Archive for ‘Italian / Sicilian’

November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Tiramisu

read more »

February 16, 2010

Roman Salad

read more »

February 11, 2010

Pollo Tuxedo

read more »

February 9, 2010

Meatball Sub

read more »

December 20, 2009

Budino di pane

read more »

November 16, 2009


zeppole 26

read more »

November 9, 2009


lasagne 9

read more »

January 1, 2009


read more »

January 1, 2009

Sicilian Marinara / Carrettiera Sauce


read more »

January 1, 2009


Tortellini originated from the Bologna region of Italy and the story is that the goddess Venus had a night on the town and had to stay in an inn of the mortal world.  The innkeeper couldn’t resist the temptation to see the goddess of beauty and love so he snuck a peek through the keyhole.  All he could see was her belly button and to immortalize what he had seen, he rushed to the kitchen and created the tortellini.  To use homemade tortellini, use my recipe.  You can also purchase premade tortellini in the frozen section of your grocery.

I decided to bring together the beef and cream sauce because most generally people save cream sauces for poultry and I enjoyed mixing it up a bit with beef or sausage.  This dish is a very simple and is very rich and flavourful.  The key is slow cooking the beef so that it stays tender and moist, like you would expect in a beef stew.  I try to pick beef that has minimal marbling to reduce the chewiness.

taurtellini 19

read more »

January 1, 2009

Italian Meatballs


read more »

January 1, 2009

Fried Ravioli

read more »

January 1, 2009

Gnocchi alla Cannella

I love the unique flavour of gnocchi, which is kind of comical because I avoided eating it for several years, mostly because someone had described it as tasting like pierogis, which I really am not a fan of.  But truth be told, the similarity stops at potatoes.  They are very light in texture, it’s difficult to put into words – but they are very tender and airy.

You can use either my recipe for homemade gnocchi, or store bought gnocchi.  Gnocchi is very light and this sauce blend is not overly sweet so it works well as a unique side dish or a dessert.  You want to make the sauce promptly before serving or it will crystallize as it cools, and gnocchi become chewy if cooked too long or reheated.  The preparation time for this is only about five minutes, so you can easily make this up while the dinner dishes are being cleared.

IngredientsGnocchi alla Cannella19

Gnocchi (either 1 package of prepared gnocchi or one single batch of my recipe)

1 stick unsalted butter (note that I didn’t say margarine)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons sugar


  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  • Add cinnamon, paprika and sugar to melted butter mixture and whisk til blended.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Boil gnocchi 3 – 5 minutes, until it floats.  Remove as soon as they float to surface!
  • Drain and add sauce mixture to gnocchi.
  • Serve warm.

Gnocchi alla Cannella1Gnocchi alla Cannella6

    January 1, 2009

    Chicken Alla Cacciatora

    My daughters aren’t big on bell peppers, so my recipe is a bit different than the usual. I also do not bread the chicken breasts and I don’t use thighs.   I serve it over rotini and like the side dish of fresh green beans the best.


    4 boneless chicken breasts
    4 roma tomatoes, chopped
    1/2 white onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic
    1 Tbsp oregano
    1 Tbsp rosemary
    1 Tbsp thyme
    1 tsp ground black pepper
    1 tsp salt

    • Slice the tops of the chicken breasts across, almost all the way through, spacing each gash about half an inch apart. Lay with the unsliced part down into a skillet over medium-low heat.
    • In a medium bowl stir together chopped tomatoes and onions. Spoon equally over each chicken.
    • In a small bowl, blend oregano, rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt. Spoon evenly over the chicken breasts.
    • Using a press, press one half of a garlic clove over each breast.
    • Spoon juices over the top while cooking. Once the underside is thoroughly cooked, turn chicken over – tomato mixture should stay beneath the chicken once turned.
    January 1, 2009

    Cannoli Filling


    I am posting this recipe in two parts for a few reasons, primary because with the shells recipe and the filling, this becomes a grossu entry.  Also, if you are using store purchased cannoli shells, you won’t need to weed through the shell recipe to make filling.

    The filling for cannoli has a very simple base recipe that allows you to get very creative.  After you create the base, you can fold in diced dried candied fruit – such as you would use for fruit cakes, chocolate chips, shaved candy bars – I prefer Andes mint shavings, minced nuts – like pistachio, spices – like cinnamon or nutmeg, liquor – such as Kahlua or brandy or rum, citrus zest – oranges work well, marachino cherries, or you can leave it plain.  Keep in mind that a cannolo is about five inches long and so your filling is four inches long by one inch diameter – in other words, a little goes a long way.

    When filling cannoli, only do it right before serving, as the filling can make the shell soggy.  It is also best if you chill the filling in your pastry bag (or as you will see me use, a zip loc baggie) for about 20 minutes in the freezer before filling, so that it is very firm.

    Ricotta should be whole milk, not even reduced fat.  The skim or low fat ricotta tends to have more run off which will cause the filling to be more runny – not a good thing at all.

    You can dress up your serving plate with a powdered sugar dusted paper doily, drizzled melted chocolate, or powdered sugar.  I serve mine with a fork, but that is more for just scooping up any filling that falls out.  Cannoli was meant to be picked up and eaten as it is a carnival treat in Sicily.


    1     15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta

    3/4 cup powdered sugar

    • In a large mixing bowl, blend both ingredients throughly on low speed with an electric mixer.
    • Do not over beat, only beat until mixed.
    • Using a spatula, fold in any selected add ins.
    • Pack filling into an air tight container or pastry bag.
    • Chill before using to fill cannoli tubes.

    If using add ins, I have listed below the measuring amount that you want to use.  Remember for all solid add ins, to reduce the amount of each if you are adding in more than one:

    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
    • 1 teaspoon liquor
    • 1 tablespoon dried candied fruit, diced
    • 1 tablespoon citrus zest
    • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 tablespoon coconut, shaved
    • 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ice cream sprinkles
    • 1 tablespoon chocolate candy bar, shaved or grated

    *McCormick makes a cinnamon spice with a built in grater that is awesome for grinding fresh cinnamon.  Each bottle is less than $2 and I absolutely love this!


    January 1, 2009

    Campanelle Casserole

    This casserole has an Italian inspiration, but is purely a Tia creation.  I love ricotta cheese and like finding new ways to use it.  The flavour of ricotta is rich and the texture is very thick, but it doesn’t become a greasy mess that will stay with you for the next three days.  Campenelle pasta is also called riccioli and is basically an elbow style macaroni that is fluted at one end.  In Italian, it means literally bell tower.  This dish turns out a lot like a typical lasagne dish, excepting that it has no layers and is easy to throw together after a long day at work.


    1 pound campanelle pasta, boiled til firm

    1 pound ground sausage or ground beef

    16 ounces ricotta cheese

    8 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

    16 ounce can stewed tomatoes

    1 small onion, finely chopped

    2 cloves garlic, pressed

    1 teaspoon fresh ground Oregano

    1 teaspoon ground rosemary

    1 teaspoon ground thyme


    • Over medium heat, crumble and brown sausage or ground beef, add in seasonings while cooking.
    • Add in onion and garlic and remove from heat.
    • In a medium mixing bowl, add one half of mozzarella to ricotta and stir until blended.
    • Stir cheese and meat mixture together thoroughly.
    • In large casserole dish, blend meat and cheese mixture with cooked pasta.
    • Top with tomatoes, do not strain.
    • Stir well and cover with remaining mozzarella.
    • Bake at 250 degrees F for thirty minutes.



    January 1, 2009

    Chocolate Ravioli

    When I was a little girl, my parents would get Nutella quite often and I absolutely loved it.  But after moving to the states, we didn’t get it any more and it wasn’t until after I had children of my own I spotted that amazing little jar of goodness on a shelf at the grocery store when I was reaching for peanut butter.  It was the equivalent of spotting the Holy Grail for me.  I picked it off the shelf, debated on grabbing more, in case this was a one time stocking.  If you have never tried it, this recipe is a great excuse to try out the blend of chocolate and hazelnut, blended to the texture of a thick peanut butter.

    Serve warm alone or with a side of your favourite ice cream.  These can be made 1=2 days in advance if preparing for a party.  Just reheat in the oven at 150 degrees F for about 15 minutes before serving.

    (I apologize for the dimness of some of these pictures, my daughter didn’t realize the soft flash setting was on so they came out a bit yellowish on a few shots.)

    Ingredientschocolate ravioli21

    1 package wonton wrappers

    1 egg, well beaten

    1 jar Nutella

    Powdered sugar

    4 Tablespoons vegetable oil


    • Lightly dust a working surface with powdered sugar.
    • Lay out one wonton wrapper.
    • Spoon in one spoonful of Nutella into the center of the wrapper.
    • Using a basting brush or your fingers, paint on a light coating of egg around two edges of the wrapper that form a corner.
    • Lift the opposing corner over and press firmly to seal the wrapper.
    • I lightly dust a glass dish with powdered sugar to stack my uncooked ravioli, but wax paper will work as well.
    • In a skillet over medium to high heat, heat vegetable oil.
    • One by one, lay ravioli into the skillet and cook until a light golden brown, on each side.
    • Remove from pan and place into a glass baking dish.
    • Sprinkle hot triangle ravioli with a few pinches of  powdered sugar or use a sifter to shake a bit on the tops.
    • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
    • Bake for 10 minutes.
    • Serve warm.

    chocolate ravioli6 chocolate ravioli8

    chocolate ravioli14chocolate ravioli16

      January 1, 2009

      Pork Bruschetta

      porkbruschetta 9

      read more »

      January 1, 2009


      Often when we think of crepes, we think of lacy thin pancakes with fruit syrups and whipped cream toppings.  This delicious appetizer puts an end to these thoughts.  This is a classic Italian dish server during Lent, when meat is to be avoided.

      As with a lot of Florentine dishes, it includes the standard of spinach, though I prefer to kick it up a notch with Arugula leaves mixed in as well as a few sprigs of Italian parsley.  Arugula is a Roman spinach leaf and isn’t always easily found in your local grocery store.  Often you will have to scour the organic section to locate a nice bag.  If your climate allows, you might give growing it a try, as once you start, it takes hold and is rather reproductive.

      This dish also includes ricotta cheese and I suggest not using a low fat one as there tends to be a good deal of liquid run off and can make your crepes soggy.

      Typically I segregate the recipes when we are stuffing a separate component, but this crepe recipe is unique to this recipe and not the same you would want to use for your Sunday morning sweet tooth.


      3 eggs

      1 3/4 cup milk

      2 Tablespoons butter, melted

      1 cup flour, unsifted

      1/2 teaspoon iodized salt

      3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


      1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

      1/2 pound fresh Arugula leaves, washed and finely chopped

      1/4 pound fresh Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped

      1 cup boiling water

      1 egg

      1/2 cup fresh Romano cheese, grated

      1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

      1/ teaspoon ionized salt

      1 15 ounce container ricotta

      • In a medium mixing bowl, blend 3 eggs, milk, melted butter, and flour until well blended.  Mixture should be rather thin, like a pancake batter.
      • In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
      • Pour in batter by 1/4 cup ladles at a time, cooking each until lightly tanned.
      • Set aside.
      • Preheat oven to 150 degrees F.
      • In a large mixing bowl, combine green leaves.  Pour boiling water over leaves and drain into a collander promptly.
      • In a dry large bowl, beat egg, ricotta, Romano, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
      • Stir in leaves.  Blend well.
      • Drop 1 – 2 spoonfuls of filling onto each crepe and roll up.  Secure with a toothpick.
      • In a large baking dish, prepared with non-stick spray or a little olive oil, arrange filled crepes.
      • Bake for fifteen minutes or until crepes are crisped.
      • Remove toothpicks and serve warm.
      January 1, 2009


      Gnocchi is a really unique tasting Italian pasta that can be prepared in so many various ways.  You can store buy prepared gnocchi, but I just don’t think it compares.  This recipe will make enough gnocchi for about 4 servings and can be doubled or multiplied, but not really reduced.


      5 medium to large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
      1 egg yolk
      1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
      1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
      1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
      1/2 cup all purpose flour


      • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
      • Poke potatoes with fork and bake about 1 hour.
      • Skin potatoes and quarter.  Drop into a large bowl and mash well.
      • In separate bowl, stir yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
      • Mix in egg yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
      • Pour yolk mixture over potatoes and stir thoroughly.
      • Spoon in flour to form a dough texture.
      • On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out.
      • Break it into quarters.
      • Using your palms, roll the dough out gently into a rope form about 1/2 inch thick.
      • Cut into half inch pieces.
      • Use a fork to lift each piece, making gentle grooves into the dough piece with each.
      • Lay out on a floured baking sheet to air dry for about one hour.
      • Repeat with reserved dough quarters.

      When ready to prepare gnocchi, gently drop into a large pot of water at a rolling boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until it floats to surface.  If you allow them to boil too long they will become gummy and chewy.

      Gnocchi alla Cannella5

      The gnocchi can be frozen before cooking the dough pieces for later use.  Freeze baking sheet and then pack into airtight container or zip lock baggies for later.