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Getting fresh with Teresa Giudice

"Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice says there are four things every aspiring chef should have in the kitchen.

"Extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Those to me are the essentials," she says. "And if you look at all my recipes, that's how I cook."

Growing up in an Italian household, Giudice learned how to whip up pasta dishes and other authentic fare early on.

It was her heritage and love of food that inspired the reality star to write four cookbooks and to create a line of pastas and sauces, called Skinny Italian.

This week, Giudice will appear at two South Florida book signings to promote her new culinary guide, "Fabulicious! On the Grill: Teresa's Smoking Hot Backyard Recipes." The book contains 70 recipes that are perfect for summer grilling, and are healthy, too.

"When I cook, I like to use simple, fresh ingredients, and I don't use too many seasonings," she says. "If you're going to use parsley, use fresh parsley. That's how they cook in Italy. My parents are off the boat, I'm first generation, and that's how I try to keep it going."

Her family is often a source of drama on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." With the Bravo show now in its fifth season, Giudice says she's happy that things are starting to mend between her, her brother Joe Gorga, and his wife, Melissa.

"This season, it's going to get better. But everything is good with my brother now," she says.

Part of the family bonding took place during two trips with the cast, one to Lake George in New York and one to Arizona.

Giudice is a fixture in the tabloids, which often run stories about her marriage. But she says her critics don't faze her.

"I'm a pretty confident person, and I really don't let too many things get to me. I know who I am," she says. "As long as you're confident in yourself, I think whatever people say doesn't really matter."

Teresa Giudice will appear at 8 p.m. Thursday at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave., in Coral Gables and at 7 p.m. Friday at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. Go to

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