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Nip It in the Bud

Caroline Manzo tackles questions on her famous pasta e fagioli recipe, lending money, and setting boundaries.

By Caroline Manzo

How to Watch

Watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey Sundays at 8/7c on Bravo and stream next day on Peacock.

Got a question for CarolineSend it.

Debbie from Lynchburg, OH says: Hi Caroline - I so admire you. I heard you mention pasta fagioli on one of the shows. My grandmother made it for me all the time. She passed away before I could get the recipe, and I was hoping maybe you would be kind enough to share yours.

Caroline says: Enjoy! 


3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves chunked
2 small celery ribs chopped
5/6 fresh plum tomatoes diced or 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
Rind (about 2") from block of pecorino Romano or provolone cheese
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
1 16 oz. can cannellini beans with liquid
1 box ditalini or small shells pasta
*Optional - handful of diced pancetta

Put olive oil into the pan, along with celery, garlic cloves (and the optional pancetta). Sauté on a low to medium heat until garlic browns a bit and celery becomes transparent.

Add diced tomatoes, stir, and let simmer for about 15 minutes

Add cannellini beans with their water, chicken broth, and cheese rind and let simmer on medium heat for about 25 minutes. When cheese rind gets mushy remove from pot.

Put up water for pasta, add a pinch of salt, and when it comes to boil add pasta of choice. 

When pasta is cooked add it to bean broth, top with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste and grated cheese – DONE!

Kerry from CT says: You mentioned you had multiple miscarriages. I wanted to know how you got through that difficult experience and how you kept your faith and spirits up about having another baby. Thanks for all your wisdom! Your love for your family is so evident that I know this issue had to affect you deeply and would appreciate your advice.

Caroline says: Thank you for the compliment, Kerry, but I think you're going to be shocked at my answer. 

All of my miscarriages progressed slowly. It was early on in my pregnancies, and although I heard a heartbeat, I never was far enough along to feel movement. It initially started off with cramps, backache, and nausea causing me to visit my doctor who then would put me on bed rest. Ultimately there would be staining which led to an ultrasound that confirmed the lack of heartbeat and life. During those moments of bed rest I had a positive attitude but was always prepared to face the fact that the fetus may not survive. I believe in fate and God's will and that everything happens for a reason. My body was rejecting the pregnancy, and although I was sad, I never allowed myself to dwell on it or fall into a depressive state. I remember walking up and down the hallways of the hospital in order to start the natural progression of the miscarriage at my doctor's request. That's when I cried, because I felt like I played an active role in terminating the pregnancy. Obviously that wasn't the case but that's how I felt. The minute I came out of the operating room after the procedure I had a different attitude. I realized that I wasn't the only person that this had ever happened to and I wouldn't be the last. I also knew that Al and I were healthy and the chances were good that we'd have another pregnancy. I accepted what happened and never looked back.

Overall I had six pregnancies. Three went full term and three didn't. I'm not angry or sad over the three miscarriages, because without them I wouldn't have Albie, Lauren, and Christopher. They are the children I was meant to have. 

I can only suggest that you accept your fate and keep a positive attitude.

Speak to your doctor and be proactive in living a healthy lifestyle, stress and worrying never helps.

I wish you all the good that life has to offer, Kerry, stay positive. 

Carol from East Northport, NY says: Hi Caroline - If you know that one of your family members are in financial distress, do you think that you need to wait until they ask you for help, or as a member with financial means, do you go to them and ask if there is anything you can do to help out?

Caroline says: Feel things out; get to know the hows and the whys of the situation if possible. Approach your relative and have an open and honest conversation, and if you're comfortable with your decision, then by all means offer your help. They may be relieved and more than happy to accept it.

I do have to warn you, if you lend the money out you have to go in with the mind set that you may never get it back. I've seen it happen time and again where money is lent out and never paid back -- It's ruined more relationships than I can count. 

You have a kind heart, Carol, and I commend you for that. Your family is lucky to have you. Good luck!

Newlywed from Rochester, NY says: Hi Caroline - My mother-in-law has a key to our house ands seems to think it's OK to pop in, which is lovely. However, she thinks unlocking the door and letting herself in without knocking is OK, because she doesn't want to startle us or wake us up. I think she's coming from a good place, but it's uncomfortable not knowing when she's going to pop up! What's a good way to approach this and still make her feel welcome and comfortable in our home? We tried politely encouraging the doorbell a couple of times, but it didn't take.

Caroline says: If you have a good relationship with her, tell her the truth. It's all in the delivery; put your arm around her and tell it like it is. Explain to her that you welcome her visits, but you're looking to avoid an embarrassing situation. If you can infuse a little light-hearted humor, that's even better. Hug it out and make sure she gets where you're coming from.

The bottom line is this; it's your house and you're entitled to your privacy. Allowing it to continue only makes it harder to diffuse, and although her intentions are good, it can become an uncomfortable situation and ultimately cause hard feelings. Nip it in the bud while it's new and avoid a bigger problem down the road.

Have a question for Caroline? Submit it HERE and she may just have your answer.

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