Ciao! My name is Yolanda and I'd like to welcome you to my Blog! I have always had a love for cooking, baking and eating. This blog is mainly a place for me to record and share precious family recipes from those living and deceased as well as delicious recipes that my friends have given me throughout the years.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Garganelli with Ham, Peas, and Asparagus

This is a meal I can recall my mom making for dinner many times for our family when I was young.  It is a classic meal that she learned how to make growing up in Italy.  While I was in Italy this past summer, my cousin served this for a Primo Piatto course for the August Holiday, called Ferragosto.  This is a huge holiday on the 15th of August.  If you are a tourist visiting Italy, this is a terrible time to go for vacation, because tourist attractions, family run restaurants, and other businesses shut down for a few days to go on holiday with family.  If you are not a tourist and are in Italy this time visiting Italian relatives, then it is a wonderful time to spend with your family, eating a large meal, drinking good wine, and conversing.  In my mom's village (Carpinone) the whole village goes to church that morning of the holiday and follows a statue of the Madonna all around the village to the church of a famous St. Rocco.  We then go join our families for a meal at 1:00 and the following day the whole village meets again at the church the statue was dropped off at and we all walk to bring her back.  This sounds a little crazy, but it is tradition and I enjoyed participating in this.  Whenever I make this meal now, I think about dinners with my family as a kid and my holiday dinner with my family for Ferragosto in Italy.  Please feel free to add as much or as little ham, asparagus, or peas to your liking.

* 1/2 lb of Asparagus
* 1 1/2 cups of Peas (I used Frozen Peas)
* Smoked Ham from the Deli about (1/8) inches thick
* 2 pints of Heavy Cream (I used Light Cream and could taste no difference)
*  1 lb of Garganelli Pasta (My mom use to use Garganelli and my cousin in Italy used Shells, doesn't matter)
* 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
* 3 TBSP. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* Cut the tips off of the asparagus and cut into large chunks
 * Heat up Olive Oil in a frying pan and cook Asparagus on medium-Medium Low heat until tender (about 15 minutes)
* Meanwhile Start boiling the Pasta and when done Drain. 
* Dice the Ham with a knife into small even pieces. 
* Once the Asparagus is tender, add the Ham and the Frozen Peas to the frying pan and stir until the Peas are cooked and the Ham is hot (about 5 minutes). 

 *  Add the Heavy Cream (or Light) along with the Grated Cheese and mix until it comes to a simmer.
* Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
* Toss with the hot Garganelli Pasta 
* Serve with some Grated Cheese on top!

Here a few photos from Ferragosto in Carpinone, Italy:
Here are the men after mass getting ready to lift the statue to walk her around the village.
My mom, brother, me, and Nonna after church ready to walk around the village following the statue.
Following the Madonna for miles with the People in the Village

Still walking with the Statue

Celebraaing Ferrogosto with a great meal with the family after walking all morning

My cousin's version of the above recipe.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Apple Cookies

 Living in upstate NY puts me in the apple mood this time of year, due to be surrounded by many Apple Orchards and crisps fallen leaves that have already covered the ground.  Making my grandma's apple cake recipe a few weeks ago made me want to find a recipe for apple cookies.  I finally found a few online recipes for apple cookies that looked good and changed some ingredients around for my own twist.  The cookies came out moist and the apple pie spice I added to the recipe, gave it a flavorful kick. Once again I used Cortand Apples, which is always my apple of choice for baking.  My husband thinks it is because I went to SUNY Cortland for college, but it is only because they are sweet but not too sweet and slightly soft, which allows the apple to bake quickly during the short baking time.  The apples you choose do make a difference in the taste of a recipe, but feel free to use whatever apple you like best!
* 2 cups of all purpose flour
* 1 tsp. of cinnamon
* 1 tsp of Apple Pie Spice
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) of Unsalted Butter
* 1 1/3 cups of Dark Brown Sugar
* 1/4 cup of Pure Apple Juice or Apple Cider
* 1 Egg
* 1 1/2 cups of apples, diced into very small pieces
Optional Glaze: (They are sweet enough the way they are to me, but if you like glazes here it is).
*1 cup of powdered Sugar
* 2 TBSP of apple juice or cider
* 1/2 tsp. of Vanilla Extract
* 1 tsp. of cinnamon 
* Preheat oven to 375 degrees
* In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and apple pie spice. Set aside.
* In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer.  Add the egg and mix again on low speed.
* Dice the Apple
* Get rid of the electric mixer and add the Diced Apples and Apple Juice and mix with a Spatula
* Add the flour mixture and mix well with the spatula.
* Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and using a small cookie scoop, place the balls of dough on the cookie sheet.
* Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees
 * Transfer cookies onto a cooling rack.
 * Drizzle Glaze if you wish 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Perfect Prime Rib Roast

 We always get our meat from Skips Meat Market, where my husband's friend works.  Jimmy's friend always takes good care of us there and he recently gave us a great deal on a 5 lb Bone in Prime Rib Roast.  I had never made one before and looked at it thinking about what in the world to do with it.  The next day Jimmy came home from work and handed me a recipe called "The perfect Prime Rib Roast" from his friend Jeff at work.  I tried it out and the Prime Rib really did come out perfect! It was really tender and flavorful.  I am now no longer scared of making a Prime Rib. If you have never made one either, I promise it's not as hard as it seems to be.
* Bone In Prime Rib Roast (Mine was 5 lbs and feeds about 4-5 people)
* 6-8 Cloves of Garlic
* Salt
* Pepper
* Garlic Powder
* McCormick Au Jus Gravy Packet
*Take the Prime Rib Roast Out of the refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is at room temperature.
* Peel the Garlic Cloves and cut them in half
* Using a sharp tip of a knife make pockets through out the roast and stuff each pocket with a piece of garlic.
* Next, Sprinkle Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder all over the roast and rub it in with your fingers (this draws out a little moisture and coats the meat with a crust).
* Place the meat on a heavy roasting pan (Bone side down) and place in a 450 degree oven to sear for 30 minutes (uncovered).
~*~Tip~*~ If your Prime Rib Roast does not have a bone then place a rack inside of the roasting pan
* After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue to roast for 13-15 minutes per pound (mine was 5 lbs so I let it cook for another hour.  Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness in the middle of the roast.  This cut should be cooked to medium-rare, which is 130 to 140 degrees. 
* Once the Roast is done,take it out and cover the roast with the lid or foil and let stand for 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to return to the center of the meat.
 * Meanwhile, cook Au Jus per package instructions and pour into a deep pan.
* Slice the Prime Rib and place the slices in the pan with the Au Jus Sauce
* Serve with your favorite sides.   I made mashed potatoes and spinach sauted in garlic and olive oil to go with it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grandma's Apple Cake

 When it came time for apple season, my favorite dessert my grandma would make was Apple Cake.  She got her recipe from her old neighbor, Mary Petranto, who passed a away a few year ago.  Since my grandma is 92 now and does not have the energy to bake like she use to, it is up to me to continue making these wonderful desserts my grandma always use to make.  I recently had my grandma over for dinner and made her Apple Cake for dessert and she was more than thrilled.  What I really love about this cake is that it has a different texture then most cakes do.  It is moist and slightly chewy on the inside and the top is slightly crisp.  Let's just say the cake does not last more than 2 days.  

* 3 Eggs
* 1 cup of Vegetable Oil
* 2 cups of Granulated Sugar
* 1 tsp. of Vanilla
* 2 cups of Flour
* 1 tsp. of Baking Soda
* 2 tsp. of Cinnamon (feel free to add more depending on how much flavor you like)
* 1/2 tsp. of salt
* 4 cups of cubed Apples (peeled) cut about 1/2 inch thick (I always use Cortland Apples)
* Preheat oven to 325 degrees
* Beat Eggs and Oil until foamy
* Sift in Sugar
* Add Vanilla and beat another 5 minutes
 * Sift in Flour, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, and Salt.
* Once you add in the Flour mixture, you have to start mixing it with a large spoon or spatula because the batter gets thick.
* Next, mix in the Apples until well incorporated
*  Butter and Flour an Angel Food Cake Pan
~*~Note~*~We always used that kind of pan, but feel free to use a 9x 13 if you do not own one.
 * Spread the cake mixture evenly into the cake pan
* Bake for about 1 hour maybe a few minutes more(test it with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked)