We all know what seals the deal for any Easter brunch menu….SIMPLE & SWEET EASTER DESSERTS!
SIMPLE & SWEET EASTER DESSETS!
I have spend the day planning my Easter parties menu. I say “parties” because at this house we actually have two Easter parties. The first party we have the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. This party is where we make our traditional Easter Pizza just like Grandma used to make. We also decorate the Easter eggs at this party. Hey why not right…a party before the party…the “pre-Easter party”! The second party is actually a huge brunch we throw on Easter Sunday. So anyway, I have spent the better party of today finalizing our menu’s and putting together the dreaded grocery list. Today, I wanted to share with you the most important party of any Easter party menu….the SIMPLE & SWEET EASTER DESSERTS! Some of these desserts have started out as a family tradition like my Grandmother’s “Taralli” or Italian Lemon Knots. Some of these desserts have become a tradition in our family over the last few years such as the Walnut Citrus Twists. Some of these desserts/sweets I know will become a tradition after this year because the recipes look so darn good….the Layered Berry Cake or the Carrot Cake Bars. So without further adieu I bring you this years La Mia Tabella SIMPLE & SWEET EASTER DESSERTS! If you need me…don’t call….I will be baking!!!!
Here is a link to my old blog (www.lamiatabella.blogspot.com). I have not yet transferred all my recipes over from that blog yet. A few years back I posted a recipe for my Grandma’s “Taralli” or Lemon Knots. These are a must on our Easter menu every year!
I have been making these Cake Mix Blueberry Muffins for several years. I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Six Sisters Stuff…check them out! I make them in the shape of eggs using a special baking pan I found. Not only are they delicious, but they are super simple to make and darn cute too!
This year for our Easter “pre-party” I have added these adorable Carrot Strawberry Pudding Cups for the kids (ok us adults too) to each for dessert!
My mom needed to get into the dessert action and she found this recipe for a Lemon Sour Cream Pie that I cannot wait to dig my fork into! This and other fun recipes can be found at Tastes Better From Scatch.
Italian food does not get more rustic than perfectly done meatballs….LA MIA TABELLA MEATBALLS will not disappoint!!
LA MIA TABELLA MEATBALLS
So I have this thing whenever I go and try out a new Italian restaurant where I have to try the meatballs and the sauce they come in. It is a “thing”! A “habbit”! To put it plain and simple you can just say it….I am an Italian food snob! What I do is Italian food snobbery! I order a meatball in sauce on the side no matter what meal I order. If I like the meatballs and sauce that restaurant is forever on my short list of loved Italian restaurant’s. If the meatball and sauce does not meet my approval (which most do not) then that restaurant is dead to me! I laugh out loud at my bluntness, but if you are Italian and you eat a crummy Italian meal out then why ever go to that restaurant again? I recently went to a new Italian restaurant the next town over from us called, Tuscan Tavern, and I played my little meatball game…guess what they “one upped me”! I ordered a salad and a side of their meatballs and sauce. The sauce was outstanding and the meatballs were utter perfection! The owner stopped at our table to check in on us and I complimented him on his meatballs and explained my meatball obsession. In a confident manner he told me that they were probably the best meatballs that I have ever tasted (he was right!). He then went on to explain how he grinds his own pork and beef and adds some fresh ricotta along with some other secret ingredients! Until that moment I honestly thought I made the best meatballs ever (and I have been told I do)!
I digress a little….long story short….I may not make the best meatballs ever…but I do come in a close second! I do not grind my own meat for two reasons: one, I do not own a grinder and two, because I don’t have the time!!!! My meatballs are homemade, baked not fried and freezable! LA MIA TABELLA MEATBALLS will fit right at home with your families Sunday dinner or week-end gathering!
- 2 1/2 pounds ground meat (either all beef or 1/2 beef & 1/2 pork)
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 2-3 eggs slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- Place all ingredients into a large bowl. I personally mix all ingredients with my bare hands, but you are more than welcome to use a large wooden spoon.
- Roll about a 1/3 cup of meatball mixture into a round ball. Place on baking sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Continue with this process until all meat mixture is gone.
- At this time you can fry all your meatballs in oil in a large skillet OR you can bake them. I prefer the baking method. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking rack over a baking sheet. Spray baking rack with Pam spray. Place meatballs on top of baking rack. Place meatballs in oven (the baking rack will allow the drippings to drip down and the baking sheet will catch the drippings). Bake meatballs for about 15 minutes or until browned on all sides. If using a convection oven there is no need to flip meatballs over. If using a regular oven you can flip them over to other side 1/2 through the baking process.
- When browned on all sided you can place them in a big pot of your favorite marinara or homemade pasta sauce. Cook in sauce for about 1/2 hour 45 minutes. This will allow the meatballs to finish cooking and will add a ton of flavor to your sauce.
- Serve on the side of your favorite pasta with a nice ladle of sauce.
- Everyone makes their meatballs different. I prefer all beef meatballs and no ground pork. I also prefer using ground beef with a nice fat content. If you use a lean ground beef (90/10) your meatballs will tend to lack flavor and be a bit dry.
ANGEL FOOD CUPCAKES are just like the cake…but way cuter!!
ANGEL FOOD CUPCAKES w/ Berries & Fresh Whipped Cream
This past week-end the Academy Awards were on. Big deal you may say! To me the Academy Awards is like the Super Bowl of award ceremonies! You have to have the special menu planned with the dinner and the dessert…the whole shebang! I made a big pot of Pasta Faglio. My parents came over with sloppy joes and chips for the kids. Everyone was food happy! Usually the Super Bowl is filled with appetizers and desserts heavy on the “fat” and calories. I decided to try to make my Academy Awards menu more on the slimming side! For dessert I decided to make ANGEL FOOD CUPAKES w/ Berrries & Fresh Whipped Cream. I found this recipe years ago in a magazine (magazine unknown), cut it out and glued it into my “Dessert” book of recipes. At some point after that I made them and liked them. I know I liked them because I wrote next to the recipe “Very Good!” I also added a special note that I dolloped some fresh whipped cream to the top of the cupcakes. So after finding the recipe I got to work and made a batch of these ANGEL FOOD CUPCAKES! The original recipe calls for “jumbo” muffin cups and makes 12. I decided to use regular muffin tins and made 24 cupcakes instead. The cupcakes have fresh berries in the recipe, but I also chopped up some fresh berries and served them on the side. There is no need to add any type of sugar to the whipped cream as the simplicity of the cream goes so well with the texture of the cupcake and the sweetness of the berries. The best part about these ANGEL FOOD CUPCAKES is that they are under 140 calories! (if you make the jumbo cupcakes each cupcake is only 139 calories). My Academy Awards dinner turned out great! Cupcakes were a huge hit! Now, if we could only talk to someone in charge and make the show a little bit more interesting next year! What a yawner!!!!
- 1 1/2 cups egg whites (10-12 eggs)
- 1 cup sifted cake flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups assorted blueberries, raspberries and diced strawberries
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- Extra berries to serve on the side
- In a very large mixing bowl allow egg whites to stand at room temp for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift cake flour and 1/2 cup sugar together three times; set aside.
- Line 24 muffin cups (or 12 jumbo) with cupcake liners. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add cream of tartar, vanilla, almond extract and salt to egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks from.
- Sift one-fourth of the cake flour mixture over beaten egg whites; fold gently. Repeat, folding in the remaining flour mixture by fourths.
- Spoon batter into the muffin cups filling abour half way full. Sprinkle a few berry pieces on top of each, then top with another large dollop of batter and then a few more berries. Mound remaining batter over berries (the cups will be very full).
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown and spring back when lightly touched with a finger. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack in the pan.
- In the meantime pour the pint of heavy whipping cream into a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form
- When the cupcakes are completely cool place a dollop of fresh whipped cream on the top. Serve with fresh sliced berries on the side.
- Place cupcakes in fridge until ready to use.
This Chicken Parmesan recipe is what “sealed the deal” for my husband & I!!
Last weekend was Valentines Day which got me thinking about my special Valentine…my hubby! We met in the fall of 2004 and got married in the fall of 2006. From what I can remember I believe it is my Chicken Parmesan that blew him away and really “sealed the deal”! The very first meal I ever made my husband (my then new boyfriend at the time) was my Chicken Parmesan. I picked this special dish for two reasons: one,this dish is one of my specialties and I knew I could not mess it up and two, this dish is also out of this world when made properly. I knew I would blow him away and he would fall instantly in love with me. I believe it worked! Fast forward to 2016…we have been married for almost 10 years and have 4 insanely wild and wonderful kids!
To be honest, I knew he was the “one” so I wanted to make him something special that night for dinner. This dish does take a little time and preparation so I usually save it for special occasions. Could you whip it up on a week-day…sure, but it is more fun to have a special recipe that you only bring out for birthdays, anniversaries, etc…. I pound the chicken really well so it is nice and thin and then marinate it over night in some olive oil with garlic. I make a big batch of my Marinara Sauce which accompanies the breaded chicken. Finally, I finish the dish off with some beautiful bright white slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. I serve my Orzo & Feta along side my Chicken Parmesan with a big Italian salad. I sit back , watch everyone enjoying the meal and listen to the mmm’s and the ahh’s!
- 6 boneless & skinless chicken breasts
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves - sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 4 large eggs
- 1 TB. milk
- 3 cups Italian bread crumbs
- 2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese (divided)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella (cut into 12 thin slices)
- 8 cups Marinara Sauce (see recipe below)
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- Using a metal meat pounder, pound each chicken breasts so that the are about 1 inch thick.
- Marinate chicken: place all pounded chicken breasts in a large zip lock bag. Add 2/3 cup olive oil, sliced garlic, oregano, basil and pepper. Close zip lock bag and mix chicken around so it is coated with all the other ingredients. Place in fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Remove chicken from fridge. In a large shallow dish mix the 4 eggs with 1 TB. milk. Whisk and set aside. In a second shallow bowl place the breadcrumbs along with 1 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese.
- Dip each chicken breasts one at a time first in the egg mixture letting excess drip off and then immediately placing it in dish of breadcrumbs and cheese. Coat each piece of chicken generously with breadcrumb mixture. Place each breaded piece of chicken on a platter and set aside.
- In the meantime place enough vegetable oil in a large frying pan to coat the entire bottom of pan. Working in batches (probably 3 chicken breasts per batch) fry each chicken breasts until browned on each side. About 2 to 3 minutes per side. Continue with second batch and remove the chicken breasts from fry pan and set aside on a platter.
- In a large baking dish or roasting pan place about 3 cups of marinara sauce so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Place chicken breasts in a single layer covering the bottom of the pan. Layer 3 more cups of marinara sauce over the top of the chicken breasts. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place covered pan in oven and cook for about 30 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and uncover. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with some of the remaining parmesan cheese. Place two thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese over each chicken breast.
- Return pan to oven uncovered - put oven temp. on broil. Broil for about 3-5 minutes or just until cheese melts on top.
- Serve immediately with some chopped fresh basil as garnish. Serve with my Orzo & Feta recipe along with a side of the remaining 2 cups of marinara.
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 - 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 2- 14 ounce cans tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (about 12 basil leaves)
- salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy bottom sauce pan or pot.
- Add garlic and saute 3-5 minutes.
- Add basil and oregano - cook 2 minutes
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and red pepper to your liking and cook 5 minutes.
- Add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup water ( I usually do this by adding some water to empty tomato cans and swishing water around to get all the juice from the cans). Add this water to sauce in pot. Cover & stir.
- Let sauce cook on medium for about half an hour.
- With a hand blender puree the tomato sauce until smooth. (can also pour into a blender and puree) You can leave it thick, but my family likes it pureed and smooth.
- Put lid on pot. Cook for one more hour on low. Can cook for more, but an hour usually does the trick.
- * I always make a big batch of this sauce and freeze it in smaller containers so I have it readily available for recipes that call for marinara sauce (ex: Chicken Parm.)