Spaghetti Carbonara

I just love the simplicity of this dish! If you love one pot meals, than this delicious Italian “poor man’s food is for you. I’ll admit I was watching a cooking show, that explored some regions in Italy. It brought me back to my culinary school days. We had to study where and how foods were used in the different locations of Italy. Like cheeses, wine and certain animals.

Spaghetti carbonara back in the the 1950’s were considered a poor man or working man’s dish. Hell! With the price of eggs nowadays, I’d have to contemplate that. These were simple ingredients that most people had on hand in their homes.


Linguine or Spaghetti 1 box

Bacon 1 pack and a half

*1 large red bell pepper

1 lg eggs

Fresh parsley

Parmigiana reggiano

Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe renders 6 to 8 servings

*Feel free to use any veggies you want ie: peas, green bell peppers etc.

How to make

Remember, I said this is actually a one pot dish. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions (please don’t forget to add salt to the water). Once you get a boil, drop in your pasta.

Once the pasta is cooked, set aside in a separate bowl with about a cup or so of the salted pasta water, then cover with aluminum foil.

In the same pot you boiled your pasta, put the cut up bacon and set flame to medium heat. When bacon is 90% done, add veggies (in this case the cut up red bell pepper). Cook for a few minutes until peppers are medium soft, add a little salt and black pepper.

Add cooked pasta to the pot of bacon and bell pepper, let the pasta soak up the bacon grease, then add the fresh parsley (small dice), and a little shredded parmigiana reggiano.

Let cook for a minute, turn off heat, use a fork to whip the eggs in a bowl. Then pour over in the pot to incorporate ingredients stirring gently to coat.

Serve immediately with a glass of red wine, because, to me it makes such a difference with this dish tasting fresh and hot. Sprinkle a little parsley and cheese over the top on the spaghetti carbonara for presentation.

Easy to make and very filling. I do understand why this dish was popular in Piedimonte, Italy many years ago. Ingredients were simple, yet packed a lot of flavor, and filling enough to get villagers through another working day.

Enjoy this amazing dish! I did 😋

Southern Traditional dishes for a lucky New Year

Happy New Year! The above dish was made by my nephew Michael. And, this goes to show that tradition never fades. This dish was certainly a dish my Mom made every New Years Eve. It signifies lots of luck for the new year. Most families that I knew growing up, always prepared black eye peas and collards for luck all year long, in the next new year. It just really made me proud that my nephew continues my family’s southern tradition, with his family. And, I know my mom, his grandma would be proud!

I love the beautiful plating of this dish, and I know it taste awesome!

All the best to everyone in this New Year 2023!

Roasted Pan Lasagna

A few years ago, before my retirement. I met a elderly Italian woman at work, who became a weekly customer. I really enjoyed seeing her every week, we’d exchange conversation about food, daily life, politics, and jokes. One day during her visit she casually asked, “what’s for dinner?” I told her, “thinking of making lasagna.” Her eyes widened, she told me she makes her “lasagna in a roasted pan.” Then my eyes widened. She said she added everything but the kitchen table in her lasagna. She said by the time the lasagna was ready to be put in the oven, she needed her son to carry it to the oven, because it was so heavy. I remember her saying, she added sweet Italian sausages to the sauce. For once, I actually never thought of doing that. And, my OCD had me thinking, that I know I make the best tasting lasagna this side of the east coast, besides I’ve been making lasagna since I was 17 years old. But, I told her I would try that. However, timed passed, and I didn’t see her as much. But, that’s how life goes.

I’ve made lasagna since, but not the way that Italian Grandma made, until now. First of all, I didn’t own a roasting pan, thank you Amazon! Order one for the holidays for the turkey on thanksgiving. I remember wanting to make something different for Christmas. So I thought of the lasagna. I think I would of made her proud!


Roasting pan

Large pot


Chop meat (1 lg pack)

Sweet Italian sausages (2packs)


Bell peppers (all colors) at least 3 different


Tomato sauce (2 1/2 jars of any tomato sauce you like)

Lasagna pasta (1 and a half boxes)

Ricotta (lg container)

Mozzarella (2 packs)

Dry ingredients

Garlic powder

Onion powder



1/2 cup of sugar to break bitterness of tomato sauce

How to make

Brown sausage and chop meat in separate pans, with a little canola oil. Once cooked, cut or slice sausages about an inch. Add everything together in a pot. Add sauce, peppers, onions, and all dry ingredients.

As it braises, keep tasting a long the way, to make sure flavors are on point.

Cook pasta according to box instructions. Please don’t forget to add some salt to boiling water!

Once sauce is done, and pasta is cooled. Start layering.

* Check for demo in lower paragraphs.

* Layering

Bake for 45 minutes.

I will definitely make this lasagna again. My family loved it! It gave me some joy, passing on a tradition.

Italian Butter Cookies

I’m use to baking during the holidays! But, instead of my usual pumpkin, sweet potato, or tart pies. I decided to go with some cookies. Plus, I felt like giving something personal as gifts this year to family, friends, and neighbors, shows love. God knows this world needs a lot of love right now, more than ever. The pandemic really changed this world in a negative way. So much sadness, death, the world is a much different place, than we knew before.

Ok! I’m gonna admit that this is my first time making butter cookies. However, the recipe that follows was tweeked a couple times, and will make a delicious cookie.


3 sticks of butter

3 to 3 1/2 cups of AP flour and some for kneading

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoon vanilla extract


Pistachio cream*

Pistachio nuts*



Semi sweet chocolate chips

Strawberry preserves (jelly)

How to make the dough

I like to use my kitchen aid with the flat paddle. However, you can use a hand mixer. The butter should be a room temperature. mix butter and powdered sugar, then the flour (add a cup at a time). Then go ahead and add your vanilla and the egg yolks.

Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight is best.

If the dough is too creamy, add a little bit more flour, because the consistency of the dough should be able to form a ball.

After cutting out the dough, place on a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bake at 325 degrees for a total of 22 minutes, turning them over midway during baking.

*Let cool, and get your creative juices flowing. Some of my cookie toppings I got from Amazon, especially the gourmet pistachio cream and pistachios already out the shell. And of course your local supermarket.

I enjoyed making these cookies, but it gave me real pleasure when my family and friends enjoyed eating them, and said they tasted good.

I got these jewelry boxes from Amazon. These cute little boxes can hold up to 4 to 5 cookies.

Merry Christmas!


Baked Lobster Tails in butter and garlic sauce

Ok! This is another dish I made first in culinary school. I would of thought that lobster would of been a dish I’d make years before I went to culinary school. Or, at least right after school, it’s been 4 years since graduating. God knows I’ve been eating lobster since my 20’s. However, it came time to conquer making this dish (live lobster and all on my own).

None the less, I did more than the average of just buying it frozen. I bought them alive had to kill it (in the humane way of how I was taught in school). Cleaned, deveined, shelled, and soaked. However, all jokes aside, I really felt bad killing the lobsters. Didn’t want them to suffer any more than they had too. Plus, I remember the chef/instructor making it clear that killing the animals for consumption, it’s important to remember their giving their lives for your nourishment. So let’s make the killing quick and painless. Or saying something to that affect. And, I agree!

* I posted a video of “how to humanely kill a lobster” on my YouTube channel @francieblakes

Baked Lobster tails with shrimp scampi and vegetables.

This recipe minus the lobster “deconstruction” is easy and not time consuming at all. (Of course frozen is available at food bazaar for $7.99 a pound a week and a half ago)! Live lobster will take some time. However, the fresh taste can’t be beat! This lobster tasted so sweet and succulent, taking the time clean and cut up is well worth it to get it live.


4 Lobster tails

Olive oil



Salt & Pepper



Cutting shears

Brush (kitchen)

How to make the sauce

Butterfly or cut back of tails from open end of the tail, stopping at the wing part of the tail. Pull the meat from the tail sides gently. Also, push your finger under the meaty part of the tail to loosen the meat up at the bottom. Pull meat up and cover it over the tail.

For the sauce to brush over the lobster tails, cut up about 4 cloves of garlic into small dices. Also, cut up 1/2 a bushel of the parsley also into small dice. Pour one cup of olive oil into a measuring cup. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper each, and half the garlic and half the parsley. Mix completely.

Brush sauce over lobsters and bake for 20 minutes.

For butter and garlic dipping sauce, microwave for one minute, half a stick of butter and the rest of the diced garlic. Cut up some lemons and your in business.

Sprinkle the rest of the parsley flakes over your completed dish.

Like I said before this recipe can be easy, but if you really want to impress your family and friends with this elegant dish, it’s worth it to do it fresh. You’ll never forget how good it tasted.


Delicious Lamb Shanks! Cook with me!

It’s been a while since I made lamb shanks. As a matter of fact, I was in culinary school 2017. It was also the first time I tasted this delectable meat. I made myself a promise, that I would make this delicious dish again, on the outside world. Not for nothing, but in school I considered that a controlled environment/kitchen, with a head chef.

I love this dish so much. And, I will probably never forget that day in school, because I was assigned by the head chef to make the dish. I believe it was about 2 months in school, and I was still having some difficulties with prepping ingredients from recipes on our iPads. Yes! As confident as I may have seemed, I was still nervous as hell. I definitely didn’t want to screw it up.

Culinary school is very competitive, and this experience was no different from any ordinary student wanting to get it right the first time. I know that you’re probably thinking “how hard can following a recipe be.” Well, like I said before, school was very competitive, and no one wants to look like an idiot. And, the head chef always had eyes on you. However, with a little help from Chef, (because I listened! Lol) I got through the process, and the pressure from other students looking on, and at each other. With the end result turning out great, I realized cooking this recipe wasn’t hard at all. I was so concerned with how it would taste, and how I would look if it turned out bad. My mouth watered after tasting them for the first time, and I believe that was the first time my confidence reached the level I’d been hoping for.

Chef Fran

So how did my shanks turn out? Absolutely delicious! I know that I’m always talking about easy preps for cooking. However, I think this dish will be well worth it, if you want to impress family friends, coworkers and partners.

Lamb shanks
My grocery list

I actually had fun with this dish. Prepping the ingredients gave me joy! I like organizing, and this is a step by step dish. I’ve changed some of the original recipe, because of certain flavors I like.


Lamb shanks

Olive oil



Salt and pepper


Cherry tomatoes



Mushrooms or celery

Red wine for cooking

Chicken stock

How to make

Cut up vegetables

In a pot, add olive oil and brown the shanks. about 4 minutes on each side.

Remove shanks and set aside. Add a little more olive oil, to same pot, then add all the vegetables (but not the garlic), and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Salt and pepper.

Add 2 cups of red wine

1/2 a liter of chicken stock

Press down and roughly chop the garlic, then add it to the pot. Salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then lower and set fire/burner to medium heat. Add the shanks and burry under the liquid.

Add 1 cup of water, then Boil for 2 hours.

Strain the leftover liquid from the pot for a nice sauce.

Don’t forget to have a glass of wine while cooking. That’s just me. 😇

On a Sashimi kick!

One of the Asian foods I was taught in culinary school was sushi/sashimi. Sashimi is a delicious Japanese delicacy, that I already knew all too well. I love it! These past two weeks I’ve be craving this dish. So I ordered it twice from my local Sushi restaurant, and it hit me! Why am I not making this quick and easy to put together dish myself.” “Hey! I got a culinary degree!” “I know this stuff. Let’s put these bad-boy skills to work.”

With today’s supermarket prices salmon is still expensive, however, I still ended up saving by preparing it on my own.

I got lazy, and decided to buy the wasabi and pickled ginger from Amazon. I actually attempted to make the pickled ginger from scratch! But, because of the convenience of Amazon, I decided to not torture myself. Plus, I know I will make this dish again, having those ingredients in my pantry is a savings.


Raw salmon (frozen for 10 days in freezer)*

White rice

Pickled ginger


Soy sauce


*I can not stress enough about putting the salmon in the freezer for 10 days before eating. Raw fish has parasites, and freezing the fish for ten days will kill them. Thaw out in fridge before cleaning, then slicing.

How to Prepare

After the fish has thawed, clean and pick the bones out with kitchen tweezers. Some supermarket salmon bones will have already been removed. Fish market salmon will have to be requested.

Also, cut fish against the grain.

I loved making this dish, especially, because it was easy, simple, and fast! It took longer to plate it, than to prepare it. Im not sure how healthy raw fish can be eating it often. However, I savored eating this dish!

INFLUENCERS!! They Got me!!!

Now that I’m home more, and figuring out my next move in my new chapter in life. I found myself gravitating to watching YouTube a lot more. Now, a few years back, I’ve always watched YouTube to listen to my music. Then, I would watch YouTube for certain cooking videos, which I would compare with the enhancement of my own recipes! Now! I’m obsessed with these influencers! Who knew there was a market for unknowns to openly share every, single “waking” moment thing that they do in a day of there lives!

Okay! So like my apartment is in shambles now with packages all over. I’m literally ordering from Amazon every other day, for that one item now that I gotta have, because I’m a fan of particular influencers. And, now I’ve shocked myself. I’ve always felt myself to be unique, definitely not a follower. I’ve always tutted my own horn. I’m to old for millennial bullshit! Yet, my Amazon prime keeps going “cha ching!”

Maybe, there are a couple good things that I can account for that’s on the positive, instead of thinking Im spending wastefully. Definitely, gotten some DIY projects out the way, that has literally been in the works of getting it done years ago. However, I’ve been feeling a sense of euphoria. “Like, wow it’s complete!” The influencers have actually been an encouragement.

Gotta have my matcha in the morning now. Actually, I’ve been drinking matcha tea for years! It’s the millennials that are catching up! However, I found that I’ve forgotten how much I use love matcha at one time, but these last couple years with the pandemic, and me putting in more hours at work to plan for my early retirement. I’ll admit the influencers have put me in a state of loving me again. Doing things that I had long forgot about. Because life had become hectic, and when life does become a bit busy, we just push on, and neglect ourselves.

So anyhoo, yes! I’ve been spoiling myself. Really? Who needs glass straws, high tech ice trays, overpriced skincare and haircare products, glassware, vases, silk pajamas and plants, and all the little gadgets that assist me with my everyday, deserved needs……Well, me. Oh! And, let’s not forget the matcha! 😎

EarPods Amazon $39.99 white. Compatible with iPhone and galaxy users!
Glass straws from Amazon $7.99 case of 4! And, yes I needed them.

Pan seared Swordfish, with a delicious sweet summer salad

Ahhh Summer. Summer reminds me of new beginnings. Because, it seems like when the warm weather sets in, people want to renew themselves (at least I do). I begin to care now about what I want to put in my body, and what t do with my body. I want to walk a little more, and eat fresh!

Well, I was walking by the farmers market (honestly, can’t get any fresher than that). So, I was eyeballing the fresh fish. Unfortunately, it was almost the end of the day, and the guy was like: “we only have cod fish and swordfish”. I giggled, and told him “I Never made any of those.” However, I’m willing to give the swordfish a try.

After I asked his advice on how to make the swordfish fish because, I’m thinking 17th century England where, am I gonna have to challenge this swordfish to a duel 🤺 to cook it! But, he said swordfish is one of the easiest fish to cook. He advise sautéing it with butter, olive oil, and garlic. So, I’m like “I can do that!” And, his advice to took, glad I did, because it was easy and flavorful. The swordfish fish just absorbed the flavors I seasoned it with.

Ingredients for Swordfish

Swordfish 16 ounce


Red pepper flakes

Sazon compete seasoning

Fresh Garlic or garlic powder

2 ounces of Butter

2 ounces of olive oil

Salt and pepper as desired

How to make

Season fish with lemon, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Pour olive oil and butter in pan, and let pan get hot. (Not crazy smoking). Cook fish about 4 minutes on each side. Maybe a little longer, or a little less, depending on weight of the swordfish.

Season fish

Ingredients for Summer Salad

1/2 Red onion

1/2 a bunch of Cilantro

1 Cucumber

3 Radishes

Half a can of pineapples


1/4 apple cider vinegar

1/4 olive oil


How to make

Some of the vegetables will be small to medium diced. Cut onion in half, then peel the skin back, so you’ll have several layer. Slice the onion in thin strips.

Cucumbers cut in half, scoop out seeds, and cut out as much flesh, but leave a little so the cucumber can then be sliced and cut in cubes.

Cilantro should be leafy, just cut the stems.

Radishes should be cut thin.

Mixed vegetables in a bowl.

For vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients in a measuring cup apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mix with salad

Preparing veggies
Preparing vinaigrette for salad

I needed to add something to this salad to pump up the taste. I wanted something more than just a garden salad. I wanted it to represent summer. So, I added some sweet pineapples. And, yes I used canned pineapples because, I needed the sweet juice that a fresh pineapple wouldn’t give me for this recipe.

I added a little butter to the pan drippings, however, white wine can be used as well. Turn heat on low, and once it’s saucy spoon a little over the fish, for extra flavor.

This is a guilt free delicious dish! I certainly enjoyed it. If you make it, please let me know how it turned out. Just leave a comment.

Till next time!

Follow me on IG franb1965, and check out more recipes and my travels.