Chocolate Covered Coconut Cream Rum Bon Bon Candies

Sunday, January 31, 2010
One of my favorite candies I still make for any party we have, is coconut rum filled chocolates. Our Mom's favorite was coconut candy especially at Easter time. We always had to make sure we had lots of those coconut cream filled eggs, those were always the first missing out of the basket. So, if you like coconut, you are in for a real treat, because these taste very similar. A soft truffle like creamy filling inside a chocolaty shell. A great confection any time..

The coconut has been put through a food processor for a fine shredding.

The coating is semi sweet chocolate, and the rolled truffle is placed in a bowl and tossed with two forks.

Really is a simple but a little messy to make.

The filling is smooth and creamy, but dropping by teaspoons and then freezing, make it much easier to coat smoothly.

Beating the ingredients till smooth and whipped looking will make this less sugary, make sure you beat all ingredients until fluffy looking.

1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons coconut rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 package dry dreamwhip mix
3 cups finely ground coconut put in food processor
2 cup semi sweet chocolate
Melt butter that is at room temperature till fluffy. Stir in 3 tablespoons rum and vanilla.
Combine powdered sugar and whipped dreamwhip topping package (you can also substitute nonfat dry milk powder) beat in 1/2 cup at a time into butter mixture until smooth and fluffy. Stir in processed coconut. Drop by teaspoon into 1-inch balls, and place on ungreased baking sheets, freeze 20 minutes. You can now try and shape to round balls while frozen they are less sticky.

Melt chocolate microwave dip balls using two forks quickly then transfer to wax paper to dry . Store on cookie sheet in refrigerator till firm place into paper candy cups.

Valentine's Day Frangelico Nutella Cookie Cake

Saturday, January 30, 2010
Happy Valentines Day

A cookie kind of cake or pie ? This is a buttery tasting cookie with chocolate chips, layered with Nutella spread, chocolate cool whip and a fresh strawberry glaze. A delicious confection anytime but perfect for Valentines Day ....

Keep your cat out of the kitchen! Had no idea he would like strawberries, he really shocked us on the table and didn't budge when we caught him, thinking he wanted to be my Valentine!!!! He definitely captured my heart!

Top with glazed strawberries.

Line dish with chocolate fudge sauce.

Slice strawberries and put into the glaze.

Mix the cool whip with unsweetened chocolate cocoa powder

Spread generously with Nutella....

Cool for about 2 minutes and flip onto wax paper to cool completely.
Sprinkle with 1 shot of Frangelico over the top...

Press into prepared greased pan, top with chocolate mini chips.

Can't get enough Chocolate!

Recipe for cookie dough:
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mini chocolate chips for top of dough.
1 container of cool whip
1 shot of Frangelico
1 tablespoon of unsweet cocoa
Sliced fresh strawberries 1 quart
1 container of strawberry glaze mix sliced strawberries into glaze set aside
1 jar of Nutella hazelnut spread
1 jar or squeeze bottle of Hot Fudge sauce
Mix all ingredients together well, stopping at the salt above . Press dough into greased, desired shaped pan. Sprinkle with mini chips. Bake till browned. Cool two minutes, flip cake onto wax paper to cool thoroughly.
Sprinkle top with Frangelico. Spread top of cookie with a thick layer of Nutella spread. Top with whipped topping that has been mixed with 1 tablespoon of unsweet cocoa powder. Top with glazed sliced strawberries.
To serve squeeze hot fudge sauce around plate, slice cookie cake and place on top of fudge sauce.

Beans Beans Beans Recipe

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I had to write an article on beans. You will find recipes if you click on the highlighted entrees. These happen to be one of many I make in my  slow cooker for various recipes especially Pasta Fazool. Putting the beans in 4 to 4- 1/2 quarts of water in the crockpot overnight make amazing beans ready for any recipe you have, with no fuss. Yes, it make allot, but freezing them makes them easy to take out for any of those recipes, and so much healthier in the long run along with many other great reasons to use your crockpot...

I love the Northern beans for soups, chili's, rice dishes. Great to have fresh, as they are so much healthier!

I am amazed on how much food has gone up. Dealing with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and rising food costs, gave me just a few of the many reasons to use dried beans instead of canned. Salt, money, healthier, hmmmm sounds like a good plan. Easier than I though. I bought several varieties, cleaned them then in the crock pot at bedtime they went in the pot. Ten cups of water to a bag, got up in the morning the house smelled wonderful, drained them. Took what I needed, and into the zip locks bags went the rest, and then to the freezer! Wow how simple. No salt, no mess, inexpensive, the crock pot did the work. What is better than this. Off I went to make some White Chili...
Not only did they taste better, they were easier to store than cans and no recycling! So, I bought red beans, black beans, lentils, northern beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans. Wow, the money I am going to save, and can make so many wonderful meals with these. I thought this was going to be such a chore.
Chili has never been easier, a package of dried beans cost $1.29 and made a full 4 quarts of beans. Can you imagine the amount of money we spend on all those cans? So it just takes the night before to prepare the beans that will last you a long time in the freezer for up to 3 to 6 months depending what kind they are...

So, before you go to bed, just wash the dried beans in water, add water to the crock pot and when you wake up.....oh boy do you have beans....lots of them, perfect and ready to add to that special dish your going to make. Nothing to it!

So here are the many reasons I have found to use dried over canned any day of the week!

Price the purchase of dried beans, they are so inexpensive. You get a significantly amount of more beans by forgoing the canned varieties. What a difference in price! Sodium free, you can add what you want, and salt is so bad for your arteries or in general for you. Canned beans are loaded with salt!

Healthier for sure, and I can tell you dried beans in a package have to have a longer shelf life than cans, and you don't have to worry about botulism in these beans. No chemicals no preservatives!.
Much tastier. My husband woke up to this incredible aroma in the house, after cooking in the crock pot all night, it was amazing how great those beans smell through the house. Plus slow cooking dried beans is far tastier than eating precooked canned beans. There is no waste and nothing to worry about throwing out, cans etc. so its even good for our recycling! No cans!
So many kinds to chose from. You may find in the dried bean version beans that you cant find in a can anywhere! It’s awesome to try new varieties every now and then and bypass the canned bean aisle with the same old stuff.

You can use them for the freezer for soups, chili, rice dishes, so many uses. The control in how firm, juicy, or mushy the final bean will be.


Personally, the less I expose myself to chemicals the better.
You can store stacked in the freezer and requires less space than storing canned beans.

Fast and easy prep. So why not try this, it just makes perfect sense. At least you will wake up with a wonderful mouth watering aroma......thanks for reading ... and try some of these recipes below.

 Pasta Fasoli
Italian Style 3 Bean Chili
Italian White Chicken Chili
 Escarole, Chickpeas and Pasta
Chickpea Shrimp Diavolo
Grandma's Ham, Bacon and Lentil Soup
Depression Bean Soup
Best Split Pea Soup
Lamb Chili and Burgundy Wine
Italian Chili Mac


Homemade Torrone Italian Candy

Torrone Italian Nougat Candy......
We usually have this just around Christmas time but it's a favorite in our home so we make it often all year long. It's a delicious honey flavored almond delightful candy. You can order the wafer part online I usually just omit it but the Authentic way is to use that wafer candy paper.

We always make this around Christmas time. This is a fluffy white delicious lemon flavored Italian candy. Grandma would always have Torrone in the house, she would always say it tasted like the communion in Church and her favorite.
Amazingly enough its not hard to make, just time consuming. You can makes this in many flavors, lemon, vanilla, orange to name a few. Little squares of fluffy nougat and delicious hazelnuts and almonds. Quite a treat and old fashioned tradition.


1 c. blanched filberts( hazel nuts) or pistachio's
2 cups of blanched whole almonds
2 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla extract (lemon,orange,almond are optional flavors to try)
1/4 c. butter, softened
Edible wafer candy paper available on line 
(just google edible wafer paper)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on cookie sheet. Toast in oven 10 minutes, until golden. In heavy, deep 3 quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, salt, and 1/4 cup water. Stir over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring to 252 degrees on candy thermometer, or until a small amount in cold water forms a hard ball.
Meanwhile, in large bowl of electric mixer, at high speed, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. In thin stream, pour about one fourth of hot syrup over egg whites, beating constantly, at high speed 5 minutes, until mixture is stiff enough to hold its shape. Cook rest of syrup to 315 to 318 degrees on candy thermometer, or until a small amount in cold water forms brittle threads.
In thin stream, pour hot syrup over meringue, beating constantly, at high speed, until stiff enough to hold its shape. Add vanilla and butter, beating until thickened again, about 5 minutes. With wooden spoon, stir in toasted nuts. Turn mixture into a buttered 1 - 1 inch x 1 1/4 inch deep pan lined with wafer paper. Smooth top with spatula, place another piece of wafer paper on top. Refrigerate until firm.
Loosen edge of candy all around; turn out in large block. With sharp knife, cut into 2 inch pieces. Wrap each in waxed paper. Refrigerate. Makes 2 pounds.

Bourbon Roasted Chicken

Monday, January 25, 2010
A roasted chicken that falls off the bone. It's cooked slow, in a large cooking bag. The bag allows you to be used to marinate the chicken overnight, as well as being cooked in the same bag! This amazing tasting bourbon sauce will astound your family and guests. Cooking has never been so easy!

After the chicken has cooked, I cut it and it is so tender and juicy if falls right off the bone.

Juice just pours out of this moist bird. Flavors are throughout this chicken sweet and delicious.

Coating this with flour, makes sure the bird doesn't stick to the bag.

Marinading overnight is always the best option, as the flavors and tenderness are amazing. Don't forget to follow the direction by putting flour in the bag and just before baking pierce with six holes to make sure this bird will evenly brown.

Most of the spices you will have on hand. The bourbon marinade is so perfect to make this chicken one that is asked for time and time again. So easy, no mess, toss it all in the bag, bake, slice and serve!

Bourbon Roasted  Chicken
1 3 to 4 pound roasting chicken
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 of pineapple preserves or you can used canned pineapple pureed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Place whole chicken lined with flour (follow directions on packaging), into a cooking bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken in the bag. Seal and place in cooking pan into the refrigerator. Marinade overnight. Before cooking, with a sharp knife, poke six slits in the bag, this will allow this chicken to brown evenly. Place in oven on 250 and cook slow for 1/2 hour per pound.

When cook, let sit for around 15 minutes, slice if you can, as this will fall apart. Serve alone, over rice, pasta, on sandwich rolls, over broccoli, there are many ways you will come up with to serve this wonderful chicken.

Grandma's Rice Balls (Arancini)

Sunday, January 24, 2010
Grandma's Rice Balls were a mystery for years then dad finally figured out, he was trying way to hard to figure out what she put into them that tasted so good.

Grandma Victoria lived to be 94, she was brought up to be very resourceful woman, and especially on stretching her food budget, to make sure nothing went to waste. Everything she made was always a taste you couldn't forget, and we always spent years trying to duplicate, and never really totally exceeded. These are as close as we are going to get at this point. They are pretty darn close.

I can't believe how fast time flies. Years ago as a child, my grandmother, Victoria, would always make these out of leftover rice..She actually did the same with leftover mashed potatoes.. You know in an Italian family at least mine, you would have to go to confession for throwing out or wasting food, as it was a sin.

This little rice ball, ended up being one of the tastiest grains for an anytime snack we ever had. After she passed away at 94, my dad spent hours trying to remaster her recipe, trying all kinds of ingredients. Then trying the simplest ingredients worked, it was perfect. Victory to us all that dad had finally figured out, it didn't take brain surgery to figure out she used whatever she had, and it was out of this world good...The good ole days, wow we all have them, where does the time go anyway?

These go well with any meal or a great snack.

Not fried but bakes. A delicious blend of spices make these so tastey!

Not much of a recipe. Grandma threw in a little of this and a little of that.
There was lots of leftover rice. So she would take one egg to every 2 cups of rice.
Then she would add breadcrumbs to the mixture around 1/4 cup per cup of rice. Then during the summer months there was lots of fresh parsley growing in our yard, a few tablespoons of fresh parsley went in. ( Lots of home grown would be dried. My mom and grandma would heat the oven till very high heat turn to low after that, just to heat it up ( had a gas old fashioned oven ,lit with a match!) Spread out the over abundance of fresh parsley on stainless steel cookie sheets .Then to dry the rest of the parsley in the gas oven, turned down to the lowest setting, and leave in there for about an hour, crumble and put into jars.) I do that all the time now!
Finally, add the spices to taste and a handful of grating cheese. She would add plenty of grating cheese, salt pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic minced into the rice. Mix it up really good. Then rolled in Italian flavored bread crumbs. She would then fry them in hot oil.

Believe it or not these pictured are rolled, placed on a cookie sheet and drizzled Olive oil over them then baked till golden about a 400 degree oven....I always try and find a healthier way to eat these days, but of course the original way is to fry them of course. If you want a nice little snack, these are a great appetizer, side dish or will have to really add the spices to your own taste.

So here is the basic recipe
2 cups of cooked rice( leftover's are fine even flavored)
1 egg
1/2 cup flavored Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grating cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced chopped fresh garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley or dried
2 cups of Italian flavored bread crumbs to roll the mixture of rice into.
Optional Mozzarella cubes, ground sausage, meatball chunks
Mix together. Roll into a ball, (if your making them stuffed, add the cheese or meat now) then into bread crumbs. Place on greased cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil all over them. Bake at 400 till golden brown. If you want to do the fry method, heat oil till very hot, drop into fry pan till golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Pina Colada Dip for Fruit

Here is one of my favorite fruit dips. Serve this dip with fresh fruits. Cut up apples, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, banana, kiwi, orange slices... plus I used all light to make it less calories!
You can choose to make this alcoholic or non alcoholic. Mine has a touch of coconut rum in it.

This also makes a great filling for any cake your making!

Really simple and takes no take at all to make this great dip...Refreshing and addicting.

Pina Colada Fruit Dip
8 oz. can crushed pineapple (fresh and pureed in food processor) or canned in its own juice undrained
3 1/2 oz. pkg. instant coconut instant pudding or sub instant french vanilla and add 2 tablespoons of finely grated coconut put through a food processor
1 tablespoon of coconut for the top for garnish
3/4 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup light dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons of coconut rum optional
In in 3 to 4 cup bowl, combine all ingredients mix well with a whisk. Cover. You can put through a blender for 15 seconds if not mixing by hand. Refrigerate several hours or overnight to blend flavors. Add one tablespoon of coconut on top for garnish. Serve with fruit, pound cake, marshmallows, cookies, graham crackers makes around 2 1/2 cups also great for cake fillings and a dip for coconut shrimp .

+claudia lamascolo  Author

Italian Rigatoni with Chicken, Broccoli, Garlic ,Peppers and EVOO

Friday, January 22, 2010
A healthy dish, made with grilled chicken breast, broccoli, peppers, fresh slices of garlic in a light extra virgin olive oil and a splash of wine.....over some of your favorite pasta. Perfect for getting back to healthy eating after those holiday treats!

The chicken is grilled indoor or outdoor, till almost done, and finishes in the stir fry.

Just the right spice to give some heat, we add a pinch of red pepper flakes

I then add the broccoli last, since this is also precooked, I want to also make sure the garlic flavor, oil and wine is saturated around all the vegetables to make this a perfect match for any pasta you choose.

The chicken is already partially cooked on the grill, I like to make sure the peppers and garlic saute with the chicken to give it that extra flavor.

Fresh garlic, olive oil, grilled chicken, broccoli, red and green peppers, long grated Romano cheese shred's....a healthy meal and delicious.

You can make into long strips as this is easier to grill. I make sure the pieces are wide enough not to go through the grates on the grill when cooking outside. If using an indoor grill, no problems on the size of the chicken, just make sure you have greased each side of the grill to make sure it doesn't stick.

2 pounds of cut up boneless chicken breasts in strips
1 green and 1 red bell pepper
1 head of fresh broccoli
1/3 cup for saute extra virgin light olive oil and extra for mixing with cooked pasta (if you want you can also use in addition to the olive oil, some butter a richer flavor , add to the cooked pasta while still hot and toss in with olive oil)
2 fresh pieces of minced garlic cloves
1 pound of rigatoni
grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup of white wine, or Marsala, (I used Marsala in this recipe)
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
First you will need to do these two steps ahead of time.

Use an indoor grill like George Foreman, or outdoor grill. Grill chicken until almost cooked. Set aside in a bowl. Wash and cut up broccoli into small clusters. Steam for at least 9 minutes to partially cook, unless you like it stir fry and very crisp. This will soften the broccoli perfectly by doing this step if you like it cooked through.

Start to boil water and make pasta, you can use any kind you like, angel hair works well with this dish also. Boil in salt water, drain, put into a large bowl, add some olive oil to keep pasta from sticking or butter if you prefer, add grating cheese mix together.
In a large fry pan heat 1/3 cup of olive oil, and fry garlic till brown, about two minutes, add peppers and chicken. Saute till chicken is thoroughly cooked another 5 minutes. Add broccoli, a pinch of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Pour 1/4 cup of wine over this and mix together well, cook 2 minutes.
Pour this over the top of the pasta add about 1/2 grating cheese, sprinkle more on top and serve!

Italian Butter Sugar Cookie Recipe for Cut Out Cookies

Thursday, January 21, 2010
One of my favorite cut out cookies for kind of holiday . You can make Christmas, Halloween, Valentines, anything you want. These are just a great dough so versatile to work with.

 As a kid you always had a favorite color and saying that was your special heart for that someone special. I loved all the white ones that tasted like pineapple. They always seemed to be the ones that said I'm Yours!.... a one man woman I am for sure!

I have seen several cookies made with the Royal icing that you just dip into the bowl and its perfect and smoothly iced, but this is a butter cream frosting and taste so much better. I love the taste of the icing on the cookies. Plus tinted color and in the will surely bring back some old school day memories.

Cookies that say I love you, are always the best, a meaningful way to give your family that special treat and personal message.

The icing is so simple, you just need a variety of food coloring and flavoring. Raspberry, Mint, and Strawberry, Pineapple . The blue ones are the Raspberry, did you guess that?

Easy to cut out and bake in a 350 oven a very buttery cookies, be certain to transfer to wax paper as they are a delicate cookie.

                               The dough works much better when chilled first.

Italian Butter Sugar Cookie Recipe for Cut Out Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Mix all together and refrigerate overnight or for at least one hour. Roll out cut into shapes of your choice and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 for 8 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.

Frost in various colors of food coloring. Red, Green, Blue, Yellow. Flavoring to correspond to these are Strawberry (red) (one drop each of food coloring) Mint (green) Raspberry (blue) Pineapple (yellow) You can find these flavorings in any baking section in your grocery store.

Frosting recipe you will need

parchment bags with number 2 Wilton's writing tip(round hole) for writing on cookies you can also use piping gel if you like or pre made in the tube at the grocery stores.

2 1/2 cups of confectionery sugar
flavorings above
food coloring
1/4 cup of water
1/3 cup of white Crisco shortening
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of dry powdered milk
Beat until smooth, add more water if too stiff, needs to spread easily.

Separate into bowls coordinate food coloring and flavoring in each bowl . Make more or the color you are going to write valentines scripts with. Frost cookies let dry for about an hour. Take a parchment bag, fill with darker colored frosting to write various saying.

Option for those of you that don't care for frosting try using white chocolate coating, melted by directions in the microwave, add flavorings and food coloring..
Here are what you can do if it was Christmas...