Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mrs. Tigani's Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies

It's just not Christmas in my house without a fresh batch of these wonderful Italian cookies.  They're so easy to make and you probably have all the ingredients in stock.  There's a secret ingredient which I thought was really strange the first time I made them. ( I almost left it out).   It's freshly ground black pepper. That's right... black pepper.   You can barely taste it in the cookies but they just wouldn't be the same without it so don't leave it out.    Merry Christmas to all and happy baking!!

Mrs. Tigani's Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies

Recipe from Ciao Italia 


Walnut-studded chocolate drop cookies are always found on a wedding cookie cake because they are firm and provide a good color contrast to the lighter cookies. This recipe has changed hands and ingredients many times in my family, but the one thing that remains constant is the black pepper in the dough. These freeze beautifully.


3 1/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 to 2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon rum extract
Colored sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. Sift all the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Work in the shortening with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 1/2 cup milk and the nuts and mix with your hands until well blended. If the mixture seems too dry and does not hold together, add just enough additional milk so the dough holds together.

Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Place 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm.

While the cookies bake, make the frosting. In a bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and the rum extract and beat until smooth. Add additional milk if necessary to make a thin frosting.

Let the cookies cool on racks only until warm. Dip the tops into the icing, place on the racks, and sprinkle with colored sprinkles. Let the frosting dry completely before layering the cookies between wax paper. These will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week or can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

" One Skillet" Spicy Sausage Pasta

Spicy Sausage Pasta

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb Pre Cooked Sausage Sliced ( Any of the Old Neighborhood Brand Sausage is Good.)

1 1/2 Cups Diced Onion
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 (10 oz) Can Ro-Tel Tomatoes and Green Chiles, Mild
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
8 oz Penne Pasta Salt and Pepper, Each
1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded
1/3 Cup Thinly Sliced Scallions

1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper, stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.
Makes 4 servings
Recipe from " The Best Simple Recipes" 

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roasted Pepper and Boursin Steak Quesadillas

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for a recipe that is not only fabulous and flavorful but can be put together and cooked in under 30 minutes.  I recently purchased America's Test Kitchen "THE BEST SIMPLE RECIPES".  It has more than 200 flavorful, foolproof recipes that cook in 30 minutes of less.  I gave this one a try last night and it was great.
   To make things a little bit healthier I used the Light Boursin cheese which has 50% less fat and 35% less calories than the regular Boursin cheese.  I also used a good cut of sandwich steak for the meat instead of the called for strip steaks.  Either one will do though.  

*Boursin is a soft, spreadable cheese that comes in several varieties that are available in every supermarket.  It is a versatile cheese that works well as a sandwich spread, a stuffing for chicken breasts, a spread for steaks, in mashed potatoes, on crackers, in dips or as part of a cheese plate. 

Roasted Pepper and Boursin Steak Quesadilla
Serves: 4

2 Strip Steaks ( 10-12 Ounces Each) About 1 Inch Thick
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 ( 5.2 Ounce) Package Boursin Cheese
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4(12-Inch) Flour Tortillas
1/2 Cup Jarred Roasted Red peppers, Drained and Sliced Thin
4 Scallions, Sliced Thin

1.  Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook steaks until well browned, 3-4 minutes per side.   Transfer to plate and let rest 5 minutes, then slice thin against grain.  Wipe out skillet. 

2,  While steaks rest, combine Boursin, cheddar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl.  Spread one-quarter of cheese mixture evenly over half of one tortilla, leaving 1/2 inch border around edge.  Top with peppers, scallions and sliced steak.  Fold tortilla over filling and press down firmly.  Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.

3.  Add 2 quesadillas to empty skillet and cook over medium high heat until golden and crisp, 1-2 minutes.  Flip quesadillas and cook until golden brown and cheese if melted.  1-2 minutes.  Transfer to cutting board and repeat with remaining quesadillas.  Cut into wedges and serve.  



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

 Is it bad that I'm having this for lunch today?  Zucchini and eggs are good for you, right??? I definitely feel less guilty eating zucchini bread then eating a piece of chocolate frosted cake for lunch and I've done that too!
  I wish you could smell this right now, or better yet... eat a slice with me.  I love zucchini bread but chocolate zucchini bread is over the top yummy, a guiltless pleasure (??)

  •  3 eggs
  •  1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-3 cups grated zucchini ( I use 3)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips ( optional )

Preparation Instructions

Heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla until blended. 
In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, baking cocoa,cinnamon, baking powder,salt and baking soda.  Gradually beat this into the sugar mixture until well blended.  Stir in the zucchini, gently fold in the chocolate chips.    Pour the batter evenly into 2 well greased 9x5x3 inch pans. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Cool before serving.

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Recipe adapted from Taste of Home