Easter Ricotta Pie

easter ricotta pieRicotta pie is an Italian Easter dessert and it’s tradition in my house. Certain holiday foods hold a connection to me and ricotta pie is right up there along with a lamb cake at Easter time. It’s a ritual and it wouldn’t be Easter without it.

I usually make multiple pies because I like to give some away to special people in my life so I make sure right around this time that I’m stocked up on plenty of ricotta and the other ingredients that go into the ricotta pie.

easter ricotta pie There are many different versions of this sweet ricotta pie and every household has their own very favorite. Mine has a creamy blend of ricotta, orange zest, candied orange peel, mini chocolate chips and hints of swirled cinnamon, it’s a dreamy combination of flavors.

easter ricotta pies I usually make this in a ten inch deep dish pie plate but I’ve been known to make it in a springform pan and even a round glass cake pan or you can double the recipe and put it into 13 x 9.

easter ricotta pie Back in 2010 I did a post on my Sweet Ricotta Pie, it’s the same recipe, but I thought it was time for a little updating on my pictures and giving you an easy way to print out the recipe, back then I didn’t have the recipe feature on my blog.

As far as the crust goes feel free to use your own favorite pie dough recipe, I myself have experimented with many different ones over the years, but if making pastry is not your thing you can use a good quality store bought one which I’ve done many times myself.

easter ricotta pie

The end result will be the same, creamy, dense, slightly sweet and filled with flavors that I will remember all my life!

Follow along with me on Instagram where I share what I’m cooking up daily.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easter Ricotta Pie
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 uncooked pie crust, either homemade or a good quality store bought one
  • 1½ lbs. of ricotta *** IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you drain your ricotta good! You don’t want it to be wet, make sure you get all the excess moisture out or else it will affect the cooking time and texture. You could drain it overnight in the fridge or a couple of hours before you put it together or just look for a drier ricotta, not one that is soaking in water.
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus some extra for sprinkling on top
  • zest of one orange
  • ½ cup of mini, semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup diced candied orange peel, either store bought or homemade
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the ricotta with the sugar until very smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat in the vanilla and cinnamon.
  5. Stir in the candied fruit, orange zest and chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.
  7. Place onto rimmed baking sheet for ease of pulling it out of the oven.
  8. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and swirl it with the tip of a knife.
  9. Bake the pie for 45 minutes, or until ricotta is set and toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool down and refrigerate.

 

Signature

Savory Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

zucchini ricotta cheesecake This savory zucchini cheesecake is perfect for this time of year when summer is winding down and zucchini is in abundance. This dish can be served for lunch, brunch or even a vegetarian option for dinner.

It’s made with three different kinds of cheese which you can vary according to your liking, plus it’s baked without a crust which gives it such a light and creamy result.

zucchini ricotta cheesecake

Along with the cheese you’ll taste a hint of garlic as well as the fresh taste of lemon throughout the filling, all of which compliments the zucchini so very well.

zucchini ricotta cheesecake ingredients I’ve made zucchini pies and tarts in the past usually dicing the vegetables, but for a little something different I sliced the zucchini lengthwise, I love how it looks when it’s finished baking!

zucchini ricotta cheesecake It’s very easy, just stick your slices in any which way you please.

zucchini ricotta cheesecake

You can’t go go wrong, it always comes out nice and pretty.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Savory Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 9 inch pan, either a tart pan, pie plate or even a springform pan, it doesn't matter as long as you brush it well with olive oil so nothing sticks
  • 3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise with a knife, not too thin or it will disapear in the ricotta, thick enough so it still can bend a bit, leaving the skin on so you can see the green sticking up from the ricotta, don't bury it.
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup, Pecorino Romano
  • ½ cup of grated mozzarella plus a little more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 garlic clove minced finely
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon each of chopped parsley and basil
  • olive oil for brushing and drizzling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Oil your pan well on the bottom and sides so nothing will stick.
  3. In a bowl add all ingredients and mix well until all is combined.
  4. Place mixture into your prepared pan.
  5. Take your zucchini slices and arrange them into the ricotta, you might have some leftover slices depending on how big your zucchini is.
  6. Place pan onto a rimmed baking sheet for easy in and out of the oven.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes then take it out and sprinkle more shredded mozzarella on top, it will give it a nice golden brown color.
  8. Place bake into the oven and bake for 15 to 30 more minutes, ovens and moisture in the ricotta will vary, just continue baking until golden on top and the ricotta is set, check it with the tip of a knife in the center to see if it comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool down to room temperature before cutting into it.
  10. Drizzle a little olive oil on top before serving.

 

Signature

Whipped Ricotta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

slow roasted tomatoes with whipped ricotta

Before all the beautiful summer tomatoes quickly disappear, promise me you’ll make this! This is like the grand finale of tomato season for me, because soon we’ll be into the cooler weather, fall type foods, but I guarantee come mid January you’ll be dreaming about this like I do.

This combination was meant to be together, like yin and yang, the perfect match.

Creamy, light, fluffy and decadent, whipped ricotta slathered onto extremely crunchy bread and topped with the most intensely flavored slow roasted tomatoes, I can barely talk, it’s that good!

Ingredients:  Great tomatoes, the best bread you can find and good quality fresh ricotta.

slow roasted tomatoes

Normally when I roast tomatoes I put the oven on 400, toss them with olive oil and quick roast for around 15 or 20 mins, but this is a different process, there’s nothing quick about it, you’ll have to give up your oven for at least four hours.

The slow process is exactly why they taste so darn special, sort of like the difference between quick frying onions verses the slow process of caramelizing them, there’s no comparison in taste.

slow roasted tomatoes

You want to get them to the point where most of the moisture is gone but yet they’re still a little moist and limp.

whipped ricotta

Now lets talk about the whipped ricotta, I like to call it Italian Hummus, you can dip it, spread it, whatever you like. I’ve been obsessing about it ever since I tasted droplets of it on top of a pizza this summer.

So simple to make, just place some good quality ricotta into a food processor or a mixer and blend it until it has a smooth and creamy almost fluffy consistency with no lumps at all, you might need a few drops of cream or half and half to help smooth it out. You can then finish it off by folding in some fresh herbs of your choice like, oregano, chives, basil, maybe a little parmesan cheese if you want, salt and pepper of course, and finally a nice drizzle of olive oil on top, just like hummus.  I used chives and basil in mine but it’s a blank canvas so make it your own.

crostini with whipped ricotta and slow roasted tomatoes

Pile it on some of the best bread you can find, toasted of course, then top it with those luscious tomatoes.

Honestly, you can make a meal out of this, it’s that good.

whipped ricotta and slow roasted tomatoescrostini with whipped ricotta and slow roasted tomatoes

One bite and you’ll be hooked!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
 
Make this, it will change your life!
Author:
Ingredients
  • great tomatoes
  • fresh thyme
  • garlic infused olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Slice tomatoes about a ¼ " thick, if cut too thin they will turn out like chips.
  3. Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Brush each slice just on the top with olive oil that has been infused with one small crushed garlic clove.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper but be easy on the salt because it intensify's as it roasts and you don't want it to taste overly salty.
  6. Spread fresh thyme leaves all over.
  7. Place in oven and roast at that temp for 1 hour then reduce oven temp to 200 until tomatoes lose most of their moisture but are not completely dried out.
  8. Mine took a total of 4 hours.
  9. Store them single layer in an airtight container, in the fridge.

 

 

Signature

Tomato Tart with Brown Rice Crust

tomato tart with brown rice crust Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked, right off the vine garden tomatoes, the flavor, the texture, everything is so different, I’m sure going to miss them when there gone, but for now I’m going to enjoy them any which way I can!

Almost every meal I make, including breakfast, you’ll see a side of sliced tomatoes drizzled with good olive oil and sea salt sitting on my table, it’s a staple here in the summer.

garden tomatoes But after hauling in these beauties the other day I decided I’d make a tomato tart for dinner!

brown rice crust for tart I also remembered I had a big bag of leftover cooked brown rice sitting in my fridge, and since I hate to waste anything I thought, why not change it up a bit and make the rice be the crust for the tart instead of pastry dough.  I’m excited to say we loved it, it was so good!

tomato tart with brown rice crust I used a deeper, fluted tart pan but you could also use a deep dish pie pan, I say deep because you want plenty of room for your  rice crust, filling and topping of tomatoes.  Notice the crust edge, it came out perfectly from the pan, it had a nice crunch and chewy texture to it.

tomato tart with brown rice crust It went ridiculously good with the savory, cheesy ricotta filling!

tomato tart with brown rice crust And oh, those tomatoes, what can I say? They were bursting with flavor and took the whole tart over the top!

tomato tart with brown rice crust Would you like me to cut you a wedge?

Tomato Tart with Brown Rice Crust
 
Ingredients
  • 9 inch deep fluted tart pan with removable bottom or a deep dish pie pan
  • FOR CRUST
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small onion diced and 1 garlic clove, sauteed
  • ⅓ cup of grated romano cheese
  • ¼ cup of loosely packed and shredded fontina or any other melting cheese
  • basil and parsley, fresh chopped, 2 tablespoons each
  • FILLING
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
  • ⅓ cup of grated romano cheese
  • ½ cup of shredded fontina or any other melting cheese
  • basil and parsley, fresh chopped, 2 tablespoons each
  • TOPPING
  • vine ripened tomatoes, any kind, either quartered or cut in half depending on size, enough to cover the top of tart
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine the rice, beaten eggs, sauteed garlic and onion, cheeses and herbs, mix well.
  2. Pat rice mixture into an olive oil sprayed tart or pie pan.
  3. Place filled tart pan on a baking sheet then into a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove rice crust and let it cool down.
  5. Turn up oven temp to 400 degrees.F.
  6. Mix ricotta, cheeses, herbs, eggs and garlic for the filling then spread evenly onto the cooled rice crust.
  7. Place your tomatoes all over,slightly sinking them into the ricotta mixture.
  8. Drizzle olive oil on top of the tomatoes and tart then bake for 30 minutes or until ricotta is set.
  9. To finish it, I like to place mine under the broiler to get it a nice golden color on top, but if you do that, keep checking and don't walk away from the stove!
  10. Let it cool a little before slicing.
  11. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

 

Signature

Ricotta Filled Baked Pears and a Giveaway

ricotta stuffed pearsI love making desserts using ricotta so when I first saw this recipe in the cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts, I knew I was going to make it!

Crushed amaretti cookies, almond paste, candied orange peel, some of the pear that is scooped from the centers, cinnamon and vanilla all mixed into creamy ricotta then stuffed into a pear and baked, what’s not to like?
Southern Italian Dessert cookbook I received this book for review written by Rosetta Costantino she’s also the author of the acclaimed, My Calabria. I was instantly drawn in by the cover photo which was a beautiful watermelon pudding tart, I’ve never seen anything like it. When summer returns to Chicago and watermelon is back in season I’m definitely going to make that!

All the mouthwatering desserts in the book are organized by region, you’ll find Sicilian Cannoli, Zeppole di San Giuseppe which are fried pastries, Sfogliatelle Ricce, a flaky pastry stuffed with ricotta, Zabaione al Limoncello, Biscotti and various other Italian cakes, pies, cookies and candies and gelato. No doubt I will be referring back to this book quite often.

almond paste and ricotta fillingFor the stuffed pears I needed almond paste which I didn’t have, no worries she tells you how to make it in the book along with many other tips. It was actually quite simple to make, blanched almonds, sugar, water and a little almond extract whirled until it forms a paste in the food processor.
hollowed out pears The key is to find firm but ripe fat bottomed pears so you’ll have plenty of room to stuff them with the ricotta mixture.

baked pearsAs the pears are baking the ricotta mixture puffs up inside and over the top. The recipe gives you the option to then eat it as is, or to drizzle the pears with a chocolate sauce.
chocolate coated baked pears Obviously I went with the chocolate!chocolate coated pearsricotta stuffed pear One word…. DECADENT!

Would you like to win a copy of this book? One lucky reader of mine from the U.S. who makes a comment here on this very blog post will be sent a copy directly from the publishers. The winner will be chosen randomly on Sunday 10/13/13 and announced next week. Anonymous comments will not be accepted.

Ricotta Filled Baked Pears and a Giveaway
 
Ingredients
  • 6 firm-ripe pears
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta, well drained
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup crushed amaretti cookies
  • 5 tablespoons of almond paste, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 tablespoons packed finely chopped candied orange peel
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of vermouth or sweet white wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • CHOCOLATE SAUCE
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ALMOND PASTE
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of pure almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus 1 teaspoon if needed.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400F, rack in center oven. Have a 8-inch square pan ready.
  2. Cut off the tops of each pear and set aside. Use a melon baller or a small spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a ¼ inch all around careful not to poke through bottom. Discard seeds, chop flesh and set aside.
  3. Place ricotta into a bowl. Stir in egg, amaretti, almond paste, orange peel,cinnamon and vanilla. Add chopped pears and stir to combine everything.
  4. Place pears into baking pan, fill the cavities with the ricotta filling. Replace the tops on the pears.
  5. Stir together the wine, sugar and water then pour mixture into the pan. Bake until soft and beginning to collapse, mine took a little over an hour. Filling will puff out and brown. spoon some of the sauce over the pears.
  6. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold or overnight.
  7. Serve the chilled pears in shallow bowls, drizzled with chocolate sauce if you so desire.
  8. CHOCOLATE SAUCE is made my heating the cream until the sides start to bubble, turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shinny.
  9. ALMOND PASTE is made by placing the almonds and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until it looks like fine cornmeal then add extract, water and remaining sugar until a paste forms. This can be frozen but thaw 1 hour before using.
  10. Notes: If you don't have candied orange peel I would use grated fresh orange peel from 1 orange. I used half and half instead of heavy cream for the chocolate sauce and that worked fine. This recipe has been slightly adapted.
Signature

Butternut Squash Cannelloni with Ricotta and Kale and a Lemony Sage Brown Butter Sauce

stuffed cannelloni It’s that time of year when you start seeing butternut squash all over the place, it’s my favorite kind of squash so I usually always have one on hand sitting on my counter ready and waiting for me whenever I need it. I’ve made scones with butternut squash, individual lasagna, stuffed shells, gnocchi, ravioli, tossed it in salads, soups, risotto’s. I made other lasagna, sformato, tarts and even pizza with it, and I’m sure I missed a few, but never stuffed it into cannelloni, until now!cooked squash Fresh ricotta, kale, parmesan and a little lemon zest gets mixed into the tender baked squash for a very flavorful filling.pasta sheets Try to get a hold of some good quality fresh pasta sheets, you could make your own if you like especially if your doing it for a crowd or for the holidays but this is my quick mid-week version.  I like to cut my store bought pasta sheets in half, I find the cannelloni gets too doughy otherwise. So for every sheet of pasta I can make two cannelloni.filled cannelloni Spoon on a generous amount of filling then roll them up and place each one seam side down on a buttered baking dish.stuffed cannelloni

When finished, spoon the nutty brown butter sage sauce that has a touch of lemon all over the cooked cannelloni, tossed together a nice salad, and dinner is ready!

Butternut Squash Cannelloni with Ricotta and Kale and a Lemony Sage Brown Butter Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 package of good quality premade pasta sheets
  • 1 lb. ricotta drained of liquid
  • ¼ cup of chopped cooked kale, squeezed and drained (swiss chard or spinach will also work)
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped and smashed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • xxxx
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  • juice of ½ a lemon
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Add squash to a parchment lined baking sheet then drizzle both halves with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tender and knife tip goes through easily, about 45-60 minutes. Let it cool completely then scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
  3. Add ricotta, egg, grated cheese, garlic, zest and squash into a food processor and pulse, just until mixed. You can also whip it all together by hand.
  4. Add in the chopped kale little by little folding in between, just making sure the greenness of the kale doesn't overwhelm the ricotta mixture.
  5. xxxxx
  6. Cook pasta sheets for 2 minutes in boiling water, then cool them in an ice water bath. Drain on tea towels.
  7. xxxx
  8. For assembly, cut pasta sheet in half, my package had 8 sheets so I was able to make 16 cannelloni from it. Add filling then roll up placing them seam side down on a buttered baking dish.
  9. xxxx
  10. For the sauce, melt butter in a sauce pan on medium until bubbly and golden brown, throw in all 10 sage leaves, let them sizzle and get crisp.
  11. Take sauce off heat and squeeze in juice from ½ lemon.
  12. xxxx
  13. Spoon a tiny bit of sauce on top of each shell and sprinkle each with grated parmesan or romano. Loosely cover with foil and place in 400 oven until filling is cooked, around 15 minutes, remove foil spoon remaining sauce on top along with the crispy sage leaves. Place back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove and enjoy!
Signature

Making Calzone

Calzone, the perfect stuffed pizza folded over and baked, usually made as an individual serving and stuffed to perfection with various meats, vegetables and cheese, it’s the ultimate pizza pocket!
Start out with a pound of pizza dough, you can make your own or buy a good one, cut it into 4 equal pieces then let it rest to room temperature covered with a towel.
While your dough is resting you can get your filling ready, I like to use roasted veggies, always some spicy Italian sausage, precooked and sliced and a few different cheeses like fresh mozzarella, asiago and ricotta.
Oh, and some pretty green spinach and usually fresh basil I mix in with the ricotta.
Assemble your calzone with the ingredients of your choice, I made a vegetarian version and a meat one. Load your filling down the middle, not quite to the end, leaving some room for crimping. Take the top of the dough and fold it right over the filling to resemble a half moon, then crimp the edges.
Have your oven preheated to 400 degrees, then place the calzone on a baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with dry polenta or corn meal, doing this will ensure a nice crispy crust, and we like a nice crispy crust don’t we?
Make sure to brush the uncooked dough with olive oil, a little cracked pepper and a sprinkling of grated cheese before baking.

Bake for around 30 minutes or until a rich golden color develops. Warning!  Your house will smell amazing!

For my veggie version before each bite I swiped my calzone in some olive oil and balsamic glaze, crazy good!
The meat version was draped with warmed homemade marinara, the perfect companion.
Now go and make some calzone!

Buon Appetito

Signature

Pumpkin, Savory and Sweet

I knew I was going to like this recipe the minute I saw the picture in Ottolenghi’s book, Plenty. His “Crusted Pumpkin Wedges with Sour Cream” just caught my eye! It’s all about the coating that gets pressed into the pumpkin and then when baked, turns crispy and crunchy!

I had the perfect size pumpkin just waiting for this recipe, it weighed about 1 1/2 lbs. I just cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and sliced it into wedges.

I have to say this would be perfect with really any squash, I normally don’t cook with fresh pumpkin that often so I was surprised it tasted just like any other squash, so next time I think I’ll do this with acorn squash instead because I think the crusted rings would look beautiful on a platter. As far as the taste goes it’s absolutely delicious!
Each wedge gets brushed front and back with olive oil then a mixture of grated parmesan, breadcrumbs, fresh parsley and thyme, lemon zest, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. The mixture gets pressed on both sides of the pumpkin and then baked in the oven. I did mine at 400F until deep golden. You can actually see the recipe as you look inside the book on Amazon here. A perfect side dish for the holidays!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know I love ricotta, I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t have some sitting in my fridge, as I write this another pound is in there calling my name, so when I saw Martha’s,” Pumpkin Ricotta Crostata” in her book, “Pies and Tarts”, I knew I’d be making it.
She of course did hers a lot more fancy in a tart pan with pasta frolla dough with a pretty lattice pattern on top with pine nuts. I wasn’t that energetic so I used Trader Joe’s pie dough and made a free form tart and garnished it with pumpkin seeds because I’m still not buying pine nuts.

This is made with canned pumpkin, ricotta and mascarpone cheese flavored through out with vanilla and the spices in a pumpkin pie. Martha uses just nutmeg but I like all the warm flavors you get in pumpkin pie spice.

The perfect quick dessert with a dollop of whipped cream and a nice cup of coffee!
Happy Fall!
Signature

Weekend Eats

A Creamy Berry Puff Pancake is the perfect thing to make for that lazy weekend breakfast, why go out when you can pull this together in no time while you’re still all comfy and cozy in your slippers!

Put the coffee on, relax and read the Sunday paper while it’s baking in the oven, it only takes
20 – 25 minutes.

The batter takes 5 minutes to whisk up, it consists of ,** 1 cup of flour** 1 cup of milk** 4 beaten eggs** a pinch of salt** 1 teaspoon of vanilla** 1 tablespoon of sugar**
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in an 8 inch oven proof skillet, next pour 1 cup of the batter in, swirl it around and place it in a preheated 450F oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
You’ll be able to make two 8 inch pans like I did, using 1 cup of batter in each or one large pan using all the batter plus the 2 tablespoons of butter. I would think at least a 12 inch skillet size would work, although I never tried it. I have a 14 inch and I figured that was too big.
The sides puffed up perfectly just like they’re suppose to, creating the perfect vessel to fill!

I filled mine with berries and sweetened ricotta as the base, the ricotta was mixed with,
** orange zest and powdered sugar** **less than a cup of ricotta** ** 2 0r 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar**, taste it to your liking.
Slice it into generous wedges and drizzle with warm maple syrup for the perfect ending!
Recipe adapted from food.com

If you prefer brunch, make yourself this Pasta Frittata, you’ll be amazed at the different variations you can create with just, **a handfull of leftover pasta** some eggs** a dollop of ricotta cheese** grated cheese** and fresh herbs**
After my frittata’s start to “set” on top of the stove (where the egg mixture stops moving), I like to finish them off under the broiler, but don’t walk away, keep watching it, believe me it could burn in a matter of seconds! Just get it nice and golden brown.

I like to serve this with an arugula salad tossed with an olive oil, lemon and parmesan dressing. So good!

If you want to add a little meat to your morning breakfast try this Baked Sausage and Eggs.
I like to serve this in individual gratin dishes for a nice presentation.
** Preheat your oven to 375F. ** Use 1 link of Italian sausage per serving, casings removed and browned before baking** Butter or brush olive oil into your gratin dish** Crack 2 eggs plus 1 egg white into each individual dish** Sprinkle your favorite dried seasonings over top along with grated parmesan cheese, I used fennel and oregano for mine** Scatter with halved cherry tomatoes** Bake until eggs set, ovens will vary**
Relax and enjoy your weekend!
Buon Appetito
Signature

Ricotta Stuffed Meatballs

I got the inspiration to make this the other night while I was flipping channels on my remote, I came across a show on Food Network it was either “Unique Eats” or “The Best Thing I Ever Ate“, I can’t tell you which one it was but the girl was just raving about these Ricotta Stuffed Meatballs that she ate at some restaurant.
What caught my attention was the brilliant way in which the Chef stuffed them, he did it by freezing balls of ricotta, placing them inside the meat and them forming the rest of the meat all around it.

I couldn’t wait to try out his method, it sounded so easy!
Martha once had someone on her show who baked the meatballs first then took a apple corer and cut through the center of the meatball after which he took a pastry bag filled with ricotta and squeezed it into the hole, sounds like a lot of work to me plus you’re wasting some of the meatball, and besides I wanted my ricotta cooked.


There was no recipe, I just winged it, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to do.
Mix up your ricotta in a separate bowl, I added romano cheese, salt, pepper, chopped basil and parsley to mine, no egg.
The size of your meatballs will determine the size of your ricotta balls, I made a few giant meatballs, like one per person size and I also made regular sized ones, so I rolled my ricotta accordingly, placed the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and into the freezer they went for about an hour.

While you’re waiting mix up your meat, I usually always add, garlic, onion, egg, grated cheese, moist bread, salt, pepper and fresh chopped parsley to mine.

When the ricotta balls are frozen and ready to go, take some meat in the palm of your hand, place the ball of ricotta inside, then cover it with more meat to form a ball, that’s it!

Although it’s hard to see the perspective in this photo, these were the giant meatballs I made, one was enough per person to fill you up.
I served these big ones with a salad and roasted cauliflower for our dinner.

I also rolled up a tray of regular sized meatballs, I was curious to see if it would work and the ricotta would stay tucked inside after they cooked, and It did perfectly!

Bake them in a hot oven 400F – 425F
until done, of course that it will all depend on the size you make your meatballs.

Let them cool down a bit before you try to stick your fork inside
otherwise the ricotta will just run out. Trust me, I know!


Spoon some freshly made marinara over the top, dowse it with grated cheese
now grab your fork!

I’m telling you my dear friends, this…was …
good!!
Buon Appetito!

Signature

Wine Infused "Beer Can" Chicken

Plopping a whole chicken on top of an open can of beer and then roasting it on a grill might sound odd but once you try it you’ll be hooked!

Beer can chicken is something I’ve been making for years, and with very little effort it always seems to come out perfect. Usually I’ll make a dry rub of several different spices like cumin, paprika, garlic, cayenne, dry mustard and brown sugar and rub that all over my bird.

But this time I wanted to try something different and use wine instead of beer, and replace the dry spice rub I with a fresh herb mixture consisting of lemon peel, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and a drizzling of olive oil which made a nice thick paste. I rubbed the paste all over my rinsed and patted dry chicken, making sure to get it underneath the skin as much as possible, then I let it sit for a good 30 minutes.
In the meantime I opened up a bottle of wine that was room temperature, rinsed out some empty tin cans and then proceeded to pour the wine into the cans, making sure to leave a little room at the top. I used an inexpensive chardonnay which had some citrus notes, a good choice for the chicken.
You can find beer can chicken holders in many different stores and on line. There’s double and single holders, some are very fancy and some very basic, they all work well. You really don’t even need to use a holder because the chicken usually balances perfectly just right on the can, but a holder makes it easier for you to pick up and move the chicken.

Lower your chicken over the can until the can is inside the body cavity, this will insure that all the wine will infuse throughout the bird, then to make sure that the steam doesn’t escape just place a sliced onion wedge on top where the neck cavity hole is.

Having a gas grill makes it easy to regulate the heat, make sure your cooking temperature stays between 350 and 375 degrees. Depending on the size of your chicken times may vary, mine took 1 1/2 hours to reach the internal temperature of 180.
Never place the chicken on direct heat, I have 3 burners I shut the middle one off and that is where I place my chicken, the other 2 burners are on.
For charcoal grills read manufacturers suggestions for indirect heating.

Make sure you let your chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it.
The result from using wine instead of beer was fantastic, the herbs infused the chicken with so much flavor, the wine made the meat so tender and moist and the skin was super crunchy, a win win situation!

For one of my sides I made Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes. Plum tomatoes stuffed with grated cheese and basil, it went excellent with the chicken.

I got this recipe from my friend Stacey’s blog, I’ve been making them over and over, they’re that good!

I also made some Italian Potato Salad. Green beans, tomatoes, olives, red onion and potatoes all dressed with olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
A nice alternative to a mayo based potato salad.

I have to give a shout out to my hubby who always keeps our yard looking so good with all the flowers he plants. Next week the forecast is finally looking warm, the tomatoes and other veggies are ready to go into the ground. Stay tuned for updates!

Buon Appetito!

Signature

Fresh Strawberry and Ricotta Tart

I love this time of year when fresh fruit and berries are popping up all over in the grocery stores, and even though it’s not quite the season yet they’re looking really good and there’s always some kind of a sale going on which makes it even better! So I just can’t resist buying berries every week.

Most times I’m mixing them up in some Greek yogurt which is very satisfying in itself, but every once in a while I like to make a tart or a pie of some sort. When I found this recipe I knew I was going to love it, strawberries and ricotta go so well together.

This is not an overly sweet dessert, in fact the balance is just right, the creamy ricotta actually complements the strawberries in a way that lets them shine through. And lets face it, glossy fresh strawberries topped on any dessert is hard to resist!

We couldn’t resist, as you can see!
Adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts
The original recipe calls for a short dough crust, but I felt like a graham cracker crust so I made that instead, but feel free to make or purchase your favorite pie crust.
For my version you’ll need:
1 ½ c. of finely ground graham crackers
1/4 c. sugar
5 Tbs. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. salt
Firmly press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.

Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups strawberries hulled, and sliced on the thick side
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Here’s what you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Using a beater, mix your ricotta, cream cheese and sugar together on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Pour the filling into the prebaked tart shell and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges have puffed up and toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a rack, then chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. Just before serving, put the strawberries in a bowl. Warm the strawberry jam in a small sauce pan over low heat, then toss and coat the jam over the strawberries. Arrange the sliced berries on top of the tart and serve immediately.
Note: The tart filling can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Top with the strawberries just before serving.
Enjoy and Buon Appetito!
Signature

Smashed Peas with Ricotta Toasts

I came across this fantastic recipe the other day while I was sitting in the waiting room of my husbands Chiropractor. I picked up the February issue of Better Homes and Garden and while flipping through it, I found this and I instantly knew I was going to make it.

For a split second I thought about silently ripping the page out, but then that wouldn’t be very nice, so I started fishing through my purse but couldn’t find a pen, so I finally just asked the office girl if she would kindly make a copy for me and she did, I was happy!

It’s hard to explain how good this is, but think fresh lemon juice, sauteed garlic, fresh mint and cracked pepper swirled into a puree of peas and edamame flavored with salt and a healthy drizzle of olive oil, but then the best thing is, you take it and smear it on top of a baguette slice that was slathered with ricotta and toasted under the broiler! Oh my, it’s addicting!
This is such a great appetizer, it makes a ton and it’s really healthy, no mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese to make you feel guilty about eating it.

The thinly shaved garlic is a must as well as the coarsely cracked pepper, that along with the lemon and mint make a wonderful flavor combination.

Here’s the recipe:
Adapted from BHG February 2010 issue
1 16oz. pkg, frozen peas
1 12oz. pkg frozen or precooked and shelled edamame
1 T olive oil
4 cloves thinly sliced garlic
2 T lemon juice
1 to 2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup snipped fresh mint
1/2 lb.of sliced baguette
1 cup ricotta cheese
Extra olive oil for drizzling
1. In a large pot cook peas and edamame for 5 minutes in a small amount of boiling water. Drain, transfer to food processor and puree.
2. In a small skillet with olive oil, add garlic and cook till tender. Stir into pureed peas along with the lemon, pepper, salt and mint.
3. Meanwhile, for ricotta toasts, spread baguette slices with ricotta cheese, arrange on a baking sheet and broil until ricotta is warm and bread is toasted. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.
4. Before serving drizzle pea mixture with olive oil and additional cracked black pepper.

Buon Appetito!
Signature