Italian Rainbow Cookies

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Three layers of almond sponge cake are tied together with sticky apricot jam and topped with chocolate to make these Italian rainbow cookies. The layers are colored green, white and red to represent the Italian flag.

The process of making them is not difficult or all that time consuming the way I assumed it would be. They require only one batter that is split up into three equal portions. One is left plain, one is tinted with green food color and the last is tinted red.

They are each spread very thinly over a baking sheet where they take all of 10 minutes to bake. Then they are stacked and layered with apricot jam (or raspberry) and smooshed together. That’s right. Smooshed. As in smashed. You put a baking sheet on top of them and weigh it down with cans for a few hours so the spongy, almond-paste-infused cake can soak up some of the jam and flatten into a dense cake.

Yes, that means there’s wait time. The hardest part. Waiting to shove them in your mouth because they’re so freaking irresistible.

After the cake melds together it’s topped with chocolate and cut into squares.

That’s when the shoveling ensues. Beware of flying crumbs.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Three layers of almond sponge cake are tied together with sticky apricot jam and topped with chocolate to make these Italian rainbow cookies. The layers are colored green, white and red to represent the Italian flag.

Ingredients:

8 ounces almond paste
1 cup granulated sugar
2 + ½ sticks (1 + 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (measure first), plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
2 (15-ounce jars) smooth apricot or raspberry jam
1 pound semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped small
1 teaspoon melted shortening

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. On low speed add the butter, a little at a time and mix until well combined.
  3. On low speed add the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until smooth. Beat in salt and flour on low speed until just combined.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until foamy while slowly adding the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, continue beating on medium speed until stiff peaks form. When the beater is lifted the whites should stay stuck to it.
  5. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to start then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
  6. Divide the batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain. Add red food coloring to the second stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to the last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color.
  7. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with an offset spatula as evenly as you can - it will be very thin. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cakes cook completely on wire racks.
  8. Put the green cake on a large cutting board and spread one jar of jam evenly over the cake almost to the edges. Top with the plain layer. Spread the remaining jar of jam over the plain layer almost to the edges. Top with the red layer.
  9. Top the red layer with a piece of parchment then wrap the entire cake in plastic. Top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in a cool place or in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
  10. Unwrap the cake. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or using the chocolate setting on your microwave until smooth. Stir in the shortening.
  11. Pour the chocolate over the top the cake and spread it evenly from edge to edge with an offset spatula. Allow the chocolate to set in a cool place or in the refrigerator. If you like you can run a fork through the chocolate when it is halfway set from one end to the other, slightly undulating it so it looks like waves, repeating until it is entirely striped.
  12. Use a serrated knife to cut into rows then cut the rows into squares or rectangles. Wipe the knife clean with a wet cloth after each cut. Store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Notes:

Adapted from Lidia Bastianich

Here's a step-by-step tutorial

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/italian-rainbow-cookies/

Italian Pignoli Cookies

Italian Pignoli Cookies

Classic Italian cookies with soft almond paste middles and a crunchy pine nut coating. They’re a must for any holiday cookie tray, even if you’re not Italian, and will be the first to disappear. {Hide some. . .}

They’re revered for their striking almond flavor that comes from a trio of almond including almond paste, almond extract and almond flour. They’re gluten-free and only call for a small amount of almond flour that reinforces the rich almond flavor that is already present due to the almond paste. Mother of all almonds.

You can bake them so they’re on the softer side, the way I like them, where just the outsides are crisp and the insides are super soft and moist or you can cook them a few minutes longer if you like a crisper, chewier cookie. I find the almond is more pronounced when they’re softer.

For a sweet little surprise you can tuck a maraschino cherry half into the middle of them.

Swoon.

Pignoli Cookies

These freeze well if you want to get a jump start on your holiday baking.

Italian Pignoli Cookies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 24 minutes

Yield: about 20 cookies

Italian Pignoli Cookies

Classic Italian cookies with soft almond paste middles and a crunchy pine nut coating. They're a must for any holiday cookie tray, even if you're not Italian, and will be the first to disappear.

Ingredients:

1 cup almond paste (I used homemade )
1/4 cup (1 + 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 + 5/8 ounces) almond flour
1 large egg white
1 + 1/2 cups (7 + 1/4 ounces) pine nuts (pignoli) (I use these )
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Place the almond paste in a medium bowl and break it apart. Mix in the sugar, salt, both extracts, and almond flour. The mixture will be crumbly.
  3. Add the egg white and beat on low speed until smooth. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Place the pine nuts in a shallow dish. Working one at a time scoop up tablespoon-sized pieces of the dough and form them into balls.
  5. Drop them into the pine nuts and roll to coat, pressing them on gently with your hands. Place them on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake 20 minutes for a softer cookie 22 - 24 for a harder cookie.
  7. Cool on pans 5 minutes then move to wire racks and cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dry place up to 1 week.

Notes:

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/italian-pignoli-cookies/

Slow-Cooker Meatballs with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Slow Cooker Meatballs

I’m blogging for a good cause today! It’s World Diabetes Awareness Day so I made you a diabetic-friendly meal! It’s low-carb and also gluten free.

Tender, flavorful meatballs are slow-cooked in tomato sauce and served with roasted spaghetti squash. I replaced the bread crumbs in the meatballs with Parmesan cheese and swapped out the high-carb spaghetti for spaghetti squash. A one-cup serving of spaghetti has about 43 grams of carbs while 1 cup of spaghetti squash has only 10. Win-win.

If you never had spaghetti squash before then you’re in for a treat. Uncooked it looks like any other winter squash but once cooked a magical transformation takes place. Pull a fork through it and you will suddenly find yourself with a pile of stringy noodles. Nature’s answer to spaghetti.

You can also mix the spaghetti squash with real spaghetti – do a mix of half and half to cut down on the carbs.

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Slow-Cooker Meatballs with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Slow-Cooker Meatballs with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Tender, flavorful meatballs are slow-cooked in tomato sauce and served with roasted spaghetti squash.

Ingredients:

Sauce:
2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
1 can (3 ounces) tomato paste
2 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed between fingertips
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more), optional
pinch of sugar
Meatballs:
1 + 1/2 pounds ground beef/pork/veal mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
for serving:
2 medium spaghetti squash

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion, pepper and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes until soft and tender, stirring often.
  2. Mix the tomato paste into the onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add it to the crock-pot with the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, a pinch of sugar plus 1 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl using a fork or your hands combine the ground meat, eggs, Parmesan, onion, garlic, parsley and a dash of salt and pepper together. Scoop up 2 tablespoons of the meat and pack it into a ball. Repeat until all the meat is used. Carefully drop them into the crock-pot.
  4. Cook on high 4 - 5 hours or low 6 - 8 hours. Taste and season the sauce as needed during the last hour.
  5. Meanwhile roast the spaghetti squash (you can roast it whole!) until tender on 400 degrees F about 45 minutes depending on their size. Let them cool off until you can handle them comfortably. Cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp and seeds with a grapefruit spoon. Pull a fork through the squash to make the noodles.
  6. If your spaghetti squash seems especially watery you can drain it for a few minutes in a colander.
  7. Mix the spaghetti squash with enough sauce to generously coat and sere with the meatballs and Parmesan cheese.

Notes:

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/slow-cooker-meatballs-with-spaghetti-squash/

You can learn more about diabetes over at my friend Swathi’s blog Zesty South Indian Kitchen, who asked me to join her today in bringing Diabetes Awareness Through Food. You can also visit the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes 
 

Baked Chicken Pizzaiola

Baked Chicken Pizzaiola

Baked chicken cutlets covered in parmesan bread crumbs and topped with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. If pizza and chicken Parmesan fell in love and had a baby together this is what it would look like. A delicious fusion of the two classics.

It’s served with spaghetti and a quick, homemade sauce that is a cinch to throw together. To save time you can skip the homemade sauce and use your favorite jarred. Doing that easily turns it into a 30-minute meal. A meal you can make in a hurry but with such an impressive outcome everyone will think you slaved over the stove all day.

I love that.

Baked Pizzaiola Chicken

The pepperoni adds a spicy punch that kicks up the flavor a notch or two. That’s where the ‘pizza’ in the ‘pizzaiola’ comes in. Combined with the mozzarella and the tomato sauce your taste buds think you’re eating pizza, with the chicken acting as a stand-in for the crust.

If you’re craving pizza, this might not do the trick but if you’re looking to change-up your traditional chicken Parmesan routine or just need a quick dinner idea, then this is your answer.

It works like a charm.

Pepporoni Pizzaiola Chicken

Baked Chicken Pizzaiola

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Baked Chicken Pizzaiola

Baked chicken cutlets covered in Parmesan bread crumbs and topped with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, served with spaghetti and an easy tomato sauce.

Ingredients:

Sauce {substitute 1 jar (24 ounce) premade sauce to save time}:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-ish yellow onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 + 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, crushed between fingertips
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Chicken:
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
6 chicken cutlets I like Bell & Evans
1 + 1/3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 - 4 ounces sliced pepperoni
12 ounces spaghetti

Instructions:

    Make the sauce:
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook until tender about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Mix in the crushed tomatoes, about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add about 1/4 cup water to the empty tomato can and slosh it around to mix with any remaining sauce and add it to the pan.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook 25 - 30 minutes, stirring often. Taste halfway through and again at the end and season as needed.
  4. Meanwhile make the chicken:
  5. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large roasting pan or baking sheet with sides large enough to comfortably fit all the chicken.
  6. In a wide, shallow dish mix the Parmesan and bread crumbs together. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken one at a time with the crumbs patting them on with your hands - the chicken will be thinly covered - some of the chicken will show through - that's ok. Place them in the baking sheet at least an inch apart.
  7. Bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling water according to package directions to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water before draining.
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven and top with the pepperoni - dividing it up evenly between the chicken, then do the same with the mozzarella, piling it on top. Put them back in the oven about 5 minutes until cheese is completely melted. Chicken should measure internal temperature of 165 - 175 degrees F. If you want the cheese to be golden you can place them briefly under the broiler.
  9. Mix the sauce into the spaghetti over low heat, mixing in a little of the reserved starchy water from cooking the spaghetti. Serve with the chicken and extra Parmesan for garnish.
  10. *To make this without the spaghetti bake it in a large casserole dish. Pour the sauce into the bottom and place the chicken on top. You will need to cook it longer - anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes.

Notes:

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/baked-chicken-pizzaiola/

Easy Puff Pastry Garlic Knots

Easy Garlic Knots

Flaky, golden-brown, garlic-laden, buttery knots of joy.

I love you.

These are so much easier than the traditional yeast-risen garlic knots and every bit, if not more, delicious!

You can throw them together in less than 20 minutes and after the first time they promise to become a habit. If you’re anything like me, and I bet you are, you will find yourself craving them at crazy hours of the day and night…. 

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