA. PASTA 101, February 26th, 2016. After getting over my jitters, this was a very fun experience. “THE PLACE” with hosts Brittany Graham and Dave Nemeth.

Fox 13 Salt Lake City                        Mormon Mama Book Cover

Watch the segment by clicking on the link below:

Get the scoop on Pasta                                                                                                                          



Souper Bowl of flavor article 2016

A wonderful recipe landed in my lap more than 25 years ago, and it’s turned into a family favorite. For the full recipe and story behind it, go to Deseret News January 26th, 2016. Enjoy this down home comfort meal with simple, wholesome ingredients. Let your slow cooker do all the work! Pair with cornbread, specialty loaves or serve in hollowed-out bread bowls


Bay leaves and golden mushroom soup are key players not to be substituted.

Well-trimmed chicken or turkey can be traded for stew meat.

You get extra points for having small bowls of shredded cheese for garnish.

Tackle family mealtime without a lot of effort and expect rave reviews. I hope your favorite team wins Super Bowl 50 ~Shannon



Pasta and Vegetables


Here’s the skinny on pasta: It does not make you fat. Pasta and vegetables can be simple, healthy and satisfying.  Try my winning combination of whole wheat penne, fresh vegetables and lean chicken.  For the full story about pasta’s healthy perks and benefits go to DESERET NEWS for Wednesday December 30, 2015 or find the recipe, ” SECOND HELPING PLEASE” in Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook. Whether you’ve made a resolution to eat healthier or if you’ve got some holiday pounds to shed, do NOT eliminate pasta from your menu and meal planning. Pasta’s perks may surprise you~


It’s November! I want to start everyone off with a simple dessert for the holidays (that includes Valentine’s Day!).  Fudge~Perfect for gift-giving or that last minute sweet serving at the end of a meal. Two ingredients, three if you add in nuts, and prep time takes just minutes. Use up those half bags of chocolate chips or chocolate bars in your baking supplies. *Watch my video tutorial below.

Shannon Smurthwaite Fudge Recipe Video

fudge white and dark large

fudge plated larger




October 17th is designated as National Pasta Day~ Consider preparing a bowl of mild, creamy Fettuccini as a fun meal to share with your family. You don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a simple recipe this good. You’ll find the full recipe in Deseret News, October 13-15th or in my book on page 77 of Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook.

fettuccini article plated


FALL 2015

Pumpkin Cookies 1

My time Saving PUMPKIN MORSELS, featured October 6th, 7th, and 8th, in Deseret News. Take 2 cake mixes (spice and yellow), canned pumpkin and dark chocolate chips. Use specialty fluted mini pans, cupcake tins or bake as cookies. Their ease to whip up, taste and festive touch welcomes the holidays coming right at us. Love pumpkin? Short on time? This is your go-to recipe. Enjoy~

pumpkin morsels 2  pumpkin morsels 3



Italian Fruit Salad

Anytime of the year we can enjoy seasonal fruits to create a mouthwatering salad, sure to please and satisfy. Healthy, and filling, this recipe requires 5 main fruits with the enhancement of lime and lemon, freshly squeezed to complete the dish. Served as a main dish or side, ITALIAN FRUIT SALAD is a burst of flavors. Prep with a good knife and chopping board then expect compliments as it is tossed together in a bowl. Pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwis and bananas. It does not get much simpler. Right now that combination of fruits lets summer linger just a little longer. The flavor combination is a great change to your holiday fare, too. Stay healthy and enjoy!

Full article: Deseret News, September 15-16. A fruit salad to enjoy as summer lingers. Recipe from Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook.


SUMMER 2015!

SLOW COOKER MEATBALLS, Deseret News, July 8, 2015

better meatball 2

When summer arrives, I want to be in my kitchen as little as possible, If you plan on stashing away your slow cooker until fall, think again. Before dashing off for a fun day with family and friends, consider tossing a few ingredients together, selecting the proper setting on your slow cooker and letting enticing aromas welcome you at the end of your busy day.

This recipe requires only one pound of lean (93 percent lean) ground beef and produces six satisfying portions. For sub sandwiches, add three cups of your favorite red sauce, homemade or store bought. Use large French or focaccia bread, or even burger buns. There will be a little sauce left over for dipping. If it’s meatballs and pasta you’re craving, add six cups of red sauce. For the truly adventurous, splash two quick drops of hot sauce into the meat mixture as you prepare it.

For subs: Slice each meatball into thirds, using 6 portions per sandwich. For pasta and meatballs, slice each meatball into halves. Makes 6 hearty servings. ENJOY!

For full newspaper article: Deseret News, July 8, 2015: SLOW COOKER MEATBALLS MAKE SIMPLE SUMMER SUBS Shannon Smurthwaite

Meatball recipe, adapted from MILLIE’S MEATBALLS, Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook, page 101

meatballs 2meatballs 3meatballs 4meatballs 8



tomatoes in crate

tomatoes in caprese salad

THE CAPRESE SALAD, IS SIMPLE CUISINE (Deseret News, July 29, 2015)

Nothing is quicker to prepare, more eye appealing and yummy on a summer’s evening than the Caprese Salad. Tomato season is upon us, so take advantage of the bounty. Wash, slice, drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Add thick cuts of mozzarella cheese and garnish with basil. A little salt and pepper and you are ready to go. If you’re lucky enough to have your own garden or a neighbor who generously shares their abundance, tomatoes can be washed, chopped and frozen for winter stews, soups and sauces. Tomato season typically begins in late June and can go well into October depending on your location. Many argue the tomato is a fruit over the usual concept of vegetable, and it all began with tariff taxation over a hundred years ago. There are so many varieties to choose from. No matter it’s classification, the tomato is a versatile staple in my kitchen. Full, complete recipe in Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook.


SUMMER 2015!

Montana Dessert 4

Raspberry Crème Cups: Perfect, icy, refreshing for hot summer days. Most kitchens stock these three basic ingredients in summer months: Vanilla ice cream, lemonade and graham crackers. A snap to prepare, and fun to let young chefs experiment. Use cupcake tins to hold cups in place while you freeze. You’ll find my recipe by clicking the tab: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES (Article featuring Raspberry Crème Cups in Deseret News, and Harold-Times, June 22-23, 2015)




Carbonara Article 2015 II

The date was June 2, 1946, and many Italians were very ready for a change. They successfully give the boot (pun intended) to the governing monarchy and became a republic. Festa della Repubblica or NATIONAL DAY of ITALY was born and with this birth emerged new embraced freedoms that were robustly celebrated. We all know change can be good and it can also be applied to how we prepare our meals. Bacon is popping up everywhere. Milkshakes, specialty breads and most recently I was introduced to a cookie recipe requiring those crunchy strips. This pasta dish keeps three pans doing all the work. Cook your linguine in one, bacon and sausage in another, while the third whips up the foundation for a creamy sauce. What is created may just surprise your taste buds. Find ways to celebrate the small and the big things in life. And don’t be weary of change. (Article in Deseret News, Herald Times, May 26-28, 2015- A pasta dish that celebrates change). For the complete recipe click on the tab: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES.


SPRING! 2015 ~

summer grains cooked on platter

One of my food articles recently ran in several newspapers and I want to share it with you. This recipe is now one of our family favorites, changing up the predictable rice side dish. This restaurant inspired recipe does not disappoint! It is the marriage of quinoa, orzo pasta and wild rice. It requires one sauce pan or stockpot and ingredients most likely in your pantry right now. Served with fish, poultry or red meat, my personal favorite is with a platter of hot-off-the-grill vegetables. I have had dozens of comments regarding this versatile recipe. It is healthy, a little nutty in taste and full of satisfying flavors. You’ll find my version of SUMMER GRAINS, by clicking on GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES on the tab above. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy! ~ Shannon      (SUMMER GRAINS, PERFECT IN ANY SEASON– featured February 18-19, 2015, Deseret News)


JANUARY 2015 ~

Carlas Brown photo Carlas Bell Peppers

“A whole lot of love and a little Cayenne.” What a treat to feature my friend, Carlas Brown, chef, caterer and expert in smoking meats. His big break came years ago at a vendor’s show,  the Annual Soul Food Extravaganza, when a popular BBQ booth ran out of their food way too early in the event.  Carlas shared, “word got around fast that this boy Brown can grill.”  When customers taste his recipes they usually state, “You must come from the South with the way you smoke your meat.” His talents lead to restaurant ownership and catering, but his recipes remain top secret. His slogan: It’s all in the sauce.  When people beg for a clue to his famous cooking his reply is usually, ” a whole lot of love and a little cayenne.”  Carlas is sharing his recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers. You’ll find it by clicking the tab: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES. You can also learn more about Brother Browns BBQ by visiting his website:  Thank you, Carlas!



Nicole Hines 1


Don’t these rolls look yummy? Well, they are!  I have two versions for you. A traditional way to prepare them and a short cut method for the time-pressed cook. Just in time for the holidays, just in time for any day. Paired with soup, a comforting casserole or pasta dish. You’ll want to keep this recipe handy!  One great thing about being a self-professed “Foodie” is that you discover even your close friends share your same passion for preparing and dining on all things edible. You know they are a TRUE friend when they share a recipe (and aren’t we flattered when they want one of ours?).  My aerobics instructor is one such friend. A professional cake decorator and baker, the mother of 4 children, happily wedded to a terrific husband, Nicole Hines has always loved being in the kitchen. As a teenager she made dinner from scratch for her large family. Her favorite creations came in the form of baking. Rolls, cookies, cakes….. all of it. She is artistic and creative which only adds to her successful business.  She has graciously shared her GARLIC BASIL KNOTS here on My Italian Mama. Find the version that best suits your needs. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to prepare these. And make plenty for all the turkey, ham and roast you have left over. Yummy sandwiches await. Thanks, Nicole! For her recipe click on the tab above: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES.  More about Nicole and her business go to:

Nicole Hines 3  Nicole Hines 4

cropped-ATT00091.jpg                                            Ravioli

NATIONAL DAY OF PASTA! October 17th, 2014. You don’t have to be Italian to celebrate this holiday. With over 600 known types of pasta, possibly more, join in the fun and serve up a platter for your family or friends this week. You will find a few of my favorite ideas and recipes here on my blog and, of course, dozens more in my book. Smothered in red sauce, white or pink sauce, tossed with herbs and butter, or topped with grilled vegetables, price per pound pasta is still a bargain. Check out whole grain and gluten free options, too. Don’t forget filled pastas, as well. Tortellini, ravioli, stuffed manicotti. Oodles of noodle options. Gather together and enjoy this once a year passage! Mangia! ~ Shannon


FALL 2014~


Andrea photo1

This month I introduce Andrea Ovard, AKA: The Baking Dietitian, to My Italian Mama followers.  As Fall is upon us she is sharing one of her treats perfect for tailgate parties, Halloween gatherings and weekend sweet tooth slaying.  Appropriately named, her Cinnamon S’more’s Cupcakes will, indeed, keep you wanting “s’more.”   Andrea is already a success at her young age, recently graduated from college and now working as a Clinical Dietitian at a large hospital in Utah. Her love of cooking and baking led her to this career. Always looking for a healthier version, never sacrificing taste, is her goal. My family and I have been the lucky recipients of her baking creations, each has been delectable! She is also a very successful caterer. Andrea started baking for family members birthdays and friend celebrations. Word spread fast about her yummy desserts. She has her own website: and blogs at: featuring both healthy and a few not as healthy recipes.  For Andrea’s Cinnamon S’more Cupcake recipe, click the tab: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES Andrea photo 2  Andrea photo 3




Christie Northrup 1

JULY 2014

Summer time is lemonade time! Make your own and find a life lesson or two in the “mix.” Meet my friend, Christie Northrup, Marketing director extraordinaire, successful business owner, philosopher of life and a terrific cook. She and her husband reside in Las Vegas, Nevada. Christie, tired of hearing the saying, “when life gives you lemons…”, takes this philosophy one step further. “If you are having some sour situations in life, they can actually be dissolvable if you add something sweet, like a simple smile, to the experience.” She adds, ” I don’t know many people who know how to make real lemonade!”  After some experimentation, Christie has developed the perfect thirst quencher.  You’ll find her recipe on the tab: Good Friends, Yummy Recipes right here on my website. More about Christie and her other delightful products and promotions, visit her at:



Mormon Mama Book Cover

My recent article: Deseret News, June 17th, 2014 We’ve all done it. Praised a meal or dessert, then begged for the recipe from a friend, family member or co-worker. Then, when we try the recipe ourselves, it just doesn’t turn out the same. Sometimes, it’s a complete kitchen disaster and we’re left to ask one question: Why couldn’t I get it right? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you attempt to successfully reproduce that perfect dish and sidestep culinary disappointments. • In an attempt to replicate the recipe, we tweak it. Even small tweaks can make a big difference in how the dish turns out. Sometimes, we fall prey to the thought, “I wonder how it would taste if I just added a little ….” It’s OK to personalize a dish or meal, but you can overdo it, especially when trying a new recipe. When you’re attempting a new dish, stick to the directions. • Maybe we lack all the ingredients or want to save money and decide to substitute. If a recipe lists butter, don’t use margarine. Let’s say you want to re-create a gooey, scrumptious chocolate bar a friend brought to a birthday gathering. While the recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate, you substitute milk chocolate, which is all you’ve got in the pantry. Or, you fell in love with your sister-in-law’s biscuits and gravy dished up at a family reunion. Of course, the recipe calls for buttermilk (which you don’t have) so you substitute whole milk. Then, you scratch your head and wonder why it didn’t taste or look exactly like the original. • Or maybe we try a shortcut that seems obvious, even though it’s found nowhere in the instructions. Beware of shortcuts! They seldom work, and then you’re stuck: You either start all over or serve up a meal that’s less than what you hoped for. The following recipe is a prime example of why you should resist the temptation to substitute or cut corners. I’ve tried it multiple ways, and my attempts haven’t had a happy ending. I always go back to preparing this recipe step-by-simple-step. No shortcuts allowed. Your second-grade teacher was right: Follow directions. Or pay the consequences. Remember, these are rules for attempting a recipe for the first or second time. Maybe after you’ve mastered it, you can stray a little from the recipe. Let’s face it, part of the fun in cooking and collecting recipes is with repetition you can fine-tune a dish to suit your taste buds. But in the beginning, experience has taught me to stick with the tried-and-true instructions. When it comes out just right and people ask you for your recipe, you’ll understand that it was worth all the effort. From my kitchen to yours, buon appetito.   Orzo and Rice 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/3 cup orzo pasta, uncooked 1 cup rice, uncooked 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 1/4 cup water fresh cracked pepper Parmesan cheese slivered almonds, optional In a small frying pan, heat olive oil on medium setting. Add orzo pasta and saute 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Stir well to keep from burning. In a large saucepan, bring rice, chicken broth and water to a boil, then reduce heat to lowest setting. Add sauteed orzo and olive oil mixture into large saucepan. Give it all a good stir, then cover with lid. Let simmer about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off stove and let the covered pan sit for 15-20 minutes. Fight the urge to stir until serving time. Garnish with remaining ingredients to taste. Serves 4- 6. — “Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook” by Shannon M. Smurthwaite Shannon M. Smurthwaite is a Southern California native. The mother of four children, she and her husband, Donald, reside in Idaho. She is the author of “Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook.” Website: Email:



Betty Spaghetti photo Ravioli

MONDAY, JUNE 2: NATIONAL DAY OF ITALY! Italian or not, preparing (and eating) PASTA is a fun way to celebrate National Day of Italy. Summer salads, topped with meatballs, in your favorite soup- the PASTAbilities are endless! Pasta 101: Let’s Cover the Basics: Use your biggest stock pot when preparing a full pound of pasta. You never want more cooked pasta than pan! Salt, not oil, is the preference. Shake a teaspoon or two into your boiling water. That slightly flavors the pasta and keeps it from sticking together. Rolling boil is the point where the water typically will not stop bubbling by stirring. This is the point you want your pasta in the cooking process. If pasta is in hot, not boiling, water it may start to break down. When in doubt, read your pasta box or bag. Different shapes require varied cooking times. If pasta will be used for a casserole, slightly undercook it. Cooking will complete itself either in your oven or skillet. Just make sure you have the right amount of liquid to accommodate the second step. Pasta typically doubles in size at completion. It’s one of those visuals to keep in mind while creating in your kitchen. You’ll be surprised how quickly pasta can overcook. The result is mushy pasta, not a yummy taste nor appealing texture. “Al dente,” or to tooth, means you should feel a slight resistance when you bite or cut into pasta with a fork. Al dente is perfectly cooked pasta for most dishes.  Buon Appetito!



Carrie Paternoster 3 Carrie Paternoster 2

Meet my dear friend, Carrie Floto Paternoster. Her love of cooking didn’t begin until she was a new bride. Carrie shares, “I have a wonderful Mother but bless her heart she was never much of a “cook from scratch” kind of gal. So I had to learn on my own.”  She states that her confidence grew while watching favorite T.V. chefs and trying their techniques and recipes. Carrie knows her strengths, and I can attest to her desserts and catering. She is a master at cookies, cakes and pies or as she tells: all things desserts and baking. Carrie’s culinary talents are self taught by “lots of practice.” She and husband, Ryan, have been married 17 years and have 3 beautiful daughters. When she is not creating in the kitchen she is out running, working out, hiking, biking or shopping. Carrie is sharing her CHICKEN TETRAZZINI with us this month. Click on the tab: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES for one of her specialties!


Sam photo  Meet Samantha Mello, a wonderful cook, new bride and an inspiration to all who know her. Her love of cooking began while watching her grandmother do her magic in the kitchen, which led to her own Easy Bake Oven as a child, and of course, mud pies in the family yard. She professes her culinary skills really developed while attending Boise State University, as a coed. She is inspired by Rachael Ray and is always eager to try new recipes. Her Roast Beef Pizza/ Philly Cheese Steak Pizza, featured here is amazing! She prepared it for our family about 5 summers ago and it was a hit! Of late, she has used my recipe for Perfection Pizza Dough (Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook, page 33) to prepare it. It is such a fun twist on our beloved traditional PIZZA obsession that it must be shared. I loved the way she smothered this in white onion. The flavors marry together for a unique dish. Couple her pizza with fresh fruit or a salad and you have a delightful meal. For the entire recipe click the tab: GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES. Thanks, Samantha!

Sam Mello photo

Samantha and Justin Mello



ARTISAN BREAD! Meet Porter Smith, a fourth grader from Meridian, Idaho. He’s a typical 9 1/2 year old (clearly proud of that 1/2 year) who loves Legos, football, Krav Maga self defense and pizza topped with sausage, pepperoni and pineapple. There is one exception — he loves making bread and navigates with ease around his family’s kitchen. He and his father, Brittan, are my most recent reasons for dusting my hands with flour and trying Artisan bread … again. Porter boasts, “My favorite part is getting the dough all squishy in your hands.”  A couple of years ago, while living in Arizona, Brittan found an easy recipe for the two of them to try. It was a hit. With Porter’s repeated success, it’s his dream to head to Boise’s famous Saturday Market and set up a Father and Son’s booth to sell his yeasty creation. His mother, Darcy, said, “Even when Porter was very young he expressed his desire to grow up and live at home to cook for the family everyday.” As Porter was rinsing the sticky dough from his fingers, he told me he and his dad make three or four loaves twice a month, only keeping one loaf for themselves. The others get shared with friends and neighbors. His school teacher was a recent recipient. “She loved it, and kept eating small pieces of it all day,” chimed Porter.  Butter, jam or just toasted, Porter loves his Artisan bread. And I agree!  For Porter’s full Recipe, click my GOOD FRIENDS, YUMMY RECIPES! tab. You won’t be disappointed!

Bread from Smiths Artisan Rosemary Bread Artisan Bread photo Porter and Brittan 2

I love making this bread! Taken from a popular New York Times recipe which ran a decade ago, I can’t stop preparing this. Only 4 ingredients… I’ve added my own twist to the recipe experimenting with cheese, oils and herbs.  My inspiration? A father and his young son. Their story and RECIPE coming next month.  Welcome and Happy New Year!  With the new year, comes a new web design. While I’m still a bit “under construction” as changes are improved daily, I’ll be up to full speed shortly. Find a new recipe, share a family favorite with us. Join me at a book event or blog tour, or let me know how you smother your pasta. It’s all right here.  Click on any tab above, leave a comment if you feel impressed to do so….. Enjoy MY ITALIAN MAMA! I’m a regular on facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, too. I hope you’ll visit here often~ 

Blessings and joy in the coming year. ~Shannon