Saturday, December 29, 2012


With the cold weather and snow everywhere lately, eating at home is not just something that our family enjoys but also is a necessity. Italian meals are our comfort food and even though they come with lots of carbs and calories, being part of an Italian family makes them a very common choice for weekly dinners.

My grandfather Coniglio taught me a lot of things while he was alive, but how to cook was one of the things I cherish the most.  He taught me that when you cook, you cook by your feelings and not so much the measurements.  He believed, like many true Italians, that you taste as you cook to determine the seasonings and flavors that you use. 

Here is my recipe for "Four Cheese Sausage Manicotti". I've posted the recipe for this super yummy meal and the approx. measurements for the seasonings.  You can use more or less of any of the seasonings to adjust the recipe to your liking. Remember, tasting is the only true way to know if you've got it right! :)


*1 lbs. ground sausage
*1 container (24oz) ricotta cheese
*3/4c parmesan cheese, grated
*3/4c romano cheese, grated
*1c mozzarella cheese, shredded
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*1 tsp. onion powder
*1 tsp. garlic powder
*2 tsp. parsley
*1 tsp. oregano
*1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Pasta & Sauce:
*1 box manicotti pasta
*1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I use my own recipe)
*1 can tomato paste


Boil water for pasta (trick: add salt to water once boiling, not before. The salt is important for flavoring the pasta and keeping it from sticking, but if you add it to the water before it boils, it will slow the boiling time). Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm.  You do not want to cook the pasta as much as you would cook other pasta because you want it to be firm enough to not fall apart. While water is boiling, brown sausage in a skillet with olive oil. Set aside.

In a saucepan on low, place your spaghetti sauce, tomato paste and any seasonings you like for your sauce.  Cover and let it heat over a low heat to prevent it from burning. Stir occasionally.

Next, make the filling for the manicottis. In a large bowl, place ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and romano cheeses. Mix together well. Then add all the above seasonings.  Taste and adjust according to your liking.  Once all mixed together, add sausage to cheese filling. 

Once pasta is cooked, drain and rinse lightly under cold water so they can be handled.  Using a small spoon, fill each manicotti so that it is stuffed completely with cheese filling and place in a baking dish with a thin layer of sauce along the bottom.  Once all manicottis are stuffed and in baking dish, pour sauce over the top of them.  Bake at 375* for about 20-25 minutes or until hot in the center.  Everything is already cooked so you are just heating the cheese filling basically.  When done, sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and place back in oven for an additional few minutes until the cheese is melted.  Serve with yummy garlic bread and enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Baking at Christmastime is doesn't have to be confined to cookies, nothing adds variety to a cookie tray like delicious pieces of homemade candy. One type of candy that I love to add to my trays are chocolate truffles. These incredibly simple yet absolutely delicious treats are sure to please everyone! And with only two ingredients, even the most inexperienced baker can whip these up in no time!
*20 oz.  semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
*1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
*colored sugar, colored sprinkles for decorating (optional)
Melt 8 ounces of chocolate. Beat in cream cheese with mixer until creamy.  Blend in melted chocolate. Place in bowl and chill in refrigerator until firm. Once firm, using a cookie scoop, place balls of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Return to refrigerator and chill until chocolate balls are firm.  Melt remaining chocolate. Using a spoon dip each chocolate ball into melted chocolate and return to cookie sheet.  Place in refrigerator and chill until outer chocolate is hardened.  Once the outer chocolate is hardened, place truffles into mini cupcake liners.  Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Every year, I bake several different kinds of Christmas cookies and treats for my family as well as for friends and neighbors. While I always try to make a few new recipes each year, there are some true favorites (most of them family recipes) that I bake every year.  One of these family recipes is my grandmother's recipe for Kolache. These little jelly filled cookies are a hit with everyone!


*6 cups flour
*1 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. sugar
*1 pkg. dry yeast
*1 lb. butter
*3 eggs
*3/4 cup milk
*fruit preserves of your choice (I use raspberry, strawberry, and apricot)
*powdered sugar for dusting


Pre-heat oven to 375*. Sift together flour, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Cut in butter until its like cornmeal. Add 3 eggs and 3/4 cup of milk. Mix well. Divide into 3 balls and chill.

Roll out dough on sugared (not floured) board. Roll until dough is thin. Cut into squares. Fill with desired filling. Pinch closed.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled.
Makes about 11 dozen cookies.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Recently, with crabby two year old filled days and a husband in the police academy five days a week, the idea of going out and letting someone cook me dinner couldn't be farther from reality.  However, I found out through talking to a friend that one of my favorite restaurants, Olive Garden, posts many of their recipes on their website.  So atleast I can get the taste of a restaurant meal.

Last night, I decided to try my favorite recipe of theirs, Stuffed Chicken Marsala. It turned out AMAZING and had TONS of flavor! I altered the recipe slightly and absolutely loved it! Here's what I did:

*2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
*4 fl. oz. olive oil
*2c flour

For the Stuffing:
*1/2c smoked gouda cheese
*8oz. package mozzarella cheese, shredded
*1/4c Parmesan cheese
*1/2c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
*1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
*1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
*2 tbsp. sun-dried tomato flakes (drained if in oil)
*1/3c green onions, thinly sliced
*3/4c sour cream (6oz.)
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the Sauce:
*1 small onion, thinly sliced
*10oz. Marsala wine
*8oz. heavy cream
*2 small containers button mushrooms, thinly sliced (6 cups)
*S&P to taste
*1 tbsp. parsley


Pre-heat your oven to 350*F. Combine all cheese stuffing ingredients in mixing bowl. Then butterfly chicken breasts and pound thin. Place flattened chicken breasts on a plate and place desired amount of cheese filling on chicken, flattening it down so it resembles a hockey puck. Fold other half of chicken over filling. Heat large skillet over medium heat and add oil, heat until oil is shimmering. Place flour in bowl, and dredge each chicken breast. Place chicken into skillet and brown on both sides. Remove chicken and place into baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, making sure chicken is cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile, add onions to skillet and stir to loosen chicken drippings. After about two minutes, add mushrooms and saute until onions are translucent. Deglaze pan with wine, making sure to incorporate the drippins from bottom of pan. Heat wine to a simmer and add heavy cream.  Simmer on low heat until reduced by half.  Place cooked chicken on a plate and top each with sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Recently my husband and I have gotten into the routine of eating chicken most nights rather than red meat. And while he is still a big steak and potatoes kind of guy, he really has adapted to our new meal routine without much fuss. However, when you eat chicken five days a week, it becomes a real challenge to find variety in recipe options. While perusing what ingredients I had in my pantry and fridge, I decided to try and throw together a creamy sauce for on top of chicken. As with all of my recipe creations, my husband Jeremy, becomes my guinea pig taste tester. (One reason for this is because of the honest response, good or bad, that I get from him) When he tasted this dish though, he said it was awesome and requested me to make it again ASAP!  A++ for me I guess! :)  And the best part's only 265 CALORIES A SERVING!!!!

*4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
*2 tbsp. Olive Oil
*Salt & Pepper
(For the Sauce):
*1 cup of milk 
*4 oz. cream cheese (this and the milk is what makes it healthier, many cream sauces use heavy cream instead)
*1 cup parmesan cheese
*2 cloves of garlic, minced
*1 tbsp. butter (I used margarine)
*1 can of mushroom pieces

First, place chicken breasts in a ziploc bag and pound thin with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in large skillet until nice and hot. Place chicken in skillet and brown about 5-6 minutes on each side with lid on. Making sure that the chicken is cooked completely throughout. 

At the same time, place tablespoon of butter in saucepan with the garlic. Saute the garlic for about a minute, add mushrooms. Stir.  Next, add milk, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Stir until smooth.  Sauce will be very thin.  Allow to cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often! Sauce will thicken slightly but not much. Turn heat off and cover. Let stand for about 3-4 minutes.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.  Spoon over chicken and serve with mashed potatoes. 

**This recipe makes 4 servings and is only 265 calories per serving!!! It takes just like a rich cream sauce but without all the extra fat and calories!! This is probably my most favorite recipe that I've come up with!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


When it comes to dinner, I am always looking for new recipes to try that my family will love. However, there are a few recipes that my husband and I crave often. One in particular is my mother's recipe for Parmesan Breaded Pork Chops. They are super easy to make and absolutely delicious!

*Pork Chops (I like "thin cut" but if you like thicker chops then you can use those)
*Parmesan Cheese
*Miracle Whip (one of the important ingredients)
*Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
*Olive Oil

First, heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large non stick skillet. Also, preheat oven to 425*. In a bowl, combine seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. You want to make sure that you have atleast as much parmesan cheese as bread crumbs.

Take thawed pork chops and coat each side with miracle whip. Place pork chops into parmesan/bread crumb mixture and coat both sides.

Next, place pork chops in skillet and brown each side until it's lightly golden brown. (You don't want to brown completely because they will continue to brown in the oven.) Once browned, place pork chops into a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, checking to make sure that pork chops are cooked all the way through. (Thicker pork chops will take longer. Also, if pork chops were frozen like mine were, this will also alter cooking times).

These pork chops are the best I've ever had and my mother told me it's because she uses the miracle whip instead of an egg wash. The miracle whip and parmesan cheese add so much more flavor to the pork chops! I hope you all find them as yummy as my family does!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


My husband and I have always been big fans of buffalo wings.  But with the amazing taste comes TONS and tons of fat and calories.  Bars and restaurants make their wings by deep frying them in oil. But i decided to try and make them at home without frying them. And they turned out AMAZING, my husband even thinks that they taste better than the ones he gets in the bar.
*1 bag of frozen chicken wings 
*2 tbsp. margarine or butter
*(1) 8 oz. bottle of buffalo wing sauce

First, I line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and arrange all the wings in a single layer on the sheets.  Preheat your oven to 425* and bake your wings for approx. 15-25 minutes depending on your oven. I check them often, and about halfway through the cooking time i flip all the wings over.  I recommend taking the cookie sheet out of the oven and flipping the wings over carefully so you don't rip the aluminum foil. 

While the wings are cooking, combine the bottle of wing sauce and margarine in a small saucepan and heat.  When the wings seem to be almost done, take them out of the oven and with two forks carefully dip each wing in the wing sauce and return to cookie sheets.  Place them back into the oven for another 5-7 minutes.  Remove the wings from the oven and dip wings again in wing sauce to coat.  Place in serving dish and serve with celery sticks and ranch dressing. YUM!!!