Italian Sun Dried Tomato Quiche – 8th Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.


It’s April and Chef Richie Says (you may not be old enough to know what I’m talking about): “Real men DO eat quiche!” In fact, this is an easy way to impress. Quiche is a great brunch or lunch item. Fellas, your lady will be impressed! Ladies, your fella will be so satisfied!

Thanks to our recipe contest home chef entrant Linda Borquez, you now have, here below, the…as Chef Richie Says and us chefs often say…blank for making the recipe yours. The blank slate. The tabula rasa. The blank canvas. You can add bacon (never a bad idea, cook it crispy first) and Swiss (or gruyere, the fancier BETTER Swiss) cheese to make it Quiche Lorraine. Add spinach for Quiche Florentine (which, with the sun dried tomatoes makes it a true winner). And Chef Richie Says one more (hahahahaha) thing: USE HEAVY CREAM INSTEAD OF MILK!!! Quich is basically a custard and it’s smoother, deeper, richer, happier (you know, like YOU) when you use CREAMMMMMMM.



6 Eggs
¼ Cup milk
2 Tbsp softened cream cheese
1 Tbsp chopped chives
1 Chopped green onion
¾ Cup chopped Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves
1/3 Cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 Cup grated Mozzarella cheese
½ Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp pepper
¼ Tsp Italian seasoning blend
1 Prepared pie crust

Preheat oven to 350° degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and softened cream cheese. Add remaining quiche ingredients to bowl and stir to combine. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch. Let rest on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.


Congratulations to Chef Linda Borquez for her Bella Sun Luci 2016 recipe submission! Very nice work chef! BRAVA! BRAVISSIMA! You were very close to being a finalist. Keep up the good work!

Now get cookin’, happy cookin’, and buon appetito!


Chef Richie

Prosciutto wrapped Sun Dried Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken – 7th Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

It’s March and Chef Richie Says, with Valentine’s Day still in my mind and birds and bees pollinating flowers at this time of year and spring equinox, which is beautiful to say in Italian: Equinozio Primaverale and, quoting poet Pablo Neruda: “I want to do with you what the springtime does with the cherry trees.”…in Spanish: “Quiero hacer contigo lo que hace la primavera con los cerezos”, which also sounds beautiful. I MUST still be in Valentine’s Day mode with all of this romance in the air and rolling off my tongue.

And, if you grow your own tomatoes, NOW is the time to get them started!!!

I wish we could cook this next honorably mentioned dish together, from our 2016 recipe contest…Prosciutto Wrapped, Sun Dried Tomato-Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken. I wish we could cook it together because it’s serious cooking, involved, real work, but when it’s this good and it’s spring solstice and you’re cooking spring chicken and working together, it’s as good as it gets. This is what we chefs live for…a yummy challenge; so when you go to cook this dish, do it with someone you love, or at least like. It’s a hot date. Do that.


PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED SUN DRIED TOMATO-GOAT CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN Served with Tomato and Mushroom Risotto, Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

4 servings

¼ cup Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried tomato pesto
8 oz goat cheese, soften
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 8 oz
½ tsp coarse black pepper
12 thin slices Prosciutto
1 tbsp Bella Sun Luci California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2½ cups cooked Bella Sun Luci Risotto Sun Dried Tomato with Wild Mushrooms
3 tbsp Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes with Italian basil, Julienne-Cut
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 basil florets for garnish

Prepare the chicken:
Heat the oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine the sun dried tomato pesto and the goat cheese until mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Place a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound breast until thin. Repeat the process with the remaining breasts. Season both sides of the chicken with coarse black pepper. Spread the tomato-cheese mixture equally over each breast covering the entire surface.

On a flat surface, layer three slices of prosciutto overlapping to form a large rectangle. Lay chicken breast on the prosciutto. Starting at the shortest end of the breast, roll up tight and tuck ends in to form a tight roll.
Secure with a toothpick, if necessary. Repeat the process with the remaining breasts. Chill in the freezer for 5 minutes to let the sundried tomato-cheese filling firm up.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; add the olive oil and sear the chicken breasts toothpick side up. Cook 4 minutes on each side. Finishing cooking the chicken in the oven until the internal temperature reads 155F on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting each breast into five equal sized slices (If necessary, cover with foil to keep warm).

Prepare the Risotto:
While the chicken is cooking prepare the Risotto as per Bella Sun Luci Risotto package instructions, about 20 minutes total preparation time is required.

Prepare the Tomato-basil cream sauce:
Heat the cream and sun-dried tomatoes in small saucepan over low heat until the tomatoes are very soft, about 8-10 minutes. Do not let mixture boil. Transfer tomato-cream mixture to blender bowl and puree until smooth. Pour pureed tomato mixture into a clean small saucepan and return to stove over low heat. Add the shaved Parmesan and cook until cheese melts and the sauce is hot.

Assemble dish:
Spoon the risotto equally in a round mound among four individual warm serving plates. Arrange each sliced chicken breast on top of the risotto, overlapping the slices to form a tight circular pattern. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and risotto. Garnish the chicken with a floret of basil.

Congratulations to chef Anne Callaghan for her Bella Sun Luci 2016 recipe submission! Very nice work chef! BRAVA! BRAVISSIMA! Keep up the good work!

Chef Richie says: “GREAT idea to serve our sun dried tomato and wild mushroom risotto with the chicken! And GREAT idea to serve sun dried tomato cream sauce with it all. You may want to substitute our sun dried tomato bruschetta for our sun dried tomato julienne cut so you can save the pureeing step and add a little flavor, although Chef Carolynn’s version here is also excellent. Either way, the sun dried tomatoes combined with the cream make a pink-ish sauce, also called Mamma Rosa in Italy.”

Once more, congratulations Chef Anne for a lovely recipe. Now get cookin’, happy cookin’, and buon appetito!



Chef Richie

Zippy Tomato Pesto Shrimp – 6th Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

Valenitines day set with silverware

It’s February and love is in the air!!! Chef Richie says, I <3 You!!

If there had been a recipe contest submission for beef heart this year, I’d be tempted to honorably mention it this month (it’s actually really good if done right…we used to grill it at Augusta’s in Berkeley a lifetime ago, served with sweet balsamic reduction gravy). Alas, nobody has thought to add sun dried tomatoes to actual heart. So instead, I’ll honorably mention some other lovey dovey food.

So the next recipe from our 2016 recipe contest that merits honorable mention and a Bella Sun Luci gift box full of our “Products for Chefs” is…drumroll please…Zippy Tomato Pesto Shrimp! Congratulations to Carolynn Stockwell! Very nice work chef! BRAVA! BRAVISSIMA! We LLLOOOOOOOOVVVVE this dish! You were very close to being a finalist. The taste panel and I loved your recipe. Keep up the good work!

1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp
6 tbs Bell Sun Luci Sun Dried Pesto with Pine Nuts
3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to tastePeel and devein fresh or frozen ( thaw first) shrimp.
Heat 12-inch skillet and add olive oil on medium/high heat.
Add Sun Dried Pesto and stir.
Add garlic and shrimp.
Sauté 10-15 minutes or until shrimp is no longer translucent.
Salt to taste, serve over rice, and enjoy!

Chef Richie says: “This recipe is purrrfect for the ‘Festa di San Valentino’. It’s spicy. It’s rich. Just like love, it’s a little nutty (wouldn’t have it any other way, right?). And…it’s super quick and easy, so you can get it done and get busy with your more important business, hint-hint”. And…some of you might want to cut out the garlic, but Chef Richie ALWAYS says…”If you’re both doin’ it, what the heck?!”

So…once more, congratulations Chef Carolynn for a lovely recipe…Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!…and now, get cookin’, happy cookin’, lovey dovey cookin’ and buon appetito!

Amore, and I mean this from the bottom of my <3 …

Chef Richie

Slow Cooked Sicilian Lamb Shanks – 5th Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

Happy New Year!!! Can you believe it?! It’s 2017?! Let’s start this year out with a BAM! Congratulations to home chef Roxanne Chan who came up with a big bold hearty dish for our recipe contest – Slow Cooked Sicilian Lamb Shanks – very nice work chef! BRAVA! BRAVISSIMA!

 Slow Cooked Sicilian Lamb Shanks

8.5 ounces Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, drained, reserving 1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp minced rosemary
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup water
6.5 ounces Bella Sun Luci SunDried Tomato Pesto with Whole Pine Nuts
4 small lamb shanks, 3/4-1 pound each
1 cup torn radicchio
1 cup torn arugula
1 navel orange, peeled, sectioned, chopped
1/2 cup Bella Sun Luci SunDried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Zesty Peppers
1 Tbsp capers
1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives
1/4 cup snipped Italian parsley
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Orange zest for garnish

Combine the sun dried tomatoes, carrot, onion, fennel, beans and rosemary in a slow cooker. Mix together the wine, water and pesto till well blended; pour over the vegetables. Arrange the lamb shanks on top, then cover the pot and cook on Low heat 6-8 hours or till the lamb is tender.

When ready to serve, combine the radicchio, arugula, orange, julienne cut sun dried tomatoes with zesty peppers, capers, olives and parsley. Mix together the reserved 1 Tbsp oil and the vinegar till well blended; toss with the salad to evenly coat. Divide the lamb shanks and vegetables among 4 plates, top each serving with salad, garnish and serve. Serves 4.

This is a great dish for a cold, wintery dinner. It’s the true definition of comfort food. Chef Richie says, “In a comfort food dish like lamb shanks, sun dried tomatoes add Mediterranean flavor, flair and brightness. For all of you out there reading this, if you’re going to enter our online recipe contest (please do!), these are characteristics you should think about when testing and typing your recipe”.

Another characteristic I love about this dish is the salad on top. This is a unique twist and lightens up a dish that can traditionally be very heavy. The radicchio and arugala add crunch and isn’t it true that we all need more crunch in our lives? Buona salute is Italian for good health. Between the antioxidant-rich sun dried tomatoes and lightness of the salad on top of the lamb shanks, buona salute is right on.

So…once more, congratulations Chef Roxanne! I hope your and everybody’s 2017 has lots of crunch and deliciousness to it…and lightness too.


Now, everybody, get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!



Chef Richie

Bella’s Bites – 4th Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

Happy Holidays!!! Tis the season to cook festive comfort food…and the next recipe from our 2016 recipe contest that merits honorable mention and a Bella Sun Luci gift box full of our “Products for Chefs” is…drumroll please…Bella’s Bites! Congratulations to Candy Barnhart! Very nice work chef! BRAVA! BRAVISSIMA! Here’s a gift from Mooney Farms and Bella Sun Luci to add to your season’s collection. You can use these products for your next recipe contest work of art! Hint-Hint!!! You were very close to being a finalist. The taste panel and I loved your recipe. Keep up the good work!



2 (6.5 ounces each) jars BELLA SUN LUCI Sun Dried Tomatoes with Italian Herbs, drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup grated Grana Padano (or high quality Parmesan) cheese
1/4 cup dry Italian style bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease or coat with non-stick cooking spray a 9″ x 9″ baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, eggs , Italian seasoning, hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce until evenly combined. Stir in cheese until evenly combined, then add bread crumbs and blend well. Turn into baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until firm and lightly browned on top. Allow to cool and then cut into 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ squares, or into longer slices. Serve at room temperature.


One technical note, you’ll want to cook this 5-10 minutes longer than it says, especially if you use extra large eggs. It shouldn’t be hard and dry, but it shouldn’t be too wet either.

I didn’t choose this dish because it’s named “BELLA’S Bites”…but it didn’t hurt…our matriarch Gretchen’s nickname is Bella, hence, Bella Sun Luci, so Chef Candy, nice work joining us with the play on words/name game.

This dish is aligned with my two goals in life and as a culinary arts student (which I…we…will always be), chef and teacher. My first goal and what this dish is helping me/us work toward is, Chef Richie Says: “To make Martha Stewart jealous”.

The second goal is to become an Italian grandma…or at least cook as well as one.

I’m allowed to dream, right?

About the Martha Stewart thing…these bites are packed with richness…flavor…heartiness, but…they can be cut daintily. Use round cutters! Cut into small squares and put them on a toothpick with an olive and a caramelized pearl onion or shallot! Cut them into DIAMONDS!…to do this, cut thin strips, then make equidistant cuts at a severe angle and you’ll see you end up with diamonds. Or simply cut into slices like they are pictured above! Chef Richie says: Top them with a dot of chive crème fraiche (fancy word for sour cream) with a pink peppercorn on top, or other fancy garnish. Remember, the goal here is to make Martha jealous!

Once more, congratulations Chef Candy and happy holidays! …and now, everybody get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!



Chef Richie

Sun Dried Tomato Fritters with Stuffed Pork in a Bruschetta Sauce – 3rd Runner Up!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

What are you thankful for? I love going around the table and having everybody say what they’re grateful for…especially kids…they have the best things to say!

This giving thanks month’s recipe from our 2016 recipe contest that merits honorable mention and a Bella Sun Luci gift box full of our “Products for Chefs” is…drumroll please… Sun Dried Tomato Fritters with Stuffed Pork in a Bruschetta sauce. Now THAT’s a mouthful! Congratulations to Chef Aja Breuer! Very nice work chef!

This month I’m honorably mentioning Chef Aja’s recipe because it was seriously in the running until the very end of our testing process, meaning it was REALLY YUMMY. In my notes on the recipe page itself I wrote, “Winner?”…after cooking and taste testing. We have a panel of judges here at Bella Sun Luci and the popular opinion made this dish #4…but some of us did think it could’ve and maybe should’ve won. It’s original, it uses two different Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomato products AND our estate grown arbequina extra virgin olive oil, it calls for professional chef style technique, and presentation, and again…YUM. It’s a Southern (Southern American…not South American and not Italian) dish, but with a sun dried tomato/Italiano twist to it. It calls for additional healthy ingredients like spinach and, Chef Richie Says: This dish has a complex character to it…savory but with sweet undertones from the carrots and red wine, creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts, which, if you read my blog in September you know, is very important in this world of culinary artistry…and science.



Sun Dried Tomato Fritters with Stuffed Pork in a Bruschetta Sauce

½ c Cornmeal 1 ½ lb pork loin cut in half and butterflied
½ c All Purpose Flour 1 ¾ tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder ¼ tsp Pepper
1 Egg 1c Frozen Spinach thawed and drained
¾ c Milk 2 Slices of Prosciutto
1 Carrot peeled and chopped ½ c Shredded Romano
1/4 c Onion Diced ¼ jar Bella Sun Luci Brushetta
½ c Red Wine
½ a cup of Bella Sun Luci Sundried Tomatoes
Julienne cut chopped

For the pork:
Place plastic wrap on top of pork and pound with a mallet until it is somewhat thin. Cut each slice of prosciutto in half and lay across pork. Spread spinach on top of prosciutto and top with romano. Starting with the far side, fold pork over until it resembles a jelly roll. Tie with kitchen twine. Season all sides with 1 tsp of salt and all the pepper In a 2 quart heavy bottom pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and brown pork on all sides. Set aside.

In the same pot, saute onion until soft. Add carrot and cook for one minute. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir in ½ c milk, brushetta and ½ tsp of salt. Return pork to the pot, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until pork reaches 160 degrees. Remove pork from the pot and let rest (tinting it with foil) for 20 minutes. Remove twine and cut into 6 slices.

While pork cools, make the fritters.

For the fritter:
In a bowl combine egg and the remaining milk. In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and ¼ tsp of salt. Mix in the flour mixture with the egg mixture until combined. Fold in the chopped tomatoes. In a skillet, use 2 tbsp of the batter (per fritter) working in batches of 2 or 3. Cook two minutes on each side over low/medium heat. Remove fritters and set aside. Repeat until the batter is finished.

Place three fritters on a plate and top with two slices of pork. Top with brushetta sauce.


Also, it’s holiday time folks! This is a hearty, comfort food style dish that will add a special touch to any special soirée.

So Chef Aja, congratulations for your masterpiece! Thank you for it! Compliments to the chef! And when you receive your Bella Sun Luci gift box, I hope you use the ingredients to come up with another wonderful recipe entry in this coming year’s contest.

And remember the sun dried tomatoes!

Now, everybody, get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!



Chef Richie

Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomato Carbonara – 2nd Runner Up

October 2016 Mooney Farms/Bella Sun Luci Recipe Contest Honorable Mention Blog, Chef Richie Says!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

The second recipe in this series is…drum roll please…Sun Dried Tomato Carbonara, submitted by Leah Canino. Congratulations Chef Leah! Very nice work!

This month I’m honorably mentioning Chef Leah’s sun dried tomato twist on one of my favorite classics, La Pasta alla Carbonara. Actually, classically speaking…Chef Richie Says wink-wink…it’s RIGATONI alla Carbonara. It’s a Roman dish, originally. Several Romans have told me this.

In 2014 when I was in Rome, the night before I saw Pope Francisco give his Sunday benediction at the Vaticano, I had Rigatoni alla Carbona at an awesome restaurant called Al Bacano, near Piazza di Spagna. It was 11:00 at night, I was seated outside, there were people everywhere and it was one of the ten best, most memorable meals of my life. I sat there for three hours, and in addition to the people watching, the carbonara was the highlight. Another thing that makes La Carbonara Roman is the use of pecorino Romano cheese…the Roman version of parmesan, which is sharper and saltier. Chef Richie says: GO TO AL BACANO THE FIRST CHANCE YOU GET!!! And get the Roman Artichokes with Mint.  And the fresh anchovies fried in a breading they put orange zest into. SO GOOD.

Oh…carbonara is called carbonara because a carbonaro is a coal mine worker (coal is carbon in Italian) and this pasta was a hearty macho man meal after a hard day’s work. Basically it’s pasta with bacon, eggs and cheese…rich and stick-to-your-ribs.

Chef Leah’s more Americanized version calls for Parmesan and peas. No peas have ever touched a carbonara in the history of Italy, but it’s ok…I actually like it…and Chef Leah used bacon and not pancetta (bacon is smoked, but pancetta is simply cured…that’s the difference…they both come from pork belly)…and that’s ok too. But there’s a reason Leah’s dish merits honorable mention, beyond me getting to go on and on about Rome, and that reason is, it was YUMMY. La Pasta Carbonara is one of those things that’s a whole greater than the sum of its parts…like a Caesar salad, or lasagna, or a cheeseburger. And it’s simple. And it’s easy to make. The addition of sun dried tomatoes worked BETTER because of the peas. It’s that green-white-red Italian thing…like their flag. So whenever you get a chance, remember Chef Leah and her most honorable use of the Italian green-white-red culinary paradigm. And…remember the sun dried tomatoes!



Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomato Carbonara


8.5oz Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves (in Extra Virgil Olive Oil with Italian Herbs)

8 oz. sweet peas

8oz cooked chopped bacon

1 large white onion chopped

1 TSP minced garlic

8oz pasta (angel hair or your choice)

Sauté all ingredients at medium-low temp for 15 min to 20min. Pour over the angel hair or your favorite pasta and garnish with Parmesan. Serves 4.


Now get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!


Chef Richie

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad – 1st Runner Up!

September 2016 Mooney Farms/Bella Sun Luci Recipe Contest Honorable Mention Blog, Chef Richie Says!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

This is the first blog in a monthly series, to discuss several recipe entries (not entrées) from our 2016 recipe contest that merit honorable mention. The first recipe in this series is…drumroll please…Chef Aleksu Hillerstrom’s Mediterranean Quinoa, Feta, Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad…perfectly timed for the still hot days of summer. Chef Aleksu has followed some of the inside info I hint about below regarding how I look at recipe contest entries, and although this dish didn’t “make the podium”, it was under consideration and the entire taste panel liked it a lot.




2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup hand-shredded baby kale or baby spinach
1 cup thin slices of red onion
1 cup feta cheese crumbles
1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup thin slices of sweet red and yellow peppers
1/2 cup Bella Sun Luci Sun DriedTomatoes, Julienne Cut
1/4 cup artichoke marinade from the jar of hearts (vinegar, oil)
1 tsp+ sun-dried tomato marinade (oil helps keep quinoa from clumping)

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Refrigerate several hours. Let sit at room temperature 5 minutes before serving cold as light lunch or dinner, or side dish.


My blogs won’t always be this long, but I have a few things to explain, this being my first post-contest bloggery this year, so I hope you’ll make it through all of this and keep reading each month, my to-be-shorter works of literary “art” about actual culinary ART.

Ok everybody, let’s talk. Actually, because this blog is called, “Chef Richie Says”, I guess I’ll do the talking. BUT…feel free to e-mail me ( if you want to put in your two cents, or if you have any questions. You can also use your voice on the Bella Sun Luci Facebook page, where you can comment to your heart’s desire…where you’ll find cool cooking videos with Mediterranean flair and lots of info about our annual recipe contest. We’re already receiving entries for next year’s July 1st, 2017 submission deadline and if you don’t already know, first place gets…got…will get…$2,500! So now, I’m guessing, you have some homework to do.

The contest rules are at

FYI, the company is Mooney Farms, the brand is Bella Sun Luci.

…and…Chef Richie Says: If you want my advice about how to submit your recipe, here’s your inside scoop…a reward for reading all of this and an affirmation for your being a chef: A. Use at least one, besides sun dried tomatoes, healthy ingredient. Lots of cream and nothing green, for example, is NOT a recipe for success around here; B) Use more than one Bella Sun Luci product in your recipe! In addition to sun dried tomatoes we produce local estate grown extra virgin olive oil (single olive-arbequina varietal, highest quality, consistently lowest free acidity level year after year)…and…three different risotto mixes, and a super fresh tomato-artichoke pasta sauce (Chef Richie ALWAYS says:…”You open the jar and poof!…an Italian grandma comes out and cooks you dinner!”…best sauce out of a jar EVER), and…we have a line of three Marinades in Minutes for beef, chicken, pork and even fish…Korean Barbeque, Carne Asada and Basque Norte. Really, yes, the contest is about the sun dried tomatoes, but hey…chef…yes YOU…BE CREATIVE! After the grand prize, second place gets $500, third place gets a premium Bella Sun Luci gift box and then…each month…I choose a recipe that didn’t win, place or show, which I call Honorable Mention. These are always interesting, fun-for-me-to-analyze recipes and their chefs also get a Bella Sun Luci gift box.

This month I’m honorably mentioning the Quinoa Salad for the reasons I’ve mentioned…and because quinoa is a gluten-free SEED (not grain) that is chock-full of protein…and because I did have two notes I wrote on my copy of the recipe when I was whippin’ up this dish, to communicate to all of you…so, Chef Richie Says: When the dressing to ANY salad or dish is too oily, ADD RED WINE VINEGAR! And…this recipe calls for a lot of feta and although we here at Bella Sun Luci LOVE feta, try it with half of the recipe’s amount at first…and one last thing that’s not on my notes but is making a lot of sense to me right now, being the King of leftovers and adjustments: If you have leftover roasted (or any kind) chicken, or pork, or whatever’s creative for you protein-wise, I think it will make this dish a bit heartier, like a lunch entrée instead of the simple (but wonderful) salad that it is.

And…remember the sun dried tomatoes!

Now get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!



Chef Richie

2016 Recipe Contest Winners!

Mooney Farms is proud to announce the winners of our 2016 Annual Bella Sun Luci Recipe Contest! It was a great year full of delicious recipes but we have narrowed them down to just three amazing creations. Drum roll please…..


First Place
Shauna Havey
Mediterranean Chicken Tacos with Sun Dried Tomato Crema

Second Place
Mary Hawkes
Mediterranean Potato Pancetta Cakes Topped with Fried Eggs and
Sun Dried Tomato Chimichurri

Third Place
Marie Rodriguez
Mediterranean Chicken Roulade

The grand prize winner, Shauna Havey was awarded a $2,500 cash prize for her mouthwatering Mediterranean Chicken Tacos with Sun Dried Tomato Crema. This year’s competition brought hundreds of delicious recipes but Shauna’s Mediterranean Chicken Tacos stood out amongst the rest. One reason was that Shauna not only used Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes in her recipe, she used them in every step of her recipe.

Bella Sun Luci also named second and third place winners, who won a $500 cash prize and a deluxe gourmet Bella Sun Luci gift basket, respectively. Mary Hawkes placed 2nd with her Mediterranean Potato Pancetta Cakes Topped with Fried Eggs and Sun Dried Tomato Chimichurri and Marie Rodriguez was the 3rd Place Prize Winner with her Mediterranean Chicken Roulade.

For more information and the recipes, go to

Looking forward to seeing more great recipes from this year’s 2017 contest!!!


Bella Sun Luci Cucina Italiano Risotto


Mooney Farms and the Bella Sun Luci brand hit a home run this year with their new line of Bella Sun Luci Cucina Italiano Risottos launched in May. The line consists of three new and unique flavors that have been a great success in trials and at early 2016 trade shows – Sun Dried Tomato, Sun Dried Tomato and Wild Mushroom, and Cranberry Almond. Each risotto offers it’s own distinct flavors that have been created by Mooney Farms’ corporate chef, Richard Hirshen, and Mooney Farms President, Mary Mooney.

“Customers want new, innovative, and healthy dishes to bring to their table”, says President, Mary Mooney. “We create products that promote healthy eating with a gourmet touch. These risottos not only contain healthful ingredients, such as whole grains, sun dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, almonds, etc, but also allow consumers to serve gourmet Italian dishes in the comfort of their own kitchen.”

Each of the three flavors is premixed with premium ingredients and herbs, ready to be prepared directly from the container. “It takes the pressure off the consumer and allows them to serve a traditionally difficult dish without the hassle of following a complex recipe or having to prepare the additional ingredients,” says Chef Richard. “We combined all the essential flavors to you will need to serve a great Italian meal to family and friends in just 20 minutes.”

At 15 servings per container, Bella Sun Luci Cucina Italiano Risotto stands out against the rest because of its great price and value.