Baked Eggs Florentine with Pecorino Crema

eggs florentine

Eggs Florentine is the perfect weekend breakfast or brunch, it’s elegant, so delicious, simple to make with just a few ingredients. If you do a search you’ll find many different variations of this dish, I even put a little Italian spin on mine.

One thing that’s certain about Eggs Florentine is that spinach is the star ingredient, in fact the term Florentine will always indicate that the dish uses spinach.spinach and creama

I had a one pound bag of baby spinach and a container of spreadable Crema di Pecorino Romano that a friend gave me to try, she was curious about it and thought I’d like to try it, which I did.

 

I’ve actually seen it before at my Italian market in the cheese department but never picked one up. It has the consistency of a softened cream cheese flavored with Pecorino Romano.eggs florentine

Since Eggs Florentine generally has a cream sauce that’s mixed in with the spinach, I thought this crema would be perfect, but you could also achieve the same flavors and texture by reducing some cream and adding grated Pecorino, or parmesan cheese for that matter, either would work well.eggs florentine

The eggs lay on a base of homemade marinara which is already flavored with garlic, onions and herbs, you can also substitute a good store bought brand just as long as it’s flavored nicely, so because of that you really don’t have to do anything to flavor the spinach other than wilting it down with a knob of butter and then tossing it into the creamy Pecorino to get it nicely coated.

eggs florentine

I like to use a rectangle baking dish when making this because you’ll be able to cut out a perfect square portion per person.
eggs florentineeggs florentineeggs florentine

Add a little crusty bread on the side if you like and you’re good to go. Make this for breakfast or brunch on your next slow weekend, you’ll love every bite!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Eggs Florentine with Pecorino Crema
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. bag of baby spinach
  • butter
  • 5 oz. container of Crema di Pecorino, warmed and melted down with a splash of cream to loosen it, or make your own by reducing some heavy cream or half and half with a couple tablespoons of grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese until it thickens up, ending up with 5 ounces.
  • Marinara, homemade or store bought, flavored with garlic and herbs, just enough to coat the bottom of the baking dish.
  • 6 large eggs
Instructions
  1. I used a 8x11 rectangle baking dish which perfectly fit 6 eggs and all of the spinach that was wilted down.
  2. Spoon marinara onto the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Start wilting down your spinach, I did it in 3 batches for that amount, placing a knob of butter in a large skillet and tossing it until it wilts, which only takes a few minutes, then set aside.
  4. Drain the spinach in a fine strainer if alot of moisture forms.
  5. Create your cheese sauce either way then toss your wilted spinach into it, saving a little of the sauce to spoon on top when finished.
  6. Spread the creamed spinach on top of the marinara in the baking dish, making 6 indentions for the eggs.
  7. Crack each egg one by one into a separate bowl and let it fall into each spinach indention.
  8. Season with pepper, no need to add salt because the Pecorino is salty enough.
  9. Bake in a 350F oven at least 20 minutes or more or until the white of the egg firms up and is not jiggly.
  10. Remove and let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting it, if you have some leftover crema, you can spoon some on top of each portion.
  11. Enjoy!

 

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Citrus Fruit Ideas to Brighten the Winter Blues

citrus caprese

It’s the beginning of a new year and as I look forward to spring I must admit one of the things I do like about winter is all the beautiful citrus that is available. Maybe it’s the way it makes you feel after over indulging during the holidays, it’s fresh, bright and very healthy for you, and who doesn’t need a good dose of vitamin C during these cold winter days.citrus

Every time I go food shopping I fill my cart with orange citrus, my three favorite varieties are navel, Cara Cara and blood oranges, each have a unique and special flavor on their own and I love to mingle them together.citrus caprese

While I patiently wait for my summer tomato caprese salad, this winter caprese has become my cold weather favorite.

You don’t need a recipe, just layer your favorite sliced oranges with fresh mozzarella, just like you would a tomato caprese. Lay it all on a bed of arugula with an optional sliced red onion ring in between.

 

The dressing is simply fresh squeezed orange citrus juice that is whisked with good olive oil, ( you could add a little white balsamic or champagne vinegar to the mix if you wish) the bitterness of the arugula against the sweetness of the orange and the creaminess of the fresh mozzarella is the perfect combination, especially when the dressing mingles all over it.citrus slicescitrus and fennelcitrus salad

I’ve been making a few other citrus salads as well, one has sliced oranges with fennel, red onion, creamy avocado, a little bit of arugula and toasted hazelnuts.

 

The other one is a huge bunch of arugula, orange slices and toasted hazelnuts, I love the bitter with the sweet. Both are simple to put together and they compliment any protein you might be eating, I especially love it with fish and seafood.citrus with crab cakes

On New Years Day I made this salad along with crab cakes, they complimented each other perfectly with the richness of the crab and the brightness of the citrus.citrus salsa

Citrus in the form of salsa is outrageously good, make it like you would any other salsa only with various varieties of orange segments, chopped jalapeno, cilantro or parsley, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil.

citrus salsa

The salsa’s are wonderful to top off scallops, shrimp, salmon, whitefish, basically any fish, plus it’s light and healthy something we all need after the holidays.citrus with cod

Here’s a one pan meal that is so delicious and it will surely brighten a cold winter day, my baked cod with blood orange, fennel and olives.
citrus with cod

Citrus fruits are not only refreshing they actually make you feel better, there must be a reason why these sunny fruits are available during the darkest time of the year. How many more days til spring?

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Italian Seafood Salad

seafood salad

Seafood salad is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, actually as far back as I can remember this salad was always the first course to a massive Christmas Eve spread, it wasn’t often that we had lobster as kids so this salad was extra special to us and one we looked forward to having. Those flavors and memories have stayed with me my whole life and I love continuing the tradition in my own family.

 

But I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to wait until Christmas Eve to make this amazing salad, actually any special occasion will do, it’s perfect for entertaining as well as having it for a delicious light meal on a hot summer day. Just pick and choose your favorite seafood and put it together,  it’s easier than you think!assorted seafood

For my salad this year I chose bay scallops, calamari, lobster, and two different types of shrimp which have distinctly different tastes. Many Italian families add octopus, baccala, (salt cod) mussels, clams and scungilli or conch, but this is my favorite mix and one that all my guests love, but again you can make it your own with your favorites.

 

To save time I always get cleaned calamari and peeled and deveined shrimp it makes the process go quick and easy and a little more enjoyable.poached seafood

You’re going to poach all the seafood one at a time in an infused poaching liquid and it’s not going to take very long, just a minute or two. I like to use a spider strainer so I can remove the seafood really fast then directly stick it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, when cooled down place the seafood on paper towels to soak up the excess water.seafood salad

The simple bright and fresh lemon and olive oil dressing is what brings all the components together harmoniously.seafood salad

When tossed together you want those flavors to marinate for at least a few hours but even better overnight, just pull it from the fridge and let it warm up a bit before serving.

This salad will become your go to special occasion salad and your guests will go crazy over it. This will grace my table this Christmas Eve and throughout the year.

Wishing all my Dear Readers a Very Merry Christmas and a Very Happy Holiday!

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Italian Seafood Salad
 
You can choose any seafood combination you wish, the amounts really don't matter, just adjust the veggies and dressing to accommodate
Author:
Ingredients
  • This is my seafood combination which made a big platter full.
  • 1 lb. bay scallops
  • 1 lb. shrimp, some whole, some sliced horizontally for a nice presentation, make sure tails are pulled off
  • 1 lb. calamari with tubes and tentacles, tubes sliced into ½ in, strips
  • 2 small lobster tails, removed from the shell
  • 2 fennel bulbs sliced thin
  • ½ large red onion, diced small
  • 3 whole celery stalks with leaves, chopped in small slices
  • a big handful of pimento stuffed green olives, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • lemon slices from one lemon
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • chopped parsley
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • POACHING LIQUID
  • water in a medium stock pot, a good splash of white wine, 2 bay leaves, 1 of the 4 cloves of crushed garlic, salt, pepper and 3 lemon slices.
Instructions
  1. Prepare poaching liquid, get it to a boil then place seafood in one at a time. Bay scallops about 2 minutes, taste one to make sure, calamari, one or two minutes, shrimp until they turn pink and the lobster three to five minutes depending on the size, it will turn pink and curl up.
  2. Use a spider strainer to take them out of the liquid then place directly into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, you want all your seafood to be tender and not overcooked.
  3. Drain onto a paper towel lined baking sheet.
  4. When seafood is all cooked, chop up all your veggies and place into a big bowl, along with the olives.
  5. Add the prepared seafood into the large bowl.
  6. Add the three remaining garlic cloves and toss gently.
  7. MIX UP YOUR DRESSING;
  8. Half lemon juice to half olive oil with a squeeze of dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Whisk it up until it's nicely incorporated.
  10. Drizzle over your salad coating all the seafood and tossing so the garlic and veggies get incorporated.
  11. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, taste for seasoning.
  12. Spoon it into a pretty platter, add some lemon slices, more parsley and a drizzle of olive oil all over.
  13. Cover and let it sit in fridge for at least a few hours or overnight, let it warm up a bit before serving, but don't serve at room temp it needs to be cold.

 

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Make Ahead Manicotti with Tips and Tricks

manicotti

Manicotti is a great dish to make and prep the day before you’re having a party, all the work and mess will be finished and cleaned up and you’ll be left with your perfect pan of piped manicotti ready to be popped into the oven the next day.

Many Italian families make their homemade manicotti crepes-style, but in my family we always used the dry manicotti pasta tubes that come in a box, it’s what I grew up on and what my family prefers, so in this post I share with you some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years in making them.manicotti

Many issues can come up in making the pasta-style manicotti, issues like over cooking, tearing pasta, collapsed tubes which are difficult to stuff and the actual process of stuffing them which can become a big mess, but if you follow my tips you should have no problem at all!

 

I have a box of Wilton, twelve inch disposable decorating bags, I use them every time I need to stuff pasta neatly, I use them whenever I make homemade ravioli for all my fillings plus it makes the process go much faster and cleaner.

 

No tip is needed for the bags, you’re just going to snip a little off  the end so the filling can flow through smoothly. Test it out by holding the manicotti tube on a slight angle making sure it flows in nicely, if it doesn’t snip a little more off the end.

To fill the bag easily without the cheese mixture falling out all over the place, I always place the bag into a tall glass which will give you stability when filling it, as noted in the picture above. Fill it 3/4 of the way with a spoon and then grab the bag and squeeze from the top so the filling can fall down to the shaft of the bag where you cut it. The glass also acts as a holder for you and everything stays nice and neat during the whole process.manicotti

You can stuff these tubes with just about anything, but I prefer the creamy cheese manicotti with an addition of either spinach, parsley or basil. By prepping ahead of time with your sauce and cheese mixture it’s really then all about the assembly.manicotti

When making a large amount of manicotti for a party I only boil up one box at a time, then I scoop them out with a spider and quickly rinse with cold water, drain them onto a paper towel lined baking sheet and gently pat dry, then believe it or not I like to place the partially cooked pasta back into those individual slots they lay in from the box, this way it gives you more control and will insure them not sticking together while you’re preparing to stuff them. I do the same procedure if using only one box as well.

By scooping them out you’ll still have your hot pot of boiling water going for your next batch. Depending on how much your making you might loose some of the water but just add to it if needed and let it reboil again.

A very important tip is to cook them only for 5 minutes, I repeat, 5 minutes! Then scoop them out and rinse them under cold water.  I don’t care if the box says cook for 8 minutes or 11 minutes I’m telling you just 5! Besides, they’ll  spend more time baking under foil in the oven so when finished they’ll have the perfect bite.

Oh, and never ever pour them out into a strainer because they’ll stick together and break for sure.

manicotti

It’s holiday time and baked manicotti is a delicious pasta course to have for your next party or get together. A beautiful individual portion that stands up well by itself or next to anything else you might be serving on the plate, besides there’s always room for pasta!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Make Ahead Manicotti with Tips and Tricks
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 box of manicotti pasta tubes, 8 oz.
  • 2 quarts prepared marinara, preferably homemade or a good quality store bought
  • 4 cups ricotta, drained of any liquid
  • ½ cup or so grated romano cheese plus extra for garnish
  • 1½ cups of shredded blend of 4 cheeses, Quattro Formaggio ( Trader Joes) or something similar or all mozzarella if you can't find it.
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup of chopped frozen spinach, (completely drained of liquid) or fresh chopped parley or basil plus
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ( 12 inch disposable decorator bags) a must
  • Everything can be doubled or tripled for a large crowd
Instructions
  1. Cook manicotti shells in boiling salted water with a teaspoon of olive oil for 5 minutes only, no matter what the back of the box tells you.
  2. After 5 minutes scoop out pasta with a spider then run them quickly under cold water to cool down.
  3. Spread them onto a paper towel lined baking sheet, let them drain a little and gently pat them dry with a paper towel, then lay each tube into the individual slotted holder that they came packaged in the box.
  4. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, romano, shredded cheeses and spinach or herbs, basically everything except the egg yolks, use a hand mixer to get it nice and smooth.
  5. Taste it for enough cheese, salt and pepper, when you are satisfied with the taste add the 2 egg yolks and incorporate it with the hand mixer.
  6. Place a disposable decorator bag into a tall glass for stability ( no tip required) then spoon some of the ricotta mixture into it, filling it three quarters of the way up. Snip off the bottom enough so that the filling squeezes through with ease into the pasta hole.
  7. Spread enough marinara to cover the bottom of your baking dish.
  8. Pick up one pasta tube and tip it on an angle and with your decorator bag start piping the ricotta mix in as far as it goes, if it doesn't reach the other end just flip to that side and fill it up.
  9. Lay it down on top of the marinara sauce and repeat until all are filled.
  10. When all the manicotti are filled spoon more marinara on top with some grated cheese.
  11. Cover with foil.
  12. At this point you can refrigerate the whole pan and the next day take it out a good hour or so before baking to get it close to room temperature.
  13. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees, keep pan covered with foil and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through because ovens do vary.
  14. Remove from the oven, take off the foil and let it set for 5 minutes, spoon some warm sauce on top and garnish with more grated cheese.
  15. Ready to serve!

 

 

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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!

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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!

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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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Foolproof Grilled Turkey Breast with Butter and Herbs

grilled turkey breasts

Years ago we started adding a whole grilled turkey breast along with a whole roasted turkey on Thanksgiving. I have a nice size group with my brother and sister in law, their family and ours, but as time went on we started to realize everyone likes to eat only the white meat. When it came to leftovers for everyone to take home there would hardly be any white meat left, and no one wanted the dark.

So now we have it down to a science, three whole turkey breasts on the grill. For our family it works, the flavor is amazing, everyone loves it and there are plenty of leftovers for everyone, who by the way, always enter my home with to-go containers. Another big bonus to grilling turkey breast is that my oven is freed up for all the delicious sides.

Now this concept might not work for every family. I’ll be the first to admit that a traditional whole roasted turkey looks beautiful when pulled from the oven on Thanksgiving day and I know there are many dark meat lovers out there who look forward to it, but you might want to consider making an extra turkey breast just for leftovers to pass out.

Grilling a whole turkey breast is also great for a smaller group or if you just have a taste for turkey on the grill though out the year. It’s slathered with a garlic herbed butter, it’s so moist and juicy, never drys out and the grilled flavor takes it over the top, what’s not to like?

 

butter and herbs

Just like the song my herbs of choice are parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and of course butter and garlic.foil pans

I buy the deep foil pans like the one on the right, the one on the left is too shallow, and I like to double them for extra stability.turkey breasts

I mix a compound butter with the herbs and garlic but then I like to half melt the already room temperature butter so it’s really soft and I can easily brush it over and under the skin.

grilled turkey breasts

The breasts get propped up in the pan by a ball of heavy duty tin foil that I form and position it underneath the cavity, otherwise the breast will not be stable and fall over. They don’t take long to cook at all, I think max is an hour and fifteen minutes for a six to seven pound breast and you can rest it for an hour tented with foil when its off the grill and it will still be hot.electric knife slice

We love, love, love to use an electric knife, it cuts the turkey like butter. Walk into any thrift store and you’ll find a bunch of them, they were very popular back in the day, not much any more but we use ours every Thanksgiving.sliced turkey breast

This is pure deliciousness and it looks pretty fanned out on your platter!Grilled turkey breast

If you’re wondering about gravy, well I make it a week ahead of time with some turkey wings that I pick up and roast, there are many recipes you can find on the web for make ahead gravy. I love making the gravy ahead of time, no stress, worrying and rushing around to make gravy at the last minute, just heat up and go. There will be drippings in the foil pan which I save or add to my already made gravy or to make more the next day.Thanksgiving

The food most definitely plays a staring role on Thanksgiving Day, but family is really what it’s all about!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Foolproof Grilled Turkey Breast with Butter and Herbs
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 6-7 lb whole bone in, cavity attached, skin on turkey breast
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 very finely chopped and smashed garlic cloves
  • a handful of fresh parsley and sage, chopped
  • a smaller handful of fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • boxed low sodium turkey or chicken stock, so pan does not dry out on grill
  • 2 DEEP sided foil pans ( I like to double them for more strength) not the low half size lasagna pans.
Instructions
  1. BUTTER AND HERB MIXTURE
  2. In a bowl add the softened butter, garlic, all the herbs, salt and pepper, mix well together adding more herbs if you so desire.
  3. PREPARING THE TURKEY BREAST
  4. Take out turkey breast from fridge, wash and pat very dry, let it sit out for an hour before prepping it so it's not ice cold.
  5. Salt and pepper the whole bird, gently loosening the skin by sliding your fingers until you reach the end of the breast, be very careful not to tear the skin.
  6. Take some heavy duty foil and scrunch it into a ball and position it in the cavity of the turkey to give it stability in the pan so it doesn't fall over, this will keep it straight and upright.
  7. Slightly melt your butter mixture and brush it all over and under the breast lifting up the skin where you loosened it and slathering it all over.
  8. For a gas grill we keep the temperature heated to around 350 F. consistently, so that will require some constant checking to make sure it's in the zone more or less as close as you can.
  9. Place the doubled pan onto the grill no cover required because you'll be shutting the lid of the grill.
  10. Pour some chicken or turkey stock right into the bottom of the pan about ¼ inch deep, which you'll be checking every 20 minutes so as to not dry out, you want to maintain that ¼ inch dept.
  11. All burners are on because the turkey breast is in a pan and not directly touching the grill.
  12. The turkey is done when it reaches 165 F. in the thickest part of the breast meat using a meat thermometer.
  13. Start checking after 50 minutes depending on size of turkey and your outdoor grill.
  14. When it done remove from grill, tent with foil and let it rest at least ½ hour more more like an hour for easy and smooth slicing.
  15. If you can get yourself an electric knife it's life changing!
  16. Don't forget to have your make ahead gravy ready and warmed.
  17. Save the drippings from the pan for extra gravy the next day or to make soup from the carcass.
  18. I used a gas grill here but same method would work for charcoal grill as well.

 

Signature

Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage and Balsamic Glaze

brussels sprouts and sausage

If brussels sprouts always seem to make an appearance on your holiday table then you’re in for a real treat with this delicious combination. Roasted brussels sprouts tossed together with the flavors of sweet Italian sausage flecked with fennel and spices and adorned with a rich, aged balsamic glaze.

This creation came to me last year by way of a friend and fellow blogger Lori, at Taste With The Eyes and I’ve been making it ever since. I served it for my family last Thanksgiving and I have to say not only does it taste amazing, it makes a gorgeous presentation on the table.brussels sprouts and sausage

Those of you who are on the fence about brussels sprouts I urge you to give this a try, the combination of the Italian sausage and the sweet balsamic glaze helps to cut the slight bitterness of the brussels sprouts, and roasting them heightens the flavor.

brussels sprouts and sausage

The holidays are upon us with Thanksgiving right around the corner get out your prettiest platter and grace your table with this amazing side dish!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage and Balsamic Glaze
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Brussels sprouts, normal to small size
  • Italian sausage, sweet with fennel
  • Good quality balsamic glaze in a squeeze bottle for easy decorating
  • parsley
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice your sprouts in half lengthwise
  3. Toss sprouts with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet cut side down and roast until tender and golden but not overcooked or too deep of a caramelization.
  5. In the meantime remove sausage from casing, place into a skillet on the stove and crumble it into bite size pieces.
  6. Cook sausage until completely done, remove and drain on paper towel.
  7. Toss the roasted sprouts with the cooked sausage, add some chopped parsley and place it all on a beautiful platter preferably with a rim so you can decorate it with the glaze.
  8. When your ready to serve and eat it drizzle some balsamic glaze all over the sprouts and sausage ( go light it's very potent, taste to see if it's to your liking) then decorate the rim of the platter with more of the glaze.
  9. NOTE:
  10. You can make this ahead of time and heat it up, everything EXCEPT the glaze, do that the last minute.
  11. Don't get too hung up about amounts just put it together, it all works!

 

Signature

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage

butternut squash risotto

There’s nothing more satisfying than a piping hot pot of creamy risotto, the variations and combinations of fresh seasonal vegetables and spices you can use are endless. I’ve posted many different risotto’s throughout the different seasons on this blog but my absolute favorite this time of year is, butternut squash risotto.

Roasted butternut squash gets folded into a creamy rice base flavored with parmesan, white wine, a hint of sage, onion and broth, then topped with crispy browned butter sage leaves, it is heavenly!

This dish could be the star of the show or play a supporting role as a side dish, below I’ll show you how I paired it with roasted shrimp, another wonderful variation.butternut squash

I like to cut up my own squash, I usually buy a large one, dice it up and roast the whole thing and you can do this days ahead of time.  Of course you won’t need that much for the risotto you’ll have extra but that’s a good thing, you can toss it into salads, soups, pasta, stews and omelettes, you get the picture it will never go to waste.making risotto

Using quality ingredients are the key to a good risotto, a short grain Italian rice called arborio, some good white wine that you would drink yourself, and an absolute must is freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.making risotto

Have everything prepped and ready to go including a good heavy bottomed pot and of course a wooden spoon.butternut squash risotto

Before you begin you want to make sure the broth that you’re using is nice and warm and continually simmering on your stove, you never want to add cold broth to your risotto, that’s a no no!butternut squash risotto

There’s a hint of sage within the risotto, but then you top it off with crispy sage that’s been frizzled in brown butter, it gets broken up when scooping from the pot adding more delicious flavor through out.risotto with shrimp

If you want to serve a really spectacular dish, one that will impress your guests beyond and truly rival any restaurant meal, add some roasted shrimp on top, oh my!risotto with shrimp

Don’t let the whole process of making risotto intimidate you, it’s a cinch once you get the hang of it and it’s definitely worth it in the end!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, trimmed, cut into ½ inch dice and roasted, you will need about 2 cups for this recipe, save extra for other dishes
  • 1½ cups of short grain, Italian arborio rice
  • 1 quart box organic chicken stock or veggie if you prefer, low salt or homemade if you have it
  • heaping cup or more to of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • ½ cup good white wine
  • ½ large onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped sage plus extra leaves to crisp up in the end
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. PREPARING THE SQUASH
  2. Prepare your squash a day or two ahead of time. Cut off the tip and bottom. Peel the skin with a vegetable peeler then cut the squash in half crosswise where the neck meets the fatter part. Stand it up and make slices about ½ inch thick, stack the slices and continue to dice into ½ dice.
  3. Place cut squash onto a rimmed baking sheet drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper roast in a 425 degree oven, tossing gently until tender and golden and the moisture is out, it doesn't take too long, maybe 15 minutes or so, keep checking.
  4. If doing ahead of time let the squash cool down and place it into a container and refrigerate it. When ready to use just pull it out and get it to room temperature.
  5. MAKING THE RISOTTO
  6. Open your stock, place it into a saucepan and have it simmering on the stove.
  7. In a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat add 1 tablespoon of butter and a quick drizzle of olive oil.
  8. Add your diced onion and cook until soft.
  9. Add in the rice and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure to get it heated through and covered with the butter and olive oil.
  10. Deglaze with the white wine, letting it bubble and cook down until you're starting to see no moisture.
  11. Add in one ladle full of the simmered broth stirring until the liquid is absorbed, then repeat with another ladle full.
  12. Continue with the adding of broth and stirring constantly, you'll start to see the grain releasing their starch which creates the creaminess for the ultimate risotto.
  13. The rice should be slightly al'dente and not over cooked, so towards the end you'll have to taste as you go.
  14. When desired creaminess is attained remove from heat, stir in the chopped fresh sage and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano,taste for salt and pepper then gently fold in your butternut squash.
  15. in a small skillet add a ½ stick of butter, let it start to brown then throw in a handful of fresh sage leaves and let them frizzle and crisp up.
  16. Garnish your risotto with the crispy sage leaves and spoon a little of that brown butter sauce all around the top.
  17. Enjoy!

 

Signature

Italian Sausage Roasted Together with Grapes

sausage with grapes

If you haven’t tried the combination of Italian sausage with roasted with grapes yet, I’m quite certain that the minute you do this combo it will win you over. The grapes break down in the roasting process, releasing their sweet juice and mingles together with the sausage flavors of spice, fennel, bit of olive oil and thyme.

When grapes are roasted they take on a whole different taste and texture, sweet goodness in every little bite.

sausage and grapes

I like to keep my sausage formed into a ring, it’s held in place by sticking one skewer in on one side until it pokes out on the other side, making sure to go all the way through each layer, this will keep it together as it cooks. I think a ring of sausage, or rope as it’s sometimes called adds to a pretty presentation, but you can certainly make this using links of sausage as well.

Which brings me to another point, make sure you only buy good quality Italian sausage, I get mine from an Italian market that I know and frequent often, it’s spiced perfectly with fennel seed being a very dominant flavor, my favorite. For this recipe you can use either spicy or mild sausage, which ever is your preference.

 

My grapes of choice are the red seedless kind ( you definitely want seedless) but you can also do a combination of both red and green, just carefully pick them off the stems, rinse and dry completely then you’re good to go!broccoli rabe

I love to serve this meal with sautéed broccoli rabe, the bitterness of the rabe with the sweetness of the grapes and the spice of the sausage is a win, win. For something a little more substantial, on a cold winters night a side of creamy polenta or mashed potatoes would be heavenly!

Incredibly easy to make, no chopping required, it’s a one pan wonder with a pretty presentation and the most important thing is, it tastes amazing.

Give it a try!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Sausage with Grapes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, sweet or hot, good quality with fennel spice kept in a ring or rope style
  • red seedless grapes, 2 to 3 cups, stems removed, rinsed, dried and left whole
  • sprigs of thyme
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Skewer your rope of sausage together using 1 skewer through one end and out the other so it stays held together while cooking.
  3. Heat a 10 or 12 inch oven proof skillet, medium high, drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add sausage ring and don't move it until it forms a nice deep golden color, then flip it over carefully and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and sprinkle grapes around, be careful not to crowd them in because as they cook they release their juice and if you have too many it becomes too liquidy and all will not caramelize like it should. I would say a good rule of thumb is to leave some space between the placing of your grapes.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter some fresh thyme leaves around.
  7. Place the whole pan into the oven, uncovered to finish cooking the sausage, ( keep checking for doneness, it depends on thickness) during the process your grapes will wrinkle and begin to release their juices.

 

Signature

Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple and Fig Stuffing and a Creamy Cider Sauce

stuffed pork chops

Stuffed pork chops turn traditional pork chops into something very special, especially when they’re filled with apples and dried figs. This combination was made for each other with hints of fresh sage tucked into the filling along with a creamy cider sauce, this recipe has FALL written all over it!cider sauce

The sauce is dreamy mix of apple cider, broth, Dijon mustard and mascarpone cheese, when all those flavors come together, along with the fig and apple it  intensifies the taste of the stuffed pork chops in all it’s glory.

stuffed pork chops

The quality of your pork has a lot to do with this dish as well, I use a heritage breed of pork, thick cut and bone in, it really does make a big difference, it’s so juicy and never dries out. For the stuffed pork chops you’ll want at least 1 1/2 inch thickness so as to make a nice pocket for all the stuffing.

Most butchers will be happy to cut the pocket in for you if you ask, but it’s also very simple to do yourself.

This meal is elegant enough to serve for a special dinner and easy enough to make during the week.

fall veggies

I like to serve a nice platter of roasted veggies on the side with the pork chops, here I used cauliflower, shaved brussels sprouts, baby rainbow carrots and some delicata squash which by the way can be done way ahead of time, even the day before.

Take your pork chops to the next level with this perfect fall meal, I promise it will become a family favorite.

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

Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple and Fig Stuffing and a Creamy Cider Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 bone in, thick cut good quality pork chops about 1½ inch thick with pocket cut in for stuffing
  • 1 apple, skin on chopped
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 dried figs sliced to place into cider sauce
  • 1 small stalk celery, sliced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • small handful mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 3 fresh sage leaves, chopped with extra for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ to ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • CIDER SAUCE
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons, smooth Dijon
  • 2 tablespoons, mascarpone cheese
Instructions
  1. To prepare the pork chops, either have your butcher make the pocket or you can easily do it yourself by slicing each chop from the fat side almost to the bone with a sharp knife, make it wide enough so you can place alot of stuffing inside. salt and pepper both sides of chop and inside pocket.
  2. In a small saute pan with a knob of butter cook the celery, garlic and onion until soft as well as the mushrooms if using them.
  3. Add to the pan the sage, figs and apples, toss, then add the breadcrumbs, if it looks dry add a teeny bit of broth to moisten.
  4. Stuff your chops with the mixture and secure it closed with a regular wooden skewer ( you can see mine in the photo). You might have extra stuffing depending on how big your chops and pockets are.
  5. Heat oven to 375
  6. In a heavy bottom cast iron skillet drizzled with olive oil, or any pan that is oven proof ed, brown your pork chops until crusty and golden on one side then gently flip them over crusty side up, place a few sage leaves on top of each and put the whole pan into the oven.
  7. Cooking times will vary according to ovens but the internal temp should read near 145.
  8. Remove pan from oven, onto stove top and place pork chops on a plate loosely covered with foil.
  9. Then with a whisk deglaze bits with broth, cider on low temp, then whisk in Dijon until incorporated then lastly the mascarpone, whisking until the sauce is nice and creamy.
  10. Turn off the heat, add in the sliced figs to the sauce and return the chops into the pan, spooning a little cider sauce on top of them.
  11. Serve immediately with a side of your choice!

 

 

Signature

Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes Shaved Garlic and Feta

shrimp with feta

Whoever said that cheese and seafood is a bad combo? Well I’m here to say that it isn’t so, especially in this dish that features shrimp with feta cheese.

This is a variation of the famous Greek Saganaki, there are so many variations of this dish from the ingredients to the way it’s prepared but it’s the Greeks that deserve full credit for this delicious combination of flavors.shrimp with feta

This is a one pan wonder that’s surprisingly easy to make for a mid week meal and equally as special enough for entertaining, all you’ll need is crusty bread to scoop up and dip into that incredible sauce!shrimp with feta

I’ve made this several times and my tomatoes of choice are roasted cherry or grape tomatoes, I prefer them over canned I think it really makes a difference, fresh is best and fortunately for me even in the colder months I’m able to find decent tasting cherry or grape tomatoes.

I can’t stress enough the importance of using quality ingredients in this dish, a good block of Greek feta should be used, not the crumbled pieces in a container that you can buy, heavens no, also you’ll want to use some beautiful wild caught shrimp.

FYI, if you’re lucky to have a Trader Joe’s near you my favorite shrimp of choice currently is their frozen wild Argentinian large red shrimp, peeled and deveined, it tastes so amazing, I always keep a couple of bags in my freezer, but of course any fresh or frozen wild caught shrimp will do.

The vessel you make it in is important also, it’s best when made in a shallow baking dish something like an au gratin pan, you wouldn’t want to use anything too deep.

It’s bold and flavorful with a flavor combination that you’ll be craving, I can’t wait for you to try this!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes Shaved Garlic and Feta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. wild caught shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails kept on. ( It's important not to have any moisture on your shrimp so I like to layer my shrimp between paper towels to soak up any moisture and to insure they are dry with both fresh and frozen.)
  • 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 large cloves of fresh garlic, shaved
  • 1 cup of good quality authentic Greek feta, block style
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • red pepper flakes
  • parsley or basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a foil lined rimmed baking pan place your slice tomatoes, shaved garlic and a good drizzle of olive oil making sure to cover and toss tomatoes with it, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until tomatoes burst and juices flow.
  3. While the tomatoes are roasting toss the shrimp into a bowl with salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Take your roasted tomatoes and place them into your shallow baking dish making sure to get all those garlicky juices with a rubber spatula to help.
  5. Position and nestle your shrimp into the garlicky tomato mixture and juices, place into your 400 degree oven and roast until you start seeing the shrimp turn pink.
  6. Pull it out then crumble the feta all around in medium chunks.
  7. Finish cooking it with a quick minute or two under your broiler to get a little golden on top.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil.
  9. Enjoy, and don't forget the crusty bread!

 

Signature

Noodle-less Loaf Pan Butternut Squash Lasagna

noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

Butternut Squash is hands down my favorite winter squash, come fall I can’t get enough of it and you’ll always see one or two sitting on my kitchen counter. Butternut squash is so versatile, you can put it in just about everything and believe me I have!

If you look through my blog you’ll see different ways that I’ve used it over the years, and one of the ways is in a lasagna. Butternut squash has a slightly sweet, buttery nutty flavor and it goes wonderful with creamy ricotta and a béchamel sauce, it’s so decadent and delicious. 
butternut squash

This is the time of year when my garden is full of sage and butternut squash and sage make a perfect pairing together, I especially love to infuse my béchamel sauce with garlic and sage, it’s dreamy.loaf pan lasagna

If you search my archives you’ll see that I once made individual butternut squash lasagna’s minus the noodles in a free form manner.  For this time I wanted to try making it in a loaf pan which allowed me to get many layers and some nice height, and this version is minus the noodles as well. The loaf pan holds everything nicely together and gives the lasagna a little more structure since the pasta is not there to give it more body.

I lined my loaf pan with parchment, (which is optional) because honestly I wanted to un-mold it and take a nice photo to show you, but you have to really cool it down to be able to remove the parchment without destroying your lasagna, so I would suggest make it the day before or early in the morning if you want to do the same, chilling it for an easy removal, then just warm it and serve it with warm béchamel, otherwise make it without the parchment.

noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

Either way it’s magical and tastes like a dream and trust me you won’t miss the pasta at all, in fact I prefer it without because all the flavors are true and not soaked up by the pasta.noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

The loaf pan makes you able to create multiple layers of goodness,  just remember to let it set before cutting into it so all the creaminess can tighten up a bit, just like a traditional lasagna it’s a mess if you cut into it hot, the layers get lost.noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

I hope you try my noodle-less, loaf pan butternut squash lasagna, I promise you won’t miss the pasta one bit!

Follow along with me on Instagram to see what else I’m making during the week.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Noodle-less Loaf Pan Butternut Squash Lasagna
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf pan, buttered, lined with parchment which is an optional step for removal of whole loaf
  • NOTE; If you don't want to remove whole lasagna out of the pan, omit parchment.
  • 2 butternut squash, peeled and sliced lengthwise (as much as possible, then into lengthwise pieces) roasted at 375 on a rimmed baking sheet at 375 until softened up a bit but still al'dente
  • 3 cups, ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1½ cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • BECHAMEL SAUCE
  • 2 cups, whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons, flour
  • 4 tablespoons, butter
  • sprig of sage, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Roast sliced squash a head of time so it can cool down. Set aside.
  2. Mix up the ricotta mixture with the chopped spinach, egg, grated cheese's, both pecorino and mozzarella, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. TO MAKE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE;
  4. In a saucepan, melt butter, add garlic then whisk in flour until it incorporates and turns golden, not dark brown.
  5. Pour in a few tablespoons of the milk, whisking until moistened.
  6. Add the remaining milk whisking vigorously until it starts to thicken and right before it starts to bubble on the sides, take it off the heat.
  7. Now the layering process begins, add a couple of tablespoons of bechamel to the bottom of pan, then a layer of squash, enough to fit all the edges and middle of the pan. Spread ricotta layer on top, smooth with the back of a spoon or an off set spatula, add two more tablespoons of sauce and repeat layers until you reach the top of the loaf pan, reserving the prettiest looking pieces of squash for the very top.
  8. Spread the top with bechamel and sprinkle with pecorino and top with some sage leaves before baking.
  9. Bake 350- 375 uncovered until cheese is melted and heated through, and golden on top, ovens vary with time, check after 30 minutes.
  10. Let it set up before cutting, mine set for 2 hours.
  11. You should have extra sauce to serve with it, if you want more bechamel just double the recipe.
  12. Enjoy!

 

Signature

Welcoming Autumn with a Rustic Apple Crostata

apple crostata

 

Autumn is here and apple season is upon us so now is the perfect time to make a rustic apple crostata. A crostata is basically a folding of fresh fruit with a little sugar and spice into a buttery pastry dough. The crostata is the Italian version of the French Galette but in essence they’re the same thing.

The best thing I like about making a crostata is that the process is free form, easier than making a pie, and when you make them no two will look alike, but that’s the rustic charm of it.autumn apples

It really doesn’t matter what type of apples you use, use what you like, but look for large ones so you’re not peeling forever.autumn applesapple slices

I actually ended up using large Gala apples for this sliced about 1/8 inch, as opposed to quartering the apples and having them chunkier, the slices will lay better in the crostata and you’ll be able to fan them out and layer on top of each other which makes it look prettier.apple crostata

This is a dessert you can make in a pinch, especially if you have some store-bought pie crusts tucked away in your fridge like I do. I happen to love Trader Joe’s pie crusts, you can actually see pieces of butter in the dough. It’s looks elegant and tastes amazing and your house smells incredible while it’s baking in the oven.apple crostata

Apples, cinnamon and crust oh my!apple crostata

Serve it alone or with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, either way you’re going to love it.

Desserts don’t have to be fussy and complicated to taste awesome, cut into a piece of this apple crostata and see for yourself!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Rustic Apple Crostata
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 quality store-bought package of pie crust, room temp for easy rolling or homemade pastry dough (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 3 or 4 large apples of your choice, I used Gala, peeled, seeded and sliced into ⅛ inch
  • ¼ cup sugar plus a little more for sprinkling on crust
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon or to taste, I like alot. You can also add in some nutmeg to your liking
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon, melted butter
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • a squeeze of lemon juice onto apples so they don't turn brown
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place sliced apples into a bowl and add the sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, tossing gently until well coated, set aside.
  3. Un wrap your dough and smooth it out with a rolling pin, stretching it out and pressing together any breaks.
  4. Place dough onto parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Arrange the apple slices on top overlapping them and fanning them into a circle leaving a good 1½ inch border all around.
  6. Fold the dough over the apples in a rustic fashion, if the dough tears just pinch together.
  7. Drizzle the melted butter over the top of apples.
  8. Whisk the egg and brush all over the crust then sprinkle crust with sugar.
  9. Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until it is nicely golden brown according to your oven temp.
  10. Let it sit before cutting, serve with ice cream or whipped cream
  11. Enjoy!

 

Signature

Transition into Fall with this Vibrant Tomato Free Salad

transition into fall salad

In mid September you’re still able to find remnants of good summer tomatoes still available, but very soon they will be gone til next summer and so this salad is your perfect transition into fall. This vibrant and bold tasting salad is tomato-free and perfect for the fall season.transition into fall salad

Leafy greens, crunchy radishes, delicious haricot verts, sweet dried cherries with salty shaved parmigiano and pistachios, and the thing that ties it all together is the vibrant dressing. transition into fall salad

I love making salads, the combinations are endless and when using seasonal produce you can get really creative.transition into fall salad

Toss this together for your family and friends and I promise, you won’t even miss the tomatoes!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Transition into Fall with this Vibrant Tomato Free Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bag of leafy greens
  • 1 12 ounce bag of haricots verts, steamed tender crisp
  • 4 large radishes, thinly sliced
  • A good handful of dried cherries, or dried cranberries
  • Shards of Parmigiano Reggiano made with a vegetable peeler, a good amount shown throughout the salad
  • pistachios or sliced toasted almonds, enough to scatter about
  • DRESSING
  • good quality olive oil
  • grainy mustard
  • a rich, balsamic vinegar one that has been aged and thicker than normal. Trader Joe's has a nice one from Modena that says gold on the label
Instructions
  1. FOR THE DRESSING;
  2. Whisk together equal parts of balsamic and olive oil and a small glop of grainy mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the leafy greens with the beans, toss.
  4. Add cherries, radishes and cheese, toss.
  5. Place everything onto a nice platter, sprinkle with nuts.
  6. Spoon dressing all around and toss gently to coat.
  7. Enjoy

 

Signature

Cassoulet- Italian Style

cassoulet

What is a cassoulet? It a dish originated in France which is basically a rich, slow cooked casserole typically made with white beans and a meat of some sort. It’s a hearty dish and quite perfect for the cooler temperatures we’re experiencing now as fall approaches.

In place of the more traditional meats the French would use, I wanted to make mine Italian style by adding some good quality Italian sausage. I chose one that is nicely spiced throughout with a good amount of fennel seed which I feel compliments all the other flavors in this dish.cassoulet beans

 

I have to admit I don’t often cook with dried beans, I like the convenience of canned beans and they taste pretty good. But after making this dish I realized that there is absolutely no comparison to the taste and texture of cooked dried beans to canned.

Even though you could make this dish with canned beans I HIGHLY recommend you go through the process of making them from scratch. Dried beans are readily available but this specific brand, Rancho Gordo might not be so easy to find, especially this type of bean, so I would suggest to order them directly from their website ( and I’m not getting paid to say that). soaked beans

I went with the quick soak method, it helps the beans to cook faster. I also love adding aromatics after they’ve been soaking and ready to simmer, the beans really do take on the flavor and makes them taste even more delicious.

cassoulet

The cooked beans will get tossed in at the last ten minutes of cooking, just enough time to soak up all that luscious tasting juice!

cassoulet

It’s hearty, packed with flavor, simple and rustic and the perfect meal to make when there’s a chill in the air, you will love this!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Cassoulet- Italian Style
 
Recipe adapted from Pam Anderson's Perfect One Dish Dinners
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ lb. Italian sausage with fennel seed or 6 nice size pieces
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion cut into large chunks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • olive oil
  • thyme and rosemary
  • 4 cups of cooked dried beans preferred, or optional, canned beans
  • 1 lb. of dried beans, either cassoulet or cannellini
  • aromatics for beans to simmer in, such as onion, garlic and herbs
Instructions
  1. PREPARE BEANS, doing the the quick soak method.
  2. Rinse beans well and pick out any bad ones.
  3. Place them into a large pot and cover them with water three inches above the beans.
  4. Bring beans to a boil, turn off the flame and cover them and let them sit for 2 hours.
  5. After 2 hours you will see they have doubled in size, drain the water, return them to the pot and cover with water again.
  6. Add 3 whole garlic cloves, chunks of onion and a sprig of rosemary or thyme and simmer medium low for at least an hour but check for doneness, they should be tender and creamy.
  7. Add salt to taste after they're cooked.
  8. You'll have extra, but save and use for other recipes, (you won't regret it!)
  9. FOR THE CASSOULET
  10. Heat oven to 425F.
  11. In a deep baking dish drizzle the bottom with olive oil all over. Add the tomatoes, (whole), sliced garlic, onion and herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Nestle in your uncooked Italian sausage all around.
  13. Roast until sausages have a deep brown color and the tomatoes have released their juices and thickened up a bit, around 45 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven and stir in your cooked beans (without liquid) drizzle more olive oil on top and continue to roast for 10 more minutes until nicely heated through.
  15. Freshen up your herbs.
  16. Enjoy!

 

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12 Delicious Ways to Use Up Your Summer Zucchini and Squash

zucchini ribbon carpaccio

If you still have an abundance of zucchini either from your own garden, family, friends or even total strangers, here’s a few ideas on how to use them up.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time then you should know I have a thing about vegetable ribbons of all sorts, many times I’ve used ribbons of carrot, cucumber, butternut squash, but especially zucchini and yellow squash in many of my recipes.  I love how they look in a salad and when presented on a platter, I think it adds a little touch of elegance.

The salad above doesn’t really have a recipe, it’s made with ribbons of zucchini and yellow squash, tossed together with arugula, shaved parmesan, basil, parsley and toasted hazelnuts, the dressing is fresh lemon and olive oil whisked together. I call it my Zucchini Ribbon Carpaccio because everything is raw but the lemon dressing helps to soften the rawness.

On to a few of my other favorites!zucchini rollups

Zucchini Roll Ups with Ricotta and Corn

zucchini whipped ricotta

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

zucchini boats

Zucchini Boats with Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

zucchini veggie slaw

Zucchini Veggie Slaw

zucchini burrata

Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata

zucchini gratin

Zucchini Tomato Gratin

zucchini ribbon salad

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

zucchini roasted tomatoes

Zucchini Noodles with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cream

zucchini mock ravioli

My adaption from Half Baked Harvest, Three Cheese Ravioli

zucchini tart

Zucchini Tart

zucchini lasagne

Zucchini Lasagne

Enjoy the end of summers bounty, Labor Day is almost here and the fall season is right around the corner in my neck of the woods, which I’m actually looking forward to!

Check out my Instagram account to see what I’ll be cooking up in the new season ahead.

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An Ode To Summer Tomatoes

summer tomatoes

Summer is fleeting by and I couldn’t let it go without paying homage to all the beautiful tomatoes I’ve enjoyed all season long.  Summer tomatoes are the absolute best, there’s nothing like the taste of a fresh vine ripened tomato.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many sweet as sugar, clustered tomatoes on the vine that have graced my table, I can’t resist, they’re so gorgeous!summer tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are another big favorite of mine, the different varieties have a history that has been passed down through several generations. It’s been said that if you’ve never tasted an heirloom tomato, then you’ve never tasted a real tomato, I agree.

I love the odd and quirky shapes they have as well as their colors that range from near black to pink, golden yellow, green and ruby red, and the funny names like mortage lifter and green zebra, I could never get tired of them.tomato caprese

Insalata Caprese, I’ve made it so many times this summer, whenever I had a party, or went to a party or get together I usually brought a big platter full. It was always welcomed and gobbled up. Who doesn’t like juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, garden basil and good olive oil, it’s a win, win combination!tomato caprese

Caprese Salads really don’t need a recipe, they’re so simple to make and requires just a few quality ingredients, you must have beautiful ripe tomatoes, the best olive oil you can buy and fresh basil that you picked  preferably from your own pots.

The only thing is, you might want to change up the variety and color of tomatoes and the cheese you’ll be using, in my case it’s straight up fresh mozzarella or burrata.

Let’s talk burrata cheese for a minute, the outer shell is solid mozzarella but then when you break it open the inside is filled with soft stracciatella and cream, when paired with summer tomatoes it is a dream come true!tomato caprese

Sometimes I replace fresh basil with my homemade basil pesto which I also make each summer, dabbing it all around on top of the cheese and tomatoes for a flavor that will zap your senses.tomato caprese

When I want to indulge even more I’ll finish off my caprese salad with a swipe of rich balsamic glaze, you can just put me in a corner some where with a hunk of bread and I’ll be very happy.tomato caprese

I like changing up how I serve my summer tomatoes by either fanning them onto a platter or stacking the slices on top of each other as a little different presentation, as well cutting them into wedges and changing up the cheese  into little balls of mozzarella, better known as bocconcini.tomato capresetomato salad

No matter how it’s presented on a plate you can’t deny the caprese flavors that shine through and through, in my opinion it’s one of the best things about summer.summer roasted tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are fabulous fresh but their flavors are even more intense when roasted. I normally douse them with olive oil and sprinkle shaved fresh garlic all around and adding fresh basil at the end.

The blistered tomatoes create the most fabulous juice that becomes the perfect sauce to toss into cooked pasta, I’ve done this many times for family parties.tomato capresetomato caprese pasta

You can go one step further with that pasta and finish it off by placing some creamy burrata on top, this is an absolute summer favorite in my house and such a great dish for entertaining.tomato pasta

No cheese, no problem, just toss those juicy tomatoes in and eat!tomato lasagna

I will miss the perfection of the summer tomato and look forward to next year when they appear again, so on to the next season of apples and pumpkins!

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Mixed Veggie Succotash with Summer Corn

succotash

Although the name succotash has a funny sound to it, it doesn’t take away from it’s deliciousness. Basically succotash is a variety of mixed veggies, preferably fresh vegetables in season, brought together to form the perfect side dish or a stand alone entree with a piece of perfectly cooked fish, chicken or pork perched on top of it.

Since we are at the height of the summer season over here it’s only fitting that fresh corn shaved off the cob and perfectly ripe tomatoes were added to mine.succotash

Every succotash I have ever seen definitely adds some kind of bean, most commonly lima, but I have seen fava beans and even edamame added to the dish, all is good, there are no rules really just use what you like and what’s available.

If you noticed on my top photo I served my succotash with roasted salmon that was swiped with fresh basil pesto. The summer freshness of it all was the perfect pairing together, it just screamed summer!succotash

Haricot verts cooked al dente added nice crunch along with some creamy avocado, torn basil and a little heat from sliced jalapeno’s. succotash

Succotash can be made according to all the seasons and I’m looking forward to making an autumn version maybe by adding some squash with sage and mushrooms, like I said the possibilities are endless!

Mixed Veggie Succotash with Summer Corn
 
Ingredients can vary according to your taste and what's available
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 package of haricot verts, pre cooked
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, shucked
  • ½ large avocado
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • assorted colored cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup of frozen lima beans, defrosted
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • sliced jalapeno, (optional)
  • torn basil, handful
  • DRESSING
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. This is more like a salad and served best at room temperature, so you want to make sure your beans and corn are pre cooked and the lima beans are deferosted.
  2. Whisk together 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil along with the crushed garlic clove, adding more juice if you prefer.
  3. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl tossing gently with clean hands then lift and layer onto a pretty platter or individual plates.
  4. Spoon the dressing all around with a little toss.

 

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Refections on 10 Years of Food Blogging

basil potted plant

 

One of my greatest pleasures during the summer months is to have fresh basil growing all over my backyard, some in planters and pots and some in the ground. Basil is my hands down absolute favorite herb, just the smell of it makes me happy. I often have a big bouquet of it sitting on my kitchen island.

It’s my go-to herb and I use it in too many dishes to mention here. Making fresh basil pesto is another summer pleasure of mine, I’m happy when I know I have a stash packed away in my freezer as well as my fridge, especially when I pull a jar out in the dead of winter.
fresh basil

 

Talking about basil brings me back to the very first post I wrote on this blog written August 15, 2007. Yes, this August will mark my tenth year of Proud Italian Cook, I honestly can’t believe it’s been ten years, where did the time go? One thing I know for sure is that the older I get the faster time flies by.

I didn’t know a thing about starting and maintaining a blog back then I just knew I wanted to do it. I was reading a small group of blogs at the the time and I thought what a fun hobby and a nice visual way to document my own recipes for family. With the help of my daughter we got it up and running then little by little I started to learn the technical aspects, how to actually take pictures, write something and post it. It was a huge challenge for me because my brain has a problem comprehending technical issues, and I made a ton of mistakes.

The first time I hit “publish” I was so stressed out, what was I thinking? I have no clue what I’m doing here, this is way over my head. If anything went wrong behind the scenes I would be in pure panic mode until it was fixed, my poor husband had to deal with me through it all.

Sometimes I look back on older posts of mine and I cringe at my writing and pictures of food where I used my flash. Apparently I use to write with caps quite often, I guess I really wanted to get my point across. The grammar police would have a field day with my writing, I still have issues with commas and exclamation points! (see what I mean).

The best perk of blogging and one I never even thought existed back then was the community of people that I would virtually meet along the way, some even face to face, bloggers and followers who share the same passion as I do. They have been a source of encouragement and support and have inspired me with all they do as well as their positive comments, and for that I am eternally grateful.

It’s fair to say that if I never started my little food blog, my world would be a very different place.

 

making pesto

 

Yes, things are quite different in the blogging world today since the time I first started, it’s not as small and personal as it use to be, social media outlets are rapidly changing. Sometimes I wonder if the blog platform will still be relevant for the next generation, things like snapchatting keeps them very busy. Over the years I have seen blogs come and go, maybe it just wasn’t fun anymore, too much competition or worrying about ranking and SEO, if that’s the case I would agree, quit, the joy is gone.

Having a blog is a major commitment and time consuming and you certainly wouldn’t want to waste your precious time if it felt like a burden. On the flip side if you enjoy it, find your niche, add good content, tell a story and speak in your own true voice, your honesty will shine through and people will connect and want to follow you, and in my case throw in a good recipe every now and then.

 

basil pesto

 

I feel like I’m evolving in my old age, I very recently went from a PC to a Mac which has been like learning a whole new language to me, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone big time so I feel I’m challenged daily now until I get the hang of it, in fact this will be is my first post using my Mac, I hope it turns out when I hit publish!pasta

 

I love being on Instagram, it’s a visual short and sweet tidbit of my daily doings, cooking, family, life, so I’m going to continue with that, and if you care to follow me there just click here.

I’ve also made some short videos on my blog with a 14 year old future computer genius friend of mine, we had fun doing it and learned a ton of things, so I’ll be doing more of that.

I never realized when I started this blog that August 15th was Julia Child’s birthday so maybe it was meant to be, plus I’ve always loved her quote, “People who love to eat are always the best people”.basil pesto pasta

So for now since I’m still having fun I’m just going to slide right into the next decade. To be continued…

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Lemon Mascarpone Sorbet Made Quick and Easy

lemon mascarpone sorbet

There are some desserts that are the epitome of summer and this lemon mascarpone sorbet is one of them.  It’s wildly good and so refreshing during these hot summer months. Many years ago when I started this blog I did a post on this dreamy dessert because it immediately caught my attention from a friends blog.  Since then it has become a favorite of mine and I make it every summer so I thought it was worthy of a repeat and I think you will too.
lemon mascarpone sorbet

It’s embarrassingly simple to make, quick and easy with a result that’s so decadent. Just two ingredients blended together, a good store bought lemon sorbet and a container of mascarpone cheese, that’s it, a brilliant concept indeed with no ice cream maker required.
lemon mascarpone sorbet

Everything is done ahead of time, chilling out in the freezer waiting for the perfect ending to your summertime meal.

lemon mascarpone sorbet

It’s light and bright and a wonderful dessert for summer dining al fresco. Actually if you think about it the possibilities are endless, you can easily replace the lemon for maybe mango, strawberry, peach, berry, you see where I’m going? It’s the mascarpone whirled together with the sorbet that takes it over the top.

lemon mascarpone sorbet

Grab some pretty glasses and make this elegant and easy dessert, and a small spoon is required so you can savor every luscious bite nice and slow. I can’t wait til you give this a try!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Lemon Mascarpone Sorbet Made Quick and Easy
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pint of lemon sorbet, or your favorite flavor
  • 6 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 lemons for zest only
Instructions
  1. Take your sorbet and set it out on the counter so it can defrost and soften a little.
  2. Mascarpone can be close to room temp for easy no lump blending.
  3. Take out a food processor and put in both the sorbet and mascarpone cheese and give it a whirl until all combined and smooth.
  4. Spoon mixture into your pretty glasses, and refreeze it, depending on their size you might get three to four servings, if you need more just double the recipe.
  5. Do this all ahead of time so it has enough time to set up.
  6. Garnish with the lemon zest when ready to serve.

 

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Fried Red Tomatoes Italian Style with Basil Pesto Aioli

fried red tomatoes

I think I just discovered my new favorite summer indulgence, fried red tomatoes, they’re made Italian Style with basil pesto aioli for dipping. Yes, I repeat, fried RED tomatoes. I’ve had the green version in the past, but I  must say I much prefer these so much more, but that’s my opinion and you’re going to have to decide for yourself.heirloom tomatoes

Try to pick tomatoes that are not super ripe and juicy like the kind you’d use in a caprese salad, that’s not what you want at all. The ones pictured above are ripened but yet still firm to the touch, that’s exactly what you want to use.  The tomatoes need to be able to hold up to some dipping and frying.fried green tomatoes

For my “breading” I dipped each tomato slice into beaten eggs and then into a combination of dried polenta and finely grated romano cheese, it’s such a winning combo and it’s even gluten free!
fried red tomatoes

They just take a few minutes to make, they crisp up in no time at all, but resist eating them while still hot from the pan because there’s no comparison to the flavor you get when you bite into them after they’ve cooled down at room temperature.

fried red tomatoesbasil pesto aioli

Basil and tomatoes are a match made in heaven so be sure to make this easy basil pesto aioli to swipe into those crispy, crunchy bites.

fried red tomatoes

Go ahead, indulge yourself, it’s worth every bite, summer will be gone before you know it!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Fried Red Tomatoes Italian Style with Basil Pesto Aioli
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • large size, firm yet ripened tomatoes, I used heirlooms, sliced ¼ inch thick.
  • dry polenta
  • romano cheese, finely grated
  • dried thyme, granulated garlic, salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • olive oil for pan frying
  • BASIL PESTO AIOLI
  • good quality mayo
  • basil pesto, homemade or good quality store bought
  • fresh basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Start by slicing your tomatoes into ¼ inch slices, cutting off the tips and bottoms.
  2. Pull out the seeds with the tip of your finger, you don't want the slices to be wet.
  3. Lay tomato slices onto a paper towel to pat dry.
  4. Make your pesto aioli by simply stirring some good basil pesto into a good quality prepared mayo, stirring to incorporate and tasting to your satisfaction, adding more if needed.
  5. Equal parts polenta and finely grated romano cheese.
  6. Sprinkle in some dried time, a little granulated garlic, salt and pepper.
  7. Beat two eggs, use more as needed depending how many tomatoes you are using.
  8. Heat a frying pan on the stove and cover the bottom with olive oil, keep on medium heat.
  9. Dip tomato slice into the egg then into the polenta cheese mixture.
  10. Place into the frying pan and don't flip it until it is nicely golden, then flip and do the other side.
  11. When crispy, gently remove and place onto a paper towel to absorb grease, which is not much.
  12. Sprinkle with a little salt and let them cool down before eating.
  13. Sprinkle with finely chopped basil, a little sprinkling of cheese and serve with the basil pesto aioli.

 

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Easy Clambake on the Grill

grilled clambake

Here’s a fun and easy way to entertain this summer, get adventurous and make this easy clambake on the grill. Think backyard parties, get-togethers  and holidays like the fourth of July which is right around the corner. There’s no fuss or mess, the method is simple and it allows you more time to enjoy your guests.

I made something similar in the past, a Seafood Boil, and I won’t kid you it was a huge undertaking trying to find the perfect pot so that everything could fit inside all together, but now I realize we could have easily done the same thing in one big foil pan ( covered) out on the grill with a much easier clean up!
clambake

Basically all you have to do is get everything prepped, these are the ingredients I used but really as long as it’s something that cooks up quickly add in your favorites.

The method is easy, just stack all your delicious ingredients into the vessel of your choice, like I said you could use a big foil pan just as long as you can cover it tightly with a heavy duty foil to create steam.clambake

This time I decided to do individual packets since there was just two of us, but with the amount of ingredients I had I ended up making three anyway, which was fine with us.

You’ll need a good spice mix, something like Old Bay or you can make your own.  I happen to like one from Whole Foods it’s a classic rub and I find it in the fish department.

You’ll also need some kind of a liquid to create steam so everything can cook up nicely, either plain old water, wine, broth or in my case a bottle of beer.

Then just let the grill do all the work, while you sit down and have a cold drink!grilled clambake

When the foil bowl was torn open the smells were amazing, not to mention the taste, we loved it, and I think you will too.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Easy Clambake on the Grill
 
Recipe adapted from a magazine I was flipping through and forgot the name
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, large, cleaned, deveined with tails on
  • 2 ears of corn cut into quarters, uncooked
  • 1 dozen little neck clams ( there will always be some that won't open) you can sub in some mussels if you prefer
  • 4 red or white potatoes cut into about 1½ inches uncooked or you can microwave them for 1 minute to give them a head start
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 cup or so of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 12 oz. of smoked sausage, something precooked like andouille with a little kick, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 bottle of beer, your choice
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • spice mix of your choice , at least 2 tablespoons per packet or more if using a big pan, you be the judge on that, I really didn't measure kept adding more
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • lemons, parsley or chives for garnish
Instructions
  1. To make a foil packet line a mixing bowl with 2 sheets of heavy duty foil, making sure you'll have enough to bring up the sides and seal it good.
  2. Start layering your packets, dividing up your ingredients starting with the potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic,corn, shrimp and sausage, sprinkling some of the spice mix over each layer.
  3. Top the packet with the clams, a dollop of butter and ½ cup of beer.
  4. Close the packets up, sealing them tightly so no steam escapes.
  5. Place packets directly on the grill which should be on high heat.
  6. Cook 20-25 minutes, clams should be open and shrimp cooked.

 

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Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta

zucchini ribbon salad

In a few short weeks zucchini will be in abundance everywhere in my neck of the woods and probably yours as well, so I want ed you to be prepared to make this lovely Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta, so keep this recipe near by.

I’ve always loved the look of shaved ruffled ribbons of zucchini they look so elegant when placed on a platter, this salad is so pretty to serve to your family and friends, I guarantee everyone will be impressed.

It’s simple to prepare, you can make it on a whim and when all the different elements are put together the taste is truely incredible!
zucchini ribbons

The contrast of colors between the green zucchini ribbons and the thinly sliced pink radishes makes it visually appealing and adds to the crunch factor. No need for any fancy gadgets to make this either, just a simple vegetable peeler will do the trick.whipped ricotta

 

But what really takes this dish over the top is the whipped ricotta, ricotta when blended in a food processor takes on a luxurious texture, it’s creamy and dreamy and then if it couldn’t get any better it gets infused with lemon zest, fresh herbs and parmesan cheese, it’s a magical combination.zucchini ribbon salad

Feel free to add some ribbons of yellow squash as well for even more color contrast, I often do that.
zucchini ribbon salad

 

The dressing is a simple lemon and olive oil dressing which compliments everything so well and it’s also topped off and finished with crunchy, toasted walnuts.

This salad screams summer, it’s fresh and light, bright and citrusy, filled with fresh herbs and crunch and it’s one of my absolute favorites on a hot summer day.

Start hording all the zucchini you can get so you can make this Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Whipped Ricotta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 large zucchini or 2 plus 1 yellow squash, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 radishes shaved thin with a mandoline or finely cut with a knife
  • 2 large lemons, 1 for zest and the other for juice to use in the dressing, save a couple slices for garnish
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese, try to purchase a dryer version verses a wet one you might find in liquid at a deli, the dryer the better
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
  • toasted chopped walnuts
  • good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • FOR THE LEMON AND OLIVE OIL DRESSING;
  • 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil, add some salt and pepper and whisk together
Instructions
  1. Place ricotta into a food processor bowl and process until it's light and creamy about thirty seconds or so, then fold in the parmesan cheese, lemon zest and roughly two tablespoons each of finely chopped parsley and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Spread your ricotta mixture onto your favorite platter, drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Make sure your ribbons are shaved as well as the radishes and are ready to go, toss them into a bowl adding some more chopped herbs then gently spoon some of the lemon and olive oil dressing all over tossing ever so lightly, being careful not to over soak the zucchini mixture, a little dressing goes a long way.
  4. Arrange the zucchini nicely on top of the whipped ricotta, leaving an edge so the ricotta shows.
  5. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts all over and arrange a few slices of lemon for garnish around the platter.
  6. Enjoy!

 

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Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata

zucchini noodle pasta Zucchini noodle “pasta” may be light on the carbs but certainly not light on taste, add in some garlicky roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and dreamy burrata cheese and it’s a flavor explosion!

zucchini pasta ingredients Fresh zucchini ribbons shaped like wide pappardelle pasta get tossed into hot roasted tomatoes with all that precious juice, no need to cook or soften the zucchini beforehand because it wilts down to the perfect al’dente bite from the warm tomatoes.

It’s a fun summer meal, easy to make plus it’s fresh and light.

zucchini noodle pasta Can we just talk about Burrata cheese for a minute, if you’re not familiar with it, it’s an Italian cheese, a beautiful knotted ball of fresh mozzarella on the outside with a surprise on the inside when you tear it open. Inside you’ll find it stuffed with milky, creamy mozzarella curds, it’s so dreamy and everything you use it for will surely elevate your dish.

Tomatoes, burrata and pasta of any kind are a match made in heaven.

zucchini noodle pasta

Gently rip it open and let all that creaminess mingle with the fresh basil and ribbons of zucchini, you might be making it all summer long.

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Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Burrata
 
I usually roast a whole quarter sheet pan of tomatoes, two or three pints, if you have extra that's fine.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 or 4 medium zucchini
  • 3 pints of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, shaved thin
  • 3 - 2 oz. balls of burrata cheese or 6 oz.
  • a large handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • ⅓ cup or so of EVOO
  • grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line a quarter sheet pan with foil, add the oil, tomatoes, shaved garlic, half of the basil, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast tomatoes until they burst open and juices mingle with the oil and garlic.
  4. While tomatoes are roasting, trim the top and bottom off of the zucchini and with a vegetable peeler make your ribbons, when you get to the seeds turn the zucchini, keep turning and peeling until you go all around the zucchini leaving the seeded center in tact. ( save it for an omelette).
  5. Place your raw zucchini ribbons right into your serving bowl and when the tomatoes are finished roasting pour them right over, juice and all and gently toss.
  6. Take your burrata and tear it open all over the top so all the flavors can mingle together.
  7. Garnish with the remaining chopped basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  8. Eat immediately

 

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Summer Party Fruit Ideas

melon mozzarella skewers Fruit is always welcome at any occasion especially in the summer when it’s nice and ripe and in abundance. Summertime is the time for parties and picnics, get-togethers, cookouts and fun in the sun.

These simple fruit ideas would be welcome at any party or gathering, not only are they a healthy option, they’re refreshing, crowd pleasing and eye-appealing.

These cantaloupe with fresh mozzarella skewers can be made with or without prosciutto, although I do love the contrast of the sweet with the salty.

melon mozzarella skewers All you have to do is find yourself a nice ripe cantaloupe and scoop it into melon balls, purchase some mini bocconcini which are fresh mozzarella balls and thinly sliced prosciutto, if you so desire.

melon mozzarella skewers Skewer them together adding a whole basil leaf between, then sprinkle with fresh mint.

I like to lightly drizzle a dressing of one part white balsamic vinegar to three parts olive oil with a touch of honey for sweetness whisked together.

melon mozzarella skewers Just place them on a pretty platter and watch them disappear, you can’t imagine how good they are!

watermelon pizza Another fun idea with fruit is to make a watermelon “pizza”.  Cut a large piece of watermelon, which will be the base of your “pizza”. Place it on a pizza wheel for fun and decorate it with different fruits and berries, again I did the sweet and salty combo by adding some crumbled feta cheese.

Top it off with fresh mint and sliced strawberries then cut it into triangles with an actual pizza cutter.

watermelon pizza A fun side dish to anything you might be grilling.

cubed watermelon Another thing I like to do is to cut a watermelon into cubes, all you have to do is Google it if you’re not quite sure how to cut it into perfect little squares, but once you get the knack it’s really very easy.

watermelon salad Then you can make this delicious salad of arugula and blackberries tossed with feta and watermelon cubes, the flavor combination is so amazing and it looks gorgeous on a platter with all the pretty colors.

A light drizzle of the dressing above works really well with this lovely salad.

watermelon skewer Here’s another version of the watermelon salad turned into individual skewers, perhaps served as a special starter to your meal.

Skewer one cube of watermelon with one cube of feta then top it off with a fresh blackberry and a nice drizzle of balsamic glaze, I promise you will WOW your guests and the best thing is, there’s no cooking required!

watermelon skewer

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Sesame Crusted Salmon Nicoise Salad

sesame crusted nicoise salad The weather is warming up and this is one of my favorite meals to make for lunch or dinner, a sesame crusted salmon Nicoise salad. It’s chock full of everything good with a little twist on the classic.

sesame crusted salmon Instead of using tuna as in the classic French version I replaced it with sesame crusted salmon. The crunchy sesame seeds pair perfectly with the rich, buttery flavor of the salmon, a nice contrast in taste and texture.

I like to mix together the black sesame seeds with the toasted ones, it gives such a nice crunch factor.

sesame crusted salmon salad

When composing a salad like this you’ll have to prep a few things ahead of time, blanch your asparagus, hard boil some eggs and roast up some tiny potatoes, everything else is a piece of cake and a matter of arranging it all onto a nice big platter.

The more colors the better, I like using rainbow colored cherry tomatoes, peppers and fingerling potatoes and the pretty pink color of the salmon will just set the whole dish off.

This meal is simple for weeknights and elegant enough for entertaining, its fun to eat and fun to make, you need this salad in your life!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sesame Crusted Salmon Nicoise Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 or 2, 6 oz. portions of salmon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon each of black sesame seeds and toasted sesame seeds per portion, if using 2 portions you'll need 2 tablespoons each.
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cooked then tossed in a little lemon olive oil
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • red onion
  • nicoise or kalamata olives, pitted
  • colored fingerling potatoes or small red
  • sliced Persian cucumbers (they're small)
  • colored baby peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • rainbow colored cherry tomatoes
  • sweet cherry peppers
  • a few Calabrian chili peppers for heat
  • arugula to line the platter
  • USE AS MUCH OR AS LITTLE AS YOU WANT WITH ABOVE INGREDIENTS
Instructions
  1. To prepare the salmon, preheat oven to 450F then line a small sheet pan with foil, drizzled with olive oil on the bottom.
  2. Mix the two different sesame seeds together and place into a flat dish.
  3. Salt and pepper your salmon portions and then press the tops only of the salmon into the seeds, they will stick very easily onto the salmon.
  4. Place salmon seed side up onto the prepared pan, then drizzle olive oil on each portion.
  5. Bake salmon for twelve minutes, then take it out of the oven and let it rest.
  6. Prepare the asparagus by blanching for two to three minutes in boiling water, remove with tongs then place into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
  7. Gently toss the asparagus in a store bought lemon olive oil, or a homemade version.
  8. Prepare the potatoes by roasting in a 400F oven tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper until tender and golden brown.
  9. Have your hard boiled eggs cooked and ready to go.
  10. Layer arugula on the bottom of a platter, place the salmon in the center, breaking it apart slightly.
  11. Arrange all the other ingredients in groups all around the platter making sure you salt the tomatoes and give them a little drizzle of olive oil as well.
  12. ENJOY!

 

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Spring Pasta Salad

spring pasta salad

Here’s a pasta salad that features all the flavors of spring including fresh asparagus, baby zucchini, arugula, artichoke hearts, colorful cherry tomatoes, peas and fresh herbs. It’s light, healthy and just perfect for spring!

You can enjoy this spring pasta salad as a main dish by maybe adding some grilled shrimp to it or as a side dish for any party you might be having. Mother’s Day is right around the corner and this would be a nice option for a salad.
farfalloni pasta What really inspired me for this salad was this pasta shape that I found called farfalloni, it reminded me of fluttering butterfies, so cute with the rounded edges. I actually found this at my local HomeGoods store in their gourmet food section.

Years ago I did another spring inspired pasta salad with this pasta shape that I found there as well.

farfalloni pasta The key to a good pasta salad is to make sure your pasta isn’t overcooked, you don’t want it to be soft and mushy, it has to have a nice bite to it so it can hold up to all the veggies that you’re adding. My advice is to start testing it two minutes before the suggested cooking time, you’ll be the best judge by giving it a taste test.

spring pasta salad I’m going to be giving you approximate amounts because when making a pasta salad I always add more or less of something according to my likes and according to how it looks on my platter.

spring pasta salad

You’re zucchini ribbons will soften and bend once the dressing is applied so you can easily intertwine them throughout the pasta salad for an pretty and elegant look.

Spring is here, enjoy!

You can follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what I’m cooking up, I usually post something daily.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spring Pasta Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 8 oz. of cooked farfalloni pasta, (or farfalle pasta better known as bow ties or butterflies) being careful not to overcook it, once cooked cool it off with cold water then place onto a rimmed cookie sheet so that you can dab any excess water that might fall into the pasta "wings" with a paper towel
  • ½ jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • ¼ bag of defrosted peas
  • 2 cups of sliced multi colored cherry tomatoes prepped for ten minutes in a good drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped basil so that the tomato juices and olive oil mingle together
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ( I prefer a more medium tip not the pencil thin ones) sliced in thirds and pre roasted or blanched for just a few minutes, cooked al'dente with still a bite to it
  • zucchini ribbons done with a vegetable peeler, turning it while peeling it being careful not to reach the seeds. ( use small zucchini)
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of arugula, depending on your liking
  • fresh basil and parsley
  • DRESSING:
  • 1 part white balsamic vinegar to 3 parts olive oil with a touch of dijon mustard to thicken it up, just whisk everything together adding salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Take a big bowl and place all your ingredients into it, spooning the dressing in little by little and adding salt and pepper to taste and being nice and gentle tossing it.
  2. Then place it all onto a pretty platter adding more zucchini ribbons, peas, artichoke hearts or whatever else to make it look balanced with the veggies.
  3. Spoon more dressing if needed.

 

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Creamy Lemon Chicken Thighs with Peas

chicken thighs If your looking for a dish that’s full of flavor, easy to prepare and only uses one pan, this creamy lemon chicken thighs recipe is the one for you. It’s the perfect weeknight meal that tastes like you spent hours cooking it.

Crispy, deep golden chicken thighs sitting in a sauce of creamy, zesty lemon that’s topped off with sweet peas.

Oh, and did I mention what a luscious combination cream and lemon is?

chicken thighs

The ingredient list may be short but the flavors are big and you’ll get this on your table in no time!

This just might be your new go to dish, enjoy!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Lemon Chicken Thighs with Peas
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • frozen peas, a cup or so depending on your liking
  • fresh parley and lemon slices for garnish
Instructions
  1. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. In a skillet with medium heat melt the butter then add in the chicken thighs skin side down searing them to a deep golden brown, don't flip them until they reach that color.
  3. When deep color is reached flip them over and cook for 2 more minutes on the other side, then remove and set aside.
  4. If too much grease is left drain the pan and add a little bit more butter.
  5. Add the 2 cloves of garlic and cook until light golden then add in the broth, zest, lemon juice and then finally the cream.
  6. Reduce to a simmer then add the chicken thighs back in along with the frozen peas, simmering until chicken is fully cooked and cream has thickened up.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices.

 

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Lemon Pasta with Arugula

lemon pasta Now that winter is behind us it’s time for something light, bright and citrusy and this lemon pasta is just the thing. It’s slightly creamy, lemon zesty with flavors of garlic, parmesan and arugula tossed in.

This recipe is insanely simple yet it doesn’t skimp on any flavor, it’s a fresh, healthy pasta dish that you can get ready in no time at all.

lemon pasta This lemon pasta represents everything that spring is about, zesty and bright! The peppery arugula lends a nice balance to the dish, but if arugula is not your thing feel free to replace it with fresh spinach or even torn basil leaves, either one will marry well with all the other flavors.

This can be a stand alone lunch or dinner with a salad on the side to complete your meal, or you might want to serve it as a side dish because it tastes incredible alongside grilled fish, shrimp or chicken, perfect for your summer entertaining and a favorite of mine.

lemon pasta

Recipes don’t have to be complicated to make delicious and healthy food for your family, It’s amazing what you can create with just a few quality ingredients, simple is best.

Happy Spring!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Lemon Pasta with Arugula
 
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Ingredients
  • ½ lb. of spaghetti
  • ½ cup, fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, lemon zest
  • ½ cup, heavy cream
  • 1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 handful of baby arugula
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cooke al'dente.
  2. Drizzle the bottom of a skillet with olive oil, add the butter and when it melts throw in the garlic, don't let it burn or get dark.
  3. Add the heavy cream letting it simmer a bit.
  4. Add the juice and half of the zest, simmer until it reduces a bit.
  5. Scoop the pasta right into the skillet, reserving some pasta water.
  6. Toss in the Parmesan and the arugula, tossing and coating, adding some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce.
  7. Place into a serving dish, adding grated black pepper, the rest of the zest and additional shards of parmesan for garnish.
  8. Enjoy!

 

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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
 
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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.

 

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Sweet Long Peppers Stuffed with Cauliflower Rice

sweet long peppers Sweet long peppers, oh how I love thee! These elegant looking peppers are super sweet and never ever bitter. They were once called Ancient Sweets but now you’ll find them called, Sweet Twister.

They’re very versatile, you can cut them into rings and use them in salads, stir fries, pizza and frittata’s, they’re great roasted and grilled and of course my favorite way is stuffed.

sweet long peppers These beauties are so vibrant in color, who can resist? Plus they have very few ribs and seeds that are very easy to pick out and an almost hollow interior which gives them the perfect pocket for stuffing.

sweet long peppers Over the years I have stuffed them many ways and usually a meat or sausage was involved, but this time I wanted to use the ever popular cauliflower rice and make a meatless version adding some cheese and herbs into the mix. Imagine a platter full  as a delicious side dish or it can stand alone as vegetarian lunch with a salad on the side, I think you’ll be smitten!

sweet long peppers

I always buy frozen cauliflower rice, it’s less messy for me and I can grab a bag on a whim right out of my freezer. I served my cauliflower rice stuffed peppers alongside a roasted chicken and it was a hit! I hope you give it a try.

You can follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up daily. 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sweet Long Peppers Stuffed with Cauliflower Rice
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 12 oz. bag of riced cauliflower
  • 6 good size sweet long peppers ( Sweet Twister's)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 6 to 8 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1¼ cup of grape tomatoes, each one cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 heaping ¼ cup of grated romano cheese
  • 1 heaping cup of shredded mozzarella or fontina cheese, or any cheese that melts really good
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400F
  2. Place foil on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle the bottom with a little olive oil.
  3. In a saute pan drizzled with olive oil, add the onion and garlic until soft then pour in the frozen cauliflower stirring until it has defrosted and cooked a little.
  4. Add in all the other ingredients, garlic, parsley,basil, both cheese and tomatoes, plus salt and pepper to taste, mixing until all combined.
  5. Let it cool down a bit, in the meantime prep your peppers.
  6. Try to leave the stems on it gives a nice presentation.
  7. Figure out which side of the pepper will lay flat and sturdy in the pan.
  8. Cut a slit on top being careful not to go completely through the top or pointed bottom.
  9. Pull out the seeds and ribs with your fingers, it will be easy.
  10. Drizzle the inside with a little olive oil and some black pepper.
  11. Fill each pepper with the cauliflower rice mixture all the way to the top.
  12. Place them onto the rimmed sheet pan with a quick little drizzle of olive oil.
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes or so, the cheese should be melted and the peppers starting to wrinkle and become soft.
  14. Garnish with chopped basil and parsley.

 

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Loaded Farro Salad

loaded farro salad Here’s a loaded salad that’s filled with roasted veggies and delicious chewy farro, this is not a wimpy salad by any means! This loaded farro salad is filled with veggie goodness featuring, asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, red, yellow and orange peppers, artichoke hearts, green onions, basil and parsley then tossed in a bright lemon and olive oil dressing.

loaded farro salad Delicious at room temperature so it’s party perfect. You can serve this as a meatless meal, as a light lunch, a healthy main course or a side dish for grilled fish, shrimp or any meat of your choice.

Did you know that farro can be pre-cooked ahead of time then kept frozen? Sometimes I cook a whole bag, let it cool down and place portions into freezer bags so they’re ready to go when I want to make this.

The frozen farro will keep for up to six months in the freezer, but I assure you it won’t last that long, there are so many different ways to prepare it, here’s a summer version I like to make as well.

loaded farro salad

Keep in mind you can add or subtract any veggie you like, anything goes, this will not disappoint!

You can follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to check out what I’m making during the week.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Loaded Farro Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 1½ cups of farro
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon, salt
  • 1 bunch of thin asparagus, cut diagonally
  • 1 to 2 zucchini and yellow squash, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 each of red, yellow and orange peppers cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1 cup of frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts
  • 3 green onions sliced
  • a handful each of fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 small garlic cloves grated on a microplane
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine the water and the farro into a medium saucepan, add the salt then bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low then cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Drain well then transfer to a big bowl to cool down.
  4. In the meantime heat your oven to 425 degrees then roast all you veggies on a large sheet pan, (except the peas, just let them defrost and the green onions, just have them ready to go) that have been drizzled all over with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook them until there is still a little bite, do not over cook and let them get mushy. You'll have to keep checking and tossing them., maybe total 10 minutes, but ovens vary.
  6. Let all the veggies cool off when out of the oven before combining them with the cooled farro.
  7. Toss and fold everything together including the defrosted peas.
  8. Whisk the juice of 1 lemon together with the grated garlic and enough olive oil to your tasting.
  9. Add the chopped parsley, basil and sliced green onions.
  10. Pour the dressing on, toss gently and season with salt and pepper.

 

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Chicken Rolls with Asparagus, Red Pepper and Brie

chicken rolls Turn ordinary chicken breasts into an easy and elegant dinner by making chicken rolls that are stuffed with asparagus, roasted red pepper and brie cheese. This dish could easily be used for entertaining because you can prep and prepare the chicken the night before and then just bake it off the day of your party.

chicken rollsAll you have to do is cook your asparagus just for a minute or so to take the rawness off then plunge into cold water and pat dry. Then roast up some thick sliced red pepper strips to layer on top along with your favorite cheese.

I used brie here but mozzarella would work nicely, as well as provolone, fontina, goat cheese or anything else that melts nicely.

I had three, six to eight ounce breasts which I sliced open like a book keeping them together, not separating them apart. Pound nice and flat, as even as you can all around then season with salt and pepper.

Brown one side of the breasts in a skillet to get a little color on the side that will be showing when they get rolled up, light brown on one side only for around two minutes tops!

Then transfer to a baking sheet, browned side down and start layering. I used four asparagus for my chicken rolls but I had fairly thin asparagus.

Roll up and secure it with twine, do not use toothpicks they will fall apart.

Drizzle the top with olive oil, and your favorite dried herbs, I used thyme and granulated garlic.

Bake at 375 til cooked through. It’s best to check the internal temp with a meat thermometer just to make sure.

chicken rolls

This chicken is far from bland, it’s juicy, chock full of flavor and it looks pretty too, a win, win, enjoy!

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Prosciutto Wrapped Cod with Green Beans and Tomato

prosciutto wrapped cod Today I’m giving you a meal that can be put together in no time at all, perfect for mid week or when your days are rushed. It’s prosciutto wrapped cod and it’s cooked on a bed of tender green beans and roasted tomatoes. It’s a one pan wonder and no formal recipe is required.

It’s super easy to make and very healthy, a win win for you and your family!

prosciutto wrapped cod Look for a nice piece of fresh wild caught cod one that has some thickness to it and easy to cut into good size portions.

In a little bowl add some olive oil, one clove of garlic grated on a microplane and lemon zest. Salt and pepper the fish then brush each portion with the olive oil mixture.

Next you’re going to wrap a piece or two of prosciutto all around each fish portion leaving the ends unwrapped.

prosciutto wrapped cod

Take a baking dish and add blanched green beans on the bottom along with a handful of cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, salt, pepper then drench them with olive oil and place the wrapped cod on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for about ten to twelve minutes or until fish is white and firm.

Enjoy!

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