GRILLED PESTO SHRIMP WITH ROASTED TOMATO SPAGHETTI

I love pesto! or for that fact, anything with basil, so it’s no wonder that I always keep a jar of it stocked in my pantry,or in my freezer when I make it homemade. I think it enhances a lot of dishes and it’s a way to add a lot of flavor. Pesto is exceptionally good when brushed on shrimp, and oh so easy to prepare!


I decided to grill my shrimp inside because A, it’s too cold outside!!, and B, I wanted a good excuse to use my new Le Creuset grill pan!! I love the size of it, not too big, and not too small, fits perfectly on one burner, and great for grilling shrimp. But of course any indoor grill pan will do.

Another thing I always have in my house, are those sweet little Campari tomatoes, I always have a bowl of them sitting on my counter. To make this sauce, I just slit the top and bottom of each tomato, put them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Roast them at 400 Degrees till they pop open a little, and the juices start to run. Pour everything over some hot pasta, oil and all,, and mix in some fresh basil!

If you don’t feel like having pasta, the shrimp certainly stands alone by itself, I usually marinate them for about an hour in a ziplock bag with just some crushed garlic, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. When they’re on the grill, then I brush them all over with the pesto.

BUON APPETITO!!

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PETTO DI POLLO!!! (CHICKEN BREAST)

CHICKEN WITH GORGONZOLA AND TOASTED WALNUTS
Gorgonzola is one of those cheese’s that you either like, or you don’t like, you know,it’s a blue cheese thing! it has a little bite to it, along with a very rich and creamy taste.Well I happen to love Gorgonzola, and if your like me, you’ll love this recipe.
Lightly dust chicken in flour, salt &Pepper,and saute in some butter and olive oil till golden. Remove chicken. Add a couple of shallots and deglaze with 1/2 cup of white wine. Return chicken to the pan on low heat turning them once or twice. Place Gorgonzola on top, cover till melted. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. A simple concept, that gives you a delicious result!! Adapted from 1,000 Italian Recipes

CHICKEN PARMESAN
Sometimes Chicken Parm tends to be heavy with all that breading and frying, this is a much lighter version,that I saw Giada do, it’s a fresh approach with mega flavor!! The key element to this dish is brushing the chicken with a fresh herb oil, yes, make your own, chop up some fresh herbs and place them in a small bowl with some extra virgin olive oil. I used rosemary,thyme, and parsley but you can use whatever you like. Make sure you have a homemade sauce with good tomatoes, I always use San Marzzano, the flavor is fantastic with no bitterness. Squish your tomatoes in some olive oil and garlic, and add some fresh basil thats it!Simple!
Brush both sides of the chicken with the herb oil and saute in pan, till almost cooked. Place fresh mozzarella on top along with sauce and place in oven till melted and cooked through.Top with shaved parm. I’m sure you will love this if you give it a try!

CHICKEN CUTLETS
Again, this is a little lighter version I like to make when I’m trying to watch the carbs! There are no bread crumbs in this, just chicken lightly dipped in egg and then into Romano, parm or a mixture of both, some fresh chopped parsley, and a little lemon peel, salt & pepper.Saute in olive oil till crispy. Believe me you won’t miss the breadcrumbs!!

BUON APPETITO!

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My First Daring Baker Challenge!…LEMON MERINGUE PIE

After many months of observing, I decided to join the elite group of men and women called, The Daring Bakers. This group is the brain-child of Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina, two blogger friends, who decided to challenge themselves by baking the same exact recipe, and then posting about it on each of their blogs. It turned out to be so much fun that they decided to do it again, other bloggers started to see what they were doing, and they too wanted to join in on the fun, and the group just grew and grew. As of today there are 400 plus members and it’s growing every month. The premise is the same today except now each member gets to host the challenge of their choice. This month the hostess is Jen, The Canadian Baker and her pick was Lemon Meringue Pie!!

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I made a Lemon Meringue pie, I think I was a newlywed, and believe me that was many moons ago! And being that I have a thing about precise measuring, I knew this was going to be a challenge for me when I saw how long the recipe was! There are 3 components to this pie, the crust, (which by the way, tasted and turned out great!) the filling,( as you can see in my picture) was light and lemony, a bit of a challenge because when it comes together it gets really thick and you have to whisk the heck out of it!! But I’m proud to say I succeeded with that also. And last but not least, the meringue.
As for the meringue… well, I had visions of grandeur!! I envisioned it peeking so high in the center, so that when you cut into it, you would have this HUGE pile of meringue on the top of your slice, picture perfect huh??NOT!!

As you can see my dreams didn’t turn out the way I wanted. My meringue never got to that real stiff peek stage,instead it just flattened out when I scooped it on. My fellow Daring Baker, Maryann, suggested that maybe I actually didn’t beat the meringue long enough, and you know, I think she’s right! Any other input from other Daring Bakers would be truely appreciated!

In conclusion, even though the meringue flopped on me, it had a great taste, in fact the whole pie had a really nice flavor, better than any meringue pie I have ever purchased. You could really tell the difference between store bought and home made!

So,I’m happy to say that I completed my very first Daring Baker challenge, and I look forward to what’s in store for next month!!

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SLOW-ROASTED BALSAMIC GLAZED ONIONS

Although this takes about 2 hours to make, I guarantee you wont mind it, because it fills your home with a wonderful aroma, and besides, the oven is doing all the work!

I got this recipe out of an Italian magazine a couple of years ago and loved it because it goes great with any kind of grilled or roasted meats. Simply brush some thickly sliced onions with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, place in a shallow pan and cover with foil. Roast for 45 min. at 350 degree’s F. Then uncover and roast them for another 40 min.

You’ll want to use a good balsamic that has been aged for at least 10 yrs. If you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a bottle Trader Joe’s has a great one( another plug for TJ’s!!) but I’m certain you can find some readily available other places.

Once the onions are tender transfer to a platter, and pour your vinegar right into the pan on top of the stove, and on medium heat let it simmer till thick, always moving it with a rubber spatula to scrape up the brown bits.
It didn’t take very long to become rich and syrupy. because of the quality of the vinegar.

Stir in some toasted almonds to add a little crunch, and spoon it all over the onions. The flavor is unbelievable!!!

Buon Appetito!!!

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D O L C I !!!…(On the lighter side)

STRAWBERRIES WITH LIMONCELLO RICOTTA CREAM!

Although I’ve made many desserts with ricotta, I’ve never once thought of putting it in my blender, until I saw Bobby do it on the Food Network. Something magical happens when you do that, the texture comes out smooth, creamy and rich tasting. You have to sweeten it up a bit, with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, then the sky’s the limit for flavoring! Amaretto, white chocolate liqueur, I think Bobby used Grand Marnier, but my favorite is Limoncello, I used about 2 tablespoons per 1lb. of ricotta. Throw everything in the blender, and make it the consistency you want, I made mine thicker than Bobby’s, just make sure it all smooths out! No one will ever know this is low fat!!

RUM SOAKED PINEAPPLE WITH MASCAPONE!

This is a favorite of mine which I make in the summer and winter.

Melt a little butter in a saute pan, add some brown sugar, when it all melts down and blends together, add some dark rum. Place your pineapple in the pan and cook it low and slow, turning each piece till everything soaks in and creates a slightly thick sauce.

Place it all in a pretty glass and dollop with a nice portion of Mascapone that has been sitting out at room temperature!

It’s warm, creamy, and the rum takes it over the top!!

Both of these desserts are quick to make, and taste’s oh so decadent!!

Enjoy!!!

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SALMON STUFFED WITH ARTICHOKE & SUN-DRIED TOMATOES, WITH A LEMON CAPER SAUCE!

If you’re a lover of salmon like me, then you have to try this! It’s easy to put together for a mid week meal, and elegant enough to serve for a special dinner party.

Serve this with a nice crisp salad and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio, and you’ve got a match made in heaven!!


The actual stuffing is made with frozen artichoke hearts, that have been defrosted and squeezed of any excess water (Trader Joes has the best!) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and sliced into strips, a couple of shallots, a hint of garlic, and some good flavored breadcrumbs, not the kind that’s real fine, something with texture.

Saute in olive oil and butter, the shallots and garlic, add your breadcrumbs till golden and crispy.
Add artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, mix well.

Take one piece of salmon, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil, place a mound of stuffing on top, add a second piece of salmon on top of that, repeat with salt, pepper, olive oil and a little paprika. Line a pan with parchment or tin foil and roast till moist and flaky.

Lemon Caper sauce****
Squeeze fresh lemon and a dash of water into half and half, or cream that has been cooked down till thick, add black pepper and capers.

Lay your salmon on a bed of fresh sauted spinach, and pour the sauce on top, the flavor combinations work great together, hope you give it a try!!

Buon Appetito!

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THE HUMBLE PEPPER AND EGG SANDWICH!!

I don’t know exactly when this humble sandwich had it’s beginning, but I’ve been eating this since I was a little kid. It’s usually offered primarily during the Lenten season in many of the Italian beef stands here in Chicago land, and on Friday’s, as an alternative to meat. Yes, way back when, the Catholic religion had a “no meat on Friday” rule and I think that’s how this sandwich all came about. I have to admit, even though I can find this sandwich close to where I live, and in some places it’s on the menu all year long, my favorite place to get this is right out of my own kitchen!!

Why? you might ask? Because I always think it taste’s blah there, never enough seasoning, you know, salt pepper, Romano! you can’t be skimpy with the ingredients!! It’s all about the flavor! the blending of the olive oil with the scrambled eggs and cheese, oh, and you must have good crusty bread, none of that white spongy stuff will do here!

With that being said, here’s how you put it all together… Saute your sliced peppers in olive oil that have been seasoned with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic, till tender not mushy. Next, scramble up some eggs that have been seasoned with salt, pepper, and a generous amount of Romano cheese, don’t be skimpy on the cheese, this is what makes it so good!! Pour it all over your peppers till it sets up. Place it in some crusty bread, and if you like hot stuff like I do, a little Hot Giardiniera to top it off!!

It’s warm, satisfying, and beats a cold sandwich any day!!!

Buon Appetito!!

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EGGPLANT WRAPPED WITH TOMATO,BASIL AND MOZZARELLA


I love eggplant and make it in any way, shape or form. This is great for a light meal or an appetizer.

Thinly slice your eggplant and place slices in boiling water for 2 min. drain on paper towels.

Place slices criss cross and layer tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella, then fold up into a neat little package.

Brush with olive oil and broil for 5 min, on each side.


Serve warm with a light tomato sauce, or a tomato based vinaigrette. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

They’re so tender and flavorful, they just melt in your mouth!!

Buon Appetito!!!

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TILAPIA PUTTANESCA

Tilapia is one of my favorite types of fish. I love it for it’s firm and moist texture, and when it cooks up, it turns a bright white, not to mention it holds up to any sauce you make with it. and for some odd reason it never overcooks!! I’ve had it many different ways, but this by far, is one of my favorites.

There’s much speculation about the origin of the name Puttanesca, which is slang for “ladies of the evening”. Legend says that they would make big pots of this to fortify themselves between “appointments”, and it is known for it’s very “spicy” characteristic. Yes, this is not a delicate sauce by any means, the flavors here are strong and bold!!!
There are many different versions of Puttanesca, it’s really very easy to make. I think the most important thing is to use quality ingredients, the main ones being tomatoes, olives and capers.Simply saute some olive oil with a good amount of garlic and onions till soft, sprinkle in red pepper flakes, add some slightly crushed tomatoes with a couple of handfulls of olives ( I used pitted Kalamata’s) and capers. You could add some oregano and basil, if you like, and as always salt, and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Just let all the flavors blend for about 15 min’s or so, it’s a very quick sauce.

 

As far as the Tilapia goes, pan saute in a little olive oil till bright white, it just takes a couple of minutes.
So when you’re in the mood for something spicy and bold I hope you try Puttanesca sauce, it’s also great with pasta, chicken or whatever!!! 

Buon Appetito!!! 

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SAVORY RICOTTA BUNDLES WRAPPED IN PANCETTA!!

First I have to say, this it not my recipe, I discovered this little gem while sipping on a latte at Borders bookstore and looking through the latest Donna Hay magazine. She had a whole section on ricotta, which really interested me. I never did purchase the magazine, but I definitely made a mental note of these. They are very easy to make, so refreshing and light!! I have been craving something citrus so I knew just the thing to pair it with! Now I don’t quite remember the name Ms. Hay gave these, ( you’ll have to check out the magazine). But to me they are little ricotta bundles,so savory and so good!!! If you’re looking for a light lunch or dinner ( and you love ricotta!) you got to try these. And whats really nice, you can make a whole bunch, keep them in the frig, all you have to do is warm them slightly in the microwave. When they’re warmed all the flavors come out.

Simply mix about 1lb or more of ricotta, with 1 cup of Parmesan, (I used Romano) 1 egg, I added some lemon peel, salt and pepper. That’s it!!

Next take a muffin tin, sprayed with oil and line it with 1 piece of Pancetta, scoop the ricotta mixture on top. Bake at 350 degreesF for about 30 min. or until set and golden.
I placed them into a salad mixed with Romaine and Arugula, whipped up a fresh lemon and olive oil dressing to pour on top, and then topped it off with some toasted pine nuts.

Give them a try, if you’re craving something light and refreshing!

Buon Appetito!!!

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2 0 0 8 !!!!

WISHING EVERYONE A VERY HEALTHY, HAPPY, AND DELICIOUS NEW YEAR!!!!

For a quick party dip mix Mascapone and cream cheese, that has been at room temperature, and a very good olive salad, either homemade or store bought ( well drained) and just a touch of grated lemon peel.

As always, Buon Appetito!!
Marie

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T I M P A N O !

If you’re a Foodie and you haven’t seen the movie “Big Night” I would highly recommend you watch it. It’s the story of two brothers from Italy who come to America and open up a restaurant, unfortunately they aren’t making much money at it and they become almost bankrupt, so they decide to risk everything they own for one “Big Night” that will either make or break them.
The brother’s, one who is a superb cook, and the other who handles the business side, decide to make all these elaborate dishes  along with the promise of singer Louie Prima for the entertainment, all this in hopes to lure people into their restaurant. Anyway, when the “Big Night” finally comes the chef prepares his famous “Timpano”.Stanley Tucci is the star in the movie, but to me the star is the “Timpano!” ( sorry Stanley).

Timpano ( as it is said in Calabrian dialect) ____or Timballo___ has been a tradition in the Tucci family for years, in fact, it was his Grandmother who brought this tradition over from Calabria, Italy and to this day his family still makes it. But after the Huge reaction of the “Timpano” that they recieved from the movie, He, along with his family wrote a cookbook, it’s called, Cucina & Famiglia. In that book is the famous Timpano recipe.

Needless to say, the book was bought, and I was hooked!. My family was also hooked!, and was just as excited as I was for me to make this! That was several years ago, and although I don’t make it for every X-mas, this year I did. But believe me, it is great for any party, picnic, or special occasion you might have. It feeds over 16 people, and it definitely has the” WOW” factor!

The most important thing is the pan! It’s all about the pan! You can’t just use any pan, they specify that in the book, I actually ordered mine a long time ago but I updated the source for you. Here is the updated link. It’s a 14″ Basin with a 6 quart capacity, this is the size that fits the recipe in the book.
The enamel pan cooks and browns the Timpano perfectly!!

Here are some of the ingredients… provolone, salami, your best homemade mini meatballs, hard boiled eggs, ziti pasta ( 3 lbs. cooked very al dente), Romano cheese, and homemade sauce. All the components can be cut up, cooked and ready to go before assembly, just bring everything to room temperature.

The dough is easily made in the food processor, just follow their recipe in the book and it comes out perfect every time! This too, can be made in advance and ready to go ahead of time, but this also needs to be at room temp.

Roll it out very thin and drape the pan, everything is going to be wrapped inside it.

Start layering everything , first the sauce…. pasta… provolone… salami…..

Meatballs…Romano cheese… more sauce… you get the picture!

It takes time, but remember there’s 3 lbs. of pasta here, and well worth the process!! not to mention, it’s going to feed lots of people!
Almost to the top, but not quite!
Filled to the brim!

Cover everything up and trim the excess dough. Now it is ready for the oven!!
It bakes for 1 1/2 hours, it has to rest for 30 minutes in the pan, see how golden brown it gets??
Then you invert it over on a board and let it rest for at least another 1/2 an hour, you can even go a whole hour. Because of the long resting time, you could see how great this would be to bring to a party, you won’t have to worry about it getting cold at all. In fact, I think the longer it rests the better it tastes.

I hope you give this a try for your next big event!

Buon Appetito!!!

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ITALIAN SAUSAGE WITH PEPPERS AND POTATOES!!

When I’m asked to bring a dish to a party, and especially when it’s a large group, I often bring this. It’s a mix of Italian sausage, red and green peppers and potatoes. That was the case this past Thursday when I brought this to our Italian American club’s party. Being fairly new members, and the fact that there would be a room full of Italians, I knew I couldn’t get just any sausage!! No, it had to be the best!! So I got in my car and drove out to my favorite source for the best Italian sausage!!(in my opinion!)

I love this place! Just the smell when you walk in the door, it hasn’t changed in years! My kids remember coming here when they were small, and to this day, when they have their own parties and need some good quality food, they come here. Or if they just have a “taste” for something like their marinated artichokes, or their black pepper focaccia, or….the list goes on and on!!

Their sausage is so flavorful, and made fresh daily. They have Sweet with fennel, Medium with fennel and some red pepper flakes(just the right amount) Hot, 3x’s the red pepper!!! It’s so good on the grill, and just recently added a new one, Del Vino with wine. My favorite is medium.

This is only a fraction of what they have! There’s so much more packed into this tiny little store!

I did have to take home some extra little goodies for me and the Hubby to snack on!

Here’s how you make it****

Just take a big pan, cut up any kind of potatoes,( I leave the skin on) cut up your peppers, drizzle them with extra virgin, salt and pepper, a splash of white wine (optional), and smashed garlic. Place sausage on top, and roast in a very hot oven about 425 degree F. till crispy and potatoes cooked tender. Keep turning the sausage over so all sides get cooked through. You’ll know when it’s done by the way it looks.

Buon Appetito!!!

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"PUFF COOKIES"

cookies

Ever since I was a kid, these cookies have been known to me as “Puff Cookies”, they were always made for special occasions by my Mom and Aunt Eileen. These cookies are seen in almost every Italian Bakery in my neck of the woods. I’m sure you might recognize them by a different name, such as Crescents, Butter Balls, Italian, and Mexican Wedding cookies and Russian Tea cakes. I’m sure there are many other names, but to me they will always be, Puff Cookies!
Like little puffs of snow, they just melt in your mouth upon impact, they are truly one of my favorites!

making cookiesMy family never made the crescent shape, ours were always rolled into a ball, placed onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, and then pressed in the middle with your thumb print.

making cookies

The thumbprint creates a nice indention for the powdered sugar to fall into it.

powdered sugar cookies
Right from the oven gently toss the cookies right into the powdered sugar coating them all over.
puff cookies
Place them on waxed paper to finish cooling down.
cookies
They’re hard to resist while laying there cooling off, you might want to give them a taste test. They’re buttery and instantly melt in your mouth!
cookie can
I always make these for the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other special occasion in my family, it’s a tradition.
Plus I always make extra so I can pack some up for everyone to enjoy at their home as well.
cookie can
 Some cookies always bring up the best memories, with just one bite it brings you back, these puff cookies do that for me, I hope you give them a try!

This recipe makes quite a bit, I’m sure you could cut everything in half, but why would you? There will be more to share with your family and friends.

 

 

"PUFF COOKIES"
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature ( very important)
  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons, good vanilla
  • 8 teaspoons sugar (yes that's right just 8 teaspoons)
  • ¾ cup ground pecans ( it's optional but recommended )
  • a bowl of powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Cream butter in a heavy mixer.
  2. Add sugar and vanilla and mix til fluffy.
  3. Add in flour until well incorporated.
  4. When dough is finished make teaspoon sized balls and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.
  5. Make a thumbprint in each ball.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
  7. Immediately gently roll the baked cookies into the powdered sugar until well coated.
  8. Let them cool completely on wax paper.
  9. Enjoy!
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ITALIAN LEMON KNOT COOKIES!!

These cookies have so many different names, but I only know them as “Lemon Knots”. They are also known as Italian Lemon Cookies, Italian Bow Knots, Anginetti, and Taralucci.

Along with the many different names are the many variations of making them, but the end result is a soft, slightly crumbly, moist cookie, with the distinctive flavor of pure lemon throughout. They are definitely an Italian tradition!!

You can add nonpareils or not, it’s up to you, but the frosting is made with pure lemon juice, a little grated lemon peel, and powdered sugar.

RECIPE****

5 cups unbleached flour

3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 bottle of pure lemon extract or,( 1 oz.)
Grated lemon rind
5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 Cup of sugar
1 3/4 cup of shortening

Mix together flour, eggs, milk, lemon extract and rind, sugar, and baking powder, in large bowl. Add shortening till it forms a dough. You might need to add some more milk or more flour to get the right consistency, but after doing so, take golf ball size pieces and shape them into balls or roll them like a log and tie them in a bow, or make a horseshoe shape and twist them over like I did. Bake at 350 degrees for exactly 15 minutes.

When they cool dip them in the icing and place them on wax paper untill they set.

ENJOY!!

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PIGNOLI COOKIES

I’ve been wanting to make these cookies for so long. I always buy a few when I go to the Italian bakeries out here.

These Pignoli cookies are made with pure Almond paste, that are rolled in pine nuts and baked until golden brown.

The cookies were very easy to make, the hard part was locating the Almond paste. I actually went to several stores before I found it, but that was probably because its holiday baking time. Anyway, this is not to be confused with Marzipan, that’s not what you want to use. Also, There’s a brand called Solo, which makes Almond filling, don’t use that either! You just need straight up Almond paste! but and you won’t believe how much this little can cost… can you believe, 8.99!!! I thought that was quite expensive!

But after looking on the Internet I found out you can make your own Almond paste real easy at home, so next time I might try that if I get adventurous.

This is what it looked like out of the can, it’s really thick and has to be broken up in the food processor. This is a very good brand though, and as soon as you take the lid off the can the smell of Amaretto fills the air!! I found out there’s another good brand out there and it’s called Odense, which comes in a tube. Just remember… Marzipan and Almond paste are two different things, and Almond filling is not what you want either.

These actually turned out Soooo good! but now I really have a new found appreciation as to why the bakeries charge so much for these little gems. Between the pine nuts and the Almond paste!$$$$$!! But with that being said, they’re very “special”cookies, and I’d definately make them again!

HERES THE RECIPE:

1 (10 oz) can of Almond paste

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

1/4 cup of flour

3 egg whites, lightly beaten

At least 10 0z of pine nuts in a bowl to roll them in before you bake them.

Continue using the food processor after breaking up the Almond paste into small pieces.Pulse the sugar and the flour, add egg whites till dough comes together.

Scoop out a small piece of dough, and roll in pine nuts till covered, and place 2″ apart on cookie sheet. Bake 300 degrees about 32 min. Freeze them if you’re not going to use them right away, then take out as needed.

Happy Baking!!!

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PENNE W/ PROSCIUTTO AND SPINACH

This is a rustic and hearty meal that is perfect on a cold winter night!! Everything can be combined ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake.

First, start out by making a thick and smooth besciamella sauce, by whisking some butter, flour,milk, salt and pepper. ( nutmeg optional)

Next, toss in 1lb. of al dente pasta with the warm besciamella sauce in a large bowl, stir in a 10 oz. of frozen chopped spinach which has been thawed and squeezed dry. Fold in 1/2 lb. of diced prosciutto, 1 cup of grated Parm, salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, pour everything into a roasting pan, dot with butter, sprinkle with more cheese, and bake at 450 for about 30 min’s or until golden and a little crunchy!!

Buon Appetito!!

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NOT YOUR MAMA’S CHICKEN SOUP!!!


Sometimes I just don’t have the time to slow cook a chicken for some great homemade soup. But yet when it’s cold outside that’s exactly what I want! We just had 6″ of snow drop on us with more to follow this weekend.
Yaah! some may say…not me! The older I get the less I like winter, but I guess I better grin and bare it because it’s only the beginning!!

So with that being said, here’s my Quickie Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup!!

Warm and comforting just like you simmered it for hours, but in reality, it only it took 20 min’s.

The key ingredient is this roasted chicken, that I threw in the oven along with something else I was making the other day, you know, like 2 meals in one! Seasoned with lots of thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil. Actually, it’s the seasonings that makes the soup tastes so good.

Then I simply just shred all the chicken up and either stick it in my frig, or sometimes even my freezer till needed.

Take out your favorite soup pot and add a little olive oil in there. Next saute your garlic, chopped carrots , celery, and onions until almost tender. Add in some great boxed, low sodium broth like the one from Trader Joes, ( or any of your favorites) and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

I cook my egg noodles on the side and add them as needed, sometimes they tend to blow up from sitting in the hot broth to long.

And of course, you must top it off with some freshly grated Parm!!

Another quick meal for this busy time of year!!

Buon Appetito!!

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" STUFFED PORTOBELLA’S"

This is my idea of FAST FOOD! This is something I make quite often especially when I’m in a hurry, and we’re not in a meat mood.

The ingredients are simple, as you can see above. I usually make a quick marinara with good tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic. In the meantime, I scrape the gills out of the portabella’s, you don’t have too, but I personally think it makes my sauce dark looking sometimes. Next, I mix some GOOD ricotta with romano cheese, 1 egg, you could use fresh parsley, chopped spinach, whatever! I also mix a little shredded mozzarella in there too, finish with salt and pepper.

Now, layer your pan with sauce, place your caps in, drizzle them with olive oil, and then put sauce as the first layer. Now, take your ricotta mixture and fill your cap up with it. Finally, top it off with a little more sauce. Thats it!! Bake till mushroom gets tender at 375


A nice salad, a glass of wine, and you got a light and tasty dinner!!

Buon Appetito!!!

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AN INVASION OF BUNNIES & A TRIP TO THE BAKERY!!!

For the last couple of days I’ve been helping my girlfriend prepare for a baby shower she is giving for her daughter this weekend. This will be her first Grandchild and as you can imagine she is so excited. Being the friend that I am, I had told her about a shower that I went to over the summer that had these cute little Bunnies made out of washcloths and shower puffs, as party favors. What was I thinking???? So we Googled the directions and off to the craft store she went, buying little eyes, ribbon, and everything else she needed. No problem I thought, we only had to make 36, we could pull this off in no time!!! WRONG!!! She arrived at my house at 9:00 pm after I put a big pot of coffee on. How hard could it be? Well, the folding of the washcloth was hard to figure out! It took us almost 2 hrs. to finally master that! Then we had to figure out how to attach the shower puff, and finally, we had to hot glue all the nose and eyes on. She left my house close to 2:00 am!!! But after about 5 hrs…….

These cute little Bunnies were born!! Aren’t they adorable??? I just had to share them with you!!…. Needless to say, I dreamt of Bunnies that night!!….. Now, on to the bakery part.

Her daughter requested ONE thing only if she was to have a shower, she wanted a Cannoli cake!! My friend, not being of Italian decent,knew I would point her in the right direction. So off we went to my favorite Italian bakery to order her cake!
When I told the Hubby where we were going, he got so excited and said ” make sure you bring me home something!” So with my camera in tow this time, I thought I’d share some pictures with you.

Crunchy, flaky, and creamy “Sfogliatelle !!!”

Don’t these look good?????

Check out the cookies!!!!!! All butter!!!! We each bought a few to have later with coffee, they never made it home ( ha ha)

Hubby’s favorite, fig cookies, like his Mom use to make!!

And finally, this was his little treat that was waiting for him after dinner! Sfogliatelle, and Cannoli. Oh, and by the way, the Cannoli is to die for!!! made fresh to order, creamy and good with a nice and crunchy shell…. I have to say the Cannoli is my favorite!!!

Chicago still has many great Italian bakeries around, but they are getting few and far between. Some of the fantastic ones I remember as a kid are gone, and as the owners are getting up in age it seems the “new generation” of kids aren’t as eager to carry on with the family tradition. Oh, so sad!!! But for now, we’ll savor the “special ones” that are left!!!!

Have a great day!!!!

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POST TURKEY DAY REFLECTIONS!!!

I’m sure everyone is out of their” Turkey Coma’s” by now, and have eaten their leftovers at least once! I know we have! I hope every ones dinners came out fantastic and you all got to enjoy your day with family and friends!! There will be no recipes on this post, because we all have our specialties that our family’s love, just a few pictures of the main characters.

This actually was the first time I didn’t stuff the bird ( believe me, I heard about it!!) But I wanted to do something different since my kids won’t let me put a modern twist on any of the old standbys. And besides it was a 24lb. bird and it would have took forever to cook!

So I just stuffed it with a bunch of fresh herbs, lemon, and whole garlic cloves. I also rubbed the outside with butter and herbs. I tried to make it look pretty by stuffing fresh sage under the breast skin,but that didn’t turn out as nice as I wanted it to. But at least the turkey had a lot of flavor!!!

One of the highlights in my family is of course, stuffed artichokes, a favorite for “special occasions” I searched for 3 days to find some decent ones, then I finally came across these beauties!! They were huge, un– blemished, with plenty of room to stuff them. I steamed them first to get them tender, then I baked them. They weren’t cheap, but they were worth every penny!

Our deserts consisted of pumpkin pie, lemon bars, chocolate cake, banana cake w/carmel frosting, and to top it off my daughter made some killer gingerbread lattes!!! The day was filled with family, food, games with my Granddaughter, movies for the guys, Shriek3 for B, and holding a new baby.
When it was all said and done, we had a ton of leftovers!!! so everyone got a nice care package when they left! Even my daughters dogs!!

Looking forward to reading all of your blogs!!!

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PENNE W/SHRIMP & BROCCOLI AGLIO OLIO!!

If you are opting for something a little lighter before the big turkey showdown this is a quick and light meal to make. Hubby and I had this last night. I usually always have a bag of shrimp in my freezer, it’s something easy to defrost and quick to cook!

THIS IS ALL YOU DO:

Put a pan of water on for your pasta, when it boils blanch the broccoli for 1 minute and scoop out with slotted spoon, then drop pasta in the same water and cook al dente.
While that’s cooking, saute at least 4 cloves of of shaved garlic with olive oil till golden, then you want to put your shrimp and broccoli in the oil and saute, next deglaze everything with some white wine. When the sauce reduces a little and all the flavors are blended, put in your pasta so it soaks up the sauce, add salt & pepper to taste, and in this case I added some sun dried tomatoes, which I think adds color and flavor. That’s it!!!!

Buon Appetito

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ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP!!!


I’ve been to many Italian weddings in my life and I have NEVER been served this soup! So how did this name come about? That was the exact conversation my Sister- in- law Jennie and I had on the phone the other day. So I decided to do a tiny bit of research and came up with this… Somewhere along the way, the name Minestra Maritata got mis-translated.
The literal translation is “married soup” which in this case, refers to the ingredients, which are a perfect “marriage” of the meat and greens in the soup.

That sounds logical, doesn’t it? If any of you have a little trivia on Italian Wedding Soup, I would love to hear about it. Now on with the recipe!!

First of all I want to say, that there are many, many variations of this soup, I just prefer a little more color, so I add some tomatoes and carrot to mine.

INGREDIENTS

Your favorite Italian meat balls with lots of Romano cheese in them and made tiny, of course
About 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 onion
1 big carrot or 2
1 cup of orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 cups of kale, escarole, or chard (shredded) more if you want!
1 small can of diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper


Get your nice heavy soup pan out, then take the garlic, carrot, onion, and saute in a little butter.
Next throw in broth and tomatoes.
I like my broth clear so I don’t put the uncooked meatballs right in my soup pot just yet. I separately put them in another pan with some extra broth and softly cook them, so this way there is no foam in my soup. When they are mostly cooked through I scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them right into the big pot! The result is a nice clear broth!
After it’s been simmering for a while, I throw in my greens, which in this case was chard, and my 1 cup of orzo.
Also, if you have any leftover rinds of Romano or Parm, this would be an excellent time to use them.

Buon appetito!!!!!

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BLACK RASPBERRY POLENTA MUFFINS W/ LEMON GLAZE !!

 

muffins
Note: This is a much needed update on this archived post of 2007, same exact flavors with some better visuals and a recipe card at the end.
These delicious muffins have the addition of polenta, the polenta gives the crumb a nice texture which holds up well to the berries, and they’re topped off with a bright lemon glaze.
In my updated version I used blackberries but honestly any berry would work. I prefer using fresh berries but in the past I used some frozen berries and it still works fine.
making muffins
I like using paper muffin cups for this recipe because I find that sometimes the berries stick to the bottom of the tin if only greased, and you certainly don’t want to loose any of that goodness.
polenta muffins
The added polenta gives the muffins a slight crunch and added sweetness to each bite and a little more sturdiness and structure.
polenta muffin
Delicious straight from the oven but even better with a generous drizzle of lemon glaze!
lemon glaze
Fresh lemon juice and zest make up the glaze which give the muffins an added zing.
blackberry muffin
Easy to make with no mixer involved and the end results are amazing, hope you give them a try!
BLACK RASPBERRY POLENTA MUFFINS W/ LEMON GLAZE !!
 
This is an updated 2021 post from the original date of 2007 when I first published it.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup instant polenta
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of 2 lemons, one for muffins and 1 for glaze
  • 8 oz. preferably fresh berries like blackberries, blueberries or mixed berries
  • GLAZE
  • 1 cup or so of powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a small bowl add in the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, salt, whisk together.
  4. In a larger bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, zest and oil.
  5. Add the dry to the wet and with a rubber spatula, mix well.
  6. Fold in the berries and fill the paper liners.
  7. Bake time is 25 to 30 minutes, you want a nice golden color on top.
  8. While muffins are baking mix up your glaze in a small bowl.
  9. Add the powdered sugar, zest and enough fresh lemon juice to make a semi thick glaze, you don't want a runny loose glaze, something a little thicker.
  10. When muffins are finished baking, let them cool then brush the glaze on top.
  11. Enjoy!
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"ITALIAN STYLE" POT ROAST!!!

POT ROAST!! What a great comfort food! So rich in flavor. A one pan wonder!! 3 1/2 hours to do whatever you want! I love meals like this! This is good to make on a lazy sunday afternoon.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
3 or 4lb. chuck roast

Lots of garlic

Fresh rosemary and thyme

1 whole onion

Canned diced tomatoes ( I like fire roasted) about 15oz

2/3rds of a bottle of good red wine

1 1/2 cups of beef stock

Stud the beef with garlic slices, then salt and pepper all over on both sides. Heat up your pan till it’s extremly HOT! Put olive oil in pan and sear meat on both sides till it’s nicely carmelized. Take out the meat and throw in at least 6 whole garlic cloves that have been smashed with the side of your knife, along with a whole onion thats cut up,and chunks of carrots. Next take whole branches of rosemary and thyme and just throw them in, stem and all. Don’t be shy!!! ( the herbs fall out and you can take out stems later) When every thing is carmelized, add tomatoes, wine, and broth. Bring it to a boil, then place meat back in, now put it all in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours at 325 and fagetaboutit!!!!

You can serve this with mashed potatoes, wide egg noodles, or it’s delicious with a creamy polenta!!!

Buon Appetito

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THE FOUR MEME!!!!

Yes, I got tagged for the very first time, for my very first Meme! I’ve read other Meme’s before and it is kind of cool because you get to know just a little bit more about some of your blogger friends that you visit! The person I want to Thank for this tag is Maryann, over at findingladolcevita she has been a great support to me from day one!! So here it goes! Oh, I just wanted to say, I felt I needed a picture added and this one gives you a little more insight to me.
I love coffee!! I need glasses to read!!! and I’m from the Chicago area!!


What 4 Jobs Have I Had?


1. Cookie Decorator
2. “Faux” Painter of wall finishes
3 . Airbrush Stencilist
4. Real Estate


4 Places I”ve Lived?


1. City of Chicago
2. Suburbs of Chicago
3. Pacific Northwest
4. Sorry only 3

4 Places I’ve Been On Holiday?


1. Florida
2. Arizona
3. Vegas
4. Italy

4 Favorite Foods?

1. Authentic Italian
2. Spicy Anything
3. All kinds of Veggies
4. Cannolli’s


4 Places I’d Rather Be?

1. Disney World with my Grandaughter
2. Walking the streets of Florence
3. Gazing at the Oregon Coast
4. San Marco ,Venice

4 Bloggers I’m Tagging!!! (They might have been tagged before,but even so, I’d like to learn a little bit more about them)


Well, I’m finished!! Hope I didn’t bore you to much! Have a great day, all of you!

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Cucina Italiana!

Cucina Italiana! That was the name of a cooking class that I was asked to host this past Friday. The theme was Italian Appetizers! Recently we became members of a local Italian American Club and once a month a different member gets asked to host a cooking class. After much thought I decided on doing 4 appetizers. The photo above is of Crispy Shrimp w/White Bean & Rosemary Bruschetta. It’s actually made with canned cannellini beans mashed up with garlic, parsley, rosemary and olive oil, slathered on a toasted baguette slice, then garnished with one crispy shrimp.
Next, was a Grilled Polenta Cake w/Roasted Tomatoes & Sausage, I made the polenta seasoned with Parmesan cheese, olive oil. After it was cooked I spread it all out on a cookie sheet to cool, then cut the polenta into circles with a cookie cutter. The roasted tomatoes were then placed on the warm polenta and garnished with a slice of Italian sausage.

I also made Mini Meatball Sliders that I did a previous post on. Homemade mini meatballs cooked up in a nice marinara,placed on toasted mini buns garnished with arugula.

It was a very casual and informal event, just the way I like it! Everyone gathered around in my kitchen drinking wine, laughing and eating while Italian music played in the background.

And last but not least, was a Creamy Pesto Cheese Ball. This is a really nice appetizer to serve with wine and to mingle with. It’s very simple you just have to allow time to chill it.

INGREDIENTS

2 8oz packages of cream cheese (room temp)

4 oz of Mascarpone cheese (also room temp)

1/4 cup of prepared pesto

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan

toasted pine nuts

basil and sun dried tomatoes for garnish

In food processor mix together pesto and 3 cheeses and blend till completely mixed.

Line a round bowl with plastic wrap, place basil and sun dried tomatoes on bottom. Scoop cheese mixture into bowl. Pack down firmly and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove from bowl, take off wrap, place on platter and press pine nuts on the outside of cheese ball. You can then place it back in the frig till 1 hour before serving. Serve with your favorite crackers or mini toasts!

Oh, and by the way I wasn’t crazy to cook all that in front of everyone, I made most of it ahead of time, and all I had to do was talk and give a demo as I was putting it all together.

That pretty much wraps up our Cucina Italiana, it was a fun night with a great group of people!

Buon Appetito!

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400 IN 2 HRS!…RAVIOLI’S THAT IS!!!!

Today the girls in the family got together to make our annual Meat Ravioli’s. This cherished recipe is from my Daughter in Law’s Nana,
who by the way, is a Die Hard Foodie, and the women is in her 80’s!!! I thought I would share the fun day we had making them,with all of you.

Thank goodness for modern conveniences! The food processor makes wonderful dough!

The meat mixed with spinach and cheese were carefully formed into the perfect sized balls, not to big and not to little! and then placed on the dough in the ravioli trays.


Then another piece of dough was rolled out nice and thin and placed on top to cover the meat mixture.


Here’s how they looked when they first popped out of the trays!


I think they turned out just right with the perfect amount of meat!!

We put them on cookie sheets, and popped them in the freezer to freeze individually, then placed in zip locked bags. We counted them all up and realized we did 400 in 2 hours! We were on a roll!! We all had our specific jobs and it worked out great. We said our goodbyes and I went home with my bag of goodies!


Of course we had to try these fresh little Rav’s right away so, as soon as I got home Ipulled out my pan and made a quick marinara, olive oil, a little garlic, some basil, and good tomatoes!


I cooked them up, and as you can see NONE of them broke up in the water!!! Hubby was downstairs watching a football game ,he quickly ran up to get a plateful, then ran back down, and I didn’t hear anything from him, so I yelled out “Well, what do you think??” His exact words were” I can’t talk, …these are exquisite!!!!” I laughed, and called my daughter in law and she got a kick out of it too.

I guess that sums it up!!

Thanks Lena!!!

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PANETTONE STUFFED WITH PISTACHIO CREAM!!!

Years ago, I mean YEARS ago, somewhere in a magazine I saw a picture of a store bought Panettone that was stuffed with pistachio cream, I have always keep that in my memory bank for something I wanted to try, since Hubby loves Panettone.

Well today, friends called and I invited them to stop by later for coffee. Of course it’s never just coffee! I had to have something to go with it. So I went into my pantry and there sat a box of Panettone, and I instantly recalled the stuffed one I had seen in an Italian magazine years ago. I even had some shelled pistachios! So I got on my computer and googled pistachio pudding, found something that sounded good ,so I quickly whipped it up, because it had to cool down for a couple of hours. When it finally cooled I folded in some freshly whipped cream!! Oh so sinful!!!
I even got adventurous and spun a little sugar on top, as that is what was in the picture. Never having done that before, it really didn’t turn out, I wanted it to be like thin strands, but mine turned out like thick brittle!!! Oh well, I kept it on for the pictures anyway!

I sliced the Panettone in 5 sections, and lightly brushed some Amaretto on the layers for some added flavor.

It did take a little longer because of the pistachio cream, maybe Cannoli cream would be good with it??? All in all it turned out pretty good!!

Have a great weekend!!!!!

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ROASTED CAMPARI TOMATOES!!

Cut side up, on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, shaved garlic, fresh thyme, salt & pepper. Roast at 425 till you get a nice carmelized color on them!

One staple that I always have in my home, are these little gems!! I can’t say enough about them! Long gone are the days of the tasteless winter tomatoes, because these babies are available all year long!! Campari Tomatoes were developed in Europe and imported to the US in the 1990’s. They are sold in clusters still on the vine to ensure freshness, grown in a greenhouse herbicide free, always unblemished, sweet, and delicious!! If you haven’t tried them yet, please do! You’ll be hooked like me! And if you don’t see them in your grocery store ask about them! One thing you must know, is that you never, never, refrigerate them! Always keep them at room temperature and they will be as sweet as the day you bought them.

Some of the ways I use them of course are sliced up in a salad, bruschetta, I sometimes stuff them with rice and basil, as a side dish, but I have to say I love them roasted the best! You can put them in pasta, on a nice piece of fish, or chicken, or on top of your favorite pizza, you get the picture, I’m crazy about them!!! Try them if you can, you won’t be disappointed!!

Buon Appetito!

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TUSCAN-STYLE PORK ROAST

I had a small pork roast and a lot of fresh herbs still left in my garden, and unfortunately tonight in Chicago will be our first frost!!! So, I gathered up the last of my Rosemary and Thyme to use for our dinner tonight. I thought I would try something a little different, normally I would rub the outside with lots of herbs and roast it like that, but this time I made a paste of olive oil, smashed garlic, finely minced Rosemary & Thyme, salt & pepper.

I generously rubbed the whole outside, with lots of garlic and all the herbs I brought in.

But the new thing for me was to cut open the roast, in half, not all the way through, but like a book. Next, I took out my meat tenderizer and gave it a few good wacks!!! and then I rubbed that aromatic, yummy paste all over it!! I rolled it up tight like a jelly roll, and tied it with string, and let it sit in my frig a couple of hours before I cooked it. The result!!! Unbelievable flavor infused through out the whole roast! I will definitely do this again, it was well worth the little extra effort!


As a side dish I made cauliflower and prosciutto in a garlic cream sauce, it went well with the pork. All in all, it turned out to be a nice Sunday Dinner!! Hope your’s was too!!
Buon Appetito!

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SAUSAGE AND LENTIL SOUP!!

 

soup bowl
There’s something so comforting about a big pot of soup simmering on the stove on a cold day or when maybe you just need a little more comfort in your life. The first time that I  posted this recipe was way back in 2007 when I started my blog. It’s now the year 2020 with my updated pictures and to tell you that I’m still making this wonderful soup.
pot of soup
This lentil soup can easily become a vegetarian version by using a vegetable broth base and eliminating the sausage, and believe me it’s just as good!
It’s hearty and filling and you really don’t need to serve anything else with it, unless you have a weakness for warm, crusty bread with butter like I do.
soup pot
This lentil soup comes together quickly because it’s made with pantry ingredients, dried lentils that cook up quite fast and staples like carrot, onion and celery.
One ingredient that I think really enhances this soup is dried, ground fennel. If you have whole fennel seeds you can grind them down into a powdery consistency with a coffee grinder, put it in a little jar and save it.
Try it, I think you’ll love it, if not you can double up on the other spices, no problem! I always like to taste as I go along anyway I’m always adjusting for salt, pepper and spices.
Lentils tend to blow up a little and they really absorb flavors so don’t be shy, I’ll give you basic guidelines but make it your own.

lentil soup

Easy, hearty with delicious Italian flavors all throughout, this soup is a classic and will never ever go out of style!
Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.
SAUSAGE AND LENTIL SOUP!!
 
This recipe can easily become vegetarian, by eliminating the sausage and using veggie broth
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups dried, brown lentils, rinsed
  • ½ lb. Italian sausage, bulk, precooked so you no longer see any pink
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1¼ oz. fire roasted tomatoes, or chopped tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 quarts broth, chicken or veggie
  • 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, dried oregano and dried fennel
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • grated Parmigiano for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan drizzle with olive oil and add in the carrots, celery, garlic and onion.
  2. Saute til soft then sprinkle in all the spices mixing and coating everything well.
  3. Toss in the rinsed lentils, coating them with veggie mixture.
  4. Pour in the broth, 2 quarts, reserve the 3rd one if needed.
  5. Add the tomatoes and toss in the cooked sausage if using it.
  6. Bring it to a soft boil, then let it simmer until lentils soften.
  7. Taste for seasoning, adding more if needed.
  8. If lentils thicken the soup too much pour in a little more broth to loosen it all.
  9. Feel free to double the recipe, it's that good!
  10. Garnish your bowl with grated Parm and a drizzle of olive oil on top.
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PUMPKIN MINI CAKES FILLED WITH CINNAMON MAPLE MASCAPONE!!

The change of weather put me in a baking mood, so I looked in my pantry and found some canned pumpkin, I knew right then and there that cupcakes were on the horizon! A while back I bought a Tall cupcake pan from Wilton, and I only used it once, WHY?? Because they are sinfully big!! I mean it’s like 2 1/2, cupcakes in one! So I don’t call them cupcakes, they are mini cakes, and they are meant to split with someone otherwise you will feel real guilty!!!

In an effort to try to make them a little more healthy (ha ha!) I altered the recipe a little. Actually, I think they taste even better!!

Keep in mind, you can put these in smaller pans and not use the substitutions I used.


INGREDIENTS

*4 eggs

*2 cups of sugar ( I used Splenda)

*3/4 cup canola oil

* 1 can (15oz) pumpkin

* 2 cups of flour ( I used whole wheat pastry flour)

* 2 t. baking soda

* 1 t.salt

* 1 t. baking powder

* 2 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice

* 1 Tbl. cinnamon

Take the wet ingredient’s and combine in a mixing bowl, and beat till just mixed. Combine dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture and beat till all incorporated. Fill sprayed muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 18-22 minutes. My tall pans took about 30 min. Cool on rack.

FILLING

This could be a regular cream cheese frosting, with butter and confectioners sugar, but in my effort to make them healthier I just took a container of Mascapone cold out of the frig in a bowl, put some Splenda in it, to sweeten it up, a couple of shots of real maple syrup, and cinnamon, all to taste. However sweet you want it!!

Finally, take a small knife and cut a small circle deep on the top… stuff the cream filling inside and all over the top, and put the little cut out back on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon!

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FALL…CHICAGO STYLE!!!!

It hasn’t felt much like fall here because the weather has been so warm, with many days still in the 80’s. Until today!! Finally, fall has arrived! The temperatures are cooler, the trees are full of color, and the leaves are falling everywhere! So today is not a cooking post, because the whole day was spent outside enjoying this beautiful day!! Thank goodness for leftovers!! because that is whats for dinner tonight!!!
Here are a few pictures of Fall Chicago Style!
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STUFFED PEPPERS WITH SAUSAGE AND FONTINA

My Hubby called from work the other day and with much excitement he said,”Guess what I got today?”so I’m thinking WOW!, maybe he got a raise or something! Instead he said, ” A gigantic bag of Melrose peppers!! I could see how happy he was so I said, “Great!!” It just so happens, my Hubby did a favor for some nice Italian man who grows tons of them in his backyard, and to say Thanks, he brought him a huge bag.

I previously wrote a post on Melrose Peppers a while back just because my Hubby loves them so much, and as I said before, he would just eat that for dinner with some good Italian bread. I normally just saute them in a pan with olive oil, a little garlic and salt and pepper, then add a little red sauce at the end. So, because there were so many, I did a bunch like that, and the ones that were really big, I decided to stuff them. I happen to have a big hunk of Fontina cheese in the frig, and some Italian sausage in bulk. So all I did was cook up the sausage, cube up the cheese, and stuffed the peppers, I also had some leftover marinara, that I layered in also.

There were pans of peppers everywhere!!! So I made a quick call to my Son,( who’s taking after his Dad in the Melrose Pepper department) to stop by on his way home from work for a care package to take home. And without hesitation he said, “I’ll be there”!! So ,as you can see , although they are a very simple dish they are one of my family’s favorite!!

For those of you who never heard of Melrose Peppers, they look like a Cubanelle, banana shaped, very sweet and tender. I wonder if any of you heard of them, or is it just a Chicago thing? I hope my pictures do them justice!!

Buon Appetito!!
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SPAGHETTI WITH PANCETTA AND MUSHROOMS

I like to make a pasta dish at least one night during the week, normally I do it with vegetables, whatever I might have on hand at the time. Yesterday I looked and saw this beautiful package of Cremini mushrooms, which also are called Baby Portabellas. I also had a small container of diced Pancetta. “Nice combo” I thought!! So I pulled out my trusty saute pan and started to cook up the Pancetta till nice and slightly crispy, after which I drained. Then back in the pan with a drizzle of olive oil & some onions, & garlic When the pasta was done I drained it and tossed it in the pan with everything. It was finished off with a generous amount of Romano cheese and a sprinkling of fresh parsley!! It’s a quick meal that doesn’t take much time, but definitely tastes like you did!!!

Buon Appetito!!

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