Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I am not a fan of using creamed soups in recipes. My mom and Nanny never cooked that way but when Steve told me that this is his favorite dish I decided to give it a shot. His mom found the recipe in a magazine years ago and it wasn't her cooking style either but I'm glad she was brave enough to try it out! I've been making this dish for a couple of years now and it has become one of my favorites. I lighten it up by using 98% fat free soup and a little more chicken broth. I don't usually measure the broth just add it until it's the consistency I like. Since this is one of Steve's favs I actually buy two packages of tortellini (he eats one on his own!) but still use the same amount of sauce. I also add more prosciutto because we love it and it adds a lot of flavor to this very simple dish.
I hope you love this as much as we do. We all need a dish that doesn't take a lot of time to put together but still has big flavor and this is just that!
Here is the original recipe. Follow it as it is written, use my changes or make your own. Either way it will be fabulous!
Tortellini in Artichoke Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ tsp. dried crushed Basil leaves
2 tbs. Olive Oil
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed Cream of Celery Soup
½ cup chicken broth
1 can Artichoke hearts, drained
3 – 4 slices prosciutto, cut in strips
¼ cup sliced Black Olives
4 cups cooked tortellini
In saucepan, cook garlic and basil in oil a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients except tortellini. Heat through stirring occasionally. Toss with tortellini.
Makes 3 ½ cups.
Happy New Year to my readers...old friends AND new, and to your families! Thank you to my parents, my sister and my brother for always reading my posts and being supportive of this new project! Thank you all for giving me a reason to keep posting! Thank you to my Nanny, Emilia, for inspiring me to start this blog. May she Reast in Peace.
Be safe! Have fun! Talk to you in 2009!!!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I promise you they DO have 7 layers. Let's count. Chocolate, green, jelly, white, jelly, red, chocolate...see, there are 7!!! This recipe comes from my other Italian Grandmother. My Grandmother Josephine. I'm not sure where she got them from but I know it was someone named Rosemarie because the recipe I have says "Rosemarie's 7 Layer Cookies". I'll have to ask her if she remembers who that is she stopped making them years ago and passed it onto my mom who passed the job onto my sister and I. It wouldn't be Christmas for my family without these cookies and everyone who knows us always asks for them come Christmastime.
Like any other family we think our family recipe is the best. How could anyone not like their own family recipies they grew up on, right? Well anyway, our recipe is different from most because we do not use Almond Paste. Almond paste is the main ingredient (or only ingredient, I'm not sure) in Marzipan and Pignoli Cookies. I just can't aquire a taste for that but lucky for me our recipe uses almond extract. The almond flavor isn't as in your face as some bakery versions in my very humble opinion. Whatever it is or isn't I know this...they are good! Great even! They take some time (and patience....right Danielle?) but they are well worth it.
I read on someone else's blog that they like to cut them with a serrated knife. I thought I'd try it. It would be good if you wipe off the knife every time which I just don't have the patience for. So, you can see that it messed up the look of them a bit but they were still great tasting. My suggestion for slicing would be to take them out of the fridge once they chocolate is hard and let it warm up a bit before slicing. If you don't do that you'll have some cracked chocolate. It isn't the worst thing in the world but if you want them to look as good as they taste you won't want that.
One more thing before I post the recipe (I know, I know, I'm babbling today). On Sunday I complained to my Cousin Donny's wife Nicole that my layers aren't always even. She said that she puts weight on them to press them together. I will try that next time for sure. Thanks Nicole for the tip!
Okay, Okay, here's the recipe!!!
Rosemarie's 7-Layer Cookies
1 ¼ cup flour
3 eggs (large)
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons almond extract
2 sticks (melted butter)
1 jar apricot butter or preserves or seedless raspberry preserves
6 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon of oil
Red and green food coloring
3 pans 11x7x1 ½ or approximate size
Mix in bowl with electric mixer (if desired), flour, sugar, almond extract,
eggs, melted butter.
Separate into 3 bowls evenly. After which you leave one bowl plain, in 2nd
bowl add 8 drops of red and the last bowl add 8 drops of green coloring.
Then in greased pans (or parchment lined pans) pour mixture so it covers all of the pan evenly. Bake for 10 minutes at 350.
Remove from oven, on wax paper on foil, first turn over green layer, coat
lightly with apricot, then white layer over that and coat with preserve.
Last red layer melt chocolate in pot with 1 tablespoon of oil. Coat one
layer with chocolate, refrigerate until hard then turn over wax paper or
foil. Coat second layer, let it get hard then cut and slice.
Monday, December 29, 2008
This is the second year that I've made Fontina Risotto Cakes for Christmas Eve and everyone loves them. I think this will definitely make it on the menu every year. I found this recipe at Epicurious but I believe the recipe originates from Bon Appetit Magazine. The recipe is almost perfect and I got about 14 little cakes. The only thing that you should know is that it takes a little more time to make the risotto than the recipe says. So you will need a little more chicken broth or stock. I used the stock in the box and used the whole thing. I'm pretty sure that there are 3 cups in there. This is a great appetizer and is excellent for a potluck. I fried them in the morning and reheated them in the oven at my sister's house. They were still crispy and not the least bit soggy. To save time I made the risotto and formed the cakes the night before.
Fontina risotto cakes with fresh chives
Bon Appétit | December 2004
Makes 10 servings
3 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Fontina cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
Canola oil (for frying)
Additional grated Parmesan cheese
Bring 3 cups broth to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep warm. Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 30 seconds. Add broth, 1/3 cup at a time, and simmer until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, and stirring often, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in 6 tablespoons Parmesan and butter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Spread risotto in 13x9x2-inch pan and cool completely.
Mix 1/2 cup panko, Fontina cheese, parsley, chopped chives, and 1 egg yolk into risotto.
Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls; flatten to 2-inch rounds. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Set another rimmed baking sheet in oven. Beat 2 eggs in shallow bowl to blend. Place 1 cup panko in another shallow bowl. Dip risotto cakes into beaten egg, then into panko to coat. Pour enough canola oil into large skillet to coat bottom; heat oil over medium-high heat.
Working in batches, sauté risotto cakes until crisp and brown, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet in oven.
Serve risotto cakes sprinkled with cheese and garnished with chives.
Test-kitchen tip: These cakes owe their delicate, crisp coating to panko, which have a coarser, lighter texture than regular dried breadcrumbs.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I've been really slow at doing everything for Christmas this year. I still haven't finished shopping, I didn't send out any cards, I didn't get to make edible gifts like I thought I would BUT I did find the time to bake some Christmas Cookies with my sister, Danielle and her three beautiful children, Sofia, TJ and Emily. We had a rough start and had to make a couple of runs to the store to replace a broken hand mixer and a missing cookie press but alls well that ends well. We had a great time, the kids had fun decorating the cookies and eating them!
This recipe has been in my family for years. I'm not sure where my mother got the recipe from but it's been around for as long as I can remember. Usually we use a pastry cutter to mix the dough but we tried using a hand mixer and found that the cookies were much lighter and softer. I will definitely use a mixer from now on.
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 sticks butter
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla. In a seperate bowl mix flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to butter sugar mixture a little at a time until all the flour is incorporated.
If you would like add food coloring to a portion of the dough or all of the dough. We like to do different colors for different shapes so we mix the color in batches. Add dough to cookie press and follow directions to press cookies.
Decorate with sprinkles, chocolate chips or whatever you like.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Deb from Jersey Bites coordinated a blogging campaign to help make people aware that the community foodbank of New Jersey is in need of some help. Click here to read her post.
I don't have to tell you that times are tough for everyone right now but what you may not know is that food banks are suffering more than ever. More people are in need of a warm meal and there are less people who are helping to provide those families with food. These people are in our own communities even here in New Jersey.
Did you know:
At the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), requests forr food have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. - CFBNJ
Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism. - CFBNJ
In New Jersey alone, an estimated 250,000 new clients will be seeking sustenance this year from the state’s food banks. – “No Food on the table,” By Judy Peet, The Star-Ledger, Oct. 23, 2008
What you can do to help:
- Donate money.
- Donate food.
- Host a food drive.
- Spread the word.
To find a local food bank in New Jersey click here
To help out the Community Food Bank of New Jersey see their website.
Participating Bloggers for “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” campaign
3) Jersey Girl Cooks
4) Simply Sable
5) John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey
6) Padma's Kitchen
8) Life Lightly Salted
9) My Italian Grandmother
10) Cook Appeal
11) Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars
12) Mommy Vents
13) This Full House
14) Paper Bridges
15) Motherhood Avenue
16) The Kamienski Chronicles
17) Down the Shore with Jen
18) Fits and Giggles
19) House Hubbies Home Cooking
20) Nourish Ourselves
23) Off the broiler
24) Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby
28) Savy Source Newark
29) Momlogic New Jersey
33) Best of Roxy
34) Citizen Mom.net
36) Jersey Beat
37) Pop Vulture Phil
41) Mike Halfacres Blog
43) Family, Friends and Food
47) New Jersey Real Estate Report
49) More Monmouth Musings
50) Man of Infirmity
51) Another Delco Guy in South Jersey
53) Average Noone
54) Cleary’s Notebook
55) Welcome to my Planet
56) The Center of New Jersey Life
57) Sharon’s Food Blog
58) Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate
59) Midtown Direct Real Estate News
60) New Jersey Real Estate
63) The Ridgewood Blog
64) Book a Week with Jen
67) Matawan Advocate
68) Take Back the Kitchen
69) The Joy of Toast
70) Route 55
71) Montclair Kids.com
74) Joe the Blogger
75) Environmental Republican
76) Stacey Snacks
77) Subversive Garden
78) New Jersey Pathfinder
79) Cooking With Friends Blog
80) Triple Venti
81) Read All About It
82) Rich Lee on Media
83) Likelihood of Success
84) Cape Cuisine
85) The Business At Hand
89) Caviar and Codfish
90) A Day in the Life
91) Mack’s Journey Through Life
92) Alice’s Restaurant
93) Tiger Hawk
94)Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog
95) The Food Chain
96) Henson’s Hell
97) Cranbury Conservative
99) New Jersey: Politics Unusual
100) Jersey Shore Blog
101) Plainfield Today
102) Beacon Bulletin
103) Journal Square Jersey City 07306
Monday, December 1, 2008
When I asked some of my friends what they would like to see on my blog I was told Meatballs. I've posted sweet and sour meatballs but not the regular meatball recipe I use in my sauce. My mom makes veal meatballs which I always loved but then I met Steve and he won't eat veal. So now I make beef meatballs using his mother's recipe and I now prefer them to veal. Sorry mom, your meatballs are still awesome but I have to do for Steve what you did for Daddy!!!
It makes me laugh when people say "Spaghetti and Meatballs" because growing up in an Italian American household we never had meatballs when we ate spaghetti. Sundays were usually tubular pastas such as penne, ziti, rigatoni and occasionally fusilli (I loved them as a child, I called them roller coasters) and Thursdays (yes we also had pasta on Thursdays) we had spaghetti, linguini or angel hair, but that was never served with meatballs but instead a meat sauce (ground beef) or what my Mom called a Chicken Gravy (made with chicken legs and thighs), a marinara sauce with no meat at all or a tuna sauce (basic marinara with canned tuna added). My point is that Italian food has become so Americanized and when I hear Spaghetti and Meatballs I think Chef Boyardee...which you will never find in my house. EVER. I'm not sure about other Italian households but we also never ate our meat (sauce meat we called it)at the same time as the pasta. (However, I did take a picture of it together because I was too lazy to fish all the meatballs out of the pot.) It was always served in a platter as a second course with the salad. In my house salad is always served at the end of the meal. We even ate it in the same plate as our meat. That's just how we did it.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here's the recipe.
2 lbs ground beef (85% lean)
½ large or medium onion, chopped
4-5 gloves garlic (minced)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup bread crumbs
Mix all ingredients together and then form meatballs. Brown on all sides in olive oil. When browned put in sauce to cook thru. Makes approx. 18 meatballs.
Notice the little one for the cook!!! Yum!!!
Michele's Basic Sauce
2 cans Tuttorosa crushed tomatoes (use whatever brand you like)
1 medium onion, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
fresh basil, to taste (dried or frozen can also be used)
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (if you like more spice add more)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning and basil. Stir to combine flavors.
2. Add crushed tomatoes and stir. Fill about 1/3 can with water and swish around to clean tomatoes from sides and then pour into next can and do the same thing. Add to pot. Stir and add sugar, salt and pepper.
3. Let sauce come to a boil and add fried meatballs to the pot and stir gently. Reduce heat and let sauce simmer for 2 hours stirring frequently. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
If you want to add sausage, beef steaks, pork ribs or neckbones saute them in oil in the same pan as the meatballs and add to sauce when you add meatballs putting heavier meats in first.