My Favorite Italian Christmas Desserts

christmas cookies

What would the holidays be without our favorite sweet treats? They’re treasured family traditions with special memories attached in every bite. We all have our favorite cookies and Christmas desserts that we fondly remember having during holidays of past, so I’m sharing a few of mine because it just wouldn’t be Christmas time without them.

Through out the years I created some of my own Christmas dessert traditions and ones that I intend to keep making each year, plus I’m always on the look out for something new, so stay tuned!

pandoro christmas cake

Italian Christmas Tree Cake with Lemon Curd and Limoncello

Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake with Amaretto and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

 

puff christmas cookies

 

Puff Cookies

fig biscotti

 

Fig and Pistachio Biscotti
rosette cookies

Rosette Christmas Cookies

anginetti cookies

Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies

anise biscotti

Anise Biscotti

fig cookies

Cucidati, Sicilian Fig Cookies

pizzelle cookies

Pizzelle

cappucino biscotti

Cappuccino Biscotti

Happy baking everyone!

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Shrimp Pasta with Spinach and Sundried Tomato Cream

shrimp pasta

Here’s a quick meal for this busy time of year, it’s my shrimp pasta with spinach and sundried tomato cream. It comes together in no time at all and it’s something you can easily make on a busy mid week day. It has just a handful of ingredients but when mingled together create a scrumptious combination. pasta and shrimp

I chose a store bought, fresh made pasta that I bought from my local Italian market, I used two different kinds that were actually flavored with spinach and tomato and combined them both just to fancy it up a bit, but honestly any dried fettuccine style pasta would do.

Also whether you use frozen or fresh shrimp it’s very important to pat it dry, you don’t want any water clinging on to the shrimp, otherwise your sauce will become watery. I like to layer my shrimp between paper towels just to make sure all the moisture is out.cooking pasta

Fresh pasta cooks up in just a couple of minutes, over cooking it will make it gummy and soft and you don’t want that, so a quick plunge into boiling water keeping it nice and al dente.

shrimp pasta

The sauce and all the ingredients are tossed into one pan and finished in the time it takes to cook the shrimp, which is just a few minutes.shrimp pasta

There’s no exact recipe for this but I’ll give you the general amounts that I used. I like to have more shrimp to pasta ratio it keeps the dish a little lighter.

It’s fresh, easy to prepare and tastes amazing, a nice change after all the turkey and trimmings we just had!

Follow me on Instagram to see what I’ll be cooking up during the Christmas season.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Shrimp Pasta with Spinach and Sundried Tomato Cream
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. shrimp, cleaned, deveined with tails removed, patted completely dry
  • fresh or dried pasta, fettuccine style ( I used less than ½ pound)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes packed in their flavored oil
  • a big handful of fresh baby spinach
  • ½ to ¾ cup of heavy cream
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • fresh chopped parsley
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Get your salted water boiling for the pasta.
  2. In a skillet drizzled with olive oil add the garlic and red pepper flakes until slightly golden and fragrant.
  3. Add in the shrimp.
  4. When shrimp is finished cooking drop your pasta and cook very al dente if fresh, if using dried pasta follow time on box for al dente time.
  5. Into the skillet toss in the sundried tomatoes with oil, (the oil will flavor it nice) and heavy cream, it should thicken quickly.
  6. Toss in your spinach at this time.
  7. When pasta is cooked, drain and toss it into the skillet with all the ingredients, tossing and coating the pasta with the creamy sauce.
  8. Garnish with parsley.
  9. NOTE:
  10. You can use ½ lb of shrimp with less pasta, more sundried tomatoes, more cream if you want it creamier, more spinach. Don't get hung up on the amounts, you can't go wrong.

 

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Make Ahead Stress Free Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy

make ahead turkey gravy

Does the thought of making turkey gravy at the last minute stress you out while your guests are eagerly awaiting to eat? Years ago that was the part of Thanksgiving dinner that really stressed me out, gathering up all the drippings, maneuvering big pans, trying to skim off the fat of the drippings so it looked presentable in the gravy bowl.

Well have no fear, this is the solution, make ahead turkey gravy. You can make it days before and on Thanksgiving day just heat it up, no more fussing with the drippings trying to make a nice non lumpy, fat free gravy.turkey

Here’s how you do it!

Buy some turkey parts, they should be readily available around this time of year, a package of turkey wings or turkey legs, you don’t need much.

Here I used a combination of two wings and two drumsticks and placed them into a baking dish with aromatics, as shown above. Add in some herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and a little broth on the bottom, just a little.roasted turkey

Roast the turkey parts in the oven uncovered for around 1- 1 1/2 hours or until nicely golden brown, the house will start smelling good.turkey broth

Then take every bit of the turkey, the bones, the veggies, herbs and all the bits on the bottom of the pan that you scraped up and put them into a stock pot with enough broth to cover. I used turkey stock but chicken would be fine as well.

Simmer slowly for a couple of hours, you’ll see the turkey fall off the bones and the veggies super soft, then let it cool down.

Get yourself a nice mesh strainer, place it over a large bowl and ladle all that goodness into the strainer, turkey, veggies and all. Let all the juices drip through the strainer, helping the process by smashing down with the back of a spoon, you’ll  be surprised how much juice comes out of the vegetables and turkey.turkey drippings

Place your throughly strained drippings and broth into containers, then refrigerate it overnight.

By refrigerating it overnight you’ll be able to skim off all that fat that rises to the top ensuring a rich and fatty free velvety gravy.turkey gravy

 

Then it’s time to actually make the gravy that you’ll be serving to your guests and adorning your turkey, stuffing and potatoes with. Once you whisk it all up and it’s completely finished, cool it down and place into containers.

If it’s just a few days before Thanksgiving, refrigerate it, if a week or more before you can freeze it, taking it out the day before Thanksgiving to defrost, remember now your delicious turkey gravy is completely finished.turkey gravy

Then the best part is while your turkey is resting or being sliced you’ll have your beautiful gravy finished to perfection warming up on the stove!turkey gravy

No lumps, not fat rising to the top, no stress, just rich and wonderful turkey gravy, plenty for that day and for leftovers.turkey gravy

And lets face it there can never be enough gravy!

Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Make Ahead Stress Free Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • turkey parts, wings, legs or a combo of both
  • aromatics, garlic, carrot, onion, celery, sage, thyme
  • 3 boxes of turkey stock or chicken, low sodium
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE GRAVY:
  • one half cup plus probably a couple more tablespoons ( see instructions) of Wondra brand, quick mixing flour if you can find it, if not, regular all purpose flour would be fine also
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of Gravy Master it's should be found in the spice aisle. (it's optional really, you don't need it but I grew up with this, it gives the gravy a richer deeper color)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375.F place turkey parts int a baking dish, not too deep, salt and pepper the parts and add aromatics like garlic, celery, onion and herbs.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and pour a little broth in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Roast for maybe 1- 1½ hours or until nicely golden brown.
  4. Transfer everything into a stock pot, all the veggies, turkey and every bit of those drippings.
  5. Add enough stock to cover the parts, I added 2 boxes of turkey stock, but you can also use a mix with water or chicken stock. Don't drown it just cover it, add in some salt and pepper.
  6. Let it simmer slowly for around two hours partially covered, you'll see the meat fall off all the bones and the veggies will be super soft and fall apart.
  7. Let it cool down a bit then take a mesh strainer over a large bowl and throughly strain all the turkey and veggie contents, pressing down with the back of a spoon to help get all those tasty drippings into the bowl, take your time and let it all drip down.
  8. Pick on, feed to a dog or discard those solids that are left.
  9. Place strained broth/drippings into containers and refrigerate overnight so the fat can rise to the top.
  10. MAKING THE GRAVY;
  11. Skim the fat off the top of your broth before starting to make your gravy.
  12. You'll need two saucepans, one to warm up your broth so it's not ice cold then a separate one you place the stick of butter into to melt.
  13. When butter is melted whisk in ½ cup of flour, and keep whisking until it's nice and golden about a minute or two, then pour the warm broth in and keep whisking until its thickened to your liking. I ended up putting 2 additional heaping tablespoons of flour into mine. In a separate small bowl I placed the additional flour and enough water to make a non lumpy consistency then poured and whisked it into my gravy mixture to make it thicker which I needed.
  14. Taste for additional salt and peeper if needed.
  15. At this point you can refrigerate the gravy into a container in the fridge a few days before Thanksgiving or just freeze it and take it out to defrost the day before Thanksgiving, either way just heat up and serve while the turkey is resting and being sliced. The fuss and mess will be done ahead of time for you and you'll will be stress free at the crucial time before eating on the big day.
  16. NOTE;
  17. I ended up with 2 full quarts of gravy, which is more than enough and don't forget you could still save the drippings in the pan on Thanksgiving Day and make additional the next day or add to what you have left.
  18. Refer to my post for pictures, how many turkey parts I used and the amount of broth to achieve this.

 

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