Nibbles for New Years

Here’s a few of my favorite things to munch on while bringing in the new year!
Bite size mini meatballs and a salad pizza.
Cold broccoli salad with lemon, garlic and olive oil.
Stuffed baby artichokes, because it wouldn’t be a party with out them!
Sausage stuffed mushrooms, and goat cheese filled peppers with balsamic glaze.
Eggplant slices topped with tomato and fresh mozzarella.
Creamy pasta with prosciutto and peas.
Fennel, orange and olive oil salad as well as a seafood salad of shrimp, lobster and scallops, bathing in fresh lemon and olive oil of course!
Scallop gratin or just plain old lasagne, love it all!
Wishing you all a Very Healthy and Happy 2012!


Paccheri Pasta and Some Party Ideas

This is the perfect side dish to all your grilling, individual little bundles of cooked Paccheri pasta stuffed with roasted vegetables, cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Tastes best when served at room temperature with a fresh herb, lemon, olive oil and parmesan dressing drizzled all over the top, great to bring to a party or picnic!
Equally as good is the caprese version using sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil all tucked inside with an olive oil and balsamic glaze drizzled all over the top!

Paccheri pasta are large hollow tubes shaped similar to rigatoni only bigger and wider.

I roasted planks of zucchini and eggplant and then tucked in some asiago cheese and a sun dried tomato for mine.

Just cook the pasta according to the package, let it cool, then stuff them with whatever inspires you!

I had some leftover cooked pasta so I decided to stuff the remaining ones using a zip lock bag filled with spinach, ricotta, lots of grated cheese and an egg. Fill them and stand them straight up, side by side until you fill the pan, adding sauce on top and in between.

I have several mini spring form pans which I love to use and often do for an individual take on this dish.

Olive oil and brush with sauce the bottom and sides of your mini spring form pan, I have a 4″ pan. I’m sure you could use a larger one if you wanted to, but I think the smaller ones are cuter and they come out looking like a little flower!

And here’s something for dessert that will surely have your guests talking! Vodka infused whipped cream! It comes in many different flavors, we had the chocolate and vanilla. It works just like traditional whipped cream, but only for grown ups!

My daughter brought this over on the fourth of July, it was quite a hit!

Extremely good with strawberries or grilled fruits of any kind, top off your cup of coffee with it, or squirt some on a piece of pie. Use your imagination and enjoy!

Buon Appetito!

Antipasto Anyone?

For special occasions, stuffed mushrooms and stuffed artichokes can be the perfect starter! Yes, artichokes can be a little time consuming, with the prepping and all, but that can all be done ahead of time, which makes things alot easier.

In both appetizers I used the same stuffing which consisted of crumbled Italian sausage, sauteed mushrooms, flavored breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and cheese. I love buying crimini mushrooms, if you’re lucky to have a Costco near you, they have a great buy for a huge container of them.

Preparing the Mushrooms:

Wipe them off with a damp paper towel, trim away hard tips, snip off the stems, chop them up, then set aside. Place stem side up in a baking dish that was drizzled with olive oil. I used Crimini mushrooms, but you can use what you like.. Ater you stuff them drizzle olive oil over each mushroom.
Prepping The Artichokes:

This does take a little time, but it all can be done a day ahead if you like. Trim about 1/3 off the top of your artichokes, then take a scissor and trim off all the pointy tips. Slice it half length wise, and place in pot of water with squeezed lemon. Simmer till you can just start to stick the point of a knife through, you don’t want them to be falling apart or mushy. Stoves, and the size of your artichokes will vary so its something you just have to watch.
After they cool a little bit, trim them down to the light green and tender leaves that are all edible, scoop out all the pointy and fuzzy stuff, but be careful to leave the heart in tact! What you’ll have left is all edible, even the stem if you trim that up too. Place in a baking dish drizzled with olive oil. After you stuff them, drizzle olive oil over the top of each one.
For The Sausage And Breadcrumb Stuffing:
Squeeze your Italian sausage out of the casing, or buy it in bulk. Brown it up and get it into small crumbles. Drain on paper towel. Drizzle olive oil in pan, saute your chopped mushroom stems and a clove or two of crushed garlic. Add back your sausage, and mix together then take off the stove, add in Italian style dry breadcrumbs, or panko, or day old Italian bread, fresh grated romano cheese, fresh parsley, salt and pepper, and just a little bit of shredded mozzarella to hold it all together. Measurements don’t have to be exact here, you’ll be able to judge the amounts by the way it looks.
Bake at 400F, 15 or 20 min’s, or until breading on top is nice and crispy. When mushrooms come out of the oven I usually place a little warm marinara on top, the flavors are terrific together! The artichokes are served with lemon wedges.

I guarantee your guests will not be able to resist these!
Buon Appetito!!