Friday, March 29, 2013

Italian Ricotta Rice Pie

2 pounds ricotta cheese
4 cups cooked rice
12 eggs, beaten well
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of orange extract

Preheat oven at 350 degrees

Beat all ingredients together, and then pour into a buttered 9 by 12 size baking dish.  Top with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake about 1 hour or until a nice golden brown.

  Variation #1:       Add a crust

  Variation # 2:      Add 1 12 ounce bag of chocolate morsels

  Variation #3:       1 small can of crushed pineapple

  Variation #4:        1/2 cup raisins

Italian Angeinetti Lemon Drop Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of lemon extract
2 cups of flour
2  teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven 350

Cream the sugar and shortening, add eggs and lemon extract and beat well.  Add the flour, baking powder and mix well.  The dough should feel sticky and soft.

With a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, space them apart about 2 inches.

Bake the cookies about 11-15 minutes, or until firm and very lightly brown.  Once cooked remove from cookie sheet and cool on wired racks.
Cookie Frosting
3 cups of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon of lemon extract
Add more confectioners sugar if you feel the cookie frosting is too thin
Mix confectioners sugar with water and lemon extract and mix well with spatula until smooth and lump free, then frost the cookies freely using the spatula.


Baked ham my way!

8-10 pound Spiral cut ham that is fully cooked  (I use  smoked ham)
1/2 cup of ginger ale
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of pancake syrup (do not use lite syrup)
Preheat oven to 375
Place your ham once unwrapped in a large deep baking pan
Mix ginger ale and orange juice in medium size bowl, bake ham as directed for weight, basting often with this ginger ale and orange juice mix. 
Mix the brown sugar and pancake syrup together in a small mixing bowl, basting with this mixture the last 1/2 of baking.  Make sure the ham reaches 140 degrees.

I use ginger ale which is an old trick, it cuts the salty flavor from ham.

Cover ham with foil until last 1/2 of cooking time.



Italian Amaretto Cheesecake


  2/ 1/2 cups of crushed graham cracker
  2/3 cups melted butter
  1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Combine crust ingredients and mix well, press onto the bottom and about 1 inch up sides of a 10 inch springform pan.  Place crust in refrigerator and it will set while making the cheesecake filling.

32 ounces of cream cheese
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoons almond extract
16 ounces of sour cream
1 tablespoon of orange extract
1/4 cup of Amaretto liqueur

Hot water


With electric mixer, cream the cream cheese until smooth, add eggs and beat until they are well mixed, add all the remaining ingredients and blend all together until nice and smooth.

Pour the filling into crust and place the springform pan into a roasting pan which is filled  half way with water.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until center is set and a very light golden. 

Once cooked remove from heat, and then remove from roasting pan and cool on rack. 

Chill before serving, but can be served right out of oven.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Sicilian Pasqua

Easter is a time of rebirth, both in our faith as well as the Spring and all its beauty.  Easter is also a time celebration and tradition and food and lots of it.  The Easter cake of Sicily is Cassata, which is made of sweetened ricotta cheese, marzipan and candied fruit.

One of the most well known devotions is Sicily is the "Mysteries" of Trapani on Good Friday, in which people of the town carry statues through the streets, and each statue represents one of the stations of the cross.  The towns people line the streets awaiting the arrival of the Virgin Mary who is searching for her son.  The towns throughout Sicily have similar celebrations, such as the in many of Palermo's suburbs, towns and villages,

 Easter week is celebrated with costumed recreations of Christ's arrival at Jerusalem, thousands of the locals attend these devotions. On Easter Monday another small village named San Martino delle, were a Benedictine Monastery is located celebrate Easter and Spring by freeing the birds that have been saved from the mountain winters days.  They say the birds are released as part of a tradition that dates back over 300 years, and there are many concerts and Gregorian chants which are heard throughout the village.

In Catania and some surrounding areas, Easter Sunday is celebrated in the triumph of good over evil.  The costumes are colorful, and the main event is to make the Devil and his demons say the words "Viva Maria". 

In Bronte Good Friday is marked by the Passion of Christ, which includes a costumed procession, re-enacting the Stations of the Cross as well. Were silence is observed by its towns people and the only sounds heard are beating drums.  Similar processions and events also take place in Ragusa and its surrounding towns and villages.




Italian Easter Bread

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon  almond extract 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour,  more if needed

    In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, except the flour.
                        Stir in flour, one cup at a time to form a wet and  noticeable sticky dough.

    Turn dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 7 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from remaining sticking on the surface of the area.  You will  form a smooth and elastic dough feeling dough.
     Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Lightly oil  surface of the dough, and cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Place in the oven and turn the light in the oven on. Let the dough rise until doubled in size,  8-12 hours.
                      This is a  slow rising dough so I would make it and let it rise overnight. 
    In the morning the dough will be doubled,  punch dough down, and then turn onto a lightly floured surface again.  
    Divide in four pieces, and shape into four small oval loaves or each piece can be cut into three strips and braided in order to make  traditional Easter bread. You can also add boiled colored Easter eggs to these. Add them to the braid before baking.

    Place loaves on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover very loosely with  saran wrap, and let rise for 2 hours more.
            Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes  until golden brown, once baked cool on wire racks.

     There is a saying in Italian: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con qui voi. Which means: Christmas with your family, but Easter with whoever you want!

    Easter Sausage Frittata

    1 pound sweet ground Italian sausage
    4 onions, chopped
    6 jumbo eggs
    1/2 teaspoon of pepper
     1/4 cup milk
    4 Tablespoons of  fresh Italian parsley, washed and chopped
    1/2 cup 6 cheese Italian blend of finely grated cheese

    Cook sausage in medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high until nicely browned,
    break up the sausage into small pieces, add chopped onions into the sausage and cook about 10 longer, then drain off the fat

    In a medium size bowl beat the 6  eggs with the milk and add the chopped Italian parsley.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over cooked sausage and onions

    Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, gently blending into the egg and sausage mixture

    Cover and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes, keep an eye on the bottom lift up with a spatula to make sure that it does not burn.

    Then remove from stove and broil the frittata in same pan, on the lower shelf of your oven until gold brown, keep an eye on it so it does not burn.

     Let  for 5 minutes before serving.

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    Corn Beef Sandwiches by Mary Piccirillo

    1/3 cup of Mayonnaise
    1 teaspoon of white vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon of mustard
    1/4 teaspoon of celery seed
    1/2 teaspoon of pepper
    1 1/2 cups of raw cabbage shredded thinly
    4 rolls split
    1 pound of corned beef sliced
    In a medium size bowl, combine the mayo, vinegar, mustard, celery seed and pepper until well blended.  Stir in cabbage, spoon into the bottom of your favorite rolls, top with corn beef and top with other half of roll.  Makes 4 sandwiches!  Enjoy!

    St. Patrick's Irish Beef Stew


    • 8 bacon strips, diced
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 3 pounds beef stew meat, (cut into 1 inch cubes)
    • 1 pound whole fresh mushrooms, cut in half
    • 3 medium leeks, chopped using only white portion
    • 3 medium carrots, chopped
    • 1/4 cup chopped celery
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tablespoon  seasoned tomato paste
    • 4 cups  beef broth salt free
    • 1 cup dark stout beer
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
    • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary flakes
    • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into cubes
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 2 tablespoons cold water
    • 1 cup frozen peas


    • In a large  pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon once done with fork, add to paper towels. In a large zip lock plastic bag, combine the flour, and pepper, add the beef cubed, a few pieces at a time, shake to coat well. Brown the beef in the bacon drippings. Remove and set aside.
    • In the same pan, sauté  mushrooms, leeks, carrots and celery in oil until tender, add garlic and cook 3 minutes longer, add  tomato paste and blended well. Slowly add the broth, beer, thyme, parsley and rosemary.  Now add the beef and bacon to pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover to simmer for 2 1/2 hours till beef is tender.
    • Add potatoes your cubed potatoes and return to a boil. lower the heat cover and simmer another 1 1/2hour longer until potatoes are cooked. Add the  cornstarch and water until blended in and  smooth stir into stew. Bring to a boil cook and stir  well for 4 minutes more until thickened, add the  peas heat through. Makes about  12-15 servings  This can be frozen for later use. 


    Reese's Peanut Butter Banana Bread by the Wimers

    Reese's Peanut Butter Banana Bread: Given to me by my Friends Rob and Rhonda Wimer! 


    3 very ripe bananas, mashed

    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable oil
    1 egg
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1.5 cups of all purpose flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    8 oz bag of Reese's Mini cups

    How to Make:

    1. Preheat oven to 350
    2. Grease your loaf pan (I used an 8 x 4 pan) with butter or shortening.
    3. In a medium bowl whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.
    4. In a large bowl stir together your bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg and sugars.
    5. Pour your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Batter will be lumpy. DO NOT OVER-STIR.
    6. Fold in your Reese's Mini cups and spread batter into prepared pan.
    7. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
    8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and remove from loaf pain, transferring bread into a cooling rack.


    "I bake my breads in a stone loaf pan, but certainly you don't have to. BUT if you notice the bread browning too fst, lower the temperature down to 325 and loosely tent it with foil."

    "Also, some readers have noticed that if you over-stir the batter the texture will be crumbly, so make sure not to over-stir!"

    Mary Picciriillo's Irish Soda Bread


    3-1/4 cups flour 1/3  sugar plus two table spoons, divided
    1 teaspoon of  Baking Powder
    1 teaspoon of baking soda 

    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1/2 cup butter make sure its cold
    1-1/3 cups buttermilk
    1/2 cup  raisins you can use currants (I like the taste that the raisins give better)

    3 teaspoons of caraway seeds

    Heat your oven to 350 degrees 

    First mix flour, then add 1/3 cup of sugar and baking powder and lastly salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add your butter by cutting in using a pastry blender or a folk of knife, until you notice that mix looks like coarse crumbs, now slowly add butter milk, and then your raisin or currants.  Mix until this becomes moistened.

    Now place your dough onto a floured surface, need 10-15 times.  Shape into round loaf, which will be 1 1/2 inches thick. Place your dough on a greased baking sheet.  Cut a 1/2 (X)  on the top of the dough.  Now sprinkle the rest of your sugar of the dough.

    Bake your Soda bread 1 hour and until it is a nice golden brown.  Once baked cool completely on a wire rack. This is a repost for St. Patrick's Day!

    Emerald Mint Milkshake

     Serves: 3

    1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream 

    1 cup milk

     McCormick® Pure Peppermint Extract

    1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Green Food Color


    Place ice cream, milk, peppermint extract and green food color in blender container; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth.
    Pour into glasses. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired. Serve immediately

    Thank you to McCormick for this great recipe a nice St Patrick's addition!