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Feeding a Small Village (aka My Family)

"How do you feed eleven kids?!?!?!" is one of the questions I get asked the most, so I thought I would share some of our favorite family recipes and show you what I do. My life is complicated enough, so I have learned to simplify through necessity. I don't do seven course meals except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. For everyday living, it's either a one pot meal or a simple meat and vegetable offering, or maybe some pasta (we are Italian-American, after all).

While only the youngest six of our children are currently living with us, the other five often join us for a family breakfast or dinner. Recently we had everyone over for a Sunday brunch, where I served scrambled eggs (both plain and with veggies), bacon, chocolate chip pancakes, and fruit salad.

Pancakes on the left, egg prep and fruit salad on the right

Veggie scramble with onions, peppers, and asparagus. Bowl of fruit salad in the background

Higher protein chocolate chip pancakes using this tasty mix with milk and eggs

It takes two ovens to broil all the bacon!

I make the fruit salad and the pancake batter first, and then I start broiling the bacon. My fruit salad is made of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, but you can use whatever fruits you like. I buy organic when possible.

For the veggie scramble, I chop the vegetables (usually onions, peppers, asparagus and mushrooms) and saute them in some of the bacon drippings, and then add a dozen eggs and some salt. I also scramble about eight eggs without veggies in another pan, as not all of my kids like veggies in their eggs.

Kodiak Cakes Power Cake mix for the pancakes is delicious, and it uses whole grains and extra protein. Maximize their protein content by adding milk and eggs to the mix instead of just water. I cook them in a special pancake pan that makes six perfect little pancakes at a time. Heat the pan with some butter, scoop a little batter into each section of the pan, and then sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top. Flip them when they start to bubble. When they're done cooking, top with maple syrup if you like. Yum!

One of our family's favorite dinner dishes combines fusilli or rotini pasta with tomatoes, zucchini, and pine nuts in a recipe that I got from a cookbook called Sundays at the Moosewood.

Ingredients for tomato, zucchini and pine nut pasta

Summer Corkscrew Pasta (Fusilli Estevi) from Sundays at the Moosewood

Serving Size : 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 pound fusilli

8 finger sized zucchini or 2 medium

3 cloves garlic -- minced

1/3 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large tomatoes -- cut into /2 inch cubes

1/4 cup fresh parsley -- chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil -- chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 cups Bel Paese or mozzarella cheese -- cut in 1/2 "


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large covered pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the fusilli,

stir, and cover the pot until the water comes to a boil again.

Meanwhile, cut tiny zucchini into whole rounds or cut medium-sized

zucchini into half or quarter sized rounds about 1/4 inch thick. In a

heavy skillet, saute the zucchini, garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil

until the garlic is golden and the zucchini is barely tender, for just

a few minutes. Put the zucchini into a large , wide serving bowl an add

the tomatoes, parsley, basil, cheese, lemon juice and extra-virgin

olive oil. Add black pepper to taste and mix well.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the serving bowl.

Toss everything and serve immediately. Pass the parmesan.

The finished pasta with homemade chicken strips and a crusty french bread

I like to serve this pasta with homemade chicken strips that I dip in a slightly beaten egg and then panko bread crumbs and bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Another favorite dinner dish in the Cimorelli house is a big pot of chili, which I serve over tortilla chips and then top with shredded cheese.

Chili Cimorelli-Style

4.5 lbs ground beef

1 onion

1 green pepper

4 cans kidney beans

4 cans diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce

2-4 Tbsp chili powder

Salt to taste (about 1 Tbsp)

Tortilla chips

Shredded Cheese

Brown ground beef, add chopped onion and pepper and saute for a few minutes until slightly softened

Add balsamic vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, chili powder, kidney beans, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour.

Serve on tortilla chips, top with shredded cheese

This is also tasty served on a hot dog, turning it into a chili dog!

....and the finished dish!

Recently we had a birthday dinner for Lisa and Nick, and Lisa requested chicken parmesan and an ice cream cake. Mike had asked me to make ratatouille sometime, and it turned out to be a perfect combo with the chicken parmesan and some French bread!

Three pans of chicken parmesan served over spaghetti, ratatouille, and French bread. The beginnings of a homemade chicken soup from the bones of a rotisserie chicken cooking away on the back burner.

Chicken Parmesan

Two packages of chicken tender cutlets (Costco sells these in sets of 3 generous-sized packages)

2 boxes Panko Parmesan and Herb bread crumbs

4 Eggs


Olive Oil

1 jar pasta sauce (I like tomato basil flavor)

1 bag of Italian shredded cheese (parmesan, romano, mozzarella, provolone, asiago)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat 2 large skillets coated with a generous amount of olive oil

Lightly beat 4 eggs in a bowl

Place bread crumbs in another bowl

Dip each cutlet in the egg mixture and then the bread crumbs

Place in hot skillet, salt to taste, and brown each side

Pour a thin layer of pasta sauce in each 9x13 pan

Place the browned and breaded cutlets on top of the sauce

Top with shredded cheese

Bake for about 20 minutes, until chicken is done and cheese is melted

Serve over spaghetti


1 eggplant

1 green pepper

2 zucchini

1 onion

Olive oil

Garlic salt

Italian seasoning

2 cans diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut eggplant into small cubes

Slice green pepper, zucchini and onion

Saute all vegetables in large skillet with a generous amount of olive oil

Sprinkle with garlic salt and Italian seasoning

Add 2 cans diced tomatoes

Bring to a boil

Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 min, until liquid is bubbling and veggies are done

Dinner is served! Our family is so large that we use both the table and the large island counter. :)

The two birthday crazies with their ice cream cake. :)

Easy Ice Cream Cake

9x13 pan

12 ice cream sandwiches

2 cartons any flavor ice cream

Chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)

Chocolate Magic Shell

Cover the bottom of pan with ice cream sandwiches

Scoop ice cream on top (in this case, mint moose tracks) to form 2nd layer

Crush sandwich cookies with a rolling pin and place on top for 3rd layer

Top with Magic Shell

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