Italian Roasted Chickpeas

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Italian Roasted Chickpeas were a childhood favorite and every time I make these they bring back a flood of memories.

Growing up in a Catholic home, the churches had feasts in the summertime.

We would walk several blocks to get there but before we reach our destinations we could smell those roasted chickpeas from several blocks away.

The roasted smell was similar to chestnuts to me, that smell was just mouth-watering and I couldn't wait to taste those salty hard crunchy beans that tasted like nuts after roasting.

One of the things different in this recipe, there was never seasoning on them and honestly, they didn't need any, they tasted fine but these enhanced with a little more flavor makes them really over the top.

If you prefer to make the original style just added kosher or sea salt on them and that's it, simple and easy.

Truly Roasted chickpeas are the healthiest or at least one of the healthiest snacks on the planet.

These are chickpeas otherwise known as garbanzo beans, roasted in the oven with garlic and spice. Seasonings have coated the outside  the chickpeas with the addition of oil . They are roasted.


Raspberry Champagne Cocktail for New Year's Eve

Another year is about to go by. Wow! Where did 2009 go? It just flew by me!

This has always been a night we usually stay home, for many reasons. First and most important, its my husbands birthday, so Happy Birthday Nemo!

We usually watch the traditional ball drop on TV every year from Madison Square Garden and then off to bed we go.
Seems a little boring, but actually peaceful and comforting to sit back and look over the year and what we were grateful for.
What we can do different, and explore hopes and dreams to come.
This becomes more of a planning night for us. Next year we hope for a new car and actually moving into a bigger home. It's nice to have dreams and a new year brings us to that very moment in hopes to always have a better year than the last.

Hope my readers, will have a happy and healthy 2010 , and as the years go by, every year will get better than the year before!

A favorite drink to bring in the new year, a refreshing one at that, one of our favorites, Raspberry Champagne Cocktail. Chambord is a delicious liqueur and if you haven't tried it, now is the time. Below is even a homemade recipe.

A very festive drink for any occasion, Christmas and Valentines Day also has this drink on the list..

The sweetness of the Chambord and Vodka, then topping if off with bubbly are what makes this one so special.

This is a collage of the family left living at home....My husband and I, Trina(grey tabby) and Fonzo ( he got into the strawberries~)
We will all bring in the New Year together.

Being from a family of Music, My brother John plays piano and sings professionally in Fisher Island, I taught piano for many years and my son Curt loves to sing. So, when he visits me, I play he sings. I always get him to sing "Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg for me , I just love that song. Then I also will play Barry Manilow's "It's Just Another New Year Eve"... mellow but soothing.

Raspberry Champagne Cocktail
1/4 cup good quality vodka
2 fluid ounces Chambord
1 cup ice cubes optional If you haven't chilled the liqueurs you can add ice to the shaker
2 fluid ounces Champagne
fresh raspberries for garnish
red and white crystal sugar for coating the glasses
Dip glass into water then into the sugar to coat the rim of the glass.
Pour chilled Vodka and Chambord into a shaker and shake till frothy, pour into the prepared glass . Top off with champagne. Garnish with fresh raspberries through a toothpick.

An inexpensive treat compared to the store bought originals.
Directions How to make Homemade Chambord

1 lb fresh raspberry
3 cups good quality vodka (80 proof)
1 1/4 cups fine sugar

Rinse the berries & cut into small pieces or mash with a fork. Place in a glass container, add vodka.
Cap and store in a cool, dark place, stir once a week for 2 to 4 weeks.
Strain and transfer the unsweetened liqueur to an aging container (glass bottle or container with tight cap).
Add the sugar, recap & let mellow for at least 3 months.
Pour to a new bottle. Add more sugar to taste if not sweet enough for you.

Twas The Night Before Christmas Cookies

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Of course, the last-minute panic, the rush to buy that grocery you forgot, and then the panic that you can't find that perfect gift for someone added to the guest list.

Then you think you didn't cook enough. But in the end, what matters is togetherness. Families uniting, putting everything aside to be with one another.

Not the presents or even the food, the laughter, fun, and love that is especially shared this special day. With all the preparation it's gone before you know it.

Making more wonderful memories year after year.

There is one important thing left to do, leave the cookies and milk for Santa. Then read the story of below "The night before Christmas". Merry all.


by Clement Clarke Moore
or Henry Livingston

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window, I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with abound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


Mexican Meatloaf Cups with Refried Beans

Friday, December 18, 2009
It's always a great pleasure to experiment with new foods for me and this is one of them. For a change we really like to make Mexican food, and Salsa is a great appetizer with chips. A nice change of Pace, no pun intended. So, given the opportunity being a Featured Publisher for Foodbuzz and a Tastetester, this delicious Mexican meatloaf was born using Pace Picante Salsa .

The filling for these Mexican meatloaf cups, consists of Picante Salsa, chili mix, a can of refried beans mixed well. The filling goes into the cups after the meat is baked for at least 25 minutes.

After the meat is molded into the cupcake tins, bake them at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes until all the pink is gone. In the meantime while baking, make the filling. When the meat cups are cooked, drain out all the excess fat. I use the back of a tablespoon and press on each cup to get all the fat out.

The meat will easily mold inside the tins, make sure you leave a well in the middle for the filling.

Mix the meat, chili seasoning, Pace Picante Salsa, peppers, egg, and bread crumbs well.

1 pound of raw hamburger

1 egg

1 clove of minced garlic

4 tablespoons of chopped bell green and red peppers

1 package of chili seasoning mix

1 jar of  Picante Salsa medium hotness

1 can fat free refried beans

1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheeses

In a bowl mix hamburger, egg, garlic, peppers, 1/2 cup salsa and 1/2 package of chili seasoning, 1/2 cup flavored bread crumb mix till well blended.

Line the greased cupcake tins thinly with meat so it goes all the way up to the top edges. Bake for around 20 minutes until all the pink is gone. Drain or blot excess grease out of the cups.

In the mean time get a clean bowl, mix refried beans, 1/4 cup of salsa and chili seasoning. Add 1/2 cup of cheese. Fill each cup with the bean mixture. Top with remaining cheese and bake another 15 minutes until all the cheese is melted. Serve tortilla chips to use as a scoop or optional top with sour cream, black olives and pass the salsa.


A Variety of Homemade Chocolate Candies

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One of the last things I do before Christmas is making candy.

We love all the favorite kinds, barks, toffee,caramel,but there are always those favorites you make every year after year, and then add the ones at the end that you just had to have them even if no one ate them, you grew up with them and its not Christmas without seeing them around.

I was in the market today, and the memories of mixed nuts still in the shell were looking at me. My mom bought them every year, roasted them, and they sat there until late February when she would crack them all open, and they ended up in a banana bread. Then there were the dried figs. Oh boy do I love fresh ones, couldn't find any today either, but in NY they were impossible to find, so there sat the figs, dry, hard and tasteless we could never find the ones that were soft . Just one more of those items I had to buy regardless, and yes I bought the nuts too. I love chestnuts and they were no where to be found anywhere here, and we would eat them all, go figure! Anyway, I am sure you all have those Christmas skeletons laying around somewhere you can share.

Ok back to candy. I love Boyer mallo cups, I can't believe how hard they are to find, I loved them as a kid and now. Then they gave a bonus, to save the cards that came inside the wrapper, and I recall if you saved 500 points, you got a ten pack of candy free by sending them in. Wow , Nostalgia at its finest....I really loved those darn things fluffy marshmallow and coconut filling....Once in awhile I run across the real deal. But for now. I make a mock version of them that satisfy me in taste.

I make a variety. Just by using milk chocolate coating candy. It's so easy, just melt them in the microwave for a one-minute then stir and start to build your favorites.

You can use any nuts you like to make clusters and add them to the melted chocolate, I always top them with the kind of nut that in there. No one has to guess and bite into one they don't like to begin with.

These are so easy, a little melted chocolate, a hazelnut, a small teaspoon of nutella, then top with more chocolate ending with a hazelnut on top. A great filled candy cup.

These are done the same way, a little melted chocolate, 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, top with more melted chocolate and add a peanut and you have a peanut butter cup.

These are just mini pretzels dipped in the melted chocolate and sugar crystals added for color and a festive look. I used two forks to dip them.

OK these are my favorites, start out with toasted coconut in the microwave one minutes, watch it so it doesn't burn. Then in a paper candy cup add a little melted chocolate, sprinkle with the toasted coconut, add a teaspoon of marshmallow fluff, top with more melted chocolate and sprinkle with coconut so you know what's inside.

The chocolate melts in one minute then stir, you can add a few more seconds but be very careful not to scorch. Half a bag at the time of candy melts to one minute.

I make sure I get all the ingredients out so I know which ones I will make. You can come up with all kinds of favorites.
You will come up with all kinds of idea's on what you can fill your cups with, anything goes, enjoy, and have a wonderful Sweet filled Christmas!!!!! Buon Natale


Chocolate covered Peanut Butter Krispie Candy Recipe

Sunday, December 13, 2009

If you like Peanut Butter these are going to be a new candy on your Christmas baking list. These are my son Curt's favorite holiday cookie candy.

I make them every year. He always said that the dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate in the flavor.

I usually make a batch of both. The milk chocolate seems to be a little sweeter but I prefer the milk chocolate.

this is a peanut butter mixed with rice krispies , rolled into balls and dipped into milk or dark chocolate


Mom's Italian Homemade Sausage

Mom's Italian Sausage Links Homemade Recipe In Bulk is always made for most holidays.

A festive Italian Breakfast with the family every year on Christmas morning.

The reason for the season is remembered sharing the morning Christ was born with your family and loved ones.

A glorious birthday celebration is enjoyed by many families and friends.

My very favorite day of all.

The meaning sometimes is truly forgotten of how this wonderous day came about and celebrated by Catholic families around the world.


A Traditional Italian Christmas Eve with 7 Fishes

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Traditional Italian Christmas Eve is with 7 Fishes and we do this every year without fail!

As long as I can remember Grandma Victoria and Grandpa John were the beginning of many family traditions. When they both came to this country from Italy, Rome Region, they had nothing, and soon they built their lives here together having several children who continued these family traditions and we were fortunate that our dad was one of them . As time went on, they have passed down to all of us kids these wonderful traditions and mom and dad made even more traditions of their we are that next generation to keep all these wonderful traditions going .... many memories of years gone by, but the great times will continue on through the next generation and families to come... A wonderful journey into our Italian Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas to all…with love…

Grandma Victoria Ferraro and Grandpa John Colenzo Where it all began......... YEAR 1927

The 7 fishes we would make were, crab, lobster, shrimp cocktail, salmon, fried shrimp , scampi,
fried haddock, fried scallops, fried and stuffed calamari, baccala (cod) the list can go on and on every kind of fish is welcome and yes more than seven on our table, so if any are missing no problem add them to the list.... link to recipe below  Click here for some of these fish recipes.

Here shown is crab, haddock, salmon, lobster, scallops, shrimp and calamari. Some of these recipes can be found here.

Natale," the Italian word for Christmas, is literally the translation for "birthday."

Years gone by, the family has changed and many have past on, memories and traditions will carry on through our children as we instill these.

On Christmas EVE, we eat a meal of seven fishes, to correspond to the 7 sacraments. With the older generation women in our family, it was an event to buy the fish along with cleaning and cooking it . All the women in the family would get together to do this. It was an important event for the holiday.

Feast of Seven Fishes
The Feast of Seven Fishes originated in southern Italy and is practiced today by many Italian American families.
In celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, many Roman Catholics do not eat meat on Christmas Eve. Instead, a feast of seafood and shellfish is prepared. Why seven different types of fishes? Tradition tells that it is because God took seven days to create the universe.

Always a huge night of fun and anticipation for Christmas morning to come.
We will have shrimp cocktail, clams on the half shell, mussels, linguine and clam sauce, calamari, crab legs and lobster tails. Smelts, baccala and many others are added along with the 7 regulars.

Antipasto Antipasto is basically an appetizer consisting of Mozzarella, Provolone, Olives, Roasted Peppers, Hot Peppers, Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Fresh Italian/French Bread. Usually it would have meat such as prosciutto, salami, pepperoni.

Even though the dinner is called the "seven" fishes, we never let that hold us back from serving 12, 15, sometimes 20 different fish dishes. And the more exotic the species of fish, the better, too.

Number one on the menu was always squid stuffed and in tomato sauce. You've probably eaten squid fried, called calamari.

We also had eel, usually sauteed or stewed..

Of course we always had to have baccala. Baccala is salted, dried cod fish. You had to soak it in water before cooking it to soften it and remove some of the salt.

Also on the menu were fried smelts (fresh sardines), salmon, tuna, baked whitefish, fried halibut, and fish stew.  You really need to make what your family loves like we do... all of it!

And no Christmas Eve was complete without vermicelli or capellini pasta with anchovy sauce.


Some think it symbolizes the seven days it took Joseph and Mary to get to Bethlehem. Others think it symbolizes the seven sacraments in the Catholic church. There are other theories, as well. No doubt the controversy will continue long after I am gone as well.

We always had lots of left over fish the next day.

Dinner will spread over several hours, and pinochele started around 9pm in the evening till having to leave for midnight mass, the family always loved a good game of pinochele . The little ones would always want to open one gift that night, the excitement was overwhelming, so most of the time we would give in, had to be from grandma.

Our desserts were plentiful also. Starting with assorted nuts in the shell roasted, along with chestnuts we would boil, panetone, struffoli, pea's and cue's, at least 14 kinds of Italian cookies, cannoli, pusties, krispelles, pizzelle, rum filled pastry,fruit cake, torrone candy, followed by black Italian coffee and Sambucca annisette just to name a few .

Religious Services / Midnight Mass

Many Roman Catholics and Anglicans celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. churches celebrate Holy Communion in a solemn service lit only by the candles of the Lord's Table.

So many years of family get togethers, memorable foods that began a lifetime of tradition to pass on, and still today we look forward to what our ancestors started.

Although somewhat now americanized, we still have the bond in our family to recreate the past of loving memories of what we still believe is the way to celebrate the birth of Christ. Togetherness, in the kitchen and with love, our Italian traditions live on.

Check out these other Christmas Traditions:
Italian Seven Fishes 2009 Italian Seven Fishes 2010Italian Christmas Eve and Day Recipes
Italian Baccala
Italian Stuffed Squid
Italian Leg of Lamb
Italian Lasagna
Italian Gnocchi
Italian Christmas Day and Eve Recipes

Here are some of the Region of Italy Specialties

ABRUZZO: Lu rintrocilio,pasta with a sauce of mutton, pork, chili, and grated pecorino.
BASILICATA: Piccilatied,bread with almonds.
CALABRIA: Quazunìelli,dough pockets filled with raisins, walnuts, cooked must (pulp of crushed grapes), and cinnamon.
CAMPANIA: Insalata di rinforzo,cauliflower, pickled vegetables, peppers, Gaeta olives, and salted anchovies. Fried eel is another favorite of all Neapolitans tables. While waiting for midnight mass, on Christmas Eve, people like to snack on fruit and mixed nuts.
EMILIA ROMAGNA: Panettone di Natale,bread made with candied fruit, honey, cocoa, dark chocolate, and dried figs.
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA: Brovada e muset,soup of turnips and cotechino, cooked pork sausage, served with polenta.
LAZIO: Pangiallo,bread made with dried fruit, candied peels, honey, and chocolate.
LIGURIA: Pandolce ,bread made with raisins, candied pumpkin, essence of orange flowers, pine nuts, fennel seeds, milk, and marsala.
LOMBARDY: Cappone ripieno ,capon stuffed with a mix of ground meat, mortadella, and hard-boiled eggs. It’s served with mostarda di Cremona, fruit preserve spiced with mustard oil.
MARCHE: Pizza de Natà ,bread made with walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, raisins, chocolate, grated lemon and orange peel, and figs.
MOLISE: Pizza di Franz in brood ,pieces of pizza dough, baked in the oven with eggs, parmigiano, and parsley.
PIEDMONT: Insalata di carne cruda all'albese--beef filet tartar scented with white truffles.
PUGLIA: Carteddate ,rose shaped using an iron, fried cookies drizzled with honey.
SARDINIA: Pabassinas, sweets made with almonds, walnuts, raisins, anis seeds.
SICILY: Mustazzoli ,sweets made with almonds, cinnamon, and cloves.
TUSCANY: Brodo di cappone in tazza consommé of capon.
TRENTINO: Canederli ,balls of flour, eggs, old bread, speck, pancetta, and salami.
UMBRIA: Panpepato ,bread with walnuts, chocolate, almonds, candied fruit, honey, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pepper, and red wine.
VALLE D'AOSTA: Carbonata--strips of meat soaked in wine and aromatic herbs, served with polenta.
VENETO: Ravioli in brodo di cappone--ravioli cooked in capon broth.
ZEPPOLE: representative of the area of Sorrento, are small, fried ricotta doughnut-like cookies dusted with confectioner’s sugar that must be served warm.

For Italians, Christmas represents family…and food.