Category Archives: Holiday Specialties

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Winter Snow White Cupcakes

This snow white cake and icing cup cake recipe was popular when I was a little girl.

Winter Snow White Cupcakes
Winter Snow White Cupcakes

A friend mentioned that his Mom use to make Winter Snow White Cupcakes for his birthday.
So I thought I would make it and share with my pantry followers.
The icing is so fluffy and pleasant tasting. Not too sweet and very soft. Great for decorating with holiday sprinkles, coconut flakes or candied cherries. It makes for a stunning presentation.

Ingredients for the cake;
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 TSP baking powder
1/4 TSP salt
3/4 cup egg whites, about 6 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 TSP vanilla
12 cup cupcake pan, with liners

Directions;
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Combine egg whites, milk and vanilla extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter mixture then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape bowl and beater often. I use a large ice cream scoop to keep the portions consistent, measure the batter into each cupcake liner.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes our clean. Cool and frost.

Boiled Fluffy White Frosting
Ingredients;
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 TSP cream of tartar
2 large egg whites, at room temp
1 TSP vanilla
Your chosen decoration

Directions;
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes. Frost your cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Stuffed Artichokes

A fresh stuffed artichoke is intimidating to some, not only how to eat them but also how to cook them. Hopefully I will explain and picture the basics so you will try both. There are a few ways to cook artichokes. This one is stuffed.

Stuffed artichokes
Stuffed artichokes

Another is Roman style which steams them whole with lemon and oil, not stuffed.
They are truly a gourmet delight when prepared properly.
You can also use a crock pot for this recipe.

Ingredients;
2 large fresh artichokes(the leaves will be tightly closed when fresh)
1 1/2 cups of Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 TBLS parsley, minced
2 TSP garlic powder, not salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions;
Mix the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder and cheese together, set aside.

Stuffed artichokes
prepping artichokes
Stuffed artichokes
snipped artichokes

Wash the artichokes and cut off the stem at the base of the leaves (peel the stem and add it to the pot for cooking)and enough of the top to cut off the pointed ends of the first row of top leaves. Then with kitchen scissors trim just the tops of all the leaves. Rinse the inside leaves pulling them open while running them under water. Set the artichoke upright and sprinkle inside all the leaves and top with the bread crumb mixture. I use a grapefruit spoon as pictured, but any type will do.

Stuffed artichokes
Stuffed artichokes preparation

Place the artichokes in a pot and pour some of the olive oil over each one. Fill the pot about 1/4 up the sides of the artichokes with water. Cover and simmer on low for 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size of the artichoke. At this point you could use a crock pot.
They are done when the middle leaves pull out easily. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a lemon wedge if you like.
You eat them by pulling the leaves off and placing them in your mouth and scrapping the leave with your teeth as you pull them out of your mouth. Once all the leaves are off there is a center with a fuzzy top. Peel away the fuzz and what is left is called the heart. It is and well as the stem completely eatable and so tasty.

Italian Cold Antipasto, Traditional style

There are many variations of Italian Cold Antipasto. The name alone says “before pasta”. What I have assembled is the traditional style I grew up with. Be creative and add your family favorites to the dish.
Half the attraction are the colors and textures when the dish is assembled making it a work of art!!

Italian cold antipasto
Italian cold antipasto

Ingredients;
1LB fresh Mozzarella, sliced
1LB Italian Pannello or Provolone cheese, sliced
1 large jar roasted red peppers or mix with yellow or roast your own
1 box frozen artichoke hearts
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2LB Prosciutto, DiParma is the best
1/4LB Sicilian Salami
1/2LB assorted olives
10 Grape tomatoes
Small can Anchovies rolled with capers
Romaine lettuce leaves, enough to cover the platter
A good quality Balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil
Italian bread

Use a large platter that can accommodate all the ingredients. Defrost the artichoke hearts. Toss them with a little olive oil. Rinse the peppers if you use jarred and pat dry. Cut them into 1 inch slices. Roll the Prosciutto into logs. Lay the lettuce leaves to cover the platter. Assemble the platter as you like, mixing the colors and textures making the dish mouth watering good.
Slice the basil thin and sprinkle over the platter.
Serve with the dressing on the side and a good crusty Italian bread.

 

Stuffed Ricotta Shells

This  recipe for Stuffed Ricotta Shells is rich and creamy.

stuffed Ricotta shells
stuffed Ricotta shells

The recipe originates from the Lazio (Rome)region of Italy. It’s easy to make with a little patience and freezes well for a quick work night meal. There are many ways to stuff these; ricotta, meat sauce, sausage with herbs and bread crumb w/ bechamel sauce, etc…

Make my recipe for Marinara sauce

Ingredients;
12oz box Jumbo Shells (I like Barilla)
2 LB container of whole milk ricotta
Two 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBLS minced fresh parsley
ground pepper to taste

Directions;
Cook the jumbo shells for 9 minutes or according to the box for boiling and then baking. Drain and rinse in a colander with cool water. Be sure all the water is out of the inside of the shell. In a mixing bowl combine all the other ingredients, leaving out half the mozzarella. Put a heavy layer of marinara sauce in a covered baking dish. Open the shell with two fingers and spoon the cheese mixture into the shell until nearly full, about two tablespoons. Fold it closed. Place the stuffed shells next to each other and fill the baking dish. Pour a generous layer of sauce over the top of the shells and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

**use low or non fat cheese to make this more health friendly

Valentine Butter Cookies

Make my Spritz (German Butter Cookie) recipe and use the press disk for a heart. Press them onto a baking sheet and gently press the tops to flatten them a little. Sprinkle the Valentine Butter Cookies with red sugar and bake. Once cooled leave them as is or make a sandwich cookie with heated raspberry jam in the middle or melted chocolate.
So yummy and buttery !!

Valentines German butter cookies
Valentines butter cookies

Linzer Tart Cookies

The Linzer Tart Cookies origin is Austrian. This cookie is derived from the tart recipe.  The cut out filled with raspberry jam is colorful and shines through like a rich pastry window. I’m cutting them into heart shapes for a Valentines treat, but any round or square shape will do. You will need two cookie cutters (as pictured). One for the base and one smaller for the cut out window.

Linzer tart cookies
Linzer tart cookies

Ingredients;
2 1/3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds
1/8 TSP salt
1/2 TSP lemon zest
a dash of cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup confectioner’s sugar + 1 cup for coating
2  X-large egg yolks at room temp
1 TSP vanilla
1 cup seedless raspberry jam is traditional, use strawberry or apricot if you like
Parchment paper

heart shaped cookie cutters
heart shaped cookie cutters

Directions;
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl combine flour, nuts, salt, cinnamon and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg yolk, vanilla, lemon and mix another minute. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Divide the dough in half and flatten like a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325. On a lightly floured surface roll out one disk to about 1/8″ thick. Dip your cookie cutter into flour and cut you shapes using a smaller cutter for the middle window cut out on half of them. Place on parchment liner baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, this helps firm up the shape for baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until firm but still pale in color. Cool on a cookie rack. Slightly heat the jam and brush a TSP size onto each cookie bottom. Then place the cookie with the cut out on top and press gently. Coat with confectioner’s sugar and then fill the assembled cookie window with a little more jam.
Let them set for 1.5-2 hours before storing them in an air tight container with waxed paper in between layers, refrigerated.

 

 

 

Italian Biscotti Cookies

This Italian Biscotti Cookies recipe is versatile. Although the classic was made with Anise flavoring you can change the flavor and nuts to anything you like. Maple, pecan, lemon, almond, chocolate , dip them or glaze the edge..

Biscotti
Biscotti

Ingredients;
2 cups all purpose flour, I use unbleached
1 TSP baking powder
1/4 TSP salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed firm
2 eggs
1 TSP almond extract or any kind you  like
3/4 cup almonds or any nuts you like or omit them
**If you want to  make these chocolate, add 3 heaping TBLS unsweetened cocoa and a 1/4 cup mini semi sweet chips to the flour mixture.
**Bakers makes chocolate chips in a microwavable cup. It’s great for dipping.

GLAZE;
Mix togther…..
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 TBLS melted butter
1/2 TSP almond extract or any kind you like
4-5 TSP milk

Heat the oven to 350. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.   Cream the butter, sugars, then add the extract and eggs. Mix until well combined.  Add the nuts and mix until just combined.
Divide the dough in 1/2 and on a floured surface roll into 1.5 ” thick and about 12″ long logs.  Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper is best.  Bake for about 20-25 mins until lightly brown and the logs have cracks in them.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before slicing them with a serrated knife on a slight angle about 1/2 ” thick.  If you want to toast them lay them on the side in a sheet pan and bake at 375 for about 5 minutes turning them once.  Let them cool and then glaze the edge, dip them in nuts, chocolate or whatever you like.

Jan Hagel

This Jan Hagel cookie originates from Holland. They are crisp and buttery rich strips with a baked- on nut glaze. These also store for weeks in a tin in a cool place.

Jan Hagel
Jan Hagel

Ingredients;
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 cups all purpose flour, I use unbleached
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1 TBLS water
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped very fine

Directions;
Heat oven to 350. Mix the butter, sugar and egg yolk. Add the flour and cinnamon until dough comes into a ball. Press dough evenly into a 15x10x1″ pan. Beat the egg white and water until frothy. Brush on dough and sprinkle the walnuts evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until very lightly brown. Cool just 5 minutes and slice into 2×2″ strips.

Roasted Turkey and Sage Stuffing

This Roasted Turkey and Sage Stuffing is a special edition post to the pantry.

roasted turkey
roasted turkey

Roasting a turkey is all about keeping it moist. Years ago you heard of people roasting in a paper bag. Now we have less flammable alternatives, like browning bags made for oven temps.
My recipe for both is basic and you can certainly add different spices as you please.

Ingredients:
Turkey, any size, fresh or frozen, defrosted
One pkg Reynolds turkey size browning bags
Bell’s Seasoning (it’s the little yellow box with the turkey on it)
Ground sage
1/2 stick of butter
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3 pcs.
2 celery stalks, cut into 3 pcs.
1 large onion, quartered

Directions
Wash the turkey and smooth the butter under the breast skin and all over the turkey skin too. Liberally sprinkle the sage and Bell’s seasoning all over the turkey. If you are going to stuff the turkey do it now. If you stuff the turkey then tie the legs together. You can add a meat thermometer to the breast area if you wish. Turkey needs to be 180 degrees when done. Prepare the oven bag according to the directions. Place the turkey in the bag.
Place the cut veggies all around the turkey. Close the bag as directed on the browning bag box. Roast according to the time and temperature indicated on the browning bag box and your size turkey. Once the turkey is done let it sit for about an hour before carving.

The Basic Stuffing;
2 Bags bread cubes, unseasoned
1 TBLS Bell’s Seasoning
1 TBLS ground sage
1 large onion, minced
3 stalks celery, cut fine
1 stick of butter
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten

stuffing
stuffing

Options;
** you can add a few tablespoons of cooked ground sausage or chopped cooked mushrooms etc..**

Directions;
Saute the veggies in the butter until soft but not brown. Place the broth in a pot and heat. Add the sauteed veggies, seasonings and the bread cubes to the pot. Mix together and then add the beaten egg. Mixing it thoroughly. Place stuffing in the turkey loosely or bake in a covered pan that has been greased. Bake in the covered pan for about 30 minutes at 350.

** change the butter in the stuffing to oil to make this health friendly

Raspberry Shortbread Cookies

This Raspberry shortbread cookie is a take on the Scottish shortbread. They are so buttery and easy to make. Very festive for the holidays too. They can be stored in a tin in a cool place for weeks.

Raspberry shortbread cookies
Raspberry shortbread cookies

Ingredients;
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 TSP vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour, I use unbleached
Raspberry jam, seedless if you like

Directions;
Heat oven to 350. Mix all but the flour. Add the flour slowly. Roll into 1″ balls, indent the middle and add raspberry jam to the indent. Place them 2′ apart. Baked on parchment paper is best for about 14-16 minutes until they are slight brown on the edge.
Once cooled, you can leave them plain or drizzle melted chocolate or white chocolate over them as pictured.

Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie recipe is extra easy if you use a refrigerated rolled pie crust.

pumpkin pie slice
pumpkin pie slice

It comes out perfect every time.

Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie

Ingredients;
Two 15oz cans of pure plain pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 TSP salt
2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground ginger
1/2 TSP ground cloves
4 large eggs
Two 12oz cans of whole evaporated milk
1 refrigerated rolled pie crust
3 strips of foil

Directions;
Have the pie crust at room temperature. Mix all ingredients together until blended. Roll the pie crust out slightly. Press the pie crust into a 10″ pie plate and form the edges by pinching the crust between your fingers. Pour the mixture into the pie crust filling just below the crust edge. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then reduce the temp to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes more until the center is puffed and a knife comes out clean. Cool and serve with fresh whipped heavy cream.

Italian Ragu Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

Bolognese serving
Bolognese serving

This Bolognese meat sauce is a classic from the city of Bologna, Italy. I’m sharing this with you but the true author is Marcella Hazen. She brings to you so many classic Italian dishes in her cookbooks.  This meat sauce takes time to simmer but it literally melts in your mouth and is so creamy tasting. Start this in a heavy stock pot and once it’s put together transfer it to a crock pot, it will cook gently as it is suppose to. It freezes well so double the recipe for a quick work night dinner.

Ingredients;
2 TBLS chopped onion
3 TBLS unsalted butter
3 TBLS olive oil
2 TBLS chopped celery
2 TBLS chopped carrot
3/4 LB ground beef, chuck or meat from the neck
1/2 TSP salt
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 TSP nutmeg
2 cups canned whole Italian tomatoes in their juice, roughly
12oz-16oz cooked pasta, see recommendations below

Directions;

In a heavy stock pot on med heat add the butter, oil and onion, saute a few minutes until just becoming translucent. Add the celery and carrot. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the beef and salt breaking it apart with a fork. Saute just until the pink is faded but DO NOT brown it. Add the wine and turn the heat up stirring until the wine has nearly evaporated. Turn the heat down to med and add the milk and nutmeg stirring until the milk has evaporated.  Add the tomatoes and stir. Once the tomatoes come to a simmer pour the mixture into a crock pot and cook UNCOVERED for about 3-5 hours OR you can keep it in the original pot and lower the heat to barely a bubble for about 3-4 hours.

Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese Sauce

Best served over cooked Tagliatelle or fresh if you can get it, Tortellini pasta. Sprinkled with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Valentine Pancakes

A special breakfast treat for your loved ones. Valentine pancakes is a simple recipe and makes a great addition to a Valentines brunch.

valentine pancakes
valentine pancakes

Ingredients;
Make my buttermilk pancakes recipe or buy a mix if you have to.
Buy a few large heart shaped cookie cutters (available at any Target or Walmart)
Heat a griddle to 350.
Spray the form with cooking spray each time you fill it.
Place on the griddle.
Pour about 1/3 up the form with the batter.
Cook a few minutes until it is set and lightly browned.
Flip the heart form then push on the pancake to release. Let it cook a few more minutes on this side.
Serve with your favorite jam, syrup, cut strawberries or any topping you like.

New Year’s Eve Appetizers

I’m going to give you a few easy to do appetizers. These are great anytime, watching a game or just as a snack.

Prosciutto Rolls
12 slices of Prosciutto (the DiParma is the best)
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 TSP dried basil
small pkg fresh Arugula
1 small bottle Balsamic Glaze

Mix the ingredients except the prosciutto, arugula and the glaze.
Lay the prosciutto flat and cover with a layer of the cheese mixture.
Lay the arugula on top and then roll. Cut into 1/2 rolled pieces.
Squirt with glaze and chill until served.

 

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
6 eggs, hard boiled and chilled, then peeled and sliced in half
1/4 cup mayo
3 TBLS soft cream cheese
1 TSP Dijon mustard
2 TSP fresh preferred, dill weed+some for garnish
dash of salt & pepper
4oz pkg smoked salmon

Mix the egg yolks with all other ingredients except the salmon and dill for garnish until creamy. Stuff the egg white halves. Top with pieces of salmon and dill. Serve chilled.

 

Brie Honey Apple Bites
1 TSP lemon zest
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts for garnish
2 med apples, finely diced
1/4 cup honey
8oz round of Brie or Camembert cheese with rind, diced into 1/2″ cubes
2 pkgs prepared mini phyllo shell cups, about 24-30 cups.
Preheat oven 400.
Mix together zest, honey and apple. Place a cheese cube in each phyllo cup and top with the apple mixture.
Bake for 6-8 minutes, top with walnuts and serve warm.

Holiday Punch

This punch can be made full sugar or substitute diet for any of the ingredients or replace the champagne with ginger ale. Be sure the ingredients are all cold before mixing the punch.

Make the frozen floats the night before.
In a reg size muffin pan;
Fill 1/3 with any flavor cranberry juice and freeze. Add maraschino cherries and slices of fruit such as orange, lime, lemon or pineapple. Add water to fill the muffin cups and freeze again.
In a large punch bowl mix;
1 bottle dry champagne (Korbel is suitable)
1 liter lemon-lime seltzer
1 small frozen limeade concentrate
32oz cherry juice
2 cups orange juice

Dip the muffin pan in water to release the frozen floats and place them in the bowl along with 4 large scoops of sherbet on the top.

Italian Sponge Drop Cookies

This Italian Sponge Drop Cookies recipe is a classic Italian holiday cookie. This recipe dates back more than 50+ years.

Italian Sponge Drop Cookies
Italian Sponge Drop Cookies

Ingredients;
4 eggs
1 cup Crisco, melted and cooled, measure when cool
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 TSP vanilla
Directions;
Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Ingredients;
4 cups all purpose unbleached flour
4 heaping TSP baking powder
Directions;
Sift together flour and baking powder. Add slowly to the egg mixture just until smooth and blended. Drop tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until bottoms are slightly light brown, about 8-10 minutes. Cool and glaze tops with the glaze below.

Glaze;
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 TSP lemon or any flavor extract
2 TSP melted butter
a few drops pf milk, just enough so glaze is loose and coat the tops of the cookie. Blend together until smooth. Glaze cookie and decorate with holiday colored nonpareils. Let dry 1 hour before storing.

Tasse Cups

These Tasse Cups are similar to a mini pecan pie but made with walnuts. So rich in taste.
They are also pictured in my site header.

Tasse cups
Tasse cups

Shell;
8oz cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
Directions:
Ingredients should be at room temperature. Blend together and mold a tablespoonful into a mini muffin pan.

Filling;
3 eggs
3 TBLS butter
11/2 cup light brown sugar
2 TSP vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 cup finely chopped raw walnuts
Directions:
Place all ingredients except the nuts into a sauce pan. Heat on low stirring until warm and blended. Add the nuts. Fill shell lined mini muffin cups 3/4 full with filling. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, tops will puff.

Spritz (German Butter) Cookies

These Spritz Cookies are a very old German holiday butter cookie recipe.  Spritz Cookies are easy to make once you practice using a cookie press. This recipe dates back to my 8th grade home economics teacher, it was her German Grandmothers recipe !!

Spritz Cookies
Spritz Cookies

Ingredients;
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 TSP vanilla or almond extract

Directions;
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, blend. Add the balance of ingredients and blend until smooth.
Fill cookie press and place desired disk design and tighten cap. You can use an electric press or the old style hand crank type. Press cookies onto a cookie sheet. Decorate with holiday sprinkles and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, just until set but barely brown on the edge. The cookies are very white in color even when set and done. Store in a tin can and keep them in a cool place, They will last for 10+ days.

Creamy Chocolate Nut Fudge

This Chocolate Nut Fudge recipe is easy and comes out perfect every time. Box it and it makes a nice holiday treat gift.

Ingredients;
8oz-10oz jar marshmallow cream, such as Fluff
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated whole milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 TSP salt
11.5oz bag of milk chocolate chips
6oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped raw walnut or pecan pieces
1 TSP vanilla

Directions;
In a large sauce pan, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil on moderate heat stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the chocolate chips stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add the vanilla and nuts and stir. Pour into a foil lined 8×8 pan. Chill until firm. Cut into desire pieces. Makes slightly over 2LBS of fudge.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:

6 medium sweet potatoes or yams
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 TSP orange zest
1/4 cup pineapple juice

4 TBLS butter
1 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven 375.
Boil the potatoes-yams until just soft but not mushy. Peel them and slice into 2 inch pieces. Place the slices in a baking pan. Set aside.  Place the the remaining ingredients, except nutmeg in a sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour over potatoes-yams and sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.

 

 

Lasagna

This Lasagna recipe has so many variations. This one is my version.
It freezes well so make a few small pans for another work day dinner.

***First you have to make my Italian Tomato Sauce, with meat is best but you can make a meatless Lasagna too***

Ingredients:
1 LB box of Lasagna pasta, cooked according to the directions on the box or if you can buy fresh pasta that’s even better.
3 LBS whole milk ricotta cheese
3 XLRG eggs
2 TBLS parsley, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese plus more for the layers
16oz shredded whole milk Mozzarella cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook the pasta, drain and place it hanging over the sides of a colander.

lasagna sheets
lasagna sheets

This will prevent them from sticking together.
Mix together the ricotta, eggs, parsley, ½ cup of the Parmesan or Romano cheese, salt & pepper to taste.

ricotta, parsley and eggs
ricotta, parsley, eggs etc

Set aside.
In a deep 3x9x13 pan place a thin layer of sauce and then a layer of the cooked pasta.

a THIN layer of sauce
first, a THIN layer of sauce on the bottom
one layer of pasta
one layer of pasta
ricotta and meat and more sauce
ricotta and  mozzarella and meat and more sauce

Top with about a 1” layer (approximately a third) of the ricotta mixture, dust with the shredded Mozzarella and grated cheese. Spoon a good layer of sauce over this ( be generous with the sauce so it doesn’t dry when baking) and then crumble 2 meatballs and 2 sausage and sprinkle it over the sauce layer. Top with another layer of ricotta mixture and repeat for three layers of pasta. End with the pasta on top, sauce and sprinkle with the Mozzarella and the remaining grated cheese.

ready for the oven
ready for the oven

Cover with foil.
Bake covered with foil at 325-350 for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the center puffs and its hot all the way through.
Let it rest for about 20 minutes before cutting to serve.

Cannoli Filling

Italian Cannoli
Italian Cannoli

This Cannoli filling recipe can be piped into a cannoli shell or used as a cake filling.  For a dip; serve with pound cake cubes, broken cannoli shells pieces, brownie cubes or fresh strawberries .

Ingredients:
1LB ricotta cheese, whole milk
5 TBLS confectioner’s sugar
1 TSP vanilla, paste type is preferred
½ TSP cinnamon
1 cup mini chocolate chips
6 store bought cannoli shells
A piece of cheesecloth
**Optional; 8-10 crushed Pistachios**

Put the ricotta cheese in a food processor for a few spins just to cream it. Place the cheesecloth in a strainer, fill with ricotta cheese and set over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap place in the refrig overnight to drain off the extra liquid. Mix the drained ricotta cheese with all the other ingredients (except the nuts). Fill a freezer bag with the filling. You can store it like this for up to 2 days. When you want to use it cut a small slit in the corner and pipe into shells just before serving. Sprinkle the ends with the crushed nuts and dust with a little more confectioner’s sugar.

Italian Cheesecake

italian cheesecake
italian cheesecake
Italian cheesecake
Italian cheesecake
Italian cheese cupcakes
Italian cheese cupcakes

This was a special request so two postings today! This Italian Cheesecake recipe goes back to my grandmother then my mom. It’s the classic Neapolitan recipe.

PASTRY SHELL:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 LB unsalted butter, room temp
2 XLRG eggs, room temp
6 TBLS sugar
2 TSP lemon extract
dash of salt
Blend together and the add the flour slowly. Roll out dough between waxed paper about 1/8″ thick. Press into 8 inch spring form pan or use a square pan or large muffin cups if you like. Trim the dough at the top. If you want to really dress it up you can make four or six 1/2 ” wide strips with a pastry wheel to place like a tapestry over the top once you have the pan filled.

FILLING:
Preheat oven 350.
3 LBS whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 cup sugar
4 XLRG eggs
1 TBLS vanilla
3 TBLS candied orange peel, diced
Blend together and fill the pastry lined pan up to about 1/2 inch from the top (1/4″ for muffin cup size). Bake for about 1 hour (30 mins for muffin cup size)until top is puffed but still pale wheat in color. See the pictures above for examples.

Pistachio Cake

This recipe can be used for many flavors. Just change the pudding flavor in the cake and in the icing.

Recipe Ingredients:
1 Box yellow cake mix
1 Pkg pistachio INSTANT pudding
4 X-Lrg eggs
1 Cup club soda
½ Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Recipe Directions:
Beat all together about 2 mins and pour into greased & floured tube or bundt pan.

Bake at 350 for about 45 mins.

ICING
Ingredients:
1 Cup whole milk
1 8oz cool whip
1 Pkg pistachio INSTANT pudding

Directions:
Beat together for 3 mins ans let set in refrig for 1 hour.

***Variation***
You can change the cake mix, nuts &/OR puddings to any flavor.
Chocolate – Red velvet
Maple Spice
Coconut
Vanilla
Banana

Sicilian Fig Cookies

Sicilian Fig Cookies Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 TSP baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 X·large egg
1 TSP vanilla
1/4 CUP milk
1/2 cup dried figs, soaked in water, water drained off when ready to use
1/2 cup dried dates, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup honey
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Colored non parell sprinkles
Parchment paper

Sicilian Fig Cookies
Sicilian Fig Cookies

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar, set aside. Mix together the egg, milk, butter and vanilla, set aside. Mince up (food processor works best) the dried fruit, honey. cinnamon, marmalade & almonds until finely chopped, set aside. The fruit mixture will be thick. Beat the butter and add the flour mixture until smooth. Tum the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times. Shape into a ball and cut In four pieces. Work with one piece at a time leaving the others covered with plastic wrap. Roll the dough out to about 12 x 4. Cut oblong pieces about 3 inches long by 2 inches wide, you can make larger cookies if you wish or other shapes. Place about a tablespoon (add more If you make larger cookies) of fruit mixture on the end and roll and pinch the seam. On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet place seam side down and pinch the ends and curve it into a crescent. Make 3 small cuts with a knife on the bent side of the crescent. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with non parells.
Bake at 375 for about 17 mins until lightly brown. Makes about 35-40 cookies depending on how big you make them.

Paglia e Fieno

My Aunt Chris made Paglia e Fieno for us many years ago.  The name means “Hay and Straw in Italian. The original recipe was from a great Italian cook, Marcella Hazen.

Paglia e Fieno
Paglia e Fieno

Recipe Ingredients:
12oz fettuccini, mixed yellow & spinach is preferred
1 cup heavy cream
5 TBLS unsalted butter
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
5oz pancetta, diced
12oz mushrooms, chopped, any kind
2 TBLS shallot, minced
1 TSP salt
Pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg

Recipe Directions:
Cook the pasta according to the box instructions. Melt butter in pan (big enough to hold all ingredients) and add shallots. Cook for a few mins until they are soft. Add the chopped mushrooms bring them to a simmer on med-high then reduce temp to med & add the salt. The juices will dry and then add the pancetta and cook 5 mins or so and then add half the cream.
Simmer a few mins until all is hot. Add the egg yolk to the remaining cream and stir to blend and add it into the pan along with the cheese, nutmeg & pepper to taste. Make sure the pasta is ready and pour over & toss & serve immediately.