Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Alice's Elegant Pineapple Fluff Dessert

For as long as I can remember, every week, we had a traditional Sunday dinner and my Grandmother Alice always made some sort of dessert from scratch for this meal. Pineapple fluff was one of her favorites and mine too. I remember making this with her in her kitchen  on numerous occassions. A dessert of the "great generation", I want to keep this one alive. It's also super fast and easy!
Serve in crystal serving pieces and this dessert feels extra fancy! YUM!

Pineapple Fluff
1 large can of crushed pineapple
3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of water
1 envelope of Knox gelatin
1/4 cup of water
1 pint of whipping cream or heavy cream

Cook together the crushed pineapple (with the juice), sugar, and 3/4 cup water. Dissolve Knox gelatin in the 1/4 cup water. Add gelatin mixture to the pineapple mixture. Let cool. 
Whip 1 pint whipping cream and mix all together. Let chill several hours or overnight.

Red Velvet Mini Chocolate Chip Cupcakes wtih Cream Cheese Frosting



  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (1 ounce) bottle Red Food Color
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, red food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended and fold in mini chips. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into 30 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. 
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese, softened, butter, sour cream and Vanilla Extract in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth.Top with extra mini chips.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oscar Night Treats!!!

Aunt Susan's Mini Blintz's

36 Slices of White Bread
1 Container of whipped cream cheese
2 1/2 sticks of butter melted
Cinnamon and Sugar

  1. Remove crust from bread. 
  2. Roll with a rolling pin, until thin.
  3. Cut each piece of bread in half.
  4. Spread cream cheese and roll up (jelly roll style)
  5. Dip into melted butter and then sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Freeze.
  7. When ready to serve, place on a cookie sheet bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 or until brown and bubbly. Serve on a silver platter and watch them disappear!

Jill's Prosciutto, Goat's Cheese and Fig Preserve Grissini
If you have never had Fig Preserves then you need to run out to the store and buy some right now. It is delicious and is very complimentary to serve or have with cheese and fruit.

These delictable treats are super simple to make. They can also be displayed in a number of ways. Standing them upright in a vase or as part of an overall cheese display looks great.
Make extra of these, cause these too will go quickly! 

20 Grissini or 2 Boxes (aka Italian bread sticks)
2 packages of Goat's Cheese (room temperature and whipped)
1/4-1/2 lb of thinly sliced Prosciutto de Parma (ONLY or San Danielle)
1 jar of fig preserves (warm in microwave for 1 minute and mix up so it is easy to spread)

Spread a thin layer Goat's Cheese on a slice of Prosciutto and then a thin layer of fig preserve. Roll the grissini around the Prosciutto and done!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pure Heaven Asparagus Risotto by Jeffrey

Over the past couple of years, my cousin Jeffrey has taken an interest in cooking and introduced me to the famous chef Marco Pierre White.
Marco Pierre White is British and was the youngest chef to have ever been awarded three Michelin stars. He is also noted for his contributions to contemporary international cuisine and his exceptional culinary skills.
In addition to all of these accomplishments, he has also mentored and trained various world famous chefs... including the famous Gordon Ramsay. He is simply amazing and you may see him on those Knorr commercials these days.
Since this is my cousin's favorite recipe and now one of his specialties that he has perfected (besides Nana Anna's pizza), I had asked him to share this with everyone. As he says, it is "pure heaven".

Thanks Jeffrey!

3/4 cup of Risotto/Arborio Rice
Chix Stock- 1 1/2 cups (or veg stock works too)
Asparagus- I use half of the bunch and cut them 1/4 inch wide.
White Wine- 1/4 cup (no preference to the brand)
 Parmigiano Cheese- Maybe 2 tablespoons, but I'm always generous! (Roma parm cheese is the best in RI)
Yellow Onion- maybe 1/10th of it, just to add a little flavor.
Olive Oil- nice splash in the beginning
1 tbs of butter

*Heat the pan and coat with olive oil
*Dice the onion and toss it in and stir
*Remove from the fire and throw the rice in and stir
*Back on the fire, add the wine and stir
*Little stock, stir some more, add more stock, work it and repeat
*Chop up the asparagus so it's ready. (I throw some heads in there too, but leave them whole)
*Keep adding the stock and stirring and stirring and stirring
*When you think you're about 5 mins away from being done, throw in the asparagus and stir and stir and stir (when they cook together, the asparagus juices are absorbed by the rice)
*Now the stock is pretty much absorbed by the rice and you can throw a GENEROUS amount of Parmigiano on top and turn the stove off and continue to stir a little more.

Probably takes 15-20 mins

 Marco Pierre White

Serve as an elegant first course
Serve as a base for steak, fish or poultry 
Use leftovers to make croquettes 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicken Marsala over Rigatoni Night!

4 boneless chicken cutlets pounded thinly, salt, pepper and floured on both sides
2 cups of Marsala wine
1 shallot slices
1 box of white mushrooms diced
2 cloves of garlic smashed
1/2 cup of heavy cream
salt and pepper
Fresh chopped Italian parsley

In a hot saute pan, add about 1/4 cup of olive oil and garlic. Brown the garlic and then add the shallots. Once they are soft, add in the mushrooms and cook until brown. Push the mushroom mixture to the side of the pan and add the chicken in. Brown on both sides and remove and set aside. Add the Marsala to the pan and let boil for one minute. Add the chicken back, parsley and cream. Let this cook for about 10 more minutes. Boil about 1/2 pound of Rigatoni in salted water. Once cooked, add to the Marsala sauce...add Parmesan cheese and serve!

Bake Your Own Bread - Its Easy! Honey, Oat, Flax, Wheat Bread

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
4 teaspoons salt
2 tbs of cinnamon
4 cups bread flour (you may not need entire 4 cups)

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. In a large bowl, mix remaining 3 1/2 cups warm water, honey, molasses, oil, eggs and lemon juice. Mix well. Add yeast mixture and stir.
Gradually add 5 cups whole wheat flour beating well after each addition. Add the flax, oats and sunflower seeds, stir well.
Let stand for 20 minutes, until mixture is very light. Stir in salt and the rest of the flours until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead 10 to 15 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Put into a greased bowl and cover, let rise in the oven with light on until doubled, about 1 hour. (this will be your workout for the day).
Punch down and shape into 6 round balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Form into loaves and let rise covered in oven until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) 25-35 minutes. 

  • My boyfriend's mother makes fresh bread all of the time and her tip is to slice the bread and freeze it, so all you have to do is go into your freezer and toast some up.
  • Serve hot out of the oven with butter and honey !

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nana Anna's Stuffed Peppers

6 large red peppers cleaned, sliced half and all seeds removed.
1 can of black olives, crushed and chopped
1/4 cup of finely, chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 loaves of white bread with crusts removed, cut into cubes
1 clove of minced garlic (I put the garlic through the garlic press)
1 cup of Romano Cheese
1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil
Salt and Pepper, pinch of red pepper flake (optional)

To make the stuffing, start by removing the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into cubes. Add the bread into a large bowl with olives, parsley, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Add about 1/2 of olive oil and 3/4 cup of water (you will have to add as you go, you may need more less). Mix until the bread absorbs the oil and water. You want this mixture to be wet but NOT mushy. Coat a large baking dish with olive oil. Stuff each of the peppers and then drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 for about 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the peppers are soft.

Alternative Ideas
**Add peperoni, sausage, anchovies, ricotta or prosciutto to this mixture.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Crostini

One Heirloom Tomato sliced into rounds or chopped up
Brie, Robiola or any other type of Formage, Goat's cheese or fresh mozz
Prosciutto di Parma )1/4lbs sliced super thin
Crostini - One French Baguette sliced thin, toasted and rubbed with a clove of garlic
Sea Salt and Freshly cracked pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use the best one that you can find for this)

Once you have the toasted and garlic rubber crostini, top with a slice of prosciutto, a slice of cheese and a slice of tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted. When the crostini comes out of the broiler, sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve!

Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and White Bean Puree

1 head of Broccoli Rabe (Andy Boy brand only)
5 Italian Sausage links sausage taken out of the casing (if you like spicy, use hot sausage)
1 box of pasta. I like penne with no lines for this
1 can of Progresso Canellini beans (you can make you own as well)
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil ( I use extra virgin for everything)
Romano and Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper and red pepper flake

1. Sausage
Take the sausage out of the casing and in a hot saute pan, add a little olive oil and then add the sausage. Fry until golden brown and cooked. Remove your sausage and in the same pan, you are going to cook your Broccoli Rabe. DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN. There is a lot of flavor from cooking the sausage.
2. Broccoli Rabe
Wash the rabe very well in cold running water. Chop at least 2-3 inches of the stems at the bottom. Then cut into one inch pieces. In a hot sausage pan, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and three cloves of garlic (and a pinch or red pepper flake if you wish). Brown the garlic and add the rabe into the pan. Add salt and pepper and toss in the oil. Add about 1/2 cup of water and put a cover on the pan. Check every 5 minutes and add more water until the rabe is nice and soft. Make sure it is well seasoned. Set aside.
3. White Bean Puree
In a sauce pan add two tablespoons of olive oil and one clove of smashed garlic. Brown the garlic. Add the beans and salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes. When done. Puree in a food processor. You can add a little water if it is too thick or more olive oil. This will be your sauce!

4. Assemble
Toss this entire combination with cooked Penne. Cook all together in a pot for one minute, add the cheese and extra olive oil. Enjoy!

*** Vegetarians --Leave out the sausage!

Chicken Cutlets


The Chicken
2 pounds of chicken cutlets (Only use FRESH, not frozen chicken, cut these in half and you must pound out to about 1/4 inch thickness, very important)

Egg Mixture
5 or 6 eggs beaten
Fresh Italian parsley finely chopped
one handful of Romano cheese
salt, pepper and garlic powder (about 1/2 tsp each)
Beat this all together and set aside in a pie plate or whatever shallow dish you have, as you will be dipping the chicken in this.

Progression Italian Style Breadcrumbs - put in a pie dish or other shallow dish and add 1/4 of Romano cheese to this.

Set up a dipping station, egg mixture first, then breadcrumbs then a clean dish.

You will need a large saute pan with 1/4 inch of olive oil to fry these. Keep heat on a medium - high heat. If you properly fry at the correct temperature, the oil will simply crisp the food and not saturate it.
After you have pounded out the chicken breast. You must season each piece (both sides) with salt, pepper and garlic powder. After you do this, dip into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Make sure you push the chicken into the breadcrumbs very well and you may need to repeat the breadcrumbs a couple of times so that they are well coated.
 to the hot oil, add two slices of lemon and one clove of whole garlic. This is my biggest trick. It gives the cutlets a very light flavor that just adds to the yummy taste!

Fry the cutlets until they are golden on each side. Make sure you check for doneness. You do NOT want any pink inside your chicken. Make sure that the chicken inside is white and NOT pink.
Have a clean plate lined with paper towels to place the chicken on once they are cooked.

Chicken Parmesan....add tomato sauce and cheese to each cutlet and broil or bake with extra sauce and cheese for 45 minutes at 375 and the chicken gets super soft and delicious. Always broil the top, the cheese gets delicious.
Chicken with Boursin...add a slice of tomato on top of each cutlet and a slice of Boursin cheese and broil
Chicken Marsala...make a quick Marsala sauce and add these cutlets into your sauce
*Add these cutlets on top of an arugula salad and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. Top with parmesan
*Serve with my broccoli and macaroni recipe
*Serve on top of sauteed broccoli rabe

Tres Leche Cake -You must make!

  •  1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 5 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar, Divided
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • _____
  • 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.
Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.

Kalaua Pork on Hawaiian Roll Sliders

1- 6 pound pork shoulder or butt
1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
Pink Sea Salt
Hawaiian Mini Rolls
BBQ Sauce

Grab a knife and make start making 1 inch slits into the pork. Generously salt the pork and rub it with the liquid smoke. I put this into my crock pot and cooked it for 12 hours, but you can also do this on a low oven for the same amount of time. Do not touch it for 6 hours. At the 6 hour mark, flip it and let it go. When it is done, pull the pork out and put onto a plate. Shred the pork with two forks. Skim the fat left behind and add the pork back to the pot. Add about 1/2 a cup of bbq sauce and mix.
Serve on mini Hawaiian brand slider buns with extra bbq! YUM!

French Bistro Night! Salmon Dijonnaise

One of my most favorite cuisines in the world is French. While living in New York City for 8 years I was able to eat at some of the best French restaurants in the world. My favorite being Daniel.
For those of you who know the restaurant Daniel, you know that most of us cannot afford to eat there weekly. So to get my French fix, I would dine at the more reasonably priced bistro Le Express. At least once a week or every other week I would go here for lunch and I have recreated this recipe based on my favorite lunch!
 This recipe is for two people, but it can be modified for as many as you need.

2 Pieces of salmon fillet
Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine
Salt and pepper

Start off by adding salt and pepper to the salmon. Saute in a pan, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Once you flip, add one heaping tablespoon of the Dijon mustard to the pan as well as the white wine. Let the alcohol burn out and then add the cream to the pan. Let reduce for one minute and then it is done!

Serve with pureed carrots:

Boil baby carrots in chicken broth until tender. Blend with a splash or two of heavy cream. Done.

I also like to serve this with rice pilaf and a goat cheese, beet and walnut salad!

Broccoli and Macaroni

1 box of pasta (we use ziti or penne)
1lb of broccoli
Olive oil (the greener the better-use a GOOD Extra Virgin for this), Romano cheese, salt and pepper

Start off my cleaning and washing the broccoli. Cut into florets and clean the stems. You will need a large pot of boiling and very well salted water. This is an important step.
Next, add the box of pasta and all of the broccoli into the pot of water (yes, you cook the broccoli and pasta in the same pot! How easy!). Cook until the pasta is done. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water (this will help make your sauce). Drain the pasta and broccoli. Add back to the pot with about 1/2 of olive oil and stir up. I like to mush up the broccoli while I am doing this. Add a little of the reserved pasta water and a good handful or two of the Romano cheese. Finish with additional olive oil and serve!!

Zucchini Orzo

Orzo pasta
1 box of orzo pasta
3/4 cup of white wine
3 chicken bouillon cubes (you can use homemade chicken stock of course here as well)

To start...you are going to create a bath for the orzo pasta to cook in. Bring to a boil a pot of water, the wine and salt. Once this boils add the orzo.

4-6 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil
3-5 Zucchini depending on size (grated or thinly sliced)
Salt, pepper and pinch of red pepper flake

Finish with a handful each of Romano and Parmesan

In a large saute pan, add about 1/2 of olive oil, all of the garlic and red pepper flake. The trick here is to lightly brown the garlic...as soon as that happens, add all of the zucchini. Immediately season with salt and pepper. This is going to need to cook for at least 25 minutes, but it is worth it!. Keep on high heat and stir every 2-3 minutes. Also keep an eye on the orzo too!. Taste the zucchini throughout the cooking process and add more salt and pepper as needed.
When the zucchini is done cooking, it should look mushy and be slightly caramelized! That is exactly what you want. Once you get this consistency, add the cooked orzo to the pan...toss with Parmesan and Romano and a little more olive oil and serve!

Pasta With Stuffed Cherry Peppers

6-8 prosciutto and provolone stuffed cherry peppers diced
2 cloves of smashed garlic
3-5 chopped tomatoes
1 package of chicken bouillon
1/2 heavy cream
Generous handfuls of Parmesan and Romano cheeses
Olive oil
3/4 cup of white wine
1 pound of Linguine pasta
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

First, boil the pasta in salted water (the sauce should be done around the same time the pasta will be ready). In a large saute pan, add olive oil to the pan and the garlic. Brown the garlic and then add the chopped tomatoes. As the tomatoes wilt down, add the chopped peppers. Cook this for about 5 minutes and then add the white wine and chicken bouillon. After the wine has cooked out, add the heavy cream and cook another 5 minutes. Toss the pasta into the saute pan and cook the pasta in the sauce for one minute. Add both cheeses and more olive oil if necessary (you can also add a little of the pasta water if it needs ti as well). Add the chopped parsley and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nana Anna's Pizza

1 pound of dough (we get this from the bakery or you can ask for 1 pound of dough from your local pizzaria)
1 can of Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes (Yellow can - Pastene are the best tomatoes hands down!)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil and romano cheese (no measuring here)

Oil a cookie sheet. Spread the dough to the edges of the cookie sheet with your hands (not a rolling pin)....be careful not to rip the dough.
Spread the crushed tomato all over the dough, then give a good, liberal sprinkling of salt, pepper, garlic powder and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 25-30 minutes at 375 until crust is light brown.

Jill's Shrimp Scampi

1.5 pounds of jumbo shrimp
6 cloves of smashed garlic
1/2 bottle of white wine (only use wine that you would actually drink, aka-no cheap stuff)
Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (I used about 1/2 a cup)
1/2 cup to 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the greener the better with me)
1/4 stick of butter
1 pound of linguine
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Locatelli Romano and Good Parm Cheese (NO KRAFT) to taste (I use alot!)

Add your linguine to salted boiling water. By the time the shrimp is done, the pasta should be done as well.
In the meantime, make sure you have all of the shrimp devained and shelled.
In a hot, large sautee pan add about 1/2 cup of olive oil, the butter, red pepper flake and garlic. Brown up the garlic (the trick here is to make sure the garlic is lightly browned) and then add the shrimp into the pan. Toss the shrimp quickly in the butter mixture and make sure it is well coated. Add salt and pepper. Let the shrimp cook about 1 minute in the butter and then add about 1/2  bottle of the white wine. YES, 1/2  BOTTLE. Let the wine cook out (about a minute or two) and then add the chopped parsley. It is very important NOT to overcook the shrimp. Toss the pasta into the shrimp scampi and let it cook on the stove for one more minute. Add more olive oil (about 1/4 cup or so) and one big handful each of Romano and Parmesan cheese. You may add extra chopped parsley as well. Enjoy!

**Feeling extra fancy? Substitute Lobster Medallions for the shrimp!

My New Favorite Superbowl Appetizer

Stuffed Tater Tots
Brown Sugar
24 Tater Tots
24 slices of bacon
1 jalapeno julienned into 24 pieces
1/2 package of cream cheese

Slice the tater tot just enough to be able to stuff it with cream cheese. After you stuff it, add a slice of the jalapeno and then wrap in bacon. Roll the stuffed tot with the bacon into brown sugar, secure with a toothpick and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 400. Serve with ranch, blue cheese or a ketchup/mayo combo sauce!