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.