EGGPLANT TIMPANO!!

I first saw this recipe in the cookbook Cucina & Famiglia, out of that cookbook came the signature Timpano that made the movie “Big Night” famous. I’ve been making that Timpano for years, and even did a post on it here. Its huge, it feeds 16 people and great for a party.
In the same book there’s also a vegetarian version that I have been wanting to try for just as long. I think I was intimidated by the wrapping of the eggplant and all, so I just put it on my list of things I wanted to make.
Then a couple weeks ago I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Eggplant Timbale on her show, she talked about how her Grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, made this all the time for their family. I got inspired right then to make it, and I made it the very next day!
I sort of combined a little of both versions together, and came up with this. You can easily find her recipe by going to Food TV and put a search in for Eggplant Timbale, and it will come up.

Giada’s recipe called for 2 eggplants, that didn’t seem enough to me so I grilled about 4, and it was just enough. Depending on the size and length of each piece you definitely don’t want to run out in the middle of doing this. You want to make sure the pieces are long enough to drape over a 9″ spring form pan.

The filling is basically, 1/2 lb. of pasta cooked al’dente mixed together with a marinara, a little Marsala wine, peas, I put in some Italian sausage and a dry packed fresh mozzarella, along with grated romano, Giada used a smoked mozzarella in hers.

The spring form pan which has been lined with the grilled eggplant, filled with the pasta filling, and now folded over into a neat little package is now ready for the oven! 350 Degrees, for about 1/2 hr, till warmed through and cheese inside melts.

After you let it rest a good 10 min, release the pan. Everything molds together perfectly!


It all stayed together when I cut into it. Just use a serrated knife and gently cut it.


You don’t have to add meat to it at all, you can make this completely vegetarian.

Can I tell you, the taste was out of this world, we loved it! It was light, and the flavors of the grilled eggplant along with the Marsala wine, sausage, marinara was wonderful, and it was just as good the next day, and the next. Yes, Hubby ate it 3 days in a row he loved it that much.

Not only does it taste good, but I think it looks spectacular don’t you? Not because I made it, but just how the eggplant looks overlapped with the skin on for a little color, the grill marks and all of the above.

I would highly recommend you try this, all you need is a little salad on the side and you’re good to go!

Buon Appetito!!

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ANTIPASTI

Spring has definitely sprung here in Chicago! finally!! So long winter! See ya! Ba Bye! Arrivederci! Ciao!!

Time to open up the windows, crank up the grill, clean off the lawn furniture, and enjoy the sunshine! And thats just what we did!

Heres a couple of appetizers we enjoyed over the weekend. CAPRESE EGGPLANT TOWER

Grilled eggplant
Fresh mozzarella
Ripe and juicy tomatoes
Red onion
Fresh basil
Brush eggplant with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill. You can either grill the red onion slice or just keep it raw. Stack in any order you want.

Drizzle everything with your best extra virgin olive oil, and don’t forget a couple slices of good bread. I like the holes you get with a chiabatta, it’s not doughy at all. Oh, and don’t forget to open up your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy with this.

GRILLED ZUCCINI WITH PESTO AND PINENUTS

Grill your zuccini, and spread on your favorite pesto! so simple, so good!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 🙂

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ROASTED GARLIC AND BROCCOLI PASTA

Roasting garlic is a ritual of mine that I do often. I love to have it on hand whenever I feel like using it to enhance a dish. Who doesn’t like garlic, right? You take a few heads of garlic, cut about a third off the top, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper,and if you want, you can throw a branch of fresh rosemary or thyme on top and wrap it up in some foil and roast for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft to the touch, at 400 degreesF. The end result is amazing! The texture is creamy, with a much more mellow flavor, and it makes everything taste better!! Oh, and don’t forget, garlic has many health benefits!!

I have so many things I make with it, that I’ll have to do another post on it….to be continued.

But for now, a favorite quick, midweek meal I make often is this Roasted Garlic and Broccoli Pasta. By the time the water boils and you cook your pasta al’dente, everything else will be done!


Fresh broccoli is a must, cut into floret’s,place in a saute pan with extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. Squeeze as much roasted garlic in there as you want. I usually put quite a bit. Now add a couple tablespoons of water in the pan and put a lid on till the broccoli is al’dente, you want a little bite! you definitely don’t want it mushy!!
When the pasta is done, strain it and put it directly in the saute pan, and mix it all up. You might want to save a little pasta water to even out your sauce, I always put a little in.

Taste it, you might want to squeeze more garlic in, more black pepper, a little cheese, I always adjust as I cook.

Buon Appetito Everyone!!

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DARING BAKERS


PERFECT PARTY CAKE

This month’s Daring Baker challenge comes courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s cook book called, Baking from My Home to Yours. In the exact words of Dorie herself, “The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature; it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen- no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste- special!!” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Our Hostess this month, Morven, over at Food Art and Random thoughts, challenged us all to make this delicious cake.Please check out her blog to get the complete recipe.

What I liked about this challenge was that we were able to put our own stamp on it. We all had to make the basic white cake, cut it into layers, and either frost it with buttercream or fresh whipped cream, and between the layers, some kind of preserves or fresh fruit.

I chose to make mine with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, frankly, I didn’t think I could pull off the buttercream (I’ve heard some horror stories in the past) and besides my family really does prefer a whipped cream cake.

Between the layers I added strawberry preserves, fresh strawberries, and enough Amaretto to make a nice glaze. Instead of vanilla in my whipped cream, I added Amaretto to flavor it. A little toasted almonds around the whole cake added a little crunch, and went along with my almond theme.


It just so happened that the day I made this was also our friends Anniversary, so I gently packed it up, and brought it over and we all shared it together. By the way, everyone loved it!!

I would definately make this cake again, I can honestly say I had no problems with it. Hope you give it a try!!

Check out the other Daring Bakers party cakes here.

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"FESTA ITALIANA" THE ROUNDUP!!!

Our Festa Italiana, certainly was a celebration of the “sweet life”. All our amazing friends gathered with us bringing the most delicious food and drink! Our table was a true Italian feast!!!
We gathered until the wee hours of the night, talking, eating, drinking, as the music played all night long! Please take the time to browse all these wonderful blogs to see what everyone brought to our table. And thank you, thank you, to all who participated!!!
I only wish this could happen in the real world!!

Val at More Than Burnt Toast brought Wrapped Bocconcini Spiedini.

Susan at Porcini Chronicles brought Escarole and Beans.

Lori Lynn at Taste with the Eyes brought Pistachio Crusted Lamb, Pomegranate Glaze.

Linda at Milanese Masala brought Frittata Verde con Pancetta.

Gloria at Canela’s Kitchen brought Tortoni di Mandorla.

Amy at Familia Bencomo brought Cozze Italiano

Susan at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy brought Pizza Rustica.

Laurie at Dalla Mia Cucina brought Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Crema di Fontina.

Lisa at La Mia Cucina brought Italian Chicken Wings and Potatoes.

Jenn at The Leftover Queen brought

Haalo at Cook Almost Anything at Least Once brought Torta Meringata con Mele.

Harmony at Wholesome Feasts brought Utica Tomatoe Pie.

Lorraine at Italian Foodies brought Minestrone Soup.

Ohio Mom at Cooking in Cleveland brought Calcioni Piccanti.

Neen and Do at Post-Collegiate Cooking a’Deux brought Pasta Arrabiata with Argula.

Jenny at Picky Palate brought Double Mozzarella Turkey Burgers with an Artichoke Remoulade & Crispy Pancetta.

Anna at Morsels & Musings brought Cassata Gelata.

Jerry at Jerry’s Thoughts, Musings, and Rants brought Jamie Oliver’s Slow Cooked Duck Pasta.

Barbara at Barbarba Bakes brought Lighter Chicken Parmesan.

Claudia at Eternal Rewards brought Fettucine Alfredo.

Dellene at Cooking and The City brought Chicken Cacciatore.

Ben at What’s Cooking? brought Italian Stuffed Zucchini.

Judy at Judy’s Gross Eats brought Neopolitan Panna Cotta.

Roopa at My Kitchen Treats brought Vanilla Panna Cotta.

Katie at Thyme For Cooking brought Piccata al Marsala.

Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine brought Tagliatelle Bolognese.

Anne at Cooking with Anne brought Lasagna Rolls on Sauce Bechamal.

Imma at Caffeine for 2 brought Cinnamon “Angelica”

Deeba at Passionate about Baking brought Coffee Chocolate Panna Cotta.

Wandering Chopsticks brought Penne with “Italian Sausage” and Fennel.

Kitchenetta at Got No Milk brought Peasant Polenta Pie.

Lisa at Food and Spice brought Cannellini Bean Soup with Fontina Gremolata.

Mansi Desai at Fun and Food brought Baked Rigatoni with Homemade Garlic-Basil Tomato Sauce.

Saralynn at Happy Baker brought Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, sorry a photo wasn’t included.

Sandi at Whistle Stop Cafe Cooking brought Tiramisu

Psychgrad of Equal Opportunity Kitchen brought Calzones

And finally my addition was my Braciole

I want to thank my dear friend Maryann, who hosted this event with me, it was so much fun to do it together! Please go over to her blog, Finding La Dolce Vita, to view the other half of these amazing dishes that were brought to the “Festa” If we goofed and missed your dish please let us know right away, we don’t want to forget anybody!

Thanks again, each and everyone of you!!!!

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VEGETALI ALLA MARIE!!

This is a great side dish that I make for special occasions. It is a highly requested vegetable dish, that my family loves. Every time I make it, the whole thing gets eaten up! and believe me I make a lot! I think it goes great with a ham, pork,a roast of any kind. I make it as a side with any baked pasta dish, like a lasagna, or stuffed shells, you get my point, pretty much anything you make for a special meal. I think its a combination of flavors, and the choice of veggies that makes this taste so good! This is an old family recipe that I’ve been making for years, and we never get tired of it!

Here’s the ingredients, and by the way, you use all frozen veggies!! ( Of course you can use fresh if you want to) Make as much as you want, maybe a bag or 2 of each vegetable, I’m sorry but I never measure, it all depends on how many people you are serving. I fill a huge pan and always use extra artichokes. There is no set rule, you can adjust the amount as you wish. 🙂

Italian flat beans
Artichoke hearts
Asparagus
Lima beans

1/2lb. of meaty bacon (diced up small)
Garlic flavored olive oil ( a must!)

First thing you do is to take all the veggies and put them in a strainer and let them defrost.

In a large saute pan, cook your bacon until real crispy, hopefully there won’t be a lot of fat in the pan cause you bought meaty bacon,:-) but if there is, drain it off, and leave all the crispy bits. Next coat the pan with some garlic olive oil, this is a must! Then, put all the veggies in the pan all together,and on a med high heat, turn often till coated with the bacon and garlic oil, blending and scraping up the crispy bits. Salt and pepper it to taste, and you can even add a little regular extra virgin olive oil for some added flavor.
You really have to keep tasting this as it cooks, for enough salt and pepper, and enough olive oil flavor.

When everything is heated through, and all the flavors blend together, its done! There’s something about the combination of the artichokes with the lima beans and all the other ingredients that make this taste so good!!

Buon Appetito

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"MOONSTRUCK" EGGS!!

I’m a sucker for romantic comedy’s, and “Moonstruck” is one of my all time favorites! It’s a story about love, life, passion, and strong family bonds. Being Italian American I can certainly relate to many of the scenes in the movie, which make me laugh every time I watch it.

Not only do I love the music, and the characters in “Moonstruck” I also love some of the food scenes. Families sitting together sharing coffee, eating oatmeal deep in conversation. Loretta and her Mom Rose, cooking up some eggs for breakfast in the midst of discussing important life issues.

Today is March 17th, not only is it St.Patrick’s day, but it’s also my wedding anniversary! Yes, 2 Italians got married on St. Patrick’s day many “moons” ago!! Married at age 19, and still going strong!

So, for a little anniversary breakfast I decided to make some “Moonstruck eggs”. If you never cooked an egg in a little olive oil, you have to try it. The eggs take on a new dimension of flavor.
In the movie they had some red pepper on the side, I sauteed red pepper, green pepper, onions, and sliced potatoes for some nice color and flavor to go with the eggs.

Here is the recipe!

Take some good Italian bread, make a hole in the middle.
Pour a little olive oil in a pan and brown one side of bread, flip it over when browned, crack your eggs in it, and cook them like you want to. I didn’t flip them over cause I thought the picture would look messy, so I kept them sunnyside up, and placed a cover over them to cook the yoke.

It’s nice way to make a simple egg just a bit more fancy!!

Happy Anniversary “T” xxooxo!!

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BRACIOLE!!

Braciole is something I don’t make very often, except maybe for a special occasion, so therefore I thought it would be fitting that I bring this dish to our “Festa Italiana.” Please join Maryann and I, if you haven’t already done so. There’s still plenty of time to bring your favorite Italian dish or drink, you have till March 22nd. Shortly after that we will display all the wonderful things we “tasted” at the Festa! Everything looks fantastic so far!!! ( click for details on top of my blog)

I make my braciole simply with thin cut round steak.

In a bowl I mix together bread crumbs, fresh chopped parsley, chopped garlic,a little salt, lots of pepper,and a generous amount of grated cheese.(I used romano)

Layer prosciutto, (or you can use bacon) all over the round steak, then generously sprinkle the bread crumb mixture all over the prosciutto.

Roll them up and tie them so all the filling stays inside. Cook them in your favorite home made sauce, but be sure to add some red wine, it gives them a nice rich flavor. Simmer till tender.

With every bite you will taste the prosciutto, cheese, and that moist and flavorful bread crumb mixture!

I couldn’t resist stopping by my favorite Italian bakery,and picking up a tray of these for all of you to try at our Festa. Their called Zeppole, out here in Chicagoland, and they only come out for a few weeks every March, after St. Joseph’s day you won’t find them anywhere. We often have to wait in long lines to get these little gems, but believe me they are worth the wait!!

It’s a light, fresh pastry dough, filled with the most delicious custard cream, aren’t they pretty? Can’t wait till you get to try them!

Buon Appetito!!

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PIZZA DOUGH!!! UNO, DUE, TRE!

SAUSAGE BREAD

I love having pizza dough in my freezer at all times, whether I make home made, or I buy it from my local Italian grocery, which by the way makes excellent dough! All you have to do is defrost it on your counter, and let it get to room temperature and your good to go!
This recipe of sausage bread I remember way back when I was a kid, I remember my Mom making this and we would eat it slice by slice. It’s sort of like a stromboli, but we always called it sausage bread. I like using hot Italian sausage because, between the dough and the cheese, it sort of cancels out some of the heat, and leaves a lot of flavor. There are many variations but mine is simply hot sausage, Fontina cheese, and lots of grated cheese like Romano.

Roll dough out and layer all ingredients on top (pre cook sausage) roll up jelly roll style.
Make 3 slits on top, brush with olive oil and sprinkled cheese. Bake at 375 degreesF till golden about 1/2 hour.

WHITE PIZZA

Traditional pizza is always a given, but sometimes we crave this white pizza, no sauce thank you! Again, I would imagine there are a ton of different variations, but mine was made with a blending of roasted garlic, Ricotta cheese, and a grated combo of Asiago, Fontina, Provolone, and Parmesan cheese’s. Make it like you would a regular pizza. It’s out of the norm, but quite delicious!!

CALZONE

Of course you can stuff these guys with anything you want, the skys the limit!! This one I made all veggie with a little mushroom, eggplant, and artichoke, add some sauce and mozzarella, fold it up and bake like a pizza. When you bite into it all those flavors come oozing out! Mmmmm

Buon Appetito!!

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SPAGHETTI WITH OVEN BAKED CLAMS!!!

This recipe is courtesy of Tyler Florence, and all I can say is… THANK YOU TYLER! I knew this was going to be good the first time I saw him make it. I love how rustic it’s made. Every thing’s made in a huge roasting pan, the kind you’d make a turkey in. It fits 5 lbs. of clams and a pound of pasta, and everything else just fine! Plenty of room for the clams to open up and spread out!

My trip to Costco on Saturday really convinced me into making this dish. They happen to have the best littleneck clams there, flown in fresh every week from the North Atlantic ocean, and fresh they were!

RECIPE
40 littleneck clams ( 5 lbs.)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 garlic clove, smashed with the back of a knife ( Yes 10!!!)
1/4 lb. pancetta, small dice
Handful of fresh basil
Red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of white wine (I used more)
2 pints of cherry tomatoes ( I bought the big container from Costco)
Lots of fresh ground pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. ( I raised it to 425)
Make sure clams are cleaned and discard any that are open. In the meantime get your water boiling for your spaghetti.

On top of stove put your roasting pan over 2 burners. Add oil, garlic, pancetta, red pepper, cook till pancetta renders. Add the clams, wine, tomatoes, and a good amount of pepper and toss all together. Transfer pan into the oven and roast till clams open up. The recipe said about 10 min. but it took mine about 1/2 hr. or so, maybe because of the size of the clams. The key is wait till they open!

When clams do open, throw your cooked pasta right into the same roasting pan to soak up all the good juices and intense flavors. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, lots of pepper, and an extra drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Make sure you have some good crusty bread to soak up the juices too. I highly recommend this! You will not be disappointed!

Buon Appetito!
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Julia Child’s French Bread- Daring Baker Challenge # 2

Julia Child! What can I say? She’s an Icon to say the least, chef extraordinaire, the real deal, and the true Queen of food television! So it’s no wonder why our Host’s, Breadchick Mary, of The Sour Dough and Sara, over at I Like To Cook, wanted to make Julia’s french bread our next Daring Baker challenge.

I have to admit when I first saw the recipe ( by the way, you can get it in detail over at Mary’s site) I thought it was a bit overwhelming, I had to read it several times to take it all in. I kept pushing it aside, because as I said before, I have issue’s with precise and exact measuring. ( believe me, ask my family!) But heck! We’re Daring Bakers! Up for the challenge, good or bad we all learn something. Right?
That’s one thing I always admired from Julia, she was never afraid of making mistakes, she would take it in stride and move on!

So now, on to my french bread baking experience!

The dough came together with no problem at all, I did it by hand.

I did however have other problems, I wanted to make batards, but they ended up turning into baguettes, the dough didn’t fit into my pans, I rolled it out too long, so I ended up flipping my pans over and baking them on the actual bottom of the pan. It worked out well after all, but it was very hard to clean my pans for some reason.

I ended up making two plain loaves, and the other one I added sundried tomatoes with Kalamata olives.

I didn’t change the recipe at all, I just stuck them in, so I hope I stayed in the recipe guidelines as the host’s said we can top at least 1 loaf with any ingredient we wanted.

But I have to say, the plain loaf was our favorite anyway! The crust turned out crispy, crunchy, and chewy, just the way we like it, and the texture inside was the best!

Nothings better than a great loaf of bread, dipped into some very special extra virgin olive oil! Mmmm!!

As Julia would always say….Bon Appetit!

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MY 15 MINUTES OF FAME!!

This past week has been crazy and fun all at the same time. You see, I have a soon to be famous neice, who has already filmed 13 episodes for A&E which owns Bravo and the Biography channels. She will be featured in a documentary/reality show coming out in the summer. (not the wild kind!) I will give you all the details as time goes on. Anyway, to make a long story short, last Friday night they filmed part of an episode right in my house! A get together of my neice’s family and friends, a little wine, a little food. But the exciting part for me was, that I made all of the food that you see on the table for everyone! They definately shot footage of the food, which I was so excited about. There was about 25 people that came, and I served Mini Italian meat balls
Bite size sausage and peppers
Roasted veggie pasta salad
Grilled shrimp with orzo and feta pasta salad
Salami, provolone and Kalamata olives on skewers
Caprese salad
Chick pea salad
Zuccini with pesto and pine nuts
Assorted tapenades, and bruschetta’s
For dessert we purchased assorted mini bar cookies, and a quick stop at our favorite Italian bakery for a few dozen mini cannoli’s!
The film crew and the producers were a lot of fun, and they seem to really enjoy the food.

On a side note, my daughter will be in a lot of the scenes here, as my neice and her are very close. Not only was she wired with a mic, she got interviewed, gave a toast, the whole bit! ( who knows, she might get a spin off! ha ha) Needless to say, we all had a lot of fun, I managed to stay behind the scenes, no way was I getting on camera!!

So hopefully the table of food won’t get edited, LOL ! But just in case it does, I wanted to give you a little glimpse!

Watch out for a new shining star coming your way, her name is Julie!!!

To be continued….

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"FESTA ITALIANA" – A FOOD EVENT !!

Maryann of “Finding La Dolce Vita” and myself, are hosting a delicious new food event called “Festa Italiana”.

Picture a long table set under the shade of twisting grape vines on a warm summer’s evening. One by one our friends are arriving, each one carrying their favorite Italian dish or drink. We eat and drink with happy hearts and before long, the guitars and accordions are filling the air with song. Everyone is eating, drinking, laughing, singing and dancing. As the sun sets, we are filled in every way and no one wants this evening to end.

So, come join us in a celebration of the sweet life, it’s a gathering of friends not to be missed! We are accepting your Italian dishes and drinks until March 22nd.

This is what you need to do to participate:

*Create a post featuring your favorite dish or drink. Remember to please link to both Maryann and I so others can participate. You are welcome to use our Festa Italiana graphic.

*Send an email to me (prouditaliancook@hotmail.com) or Maryann at ( msgfarm@gmail.com) by March 22nd. Please put the words “Festa Italiana” in the subject line.

*Tell us your name, your blog’s name, your blog’s url, the name of the dish, and a permalink to the post where your dish appears. Photo’s must be no bigger than 350 pixels wide. Height does not matter.

*All are welcome, but we ask that your email be in English, please.
* Only one entry please*

Maryann and I will be hosting a roundup shortly after March 22nd.

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BREAK OUT YOUR SPRING FORM PAN!!

AND MAKE A ROUND LASAGNA!
For some reason, don’t ask me why, I like curved objects! I know it’s a bit weird but my eye always goes to curved things, arches, rounded windows, scrolls, I can go on and on. Give me a choice between a straight line and a curve, and guess what I’m picking? So it’s no wonder that I sometimes like to make a round lasagna, it’s out of the norm, I know, but it’s fun to change it up sometimes. Just make your favorite lasagna, this one was made with ricotta and spinach, and do it exactly how you make any lasagna, just trim up the pasta to fit your spring form pan. This was made in a 10″ pan, and I’ve even made it in the smallest one, for an individual size, you can be very creative!! The only thing I would suggest is to bake it on a cookie sheet in your oven.
AND A ROASTED VEGETABLE CROSTATA!
This is a great way to use up any vegetables you might have laying around. Cut them up and lay them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, and seasonings of your choice, I used a tuscan dried herb mix I have, plus salt and pepper. Roast them till al dente in a 400 degree oven, you do not want to overcook them!For mine I used, eggplant, zuccini, red pepper, onion, and a little fennel I had. Next, roll out one piece of puff pastry so its big enough to line the bottom of a 10″ springform pan, just push down the sides and make a little crust. Place your veggies on top, sprinkle with a generous amount of Romano cheese, about a cup of Provolone cut in chunks,( the real stuff). Beat 2 eggs with a little milk, pour all over, and finally, grated Fontina sprinkled all over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 mins, or until everything is golden and crisp.

 

Don’t cut it while its hot, let it cool down to room temp, that’s the best way to eat this! If you wait, it won’t fall apart when you cut into it either. Besides the flavors come out even more at room temp. This is great with a salad for dinner, or fancy enough to serve at a party! Only you will know, you were just using up your leftover veggie’s!!!BUON APPETITO!!

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LIMONCELLO TIRAMISU !

I know many of you are Chocoholics out there, and rightly so, but if you want something equally as decadent and a little different than the norm, try this sinfully delicious Limoncello Tiramisu!! This is definitely for very special occasions, when you want to Wow your certain someone, friends or family with a special dessert. The one I made was meant to be shared by two, because of its size. But you can certainly make smaller, individual ones. The main characters consist of pound cake that is drenched in Limoncello, a homemade lemon curd, all layered with Mascarpone and whipped cream!! Need I say more??

In a pan place the juice and zest of 3 lemons seeds and all, you’re going to strain it. 1 Tbl. short of a whole stick of butter, 6oz. of sugar, and 3 whole eggs. Whisk everything on med low just till bubbles start to show. Strain with a fine mesh strainer.

Next, take your pound cake and cut it to fit the size of your glass, I used a biscuit cutter.

Now take your bottle of Limoncello, and drench your pound cake pieces, you could use either a homemade, or a good quality store bought one. Just use a basic pound cake recipe if you make it, you want to be sure to taste the Limoncello.


Make sure it’s soaked!!
Finally, start whipping up a small carton of heavy cream, when you have stiff peaks, add a small container of room temperature Mascarpone, beat together just till incorporated.

Assemble it by layering all the components together in a pretty glass, and topping it off with some lemon peel.


Words cannot describe how amazing this is!

Note** You can also layer this in a glass 9×12 pan, or a glass loaf pan instead of individual portions.
 It’s also beautiful placed into a trifle bowl, you’ll will definitely hear lots of ooohs and aaahs when you bring it out of the frig. It makes for a great presentation and what’s really nice is that you can make it the night before.
Just be sure to double everything if you’re using the trifle bowl. A good store bought pound cake is fine, I used 2 for this, slice it into 3rd’s lengthwise, cut strips to go around the edge of the bowl, and bigger pieces to layer up the middle.
limoncello tiramisu

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

 

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FAGIOLI !!!

CECI STUFATI ( stewed chickpeas)

Beans and greens,what a perfect marriage!! And if you like chickpeas and a little heat, I’m certain you will like this. I actually used dried beans this time and I have to say I liked it better. It’s easy if you prepare them in advance. The other night before I went to bed, I put them in a pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches, and let them soak overnight. When morning came I drained them, and when I was ready to cook them, I covered them with enough water to cover 1 inch. Let water come to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hrs.

In another pot, saute some garlic and onions in olive oil, along with red chile flakes. Cook for about 5 mins. then add drained beans and about a cup of water, salt and pepper. Cook about another half hour till all the flavors blend, then add some roughly chopped Swiss chard. Cook till wilted. Taste for more salt or pepper, and give it an extra drizzle of olive oil.

This is simple food, with great flavor!!!

Buon Appetito!



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TUNA, JAZZED UP!!!!

Yes, I know, it’s tuna in a can, but I happen to like it! I always seem to throw some in my shopping cart each time I’m at the store, not realizing I already have about 8 cans just sitting in my pantry, along with some great tasting canned salmon I usually keep around.


The weather has been really lousy here in Chicago, cold, windy, icy, and lots of snow! Not fun to drive in, to say the least! So whenever I’m homebound, and by myself, I like to have tuna for lunch. The above salad was made with the Genova tuna, along with some good olives, hard boiled eggs, capers, red boiled potatoes that I had left over, along with some asparagus, and a white bean salad I put together in 5 min. I added some artichoke bottoms and cut up a few tomatoes I had laying around, and topped it all off with a balsamic vinagrette. This is also great for a light and fast dinner.

This next tuna salad here, I created after my love of Whole Foods Mediterranean tuna salad. I usually buy a small container when I’m in there, it is sooo addicting, you must try it, if you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods near you. It’s pretty pricey at about 8.99 lb. but they are happy to share their recipe on line. Although I might have left a few things out, it’s basicly Albacore tuna with chopped red onion, red pepper chopped, slice Kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts, I used frozen that were defrosted and squeezed out. Mix that all up with mayo, light or regular, salt and pepper. If you like all those flavors together, trust me, you will love this!!!


It’s great in a pita, or just on a plate like I have above. I hope you give it a try!!

Buon Appetito!

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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.
Yaay 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. Now if you don’t have the time to roast some chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken at your favorite grocery store, it works just as well.

Then I simply just shred all the chicken up and stick it in my fridge until I’m ready to make the soup.

Take out your favorite soup pot and add a little olive oil in there. Next sauté 3 cloves of garlic, 3 or 4 diced carrots, 3 or 4 stalks of celery and 1 large onion, sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

Add in some great boxed, organic, low sodium chicken broth like the one from Trader Joes, or Costco( or any of your favorites) and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. I used. almost 2 quarts.

In addition to that I always throw in a couple of Parmesan rinds that I always keep on hand in my freezer, it takes the broth to another level, then just toss in your shredded chicken.

I always cook my egg noodles or pasta on the side and add them into the bowl as needed, otherwise they tend to blow up from sitting in the hot broth too long.

And of course, you must top it off your steaming hot bowl of soup with some freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

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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