Air Fried Cannoli

Okay, so I was watching Giada this morning from her rooftop in Florence, Italy. She proceeded to make cannoli with a renowned pastry chef. It’s not bad enough that she is willowy, well endowed, gorgeous, and the grand daughter of Oscar De Laurentis. She also has a smile that goes on for days, and the ability to eat whatever she wants.  I am for lack of a better word, envious. What a life!

Needless to say after watching this episode I had the greatest desire for a cannoli. What if I could make the cannoli shells in my air fryer? It would definitely be more waist friendly but it still has to have good texture and flavor. After looking up several recipes on the internet I came up with this version.

While it looks like there are a lot of steps they are short and simple. My cannoli tubes came from Amazon.com and were very inexpensive. Just make sure you use caution when removing them from your air fryer, they will be very hot. I used tongs, being careful not to break the shells.

By my calculations for 30 servings, my recipe is 5 Smart Points per cannoli. You can add some grated chocolate, chopped nuts, or chopped candied cherries. Any extras will also add additional points. So pick your poison! I liked mine without the fanfare.

Air Fryer Cannoli

Ingredients:

Shells:

  • 4 C all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 C white wine

Filling:

  • 1 lb ricotta cheese, drained
  • 3/4 C powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t cinnamon

Directions:

Filling:

  1. Drain the ricotta for about 1-2 hours. I use a paper towel lined fine mesh sieve over a bowl.
  2. Combine the ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Use a hand mixer or a hand whip.
  3. Put filling into a piping bag, I use baggies, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Shells:

  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cut in butter
  3. Add egg yolks; stir with a fork
  4. Stir in wine, 1 T at a time, using a fork until the dough clings together
  5. Form a ball with the dough and let stand for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
  6. Take a small amoutn of dough at a time, keeping the remainder covered. Roll dough almost paper thin, on a well floured surface.
  7. Using a 4 inch cookie cutter, or you can use a glass (martini glass works well) and cut into circles. Keep covered until ready to fry.
  8. Roll each circle of dough around a metal cannoli tube that has been lightly rubbed with cooking spray, overlapping the ends and press to seal, flare out the edges slightly
  9. Place 4 of the cannoli in the air fryer at 380 degrees for 5 minutes, open the air fryer and turn them over and fry for an additional 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from the fryer and place seam side down on a paper towel.
  11. Let cool a minute or two before trying to remove the cannoli form. Hold the cannoli shell down on the paper towel and carefully slide the tube out on one end. Leave them on the paper towel to cool completely.

Filling the cannoli:

  1. Cut a hole in the piping bag and fill each cannoli at both ends, being carefull not over or under fill them. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, lightly.
  2. Serve immediately

Note: Unfilled shells can be stored in an airtight container for serveral days prior to filling. Fill as needed and always serve immediately.

 

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

 

 

MEATBALLS AND BAGELS

Although it might sound a bit odd, it’s oh so yummy! Just ask any of my friends that have tried them. A few turned their nose up at the idea but after they tasted them they couldn’t get enough!

My dear friend, Rhonda (aka Noodle) bought an air fryer. I was so intrigued that I decided not to wait to see how she liked hers and bought my own Air Fryer. So my meatballs were the first thing I tried and I must say they turned out beautiful.

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The meatball and bagel craze was introduced to me by my husband. His grandmother, Italian of course, made them for his family for years. I too thought, meatballs and bagels???? I am here to tell you, there are no regrets, other than I wish I had thought of it.

I was taught to make meatballs by my father in law, fondly known as Pops. They are made from a combination of beef, veal, and pork. This mixture is also known as meatloaf mix in a lot of grocery stores. I make them ahead of time and freeze them to keep on hand. When my family are here and I need something quick for breakfast these are my “go to meal”. No need to thaw, just cook frozen.

I will post the recipe as it was given to me. The first time I made them they didn’t turn out good. My husband looked at the recipe and said, how many handfuls did you use. I told him “exactly what Pops said”. He then kindly reminded me, “my father has hands the size of a baseball glove.” Then it all made sense! My next attempt was perfect when I adjusted my handful to his. It still makes me laugh when I think about it. I have a rather small hand so I really heap my handfuls and use two to get the results I want.

Whether you try my recipe or use your own, you can’t beat a good meatball and bagel sandwich slathered in butter and smashed to perfection. Trust me, that’s the best way to eat them.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

Meatballs and Bagels

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb each, ground veal, ground pork, ground beef
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping handfuls of Parmigianino/Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 2 heaping handfuls of Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 T, Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (yes I taste my raw meat, you can eyeball it if you’re not comfortable with that)
  • 1 C milk (I use skim, you can use whatever you like, it’s just to add moisture)

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Directions:

  1. Combine everything in a large bowl, except the salt, pepper, and milk.
  2. With a large serving fork, mix all together until combined. This prevents the meat from becoming too compacted which will cause them to be too dense.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and mix together again.
  4. Add milk, slowly, a little at a time and continue to mix after adding. You want the mixture too be “moist”, not “soggy”. The milk is added to lighten and make the meatballs moist and not dry out. It should hold together easily but feel damp to the hand. (You may or may not have to use the whole cup of milk, you may need more. It just depends on your handfuls!)
  5. Shape into balls. I make the meatballs with  1/3 C measure, sometimes a little bit more, sometimes less, it all depends on what I am using them for. You can make them any size.

Cooking: Frozen

Air fryer: set at 380 degrees for 10 minutes, when done, remove them and turn them over and fry for an additional 10 minutes. Check them, you may need more or less time depending on the size of the meatball. You can pull them out at any time to see your progress.

Oven: Set the oven to 375. Place the meatballs on a foil lined sheet pan (makes for easy clean up). Bake until they start to brown, remove and turn to the other side and cont baking until they are browned the way you like them.

These are best on a toasted bagel, slather the bagel with butter, put your meatball on one side and add the other bagel half, then smash it down with your hand. You have to trust me on this one!!!!!

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****Note: if you happen to have a guy with big mitts around or you have a large hand you may want to adjust the 2 handfuls to one handful! My theory is, you can never have too much cheese!

 

Easter Weekend and Ravioli

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Easter at our house was wonderful. The weather was perfect and the food was divine. It was nice to have everyone here and have some down time. Of course down time for me is cooking and feeding my family. I did have some help this year. I conscripted my oldest to help me make the traditional ravioli we have every Easter.

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Making pasta is all about the dough, much like bread making. Once you make it a few times you will wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.  There are so many ways to use fresh pasta. All it requires is flour, eggs, and a touch of water. Of course, some time is required to knead it into a work of art.

You can fill your ravioli with anything you like. Your dough is your canvas so create flavors you love. One of our daughters has a cheese allergy. We made her a spinach and chicken ravioli. Honestly, I wish I had made more of those! They were fantastic!

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I won’t lie to you, it does take some practice, but if I can do it, anybody can! My father  and mother in law taught me a few years ago. In fact, my pasta roller, which is a hand crank, was given to me by them.

Pasta rollers can be hand crank, electric, or an attachment for your Kitchen Aid. I have the attachment. There’s just something so satisfying in hand cranking my dough into long, billowy, sheets of heaven. It’s personal preference, either will produce the same product. Again, it’s all about the dough.
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This is a basic egg dough recipe. It rolls beautifully, shapes easily, and it is very tasty. A blank canvas waiting for you to do what you want with it. So, whether it’s ravioli with your favorite filling,  or cut into strips for noodles, it’s  worth the effort. You will never want to buy store-bought again.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

EGG DOUGH PASTA

  • 4 C all-purpose flour (additional on the side)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • water (set aside in a cup)
  1. Measure out the flour and place into a large bowl.
  2. Beat the eggs together in another bowl and add in the olive oil and 1 T of water.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour, toss and mix everything with a fork until it starts to clump together.
  4. Lightly flour your hands, gather the clumps in the bowl, and begin kneading right into the bowl. It will be a shaggy mess just keep pushing and folding it over again and again. Make sure to get the flour off the sides of the bowl during this kneading process.
  5. When you have a cohesive piece of dough, remove it from the bowl and continue to knead it for about 2 or 3 minutes or until the dough is smooth and shiny, and there are no lumps present.
  6. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour in small amounts, if it is too dry add a little water a few drops at a time, and continue to knead it until you get the desired smooth and shiny look on the outside and stretchy on the inside.
  7. Form it into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temp for an hour. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for a day, make sure it is tightly wrapped. Just let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out.

Rolling the dough:

In all honesty you could even use a rolling-pin. You know my preference! Just make sure the dough is at room temperature.

  1. Cut your disc into 8 pieces
  2. Work with one piece and keep the other covered to prevent drying out.
  3. Have a large sheet pan dusted with cornmeal, so you can lay your dough out and prevent sticking.
  4. Using a pasta machine set the rollers to the widest setting, for me that’s a 7.
  5. Press the first piece of dough into a disc and fold it in half, and run it through the machine at least two times, if it is sticking add a little dusting of flour to the rollers and continue.
  6. Fold the elongated piece of dough into thirds  and turn the dough 90 degrees so the fold is on the side and roll it through. Repeat rolling and folding in this manner for a total of eight times. This is like kneading and will make your dough more pliable.
  7. Set your machine to the next setting down and run it through, you will see that it widens, no more folding! Catch the strip as it comes out being careful not to push or pull the dough. Let the machine do the work.
  8. Continue to decrease the setting down and running the dough through until you reach the desired thickness, being careful it doesn’t tear or stick. You should nearly be able to see through the dough strips.

Now on to filling:

Our traditional filling is made with Ricotta. There are many fillings on Pinterest and on the web. Lidia Bastianich has a cookbook out called Lidia’s Family Table. I highly recommend it. It is loaded with great instruction on pastas and fillings. But I will give you the one we use.

RICOTTA FILLING

  • 1 large container of whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup of grated Parmigiano/Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Cinnamon, just a sprinkle or two (don’t go overboard)
  • Parsley, chopped, approx 2 T (for freshness and color)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and taste it to see if you need to make adjustments.

  1. Take your long sheet of pasta and put a generous tablespoon of your filling in the center at one end. Make sure you leave at least a 1 1/2-2 inch space on both sides of your filling. (do not overfill your ravioli)
  2. When done, fold the dough in half over the filling, pushing the air out with your fingers as close to the filling as you can without mashing the filling down.
  3. Using either a sharp knife or a pastry wheel cut between the fillings evenly making individual ravioli.
  4. Using a fork, crimp around all of the cut edges, (not the fold) making sure they are tightly sealed. (you don’t want your filling leaking out when cooking).
  5. Place in a single layer on your cornmeal dusted tray, covering to prevent cracking and drying out.
  6. You can either cook at this point, or freeze them. If freezing, put them in plastic containers, or freezer bags. You will cook them frozen when ready to cook.
  7. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add a few at a time, overcrowding will cause breakage and sticking. When they float they are done. Put the cooked ravioli in a warm oven with a bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Continue cooking and adding ravioli in a single layer, adding sauce and cheese to each layer until all are cooked.

Add your favorite sauce, homemade or jarred! This is so impressive when you have guests over. They won’t believe you made it yourself. I hope you will give it a try.

REFERENCE: Lidia Bastianich “Lidia’s Family Table”.

 

WW Turkey Taco Soup (Instant Pot)

It’s been a busy weekend for us. Seems there’s never enough time in a day. Sometimes though, you have to put your own personal things aside to help others. Yesterday was one of those days!

We attended a benefit dinner and auction for some people we know that just had a major house fire. She owns Millie’s Restaurant in Vienna. I feel it’s safe to say it’s an institution everyone in this area knows about. We saw the unfortunate aftermath since her , once beautiful, home sits next door to her establishment. What a mess! We were told a faulty ceiling fan started the fire.

I can not tell you how heartwarming it was to see the outpour of people from far and wide. All, to show their support and let Millie and her husband know they were available to help in any way. The food was spectacular and what a spread. Steamed shrimp, shredded pork, coleslaw, cucumber salad, macaroni and cheese, cabbage, to name a few. It was an endless buffett.

Chuckie Love, a local DJ, was there to help with the festivities. From what I saw and heard, a good time was had by all and for a very good cause.  I applaud this community and everyone that came out to show their support.

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So today it’s time to get the yard cleared and ready for Spring. It is absoluely beautiful out. One of my dear friends reminded me “boating season is right around the corner.”  She’s right…..so that’s my plan.

In order to stay out and enjoy the day I decided to use my new “Instant Pot”. Pretty amazing gadget really. You can sauté, steam, slow cook, pressure cook, pretty much anything you need to do. I took an old WW recipe and turned it into an instant pot recipe. You can pressure cook, use your crock pot, or do it on the stove top. I was just itching to use my new toy. So here’s the recipe! Get outside today or go do something you love. Life is short, make every moment count, blessings to all.

Til next time

Ciao xoxo

 

WW TURKEY TACO SOUP
10 SERVINGS (5SP per serving)

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 (15oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 small can diced green chiles
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
pinch of Cayenne pepper
1 (15oz) can of chili beans
1 (15oz) can of pinto beans
15oz frozen corn
½ C fat free chicken broth

Prep:

1. Brown the meat, onions, and garlic on the saute setting of your Instant Pot, drain if needed.
2. Mix the cayenne pepper, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mixes into the meat.
3. Add all of the other ingredients, without draining.
4. Set the Instant Pot on the soup setting.
5. Serve hot, topped with condiments of choice. Light Sour Cream, low fat cheese, avocado, baked tortilla strips, are just a few.

(Make sure to add additional points for toppings as used)

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EGG BREAD or CHALLAH

Easter is right around the corner. Every once in a while my husbands birthday falls on Easter. This is one of those years! So with two events to celebrate, it makes it even more special to be with family and friends.

I have been making this bread for years. I have also taught many people to make it. The last time I taught someone she asked me to break it down into specifics, so I did.

This bread is a stunner and a lovely center piece  on any table. I often make it to take when asked to bring something for the table, I also enjoy giving it as a gift with a good bottle of wine and a compound butter.

I do suggest planning ahead if you want this for an event or gift. There are two rising times required. Every time I make this the rising time is different so it’s hard to put an exact time on how long it will take. I usually make it the day before. I am also an early riser and will get up early the same day and make it.

Bread making is something I adore. Once you master a loaf, you can master any recipe, only the ingredients change. I am happy to answer any questions or help in any way. Just leave me a comment and I will get back to you.

Happy bread baking! A joyous Easter to all!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 Egg Bread

Assemble all ingredients:

2 Pkg (2T) active dry yeast
1 C Lukewarm water
2 heaping Tbsp Honey
¼ C unsalted butter softenened
4 Eggs at room temp, beaten
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 C flour to start……..keep the flour out to add as needed

Prep:
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil, crisco, or butter
Sheet pan with Silpat on it
Bench Scraper
Kitchen Aid Mixer with Paddle attachment

1. In the bowl of your mixer add 1 C lukewarm water and 2 pkgs yeast, Stir once and let sit for 5 minutes until it blooms. NO BUBBLES MEANS DEAD YEAST! Stop and start again….if your yeast is dead your bread will not rise.
2. To your yeast mixture add ……….
2C flour
¼ C softened butter
Beaten eggs …. Remember to reserve enough to brush on your bread before baking
2 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt (always add last, salt will kill yeast, sugar feeds it)
Mix all together until nicely blended.
3. Slowly add flour to the mixture until the dough starts forming a ball and pulls away from the bowl.
4. Flour a cutting board or bread board and turn the dough out onto the board and start kneading. Continue to add flour until the dough is no longer sticky, when you push your finger into the dough the indent should spring back. IT SHOULD FEEL LIKE A BABY’S BEHIND…LOL!
5. When you feel the dough is ready place it into the greased bowl and cover it with Saran. Place it in the Microwave (leaving the door ajar so light is on) or put it in the oven with the light on.
6. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size.
7. Take the dough from the oven and PUNCH it down. Scrape it out of the bowl and place on your board. (I do not add any more flour at this point but if it is sticky you may have to).
8. Cut the dough with your bench scraper into 3 equal pieces.
9. Roll each piece into a rope and place on your sheet pan lined with your silpat. Cover with a non-fuzzy cotton towel and let it rest for 7 minutes.
10. Braid the dough starting in the middle and braid to the end tucking under the ends. Turn your pan and braid the other side to the end and tuck under the ends.
11. Let the dough rise again in the oven covered with the towel until doubled in size.
12. Remove the dough, Heat the oven to 375.
13. Brush the dough with the leftover egg wash and sprinkle with seeds as desired.
14. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan to the other side and bake another 10 minutes. If not brown enough add an additional 5 minutes.
15. WHEN IT IS DONE AND YOU TAP IT…..IT SHOULD SOUND HOLLOW!
Let it cool and enjoy or wrap until ready to use.
This makes great French toast, croutons, stuffing……..I never throw any of it away!

Keep me posted on your future bread making. This can be very addictive!

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THIN CRUST DEEP DISH PIZZA CASSEROLE

It’s fair to say that I love pizza. I think most people do. It has to have great flavor and the crust is a big factor. While all that is great, this well loved food can wreak havoc on the waistline and is not always as satisfying once your three to four slices in.

This pizza casserole is a big favorite of mine. It’s filling has the right amount of calories, and big taste. You can change it up and use things like pineapple and ham,  cooked center cut bacon,or a different variety of vegetables, or cheeses.  If you follow points, take into account those changes and values.

Make it yours! Send me some pics of your creations. I would love to see them.

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THIN CRUST DEEP DISH PIZZA CASSEROLE

(5 Smart Points per serving)

Ingredients:

• 1 can Pillsbury, thin crust pizza dough

• Cooking spray

• 1 Jenny O, lean sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 (15oz) can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

• 1 Tbsp tomato paste

• 1 medium onion,, thinly sliced

• ½ bell pepper, thinly sliced (any color you like)

• 1 C sliced baby Bella mushrooms

• 2 C fresh baby spinach

• 6 oz part skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded

• Dried Italian herbs, fresh basil, or other fresh herbs of choice

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees

2. Gather, and measure all the ingredients

3. Spray a 13×9 casserole with cooking spray

4. Open and unroll the pizza crust and press into the bottom and midway up the sides of the baking dish. Set aside.

5. Prep all the vegies and set aside. (use veg that you like in any combination)

6. Cook the sausage and the garlic in the same skillet over medium high heat until it is browned, crumbling it as it cooks. (If using ham or other pre-cooked meats just go to step 7 and add the minced garlic)

7.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated.

8. Pour the sausage, tomato, and garlic mixture over the crust.

9. Then evenly distribute the vegetables over the top. (If using pre-cooked meat add here)

10. Bake uncovered for about 12 minutes.

11. Top with the cheese and sprinkle some Italian herbs over it. Continue to bake another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. If using fresh basil or other fresh herbs, put them on after removing from the oven.

12. Cool 5 minutes, cut into 6 portions. Serve with a spatula.

NOTE: If you prefer your vegetables more on the soft side, you can saute them in a tsp of olive oil. I will warn you that the onions and mushrooms will produce a lot of water which may make your crust a bit soggy.  You can also steam them in a small amount of chicken broth but don’t overcook them. This will not change the points value.