Christmas wouldn't be the same without Mom's zeppole (Italian donuts). Fifty years ago, our Mom got this recipe from her neighbor Lucille and that was the start of our love affair with zeppole! From her first batch, they became a holiday favorite in our home. During the holiday season you would always find a pot filled with vegetable oil, just waiting for Mom to whip up a batch. Our home was always filled with friends and neighbors and Mom always had them available. Everyone loved them and they were quickly devoured. Our zeppole are heavenly with their light, spongy texture, and sprinkling of powdered sugar. Even Santa loves them & keeps coming back for more! ❤️❤️
2 cups Presto* cake flour (sift before measuring)
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
4 eggs, well beaten
1½ lbs. of whole milk ricotta cheese
Vegetable oil, 2 to 3 inches deep for frying
Slowly heat the vegetable oil in a 1 – 2 qt stainless steel saucepan, to a temperature of 375º. (use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature)
In a large bowl, place the cake flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and ricotta cheese and mix well with a wooden spoon.
When the oil temperature reaches 375º, take a flatware tablespoon of batter and using your index finger or another spoon, carefully slide the batter off the spoon into the hot oil, being careful not to splash yourself. Set the timer for 3 minutes once they are in the pot. Depending on the size pot you use, fry 2-4 at a time. They turn on their own so no need to turn them.
After 3 minutes, remove to paper towels to drain any excess oil.
Continue frying 2-4 zeppole at a time until batter is used up.
Put the cooked zeppole in a serving dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve while warm.
Notes: *Presto cake flour is self-rising and contains baking powder & salt. If not available in your local grocery store, order from Amazon. Swan Cake flour is not self-rising and will require the addition of baking powder and salt; however, we don’t know you’ll get the same results.
Zeppole need room to turn over on their own so don’t crowd them. We used a small 1 qt saucepan and fried 2 at a time. If you want to fry 4 or 5 at a time make sure you use at least a 6 qt saucepan.
The powdered sugar will melt if they sit awhile before serving so sprinkle with additional powdered sugar as needed.
Our Christmas Eve dinner always included our Mom's delicious flounder dish which she made every Christmas Eve as long as we can remember. In keeping with our Italian heritage, of course it's made with mozzarella, Pecorino Romano cheese, seasoned breadcrumbs, butter, white wine, herbs, and garlic... lots of garlic! Christmas Eve just wouldn't be the same without it. Mom's handwritten recipe listed ingredients only... no measurements so our first attempt was a disaster!!! We knew it was missing something but we weren't quite sure what it was because we followed her ingredient list to the letter. We finally realized the missing ingredient was garlic... she obviously thought it was a given & not necessary to write it down! We're happy to share this family favorite with you and hope your family enjoys it as much as our family does. ❤️❤️
Every year we start our holiday baking about 2 weeks before Christmas. We have been baking together for over 40 years, a holiday tradition we love. Christmas music is playing in the background while we reminisce about our childhood & Christmas's of long ago. Our all-time favorite holiday cookie is the fragrant, chewy almond Pignoli cookie. Pignolias (aka pine nuts) are from the Italian Stone Pine trees of the Meditteranean regions of Spain, Portugal & Italy. The Asian pignolias from China are not as flavorful as the Meditteranean pignolias so we avoid using them. You can tell they are from China by their much cheaper price tag. Our pignoli cookies taste just like the ones from the best Italian bakeries in New York. Really they do, and our recipe is naturally Gluten-Free! They fly off the holiday cookie tray...you and your family will love them. ❤️❤️
1 (8oz) box or can of Solo Almond Paste (do not use almond filling)
2 egg whites
1 cup Mediterranean Pignolias
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup almond flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar for light dusting
Using a Convection oven, preheat oven to 275ºF. (If using a regular oven increase temperature to 300ºF.)
Line 2 large cookies sheets with parchment paper or a silicone pad or grease 2 large cookie sheets if parchment paper or silicone pad isn’t an option.
Sift granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar with almond flour and salt. Set aside.
Using a fork, break up the almond paste into small pieces in a medium bowl. Add egg whites and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed, until well blended and smooth.
With a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until well blended.
Place dough into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. (You can also use a rounded teaspoon full of dough 1½-inches in diameter. Place 2-inches apart on large cookie sheet.
Generously press the pignoli nuts all around & on top of the dough making sure to keep the dough rounded, do not flatten.
Bake slowly for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on your oven, until the bottoms are golden. The edges of the cookies should be golden but the tops will be lighter.
Remove from the oven and let them cool in the baking sheet.
When cooled, lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar or leave plain. Either way, they are delicious.
Store several days in a tightly covered container to mellow. These will keep for up to 2 weeks if stored properly.
1. Press half a candied cherry or maraschino cherry in the center of each cookie.
2. Using your thumb or index finger coated in confectioner’s sugar, make a thumbprint in the center and fill it with a small amount of raspberry preserves.
3. Roasted, salted pistachios can be used in place of pignolias. Bake as above.
These quick and easy Roast Beef Roll-Ups make an incredibly satisfying lunch or appetizer! The combined flavors of bell peppers, onions, and Picante provolone cheese are amazing. We've served these for lunch many times for out of town guests because they can be prepared ahead of time then baked 10 -15 minutes before serving. Everyone just loves them. Give them a try, we know you'll love them too! ❤️❤️
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
12 slices Boars Head roast beef (from the deli counter, slices should be thick enough to not shred when rolling up)
2 -3 cups Boars Head Picante provolone cheese (shredded). We buy a block of it from the deli counter and shred it ourselves for a really fresh taste. Use 2 cups if you don’t want a lot of cheese or 3 cups if you’re a cheese lover like us.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the peppers & onions until peppers are soft & onions are translucent. (about 10-15 minutes)
Season with salt & pepper. Remove from heat.
Lay a slice of roast beef on parchment paper. Have the short end of the roast beef facing you.
Sprinkle with approximately 2 Tablespoons of the shredded provolone cheese on top of the roast beef slice.
Place approximately 2 Tablespoons of the sauteed peppers & onions on top of the provolone cheese.
Start rolling up at the short end and place seam side down on a large, parchment-lined baking sheet or casserole dish. It’s ok if they touch each other.
Sprinkle more shredded provolone on top then place in 300ºF oven for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve warm.
Notes: We use Boars Head because it’s gluten-free. You can use whatever deli brand you like.
Depending on your crowd size you can double or triple this recipe. Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave for no more than 30 seconds or in a 350ºF oven for about 4 minutes.
Featured photo and recipe adapted from Maria Emmerich, Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking.
For us, Thanksgiving is a special time when we reflect on past traditions, family, friends and how our lives may have changed throughout the year. We are thankful for our health, wonderful husbands, all of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends & followers.
Our family Thanksgiving menu hasn’t changed much from years past served by our Mother and Grandmother. Penne Alla Vodka replaced our traditional lasagna or baked ziti to start things off followed by the roasted turkey with sausage stuffing. My family loves the stuffing with chopped apples but Teresa’s family prefers it without…what do they know?🤣
Being of Italian heritage, Thanksgiving wasn’t just about the turkey; the meal also had to have a pasta dish! I always made baked ziti on Thanksgiving and one year Gary picked up the ricotta & mozzarella for me the day before. I didn’t look at the brands because he knew which to buy so when I took out the ingredients to start making the ziti I was shocked as both main ingredients were the right brands but were fat-free instead of whole milk! There was nothing I could do so I went about making the baked ziti with the fat-free ingredients. When we all sat down for dinner, my nephew Joseph said, “Aunt Barb, this isn’t your baked ziti!” The rest of the family agreed with him. To this day everyone remembers how disappointed they were when the texture they loved was noticeably different. They’re a tough crowd! It was a disaster except for Gary…he ate it with no complaints.
Our family holidays were filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, and FOOD! We hope you will try some of our favorites to add to your holiday menu and create wonderful memories with your families & friends.
Let me start off by saying we love pumpkin! Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin creamer, pumpkin pie, etc. You get the idea. We always have a pumpkin dessert on Thanksgiving and this pumpkin cheesecake is tied with Teresa's Pumpkin Roll for all-time favorite. After having his first piece a good friend of mine said 'OMG! I'm in pumpkin heaven'. If you love pumpkin & cheesecake you're in for a real treat. 😋 😋
9-inch springform pan
1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
Filling: All ingredients should be at room temperature, including the eggs, to properly act as an emulsifier.
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, cubed and at room temperature
1 (15-oz) can pureed pumpkin (do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1/3 cup sour cream
3 eggs plus 1 yolk
1½ cups sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter.
Wrap the springform pan in 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to prevent any water from seeping through to the cheesecake. Set aside.
Crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.
Add the melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
Filling: Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the pumpkin, sour cream, sugar, ￼eggs, egg yolk, and spices.
Add the flour and vanilla. Beat together until just combined. Don’t overbeat as it can cause the top to crack in baking.
Pour into graham cracker crust. Spread out evenly.
Before baking run the point of a sharp knife between the cheesecake mixture and the side of the pan about 1/2 to 1-inch down. This will help prevent cracks.
Place the springform pan into a larger pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of one inch up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Notes: For a gluten-free version, substitute all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour and use gluten-free graham cracker crumbs.
You can make this 1 or 2 days before and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
This is the perfect dessert with a cup of coffee after a tasty Thanksgiving dinner. It also makes a great dessert for a Halloween party, just add some black ribbon bats on black wire. No need to wait for a holiday. You can enjoy this delicious dessert all year round.
When it comes to side dishes everyone in our family loves creamy mashed potatoes. They are a true comfort food that enhances chicken cutlets, flank steak, meatloaf & so much more. On occasion, we make Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes that are also delicious if you want to step it up a notch. Either way, these mashed potatoes are so creamy and buttery our mouths are watering just writing about them! Enjoy them plain, garnished with some fresh chopped chives or gravy. 😋 😋
2lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled then cut in half and cut in quarters
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt for water
3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream
1 stick salted butter
salt & pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a large saucepan filled with water to generously cover the potatoes. Add 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.
Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat & drain well. Place potatoes back into saucepan & return to low heat. Stir potatoes constantly for about 1-2 minutes to dehydrate the potatoes.
Remove potatoes from the heat. Add the butter. Using a handheld masher, mash the butter into the potatoes. Add enough cream & continue mashing until the desired texture is achieved.
Teresa has been making this pumpkin roll every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. She adapted it to be gluten-free so Jack could enjoy it on Thanksgiving but honestly, you can't tell the difference! We just love everything pumpkin... 🎃 🎃 including the pumpkin mugs I made in a ceramics class back in 1974. That year I brought them to my parent's house on Thanksgiving Day and was insulted when my Dad said he couldn't drink out of them because his nose 👃🏻 was in the way. Once a year I take them out for Thanksgiving dinner and my Dad is still not allowed to drink from them!
powdered sugar to spread on a clean dish towel
¾ cups gluten-free flour (King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder (gluten-free)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Tiny pinch of a smidgen of ground nutmeg (see photo for actual amount)
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
2/3 cup canned pumpkin (do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons butter softened
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
Grease a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan; line with parchment paper.
Grease and flour paper; set aside. Arrange clean thin, cotton kitchen towel on counter; sprinkle with powdered sugar making sure the towel is well covered in powdered sugar.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar; beat until thickened. Add pumpkin; beat until well mixed. Stir in flour mixture.
Spread batter evenly int prepared pan. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if using.
Bake 13-15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; quickly invert onto prepared towel. Remove pan; carefully peel off paper.
Roll up cake in towel while hot, starting with the 10-inch side. Cool completely on wire rack.
Beat the cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth.
To us, Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without candied yams. There are as many different ways to prepare them as there are feathers on a turkey! We always loved our Mom's version; however, we slightly tweaked it through the years to accommodate our family's taste buds. These are sweet, buttery, and melt in your mouth delicious. In our family, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them!😋 😋
4-5 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup salted butter (8 Tablespoons)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
In a small saucepan melt the butter. Once melted add the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and maple syrup. Stir & heat until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla & orange zest. Mix well.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish add the yams & sprinkle with kosher salt.
Pour the syrup over the yams.
Cover with foil then bake in 375ºF oven for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven. Spoon the syrup from the pan over the potatoes.
Return pan to the oven UNCOVERED and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Notes: Our Mom always used canned cut yams but believe us when we say it’s worth the extra time to peel and slice fresh sweet potatoes or yams. We can’t always get yams so we use medium-sized sweet potatoes.