Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easy Lightened Prosciutto Panini

I love a prosciutto or grilled chicken panini as much as the next gal, but when I add up the calories I'm actually frightened. Here's a lightened up version of an Italian favorite.

It's light and crunchy, slightly salty and mouth watering. This prosciutto panini with it's fresh peppery arugula and stringy melted mozzarella was a pleasant addition to our Sunday dinner this week. We actually made many varieties including this roasted pepper and pesto variety.
I made this prosciutto panini with low fat mozzarella and less prosciutto than in a full size sandwich and loaded it up with arugula to give it some weight. I also gutted the bread to make extra room for the greens. I can tell if I'm going to be happy with my meal by it's weight. If I pick it up and it's light as a feather, I know I'm going to wolf it down before my brain registers I'm eating! So add some extra arugula or roasted red peppers, it will help ; )

 Of course we had our usual 20 guests of friends and family along with a good 10 different things on the Sunday afternoon menu. "What exactly?" you may be thinking. Ok we had pasta with Perfect Every Time Tomato Sauce and Baked Meatballs. That was round 1. After that we had a tableful of food which included these panini in a couple of variations, grilled chicken, baked eggplant cutlets, a build your own Cobb Salad platter, baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sweet, Riso Condito, a moist roasted turkey breast, lentil salad with parsley, grilled shrimp, roasted butternut squash and another thing or 2... It's hard to remember all of it. That's a typical Sunday dinner at my house. I love to feed people. I also love to have a fridge full of leftovers. When I open the fridge and it's dark in there from all the Tupperware stacked high, I feel a deep sense of pleasure. Who knows. It's weird, but I love it.

As a side bar, i have been off line for a while.  Job change and life I guess, but im glad to be back! Thank you all for asking me to post again. I needed to do this!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seafood Medley in a Tomato Broth

Perfect for Christmas eve, take a look at this previously posted pasta dish. Christmas eve, my family makes a lot of fish. La festa delle sette pesce, the feast of 7 fish is a tradition in many Italian homes on Christmas eve. We make 7 seafood dishes on Christmas eve.
This pasta dish is certainly one of them. It's definitely a favorite for my family and guests. Fresh is best, but if you don't have access to a fish market, frozen will do.

Seafood Medley is a mix of Shrimps, Calamari and Scallops.  I lightly sauteed them in Tomatoes, Garlic and White Wine.   The results were incredible! I served it over spaghetti, but you can serve it without if you are watching your carbs.  Either way, it is sure to be a pleasing meal.

This meal took no time. The entire meal, with spaghetti was prepped and cooked in 10 minutes flat! I used frozen shell fish, so my prep was mostly done for me  :  )  While the pasta cooked, i make the seafood.

I made this meal together with an old friend of mine, Luisa GangiDino.  I met Luisa in the 3rd grade when she and her family came to America to live from Europe.  My elementary school principal knew I spoke Italian, so they put Luisa and I together so that I could translate everything the teachers said.  Imagine translating everything!

Our first day together, I can remember going into gym class with her and explaining the rules of dodgeball. We were together all the time. Here we are 30 plus years (I'm being vague and generous here) later and still friends.




Monday, December 5, 2011

Pasta Milanese

Although I had previously posted this, I made this again and wanted to show it to you once more. This is a great dish for Christmas eve, as it has sardines in it. My family upholds the feast of seven fiche on Christmas, so this counts as 1 of our 7 fish dishes.

Pasta Milanese is a traditional Sicilian dish. A Friday night Lenten staple in our home which combines cauliflower, fennel, anchovies and raisins over spaghetti and topped with toasted breadcrumbs. You'll need:

1 cup breadcrumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
6 anchovies
extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, chopped and steamed
1 14.5 oz can of condimento per pasta con sarde seasoning
12 oz tomato sauce
1 chicken bouillon
1 lb of spaghetti rigati (Barilla is what I use)

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add a tablespoon olive oil. Toast breadcrumbs until golden, careful not to burn. Set aside.

Sauté onions and anchovies in oil on medium heat until anchovies melt and onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and pasta con sarde seasoning and simmer another 5 minutes. Add cooked cauliflower, chicken bouillion and pepper to taste and cook an additional 5 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to package directions. When pasta is cooked, drain and toss into seasoning and mix well. Place in serving bowl with breadcrumbs sprinkled over pasta and serve.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mezzi Rigatoni Pesto with Arugula

More pasta, less guilt.... Thats my motto!  Add a huge amount of arugula to your Pasta with Pesto and now you have an antioxidant and fiber rich meal with less calories per bowl and lots more taste!  Coming home to 6 hungry people, I often make a quick pasta for dinner. Tonight was one of those nights. Although fast, this delicious healthful dish is loaded with fiber and vitamins. At times I have pignoli nuts on hand and other times I don't. This recipe doesn't call for them, but you can add a 1/4 cup if you have them. That's the beauty of cooking, for me at least, I can always create a great meal with whatever is in my fridge, substituting one thing for another.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sugared Pumpkin Cookies

Know how to make any box cake or cookie into an autumn treat? It's simple and really easy, especially for those of us who don't love baking from scratch. Just substitute pumpkin purée for the fat! This was a Betty Crocker bag of snicker doodle cookie mix. It called for 1/2 cup of butter, so I subbed out 1/2 cup of pumpkin purée. Not only were the cookies much healthier, they were soft and delish. The cookies had a cake like consistency which I really liked.

Try it on box cake mixes too. I made a Betty Crocker vanilla cake and subbed out the 1 cup oil for 1 cup pumpkin purée and it was great. To give the cookies or cake a autumn flavor I also add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of cloves and nutmeg. If you don't have either, then add 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice.

Either one, cookie or cake were a fall flavor you will really enjoy. It's sorta homemade and brings a pleasant scent to the whole house. It's perfect for non bakers like me! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Butternut Squash and Anise

This combination of Butternut Squash, Anise and Cranberries is an Italian Autumn must. I combined the traditional American veggie with a traditional Italian veggie and the outcome is delish. Its got a sweet pop of cranberry, squash roasted to creamy perfection and the tender crunch of the anise.

Is it called anise or is it called fennel?...I call it finoccio.  Theres lots of words that have become part of the Italian American vocabulary.  Among my Italian friends, its well understood.  A scula pasta is a scula pasta, not a colander.  A cupino is a cupino, not a laddle.  My mother takes the cake though.  She has Italian words made English that could make you fall off you chair in laughter.  Some of my favorites are ridicala.....thats ridiculous.  Then theres esso nuts, otherwise known as hazelnuts, but sound much worse than the way I chose to spell it!  I will probably catch a beating for this post, so I hope you enjoy it. I hope its worth the size 10 shoe thats gonna get me later on this week!


1 lb or so of cut and peeled butternut squash
1 anise bulb, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup cranberries, dried
1/8 cup olive oil, or 3 tablespoons.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Combine all ingredients in a medium casserole, toss well. Bake in a preheated oven at 475 for approximately 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. I check squashes tenderness by sticking it with a fork. If it falls off easily, then it's tender. If it smiles at you and whispers sweet nothings, well that's another way of knowing it's tender :)

Servings: 5

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roasted Chicken with a Citrus Glaze

Sweet, savory, lemony chicken with all that flavor. I can hardly stand it!  Its too good to explain! This healthy and quick meal was from fridge to table in 35 minutes, with 30 of those being oven time.  Serve over quinoa or with a side of Butternut Squash and Anise, this 1 pot wonder will keep 'em coming back for more. 

I had it for lunch the next day COLD and it was awesome! What can I say, I was between appointments and didnt have time to warm it.  You get my point...try it and you'll see. Roasted chicken with Citrus Glaze is a week night treat. Toss some in the freezer once marinated (but before cooking of course) and you'll have a freezer bag meal for another night.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Perfect Every Time Baked Meatballs

Just like the Perfect Every Time Meatballs that I fry, these mini mouthfuls are moist, rich in flavor and a savory giant.  I had been asked many times if they worked baked, so I decided to give it a try.  I made half my batch fried as usual and the other half baked.  Much to my surprise, they were moist and delish just like the original recipe (I sound like the fried chicken guy,  Colenel Sanders).

The flavors are garlicy and herby from the garlic and of course parsley.  Theres the nutty and salty bite from the cheese.  Its all Italian and all good!  Give it a try and leave me a comment if you like!

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