Jalapenos Popper Dip: add a spicy kick to your kick-off!

I know this blog is supposed to be all about Italian food and culture, but let me say this: I love food, I live in the USA, and I, of course, appreciate traditions and food from other country!    I have no idea where this amazingly good appetizer finds its origin, but when I tasted it at a friend’s party, I couldn’t help but ask for the recipe so I could share it with you!

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What mostly impressed me about this super easy and fast cheese dip (besides the facts that it makes a great  impression on the table, with very little effort),  is that its spicy taste goes wonderfully along with tortilla chips, but turns out VERY good even with celery! So you can feel less guilty when you snack with a high fat & calories appetizer, if combined with a bunch of veggies 😉 (or at least, that logic works for me, LOL).    So, be sure to make this snack for your Super Bowl fun day, and your friends (and YOU) won’t be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS for a 9” ROUND PAN

For the mix:

2 blocks (2 x 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup (200 gr.) mayonnaise

1 cup  (100 gr.) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (100 gr.) Parmesan, Asiago, Reggiano shredded cheese blend

1 small can (4 0z.) diced jalapeños (drained)

1 small can (4 oz.) diced green chilies (drained)

For the topping:

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan, Asiago, Reggiano cheese blend.

TORTILLA CHIPS and

if you like the a idea of a little “healthy touch”

remember to wash your celery sticks and arrange them in a nice dish

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DIRECTION

Mix cream cheese, mayo, shredded cheddar, Parmesan/Asiago/Reggiano blend, drained diced green chilies, and jalapeños in a bowl using first a spoon and then an electric mixer.

Grease the round pan and pour in the mixture.

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Mix Panko bread crumbs with Parmesan/Asiago/Reggiano blend and sprinkle over the dip.

Bake at 375 F. for about 20-25 minutes, or until it’s bubbling on the sides and looks golden brown.

Serve it warm with tortilla chips and/or celery sticks and enjoy the game!

Learnt it, made it, loved it!

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TIP: – You can moderate the spiciness of the dip, by choosing between hot or medium jalapeños. I am usually not a person that likes too spicy food, but I don’t mind this dip even in it hottest version..

          – As you have probably noticed, this recipe contains Parmesan and Asiago cheese.. Indeed,  I would say that it can be considered a “little bit Italian” !

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

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Italian bruschetta: make your SuperBowl red and green!

I was recently approached by Nuts.com to join in on the 1st Annual Healthy Snack Bowl!

Nuts.com has an awesome healthy snacks page full of delicious and nutritious snack options for kids, vegans, and for those of us on-the-go.  You’ll be sure to find a yummy snack over at Nuts.com.

Since, typically during Super Bowl parties, a day’s worth of calories are often consumed in greasy and fried food, I wanted to contribute to the promotion of healthy eating, sharing with you and with Nuts.com a healthy snack alternative to enjoy during the most famous American Sport Event, with a touch of “Italianity”!

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I hope it does not come across predictable, but I want to share with you a recipe for the most famous and popular Italian Appetizer: Bruschetta! It’s a delicious combination of a handful of healthy ingredients, for an explosion of taste and freshness that appeals to almost anyone! And at just 128 calories per serving (50 gr. of bread, 10 gr. olive oil, and a 200 gr. tomatoes)  it’s full of powerful antioxidants (lycopene), healthy mono-unsaturated fat, protective oleic acid, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is also super easy and fast to prepare, and quite inexpensive. Italian diets (often referred to as Mediterranean diets) are notoriously full of fresh foods and recipes made from natural ingredients- bruschetta is the perfect example! Italians enjoy bruschetta at all sorts of venues, from the most casual meals at home, to even the most fancy meals at expensive restaurants.

Just to share with you a little about Italian habits, you should know that we eat Bruschetta in two different ways: either toasted bread, rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and brushed with virgin olive oil and dust of sea salt, or toasted bread rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and covered with chopped red tomatoes (dressed in Italian dressing, of course). If I should be asked to choose, I wouldn’t be able to pick, they are both my favorite!!!

I will give you the approximate quantities, per person, for the version with tomatoes, but obviously you can use the same quantities (without tomatoes), to make the plain version of Bruschetta.

Ingredients per person

1 slice fresh baked bread (better if Italian Style)

1 medium sized red tomatoes (ripe but hard, in this season my favorite are on-the-vine tomatoes)

1 peeled clove of garlic

2 leaves of basil (one for the dressing and one for decoration)

1 pinch of sea salt

1 tsp. virgin olive oil

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS

 Cut the bread in slices, and peel the garlic. Wash and core the tomatoes, and chop them in small cubes.

Move the tomatoes into a bowl and dress with sea salt, virgin olive oil, vinegar, and the basil leaf, cut in few pieces. Stir the mix and let it rests at least ten minutes for the flavors to mingle.

In the meantime, toast the bread in the oven (at 365 F for about 5 minutes each side), or in the toaster (faster and as good as in the oven).

Now arrange your bruschetta:

a) for the plain version: just rub the warm bread with the peeled clove, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and enjoy!

b) for the tomato dressed version: rub the warm bread with the peeled clove, cover the slice with chopped tomatoes, and if you like, decorate it with a basil leaf.

Delicious, healthy, fast and easy… so you can ENJOY YOUR SUPERBOWL NIGHT!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If you are planning to make more than a serving, consider that with a couple of garlic cloves you can rub more that 10 slices of bread;
  • If you like the idea, you can add to the tomatoes dressing a tsp. of crushed red pepper (I love a little bit of spice!);
  • Bruschetta of course tastes better if eaten warm, but as an appetizer can be served even when the bread has cooled off;
  • for other healthy idea for your Super Bowl buffet, check my appetizer page, or visit nuts.com:
  • If you think that it would be even healthier to add some protein to this dish, why not serve it with some fresh Burrata! Here how your dish would look:

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 *I was not paid or sponsored for this post.  All content and opinions are my own.  This post is affiliated with Nuts.com to simply provide healthy snack alternatives for the 1st Annual Healthy Snack Bowl/Super Bowl.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Traditional Dame’s Kisses (Baci di Dama): an Italian specialty easily made at home

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In my idea dame’s kisses are those yummy coconut and mascarpone cheese cookies I already talked to you about (click here to look at the recipe again), which are perfect during winter holidays because they vaguely resemble snow balls.

Actually, Baci di Dama are very famous Italian pastry cookies, typical from the Northern region of Piemonte, originally made with almond flour (or chopped almonds or hazelnuts), melted chocolate and few other ingredients. Absolutely delicious, and ideal as Christmas edible gifts since they can last up to a month if stored in a tin or glass jar.

This week I am sharing this recipe because I needed something original to share with my friends at our annual Christmas cookie exchange. Last year I shared with them my masterpiece (Italian Biscotti Cantucci), and I wanted to impress my girlfriends again this year with something special and, of course, authentic Italian!  However, this recipe doesn’t belong to my region’s tradition (Veneto), so I tried one I found here. After searching carefully for a good recipe, I experimented with it, and have translated it for you. In my searching, I also read that Dame’s kisses (Baci di Dama) got their name from their shape: two dough crescents connected by a layer of chocolate (dark or milk) that recall the idea of two lips molten in a sweet kiss (How romantic!).

By the way, this recipe is super easy and pretty quick, but I warn you that it takes a little patience when it is time to make the small balls that comprise the cookies, and the dough needs altogether almost two hours rest. The positive sides is that using these quantities you will obtain about 50 extra delicious cookies!

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INGREDIENTS for about 50 pieces

9 oz. almond flour (better if bleached)

4 oz. or 1/2 cup sugar

11 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

2 tbs. vanilla extract

one big pinch of sea salt

8 oz. or 1 cup all purpose flour

1 orange zest

4 0z. dark or milk or white chocolate

 

DIRECTIONS

In a big bowl, combine all the ingredients and, with your hands, knead them very well until you obtain a compact and homogeneous loaf.

Wrap the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge at least one hour.

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Cover a baking sheet with parchment. With your hands, make small ball of dough, using about 0.2-0.3 oz. of dough for each one. Arrange the dough balls on the baking sheet keeping a small distance between each of them (they will raise a little).

Put the ball in the refrigerator for another half an hour.

Bake the cookies  at 320 F (160 C.)  for 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms start to brown.

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Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet. Microwave the chocolate and, using a teaspoon or a cake decorator, spread some chocolate on the bottom of  one cookie and attach another to form a sandwich. Continue until all cookies are paired up.

Let the assembled sandwich cookies cool for about ten minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

Now you are ready to store the cookies in a glass tin and enjoy them anytime!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

 

Tips: – Remember to let the cookies cool off before removing them from the oven sheet; if you don’t they will crumble in your hand!

– My kids prefer the milk chocolate filling, but the true Dame Kisses are filled with dark chocolate.

– I experimented this recipe three times: the first one I used unbleached almond flour, and the cookies came out darker, more gummy and according to my husband definitely not as good.

 

The second time I used bleached almond flour, and first I mixed  the sugar with the flour, then the butter and then the other ingredients until I obtain the loaf. The third time I just mixed up all the ingredients together. In these last two attempts the result was the same: pretty and delicious cookies!

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I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

 

Italian Flag Colors Sandwich: an impressive appetizer!

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As much as I like cooking, I love parties even more! Unfortunately, it is uncomfortable going to parties at someone else’s house if you have young kids to bring along. And sometimes, those same young kids also makes it difficult to prepare really delicious food for friends you might invite over to your house. So, I have found that the alternative to becoming an hermit until your youngest kid reaches an appropriate age, is to have an arsenal of recipes that you can make in advance, and that also look and taste amazing. That is why I LOVE this recipe!

This is a really, really fancy and tasty appetizer, which can be prepared even a couple of days in advance, and will make a buffet absolutely attractive and colorful: the “Italian Flag Colors Sandwich.” With just a few easy ingredients- like white and whole wheat bread, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, some herbs, and a slice of salmon- you can create this impressive loaf of deliciousness!

This recipe doesn’t belong to my family tradition, but instead comes from one of my favorite Italian Food Websites (Giallo Zafferano), and since I really like this different way to arrange a sandwich, I made some modifications, I translated the quantities for you, and, of course, as usual I’m showing you how I make it step by step!

Please, give this sandwich a shot… you (and your family and friends) will love it!

INGREDIENTS for a loaf pan size sandwich

1 bag white bread

1 bag whole wheat bread

1 slice frozen or fresh salmon

2 to 3 tbs. tomato sauce (better if concentrated)

 9 oz. cream cheese for herbs sauce

5 oz. ricotta cheese for salmon sauce

7 oz. ricotta cheese for pesto sauce

5 oz.  Genovese pesto

2 tbs. thyme (better fresh)

2 tbs. parsley (the Italian one, better fresh)

2 tbs. chives (better fresh)

salt

DIRECTIONS

For the “herbs sauce”

Chop chives, parsley and thyme as thin as you can and mix it very well with 9 oz. cream cheese. Save this herbed cream cheese for later.

Do not rinse the food processor, and go ahead and use it for the next sauce.

For the salmon sauce

Boil the salmon in half a inch of water. In the food processor combine the salmon with sea salt (to taste) and two tbs. of tomato sauce (better if concentrated) and 5 oz. ricotta cheese. Keep the sauce apart for later.

For the “pesto sauce”

Combine the 5 oz. pesto with 7 oz. ricotta cheese and stir very well until smooth. Keep this sauce, in few minutes you will use it!

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To arrange the sandwich:

Once you are done preparing the sauces, you are ready to build up the sandwich.

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Cover the loaf pan with abundantly plastic wrap (once the sandwich loaf is assembled, you will need the extra plastic to wrap it up).

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Remove the crust from the loaves of bread. Then cover the bottom of the pan with several slices of whole wheat bread. Spread the salmon sauce evenly over the top.

 

Now is the turn of the white bread. After removing the crust, make a layer with this one and spread evenly the herbed cream cheese.

 

Now again make another whole wheat bread (no crust) layer and cover it with the pesto sauce.

Finish your loaf by covering with a layer of white bread.

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Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the loaf and let it rest in the coolest part of your refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving, or not more that a half-hour in the freezer.

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Before serving, flip the loaf onto a cutting board, and cut it into 1/2 inch slices using a very sharp serrated knife.

If you like, arrange it in a nice tray and ENJOY!!!!

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LEARN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If kept refrigerated this sandwich loaf can last up to 4 or 5 days.
  • Serve the sandwich slices still cool.
  • This sandwich variation could be a fun way to entice your kids to eat salmon, as well as an excellent addition to your lunch box menu!
  • If you have leftovers, keep them refrigerated and enjoy later!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Golden Apple muffins: a delightful made from scratch

 

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You know I love seasonal products and recipes, and now that Apples Orchards are the better place to spend a perfect sunday afternoon with the kids, picking up crispy apples and enjoying the color of fall, obviously it is also time to use the apples we picked up !

Last year I posted one of my top notch apple pie recipe, and this year, instead, I’m opting for something faster, easier and at the same time tasty, not much fatty, and fabulous for kids: apple muffins! They absolutely came from my Italian tradition, precisely my grandmother used to make the dough and then add to it not only apples, but alternatively chocolate drops, chopped hazelnut, raisins.

In my opinion this specific muffin mix is particularly suitable for apples, because are the apples that keep the consistency soft and spongy at the same time.

The part I prefer about these muffins is that once you have sliced the apples, you just have to add all the ingredients to the food processor, and the dough is done!

Ready in 2o minutes, these muffins will be perfect for a breakfast, at coffee time (but better with the tea!), or to be put in your little one’s lunch box and since the ingredients required are  pretty cheap, they are the perfect choice for a home made fancy edible gift.

 

INGREDIENS FOR 12 MUFFINS

2 golden apples (or any other kind of apples you have) – 2 mele

2 eggs   – 2 uova

4  0z. 1/2 cup sugar  – 120  gr. zucchero

3 tsp. lemon extract (or one lemon juice) – il succo di un limone

1 stick melted butter – 120 gr. burro

8 oz. or 1 cup all porpouse flour – 150 gr. farina

2 tsp. baking powder – 2 cucchiaini lievito per dolci

2 tbs. apricot jam (better if organic) – due cucchiai marmellata di albicocche

 DIRECTIONS

Sliced the apples in small petals and mix them with the apricot jam.

In a food processor combine the eggs with the sugar and the lemon extract.

Then add the melted butter (melt it in the microwave but remember that it has not to be too much hot when you put it in the mixture: you don’t want to cook the eggs right?!) and the flour sifted with the baking powder.

Warm up the oven at 365 F (180 C).

Take off the blade from the food processor and add half of the sliced apples stirring genlty.

 Arrange the mix in a 12 baking muffin sheet (use about 2 tbs. of dough for each). Cover the top of the muffin with the remained apples slices.

Cook in the over for not more than 20 minutes.

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Mmmm, I can feel the delicious smell of apples coming out from your oven now 🙂

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVE IT!

Tips: As I told you above, this “muffin mix” could be dressed with other ingredients than apples. Here a sample of what you would get using chocolate drops or hazelnut:

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         – If you want to make these muffins even more “good for you”, use unbleached flour and brown sugar. My family is still not ready for the “whole” ingredients, but I do, and I promise, your muffins would be even better!

          –  I’m going to donate two dozens of my special apples muffins for a fundraiser event at my daughter’s elementary school (Hopewell Harvest). I really hope people will like them as much as I do.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia