Friday, December 21, 2007

Prosciutto Basil Pasta Shells

These jumbo pasta shells look fancy, but are really very easy, and fairly quick to make.

* 12 jumbo pasta shells
* 1 Tbl olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 3/4 cup sliced prosciutto (cooked ham may be substituted, by lessens the flavor)
* 1 cup ricotta cheese
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 tsp dried basil
* 1 egg
* 14 oz of your favorite homemade or purchased tomato sauce

# Heat oven to 375F.
# Spray 2 qt. square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
# Cook pasta according to package directions. (I find it easier to lessen the recommended cooking time by about 2 minutes - the shells are firmer, less likely to fall apart, and they will finish cooking in the oven) Drain pasta, and rinse with cold water to cool.
# Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and prosciutto and cook 2-3 minutes or until garlic is light golden brown.
# In medium bowl, combine 1/2 the prosciutto mixture with ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil, and egg and mix well. Stir spaghetti sauce into prosciutto mixture remaining in skillet.
# Spoon ricotta mixture into pasta shells and place in baking dish. Spoon spaghetti sauce mixture over shells. Cover with foil.
# Bake for 35 -40 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
# Serve immediately.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pizza Popover Pie

This hearty fun twist on traditional pizza is really a treat for kids and adults alike.

* 1 and 1/2 lbs ground beef
* 1 cup chopped bell pepper
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
* 1 envelope spaghetti sauce mix
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup milk
* 2 LARGE eggs, slightly beaten
* 1 Tbl olive oil
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a 12 inch skillet, cook and stir ground beef, bell pepper, and onion, until beef is browned. Drain fat.
3. Add the tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce mix, water, garlic powder, and oregano to the meat mixture in skillet. Mix well. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat.
4. Immediately spoon the sauce mixture into a 3 qt. round casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
5. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, milk, eggs and olive oil. Mix well. Transfer this batter to a glass measuring cup. Carefully pour the batter over the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light brown and set.
6. Variations:
7. Make it 'Mexican' by using a package of taco seasoning mix in place of the spaghetti sauce mix, and Cheddar or Monterey Jack (or both) cheeses in place of the Mozzarella and Parmesan.
8. Make it healthier by substituting ground turkey for the ground beef.

Clam Linguine

This delicious dish is easy enough to fix at the last minute, but will have everyone thinking you spent hours on it!

* 1 (8 oz) package dry linguine
* 1 (6 and 1/2 oz) can of minced clams
* 2 Tbl olive oil
* 2 Tbl margarine or butter
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper
* 1/4 tsp dried basil, crushed
* 1/4 tsp dried oregano, crushed
* salt to taste
* 2 Tbl fresh parsley, snipped
* Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook the linguine according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
2. Drain the clams, but reserve the liquid and set aside.
3. In a 2 qt saucepan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and butter until the oil is hot, and butter is melted. Add the garlic, cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.
4. Carefully add the reserved clam liquid, pepper, basil, oregano, and salt to taste. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Stir in the clams and simmer until heated through. Stir the parsley into the clam sauce.
5. Pour the clam sauce over the hot linguine and toss gently to mix. sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Avignon Tomato And Eggplant Casserole

A tasty and filling vegetarian main dish.

* 1 large eggplant
* salt to taste
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 4 medium sized tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp sugar
* 1/2 cup bread crumbs
* black pepper to taste
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 and 1/2 Tbl melted butter

Preheat oven to 375F. Remove stem and skin eggplant, and cut it crosswise into 1/2" thick slices. Lay the round slices in a single layer on a plate, sprinkle liberally with salt, and set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the salt to draw out excess moisture. Wipe salt and excess moisture from eggplant, and dredge in flour. In wide skillet,heat all but 1 Tbl oil, and fry eggplant, turning once, until browned on both sides. remove from heat. In the same skillet, heat the remaining Tbl oil and add the tomatoes, garlic, and sugar. Cook for approximately five minutes. Add 1 Tbl bread crumbs with salt and black pepper. In a casserole dish, arrange eggplant and tomatoes, beginning with eggplant on the bottom, and ending with tomatoes on the top. combine the remaining bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top. Dribble the melted butter over the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the bread crumb and cheese topping is browned. Serves 4.

Broiled Tomatoes With Black Olives And Romano Cheese

These tasty, cheesy tomatoes make a wonderful side dish with dinner, and can even be served as a light summertime lunch!

* 4 medium tomatoes
* 2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, pressed
* salt to taste
* black pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and minced
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
* 1 tsp minced parsley

Preheat broiler. Slice tomatoes in half. Arrange cut side up, on a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Combine the olive oil and garlic. Dribble over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with black olives and cheese. Place tomatoes under broiler for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and begins to brown. Remove from broiler, garnish with minced parsley, and serve. Serves 4

Thursday, December 6, 2007


These crisp, fried pastry puffs are an essential ending to the traditional Italian Christmas Day dinner.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup honey
Multicolored candy sprinkles

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
Add the eggs and zest. Stir until well blended.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes.
Add a little more flour if dough seems sticky.
Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 1/2-inch thick ropes then cut into 1/2-inch nuggets.
Heat about 2 inches of oil to 370 degrees F. in a wide saucepan or deep fryer.
Begin adding struffoli in batches into the oil to fit without crowding.
Cook, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until crisp and brown, about 1 minute.
Remove the struffoli with the slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain.
When all the struffoli are fried, gently heat the honey just to a simmer in a wide saucepan.
Remove the honey from the heat, add the struffoli and coat well.
Pile the struffoli into a mound on a large platter. Dust with the multicolored sprinkles.
Best served the day they are made.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Italian Cheese Bars

It's the holiday season, and business is booming, as evidenced by my lack of recent blog posts. My apologies to my readers...

Here's a wonderful dessert recipe for the holidays - perfect for a holiday gift, or as party food!

Italian Cheese Bars

* * 1/2 cup butter or margarine
* * 1-1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 18)
* * 1 15-ounce container fat-free ricotta cheese
* * 1 egg
* * 1/4 cup sugar
* * 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* * 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
* * 1 teaspoon almond extract
* * 1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts
* * 1/3 cup chopped candied cherries
* * 1/3 cup golden raisins

1. Heat oven to 350 degree F. Melt butter or margarine in a 9x9x2-inch baking pan in the oven (about 6 minutes). Remove from oven. Stir crushed crackers into melted butter or margarine; press mixture firmly and evenly onto bottom of pan using a wooden spoon. Set aside.
2. Combine the ricotta cheese, egg, sugar, flour, orange peel, and almond extract in a blender container or food processor bowl; blend or process until smooth. Carefully spread cheese mixture over crumb mixture. Combine the almonds or hazelnuts, cherries, and raisins; sprinkle over cheese layer. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are puffed and golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour; cover and chill for 2 hours. Cut into bars. Makes 20.