Pumpkin Pizzelle Cookies


Being Italian, registering for wedding gifts was a lot of fun because I had list of items I needed to make my family recipes. The item I was most excited about was of course, a pasta maker. But, another item I knew I had to have was a pizzelle press. If you have never heard of these cookies before, they are basically Italian waffle cookies. My grandma makes pizzelle cookies every holiday and they are so simple, but they are truly one of my favorite cookies! Now that my pizzelle press has been sitting in the closet for well over a year still in the box, I decided it was finally time to bust it out! My husband requested some traditional pizzelle cookies (a recipe I will post soon!), but I had another idea in mind, how about PUMPKIN pizzelle?! I was going to try to wait for fall to “officially” start before posting pumpkin recipes, but I am not a patient person, so here is the first of many pumpkin recipes I plan to post this fall!

I thought these cookies were pretty good, but they were a different texture than traditional pizzelle cookies. They were a little thicker because of the pumpkin I believe and seemed to require a little more cook time on the press, so they came out crunchier than the traditional variety, but this was all fine by me!

Pumpkin Pizzelle

Adapted from VillaWare

Makes approximately 40 pizzelle

Ingredients:

– 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

– 3 eggs, room temperature

– 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

– 3/4 cup granulated sugar

– 2 tsp. baking powder

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract

– 1 tsp. anise extract (optional)

– 1/3 cup canned pumpkin

– 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

* You will need a pizzelle press to make these cookies (see link below)

1. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar and add in the pumpkin puree. Add vanilla, butter, pumpkin spice, and anise. Add the flour slowly to the egg mixture. Your batter should be thick, but not so thick that you can’t drop it by a spoonful.

2. Heat pizzelle press according to it’s instructions (most likely set to medium heat). Drop batter by 2 heaping teaspoonfuls onto each mold of your pizzelle press. Bake until pizzelle turn a light golden brown color. If you want your cookies to be softer, cook them for less time. If you want them crispier, then cook for a little longer. I found that these pumpkin pizzelle needed to be cooked a little longer than traditional pizzelle. When finished, gently remove pizzelle using a spatula. Place to cool and harden on wax paper.

Notes: I use this pizzelle press, but there are so many out there!

Homemade Manicotti

Homemade manicotti is one of the first Italian dishes that I learned how to make. At the time, it was a challenging dish to make. Well, making the shells was challenging anyway. I remember always having to throw away first few I would make. Nowadays though, I can turn out manicotti shells like it’s nobody’s business! In my family, manicotti is typically reserved for holidays and special occasions. But, with yesterday being 9/11, I wanted to make something special that reminded me of the people I love and of course, to share this recipe with all of you! Of all of my family recipes, this is the one I have really wanted to share! This recipe is so special to me because it always reminds me of good times around the table with my family and friends. 

Homemade Manicotti

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for the shells:

– 2 eggs

– 1 1/2 cups milk

– 1 cup all-purpose flour

– butter

Directions:

1. In a bowl, whisk milk and eggs. Add flour and mix. Batter will resemble a pancake batter that is thin enough to be poured into a pan. If your batter seems thick, add more milk. If it seems thin, add flour. It is okay if your batter has some lumps from the flour. Set aside.

2. With a non-stick pan that is approximately 6-7 inches in diameter, heat pan on medium heat. When pan is heated, add a small pat of butter. Use a heat resistant brush to spread butter evenly around the pan.

3. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the heated and buttered pan. Pick up the pan and swirl the batter around the pan so that it covers the base of the pan. You have to move quickly with this step! This can be a little tricky. You have to get the batter spread all around the pan before it starts really cooking. As you continue to cook each shell, you may find that your pan is getting too hot. If this is the case, remove pan from heat and wipe with a damp cloth in between each shell. You can also try to lower the heat.

Cook the shell for approximately 2 minutes and then using a fork, turn the shell over and cook it on the other side. Once the shell turns a light golden brown on each side, it is done! Remove the shell from the pan and put it onto some wax paper to cool. Now you are ready to start the next shell!

Here is what a finished shell looks like!!

The great thing about the shells is that you can make them ahead of time! If you make them more than a day ahead of time, I recommend freezing them. Make sure the shells are completely cooled before freezing. Place a piece of wax paper in between each shell and freeze! Whether you freeze or refrigerate the shells, make sure that they are at room temperature or slightly warmed before you try to roll them with the cheese. If you try to roll a cold shell, it WILL crack! This recipe should make you about 12 shells. Ok, now that you have your shells, you are ready to get rolling and make your manicotti!

Ingredients for the filling:

– 1 lb. ricotta cheese

– 2-3 handfuls of romano cheese

– 1/2 lb. mozarella cheese

– 2 eggs

– salt and pepper

– handful of finely chopped parsley/span>

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cheeses. Fold in eggs. Add in about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Mix in parsley.

2. In a baking dish, coat the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. I made my favorite tomato sauce (you can also make your sauce ahead of time!). One shell at at time, add about 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the middle of the shell. Then wrap the shell. Put the filled shells into the baking dish seam side down. Once you are done, top the shells with more sauce and sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese!

3. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving! Then, Manga!!

All done!

Nom, Nom, Nom!!

7 Facts and an Award!

Happy Saturday Everyone! I hope everybody is having a nice weekend! I’m enjoying my weekend by sleeping in and doing lots of cooking! I hope you’re ready for some great recipes this week! I also wanted to take this time to thank all of you who continue to follow and support my blog! I am still new at this and have so much more to learn about blogging! As a thank you to all of you, I will be hosting my first giveaway within the next two weeks so make sure you keep an eye out for it!

This past week, I was awarded with my first blog award from one of my favorite bloggers, Ann, from Cooking Healthy For Me! Ann is so sweet and I love her blog because it is filled with wonderful, healthy recipes! I was so excited to receive this award from her! Thank you so much, Ann!

The rules of the Versatile Blogger award are to:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 other bloggers!

So, to start, here are 7 random facts about me!

1. I’m working on my Ph.D. in developmental psychology. I hope to finally finish my program next summer so I can finally be Dr. Stephanie!
2. I’m OBSESSED with Coach. Coach bags, Coach accessories, Coach shoes, Coach key fobs, you name it. My husband is not thrilled about this expensive obsession….
3. I don’t swear very often, but put me in front of a game of Mario Kart and I will curse and scream like a sailor. Nothing gets my blood boiling like a game of Mario Kart against the computer which cheats like there’s no tomorrow. I’m getting upset just thinking about it!
4. I’m totally overwhelmed by space. Just thinking about how vast our universe is and how much we know, don’t know, and will never know just blows my mind. My husband likes to talk about it before we go to sleep so that I can have nightmares about it! Eeek!!
5. I’m obsessed with nail polish. I have tons of bottles and I can’t stop buying more! I don’t like when my nails aren’t painted!
6. I HAVE to eat Tic Tacs in two’s. I can’t eat just one, and I can’t eat 3 or more. Just two.
7. My favorite tv show is Friends. I got my husband addicted to0. We are now both so addicted that Friends dvds are in constant rotation in our house. When nothing is on tv, we put in a Friends dvd for background noise. We’ve seen every episode at least 50 times (except for seasons 9 and 10, we don’t like those seasons as much) and it never gets old!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

I’m not sure what it is this week, but I am just totally exhausted! And it is a short week! Is it bad that I am already wishing it was Friday?! I need to sleep in!!

Anyway, onto the food. I love goat cheese. Seriously, I could eat it every day. With crackers, on bread, on pasta, in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox, or in this case, stuffed into some chicken breasts with some lemony spinach goodness!!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

– 2 chicken breasts

– 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

– 1 cup spinach

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 lemon, zested and juiced

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1/2 cup chicken broth

– 1/4 cup white wine

– salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook approximately 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Put spinach in a small bowl. Zest lemon into bowl. Add goat cheese and combine ingredients.

2. Clean and trim chicken breasts. Slice each chicken breast almost in half (but do not cut all the way through). Drizzle a little olive oil into each the pocket (about half a tsp. for each breast) of each breast and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide cheese mixture evenly between both breasts. Secure breast with toothpick(s). Sprinkle some additional salt and pepper on top.

3. In a pan, heat remaining olive oil, add chicken breasts. Cook on each side approximately 3 minutes until chicken begins to brown. In a small (I used a 9 x9) baking dish, add browned chicken breasts. Pour broth, wine, and the juice of one lemon evenly around the dish. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 15 (remove foil the last 5 minutes) or until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Remove toothpicks, drizzle with sauce from the baking dish, and serve!

Pasta Fagioli


You may be thinking that Pasta Fagioli is an odd recipe to post on Labor Day. And you’re right, this soup does not scream Labor Day at all! Don’t worry, we’ll be having Southwest Burgers for dinner tonight. We spent the weekend in Orlando visiting my family and were planning to stay until this evening, but after hearing that some bad weather from Tropical Storm Lee was headed to Tallahassee today, we decided to come back a day early. So we made the 4-hour drive. Of course, when we got back into town, it was already pouring. But alas, we had no food in the house and made the dreaded trip to the grocery store. I hate going to the grocery store. I know, I know, how can a foodie hate going to the grocery store?! I just hate it, I wish I could just pay someone to go for me and could just have it all delivered to my house like a 95 year-old woman…So yeah, going to the store and in the pouring rain was the last thing I wanted to do last night! After having the discussion with the hubs about what to have for dinner, I decided it was definitely a soup kind of night.

Pasta Fagioli, or Pasta e Fagioli means pasta and beans in Italian. I have been eating this soup since I was a little girl and it’s one of my favorites! I’ve had a lot of different versions of Pasta Fagioli, some with meat, some spicy, but my favorite one is the recipe my Mom and Grandma use (duh!)! If you want to kick this up a notch, add some crushed red pepper!

Pasta Fagioli

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

– 1 cup diced celery

– 3/4 cup sliced, grated, or diced carrots

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1 can cannellini beans, drain half the liquid

– 4 14-ounce cans chicken broth

– 1 can petite-diced tomatoes

– 1/2-3/4 lb. ditalini pasta (depending on how much pasta you like in your soups!)

– salt and pepper to taste

– Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook for approximately 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes (including the liquid). Allow mixture to simmer and for tomato liquid to cook down a bit, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer, lower heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a separate pot, cook pasta. Allow pasta to be slightly al dente as it will continue to cook more when added to soup.

3. Discard about half the liquid from the beans and then pour the remaining liquid and beans to soup. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Add pasta to soup. Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top!

Buffalo Chicken Tenders


Well folks, labor day weekend is upon us and this means that the fall season is almost here! I’m not sure where the summer went, but I’m SO looking forward to my favorite time of the year and hopefully some cooler weather! This dry, Florida heat is killing me! I am already counting down the days until October 1st so I can start decorating for Halloween (one more month to go!!). One of the other great things about fall is football season! And what better way to celebrate football season than with a bunch of junk food?! Pizza, wings, chips and dip, you name it! But, of course, none of those things are very healthy so I am all about finding healthier substitutes for my favorite game-time foods.

I first saw this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Tenders on one of my favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is. All I needed to see was the title to know that I had to make these for me and the hubster! These chicken tenders are healthier because they are baked, not fried. They also use whole wheat flour and panko bread crumbs. These tenders came out really good and the buffalo sauce gives them a nice little kick. We dipped ours in ranch, but blue cheese dressing or gorgonzola dressing would also be wonderful with these!

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

From Active Foodie

Serves 2

Ingredients:

– 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken tenderloins

– 2 tsp. salt

– 2 tsp. chili garlic sauce

– 2 tbs. Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, plus about 1/4 cup for serving

– 1 cup low fat buttermilk

– 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

– 1 1/2 cups whole wheat panko crumbs (or use regular if you cannot find the whole wheat kind)

– 8 tbs. whole wheat flour

– 1 1/2 tsp. paprika

– 1 tsp. cayenne

– 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

– Cooking spray (olive or canola oil)

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine buttermilk, Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and 2 tsp. of salt. Whisk together. Add the chicken and marinate over night.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray an oven-safe wire rack with cooking spray.

3. Combine panko, flour, cayenne, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and paprika in a large bowl. Dredge chicken in the flour and breadcrumb mixture. Place chicken tenders on a wire rack. Spray each tender completely with more cooking spray. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Turn over and spray other side with cooking spray and bake for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked completely. Using a pastry brush, brush more of the buffalo sauce on top of each tender and serve.

Notes:
– When I first made these, I used skim milk and I didn’t have a wire rack. This made the breading come off really easily and they were a little hard to eat with our hands. Make sure you use a wire rack to avoid getting the breading stuck to the pan. Jessica, from How Sweet It Is also told me that if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own! Just combine 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice/vinegar to 1 cup milk, stir and let sit about 5-10 minutes!