Five quick and easy recipes from Chicago’s Diapered Contessa

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, aka “Iron Chef Toddler.”

This week, my 2-year-old daughter Viva would like to share with you some menus that features a taste of the Old Country with a contemporary American rugrat spin. You see, Viva has a tricked out play kitchen and started cooking with Daddy and Mommy and Grandma and Nana and Great-Grandma at an early age (when Daddy made dinner with Viva in a Baby Bjorn, prompting Grandma to chastise him for letting the baby buffer all the splashes of hot oil from the stove.) So she’s no stranger to the culinary arts.

The next time your stomach says, “Mangia,” try some of these inspired dishes from our Diapered Contessa:

Jelly Bean Frittata

  • Frittata cook time: 20 minutes.
  • Jelly bean prep: 1 minute.

When Daddy provides you a baked egg dish, add some festive flair with pilfered jelly beans from the leftover Easter candy. Make sure to hide the jelly beans in your bib until the frittata is served, then press jelly beans into the eggs. Laugh uproariously.

Pick around the eggs.

Also works with malted milk balls.

Polenta con Salsiccia Annegato nel Succo del Mela (Sausage Polenta Drowned in Apple Juice)

  • Sausage and polenta cook time: 35 minutes.
  • Sippy cup prep time: 30 seconds.
  • Spill time: 1 second.

Nothing bespeaks the verdant hills of Northern Italy like a savory polenta, and nothing makes your Daddy as hilariously red in the face as when you fuse generous helpings of it with your beverage.

Unscrewing the child-proof top to your cup takes patience, but if you try, you can get it done while Daddy and Mommy fumble with the wine rabbit. Move fast when dumping your drink onto your plate, and be quick to panic and cry, and you’ll get not only delicious plate of tomato sauce and fruit juice, but dinner theater as well!

Tutti Cannoli Subito (Entire Cannoli at Once)

  • Pre-purchased cannoli: 0 seconds.
  • Prep time: 0 seconds.

Sometimes Daddy brings home dessert from neighborhood places like Lickety Split and new favorite Royal Cupcake. He is not, however, always generous with portions.

Circumvent his stinginess by pointing to the cannoli and asking to “see them for one little second.” Daddy is slow in mind and body.

Snatch the cannoli with your cat-like reflexes, and stuff cannoli in mouth sideways, until your face is stretched out like a gag in a Tom & Jerry cartoon you have never seen.


Serves 1.

Peperoni Legno Su con il Naso (Wooden Peppers Up the Nose)

  • Kitchen assembly time: 3 hours.
  • Cook time: 30 seconds.
  • Prep time: 5 seconds.
  • Time to staunch the bleeding: Varied with clotting factor.

Ask your Daddy to attempt assembly of large play kitchen. Watch Daddy stare at the pieces with dismay.

Call Grandma to finish assembling kitchen.

Once kitchen is assembled, stir wooden peppers rapidly in small frying pan over imaginary heat for 30 seconds. Sing a misheard lyrics from the Beatles, “Yellow Submarine.” Remove peppers from imaginary heat.

Ask Daddy if he wants to try some peppers. Tell him they are “tasty and delicious.” When Daddy is crouched down, attempt to stuff peppers deep into his nostrils, aiming for the brain stem.

Serves 2 (nostrils).

Pasta Della Luna (Pasta of the Hardwood Flooring) con Rapini Ignorato (with Ignored Broccoli Raab)

  • Cook time: 12 minutes.
  • Prep time: 45 seconds.
  • Cleanup: Extensive.

Have your Daddy boil your pasta in salted water until it is al dente, then drain and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process, toss with olive oil. Put pasta in large bowl and demand that bowl be placed on the floor. Daddy will be either too naïve or too weary to deny you.

While Daddy coddles the rapini in garlic butter, spill an entire cup of freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano onto the pasta and agitate the mixture with your hands.

When the pasta proves hot to the touch, dump the bowl onto the kitchen floor and strew the noodles about liberally.

Once thoroughly coated with filth, return the noodles to the bowl and mash with both hands until pasty.

Smile proudly.

Do NOT eat the rapini. It is gross.

Buon Apetito!

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