Classics · Cupcakes · Italian

Chocolate Cannoli Cupcakes

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This summer, I have been on a Cannoli kick.  I guess it started with the Cannolis we had for our rehearsal dinner.

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Then we were out in Boston getting some more at Cafe Vitorria.  As a result, whenever I wanted make something, the “Cannoli” flavor kept coming up.  So here is a super easy recipe for Cannoli cupcakes.  I also used the ingredients to build a my Chocolate Orange Charlotte.

Ingredients:

Store bought chocolate cake mix

1 15oz container of Ricotta Cheese ( I used part-skim, feel free to use full fat)

4 tbsp of vanilla frosting (I used this, because it was lying around in the pantry)  OR 4tbsp  powdered sugar.  Sweeten to your liking.

1 tsp of almond extract

2tsps of ground cinnamon

mini chocolate chips and pistachios (unsalted-shelled) for garnish

Method:

Make batter and bake cupcakes as per package directions.  I baked 6 cupcakes and used the rest of the batter to make 2 9″ round cakes for my Chocolate Orange Charlotte.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely

In the meantime, mix the entire container of ricotta cheese with 4tbsp of frosting (or 4tbsp of powdered sugar) with almond extract and cinnamon

Fill into a piping bag attached to a star-tip (this is what I did; frost as you like) and pipe onto your cupcakes. You will not use the entire frosting for 6 cupcakes, I saved it for my cake recipe.  You will probably use the whole thing if you are making 12 cupcakes.  This frosting will make a great Cannoli Dip with graham crackers or you could use it for my other favorite recipe “Cannoli Cups

Sprinkle with mini-chocolate chips and pistachios (other toppings could be orange peels, almonds or nothing at all)

Serve and watch your friends devour !

 

Italian · Quick Dinner

Fig, Arugula, Prosciutto Pizza

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Here is my all time favorite pizza! I prefer to eat lactose free so this pizza has no cheese, but I recommend goat cheese or ricotta for this recipe.

Prepare store bought pizza dough mix as per the instructions.  I like to add salt, pepper, olive oil and rosemary to the crust prior to baking.

Once the crust has baked off and cooled slightly, spread the fig butter and top with arugula and prosciutto.

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Fish Course · gluten-free · Italian · Quick Dinner

Basil-Scallion Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash


I recently discovered spaghetti squash and I have fallen in love with it.  While it definitely does NOT taste like pasta, it certainly feels like you are indulging in it.  You can twirl long strands of golden squash in sauce and eat it out of a bowl and feel full–not a bad deal ! Then, shrimp was on sale and I had to finish up the basil and scallions in the fridge, and so this dish came to being.  May I just say, that sometimes, throwing things in together really work ! I hope you will try this dish.

Ingredients:

1, medium sized spaghetti squash

1lb of medium, peeled, de-veined  raw shrimp

7-8 scallions

1 bunch of basil

1/2 tbsp of minced garlic

1 can of diced tomatoes (mine had garlic, basil and oregano added)

1/2 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)

2 tsp of red pepper flakes

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Method:

Heat oven to 400F

Cut squash in half, length-wise.  Remove seeds and drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add salt and roast the squash cut side down on a baking sheet for 40-50 mins till the squash is fork tender and you can run your fork through the flesh to produce “spaghetti”.

  
 Chop the scallions and set aside the green parts.


Heat 1Tbsp of oil in a skillet, add the garlic and white part of the scallions and saute till pale.

Next add the tomato, broth and the red pepper flakes.

  
 Simmer for 5mins and then add the shrimp.

Shrimp cooks very quickly, so keep an eye on it and the minute they are pink, remove them from the pan. Keep cooking the sauce till desired consistency.  

   Add the shrimp back into the pan, once the sauce is thick and take off heat.
Chop the basil and mix with the green part of the scallions.


Add the herb mixture once the dish in off the heat and stir to combine.  The idea is to keep the greens, looking green and rather raw–tastes really fresh and wonderful !

Spoon shrimp and sauce over spaghetti squash and enjoy !

  

Appetizers · Classics · Dinner · Indian Food · Italian · Pastry · Poultry · Sides

International Potluck !

I am very fortunate to work with a great group of people.  Not only are they smart scientists, they are thoughtful and kind friends.  The cherry on the sundae is that we all love FOOD !!! Eating food, talking about food and cooking food !  We will sit around, eat lunch together and make plans for the next meal.  Call us gluttonous, but if that is a sin–it sure tastes great !  To make matters more interesting, we all identify with various regions of the world.  It took us while to get organized but we finally had out Lab International Potluck !

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Menu:

American: Shrimp and grits and apple pie

French Canadian: Meat pies

Sweden: Swedish Meatballs and Sauerkraut

Poland: Kielbasa

Italy: Stuffed Shells

France: Floating Islands

Turkey: Grape Leaves and Figs stuffed with sweet rice and soaked in syrup

Indian: Jhalferezi and saffron rice

Vietnam: Chicken buns

Talk about a feast !!!!

Italian · Poultry · Salad · Sides

Saffron Chicken, Lemon and Green Bean Salad

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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed), scrubbed well
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • About 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (tenderloins removed), trimmed of visible fat
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Use a fork to prick the lemon in 3 or 4 places. Place in a small saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cover with water; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 50 minutes or until quite tender. Drain and cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a gallon-size plastic zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal. Massage to coat; let it marinate (at room temperature) while you prep the beans.

Set up a steamer over a few inches of barely bubbling water (over medium heat). Place the beans inside; cover and steam for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender and a brighter shade of green. Cool, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces, transferring them to a mixing bowl as you work.

Grease a large skillet with cooking oil spray and place it over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the marinated chicken. (It’s okay if some marinade remains on the chicken; discard any remaining marinade.) Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook on the second side for 6 to 8 minutes or as needed, until the chicken is cooked through and nicely browned. Cool, then cut into bite-size pieces, transferring them to the bowl of green beans.

Slice off and discard the ends of the lemon, then cut the fruit in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the flesh and pulp. Cut the remaining peel (with pith) into thin slices, then into 1/4-inch pieces, adding them to the bowl as you work. Add the thyme.

Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the honey in a liquid measuring cup, then whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to form an emulsified dressing. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the lemon-chicken mixture and toss to incorporate. Serve at room temperature.

Classics · Italian · Pastry · Treats

Tiramisu

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An Italian classic, perfect for hot summer nights !

Ingredients:
2 cups boiling-hot water
3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons Tia Maria (coffee liqueur)
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup dry Marsala
1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages)
dark chocolate shavings for garnish

Method:

Stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and Tia Maria in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool.

Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

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Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.

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Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

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Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a 13- by 9- by 3-inch baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary. Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan.

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Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with chocolate shavings. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

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French · Italian · Lunch · Salad

Nicoise goes Italian

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Recently I met up with a dear friend of mine who happens to be from Italy.  Of all the things that she gave me were  two cans of really good italian tuna packed in good olive oil.  I looked through my pantry and some ingredients called for a traditional French Nicoise salad, but then some of the others screamed Italian, so this is what I can up with.  Barely no cooking involved, just a combination of good ingredients and super healthy.  Should you choose to be a purist I am attaching a link to Julia Child’s Salade Nicoise recipe.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/julia-childs-salade-nicoise-8255829

For my rendition you will need:

Hard boiled eggs

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Flash steamed green beans (I would go for fresh beans, even though I used canned beans)

Artichoke hearts

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Sundried tomatoes

Good Tuna packed in good Olive oil.  You could also get adventurous and poach tuna fillets in olive oil and then flake them.

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capers

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salt and pepper for seasoning.

Now assemble according to your taste.

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