Carnevale Lasagna

Since today is Fat Tuesday, which is the last day before the start of Lent, I thought I would share my version of Carnevale Lasagna.  Carnevale is the traditional pre-Lenten celebration in Italy, which ends when Lent starts on Ash Wednesday.

Traditionally during Lent, Italian Catholics were not supposed to eat meat during the period of Lent, from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Today, things have changed a bit, and Catholics are only supposed to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent.

The day before Lent was a final day to indulge before the Lenten fast.  My Carnevale Lasagna is made with four layers of Lasagna noodles and three layers of meat mixture.

Maria’s Carnevale Lasagna


½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 pounds ground beef
½ pound Genoa salami chopped
1-teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups tomato sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
8 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces Parmesan cheese grated
8 ounces Lasagna noodles cooked

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
After the butter is melted add the olive oil.
Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.
Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add the ground beef and the Genoa salami to the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until the beef is no longer pink.
Add the spices to the skillet, mix thoroughly and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Drain the fat off of the meat mixture and set aside.
Spread about ¼ inch tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
Put a layer of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.
Spread a third of the meat mixture and mozzarella cheese on top of the noodles.
Dot with a third of the ricotta cheese and finish the layer by sprinkling with Parmesan cheese.
Continue layering the ingredients ending with a layer of lasagna.
Spread about one cup of the tomato sauce over the final layer of lasagna and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve hot with the leftover tomato sauce.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and the Italian recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years. I am always looking for new, exciting or different Italian recipes, tips and helpful hints. If you have any family Italian recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be happy to share them with the rest of the world.

Con tanto amore – With Lots of Love



More Super Bowl Snacks-Italian Style

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Day. I’m not a big football fan, but I do like watching the Super Bowl. My favorite part of watching the Super Bowl is the cool new commercials they show. I also like making some treats to eat during the Super Bowl. I’ve already posted some cool recipes for some great Super Bowl snacks. But, I thought I would post a few more Super Bowl snacks.

Pizza Pretzels


1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-tablespoon cornmeal
1 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
1 can refrigerated pizza crust
28 slices pepperoni
8 pieces mozzarella string cheese
4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese
1 cup tomato pasta sauce, heated

Heat oven to 425°F.
Brush large cookie sheet with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Sprinkle cookie sheet with cornmeal.
Sprinkle flour over work surface.
On the floured surface, unroll pizza crust dough. Starting at the center of the dough, press dough into 16×10-inch rectangle.
With pizza cutter or knife, cut dough lengthwise into 4 (2 1/2-inch-wide) strips.
Evenly place seven pepperoni slices on each dough strip, leaving 1/2 inch on each end uncovered.
Cut each string cheese in half lengthwise.
Place 4 cheese halves on pepperoni on each dough strip, overlapping ends to fit.
Bring up sides of each dough strip over pepperoni and cheese, and tightly pinch together, stretching dough as necessary to fully enclose cheese and pepperoni; pinch ends to seal.
Lightly roll and shape into 16-inch logs.
To make pretzel shape, form each log into U-shape, then cross the ends and fold dough over so ends rest on bottom of U-shape.
Arrange pretzels on cookie sheet.
Brush pretzels with remaining 1/2-tablespoon oil; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until pretzels are golden brown.
Serve warm with pasta sauce for dipping.

Spinach, Prosciutto and Roasted Pepper Calzone


2 cans(8 oz each)refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 box(9 oz)frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain
8 oz provolone cheese thinly sliced
2 large red bell peppers, roasted and quartered
4 oz prosciutto thinly sliced
2 tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto
1 egg yolk
1-tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease large cookie sheet.
Unroll both cans of dough into 2 long rectangles.
Place the dough rectangles with long sides together on cookie sheet to form a 15×10-inch rectangle.
Press edges and perforations to seal.
Place the spinach lengthways in 4-inch-wide strip down center of dough to within 1/2 inch of each end.
Top with half of the cheese, the roasted peppers and prosciutto.
Spread the pesto over prosciutto.
Cover with remaining cheese.
Bring long sides of dough up over filling, overlapping 1 inch and press edges and ends to seal.
Beat egg yolk and water until well blended in small bowl.
Brush egg yolk mixture over top of dough.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown.
Cut into crosswise slices. Serve Warm.

Ham Florentine Mini Cups

Ham Florentine Mini-Cups

This recipe only takes a few minutes to throw together and makes a great super bowl snack.  The original recipe is from Pillsbury Crescent recipe creations. I only made a few slight changes to their original recipe.


1 box (9 oz) frozen spinach thawed and squeezed to drain
1/3-cup garlic and herbs spreadable cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded 5-cheese or 6-cheese Italian cheese blend
3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons onion finely chopped
1/4-teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (8 oz)refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
24 slices of thin Prosciutto or smoked ham
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In medium bowl, mix all ingredients except rolls, ham and Parmesan cheese until well blended and set aside.
Unroll crescent rolls dough and separate into four rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal.
Cut each rectangle into 6 (2-inch) squares.
Press one square into the bottom of each muffin cup bottom and push it up against the side.
Pat each ham slice dry with paper towel.
Place one Prosciutto slice ham slice over dough in each cup (edges of ham will be higher than side of cup.)
Spoon rounded 1-teaspoon spinach mixture onto ham in center of each cup.
Bake 14 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is hot.
To prevent browning of ham, cover with foil after 5 minutes to prevent browning.Cool in pan 1 minute then remove from pan; let stand 3 minutes before serving.
Finish with Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.
To make the mini cups use an un-greased 24 count muffin pan.

Calzone Pinwheels


1/2-cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1/2 cup pepperoni diced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh mushrooms chopped
1/4 cup green pepper finely chopped
2 tablespoons onion finely chopped
1 package(8 ounces)refrigerated crescent rolls
1 jar(14 ounces) pizza sauce, warmed

Combine the ricotta, Italian seasoning and salt in a small bowl.
Stir in the mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, green pepper and onion.
Separate crescent dough into four rectangles and seal perforations.
Spread cheese mixture over each rectangle to within 1/4 in. of edges.
Roll up jelly roll style, starting with a short side and pinch seams to seal.
Cut each into four slices.
Place cut side down on greased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm with pizza sauce.

Pizza Crescents

Pizza Joe Crescent Sandwiches


½ lb ground beef, cooked, drained
½ cup chopped pepperoni
1/3-cup pizza sauce
2 cans(8 oz each)refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mix beef, pepperoni and pizza sauce In a 10-inch skillet.
Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Separate or cut each can of dough into 4 rectangles and press perforations to seal.
Spoon meat mixture in center of each rectangle.
Sprinkle each rectangle with 1 tablespoon of cheese.
Fold dough over filling and press edges with a fork to seal.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake on an un-greased cookie sheet for 18 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot.

Italian Antipasto Squares

Italian Antipasto Squares

2 Cans (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
4 oz thinly sliced salami
4 oz thinly sliced Swiss cheese
4 oz thinly sliced pepperoni
4 oz thinly sliced American cheese
4 oz thinly sliced capocollo (cured Italian ham) or cooked ham
4 oz thinly sliced provolone cheese
2 eggs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
1 jar (12 oz) sliced roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 egg yolk, beaten

Heat oven to 350°F. L
Lightly butter a 13×9-inch pan or spray with cooking spray.
Unroll 1 can of dough into 1 large rectangle and place in pan.
Press in bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of pan to form crust, firmly pressing perforations to seal.
Layer all meats and cheeses in order listed over dough.
In small bowl, beat 2 eggs, the garlic powder and pepper with wire whisk until well blended.
Pour over meat and cheese layers.
Layer roasted peppers and olives over top.
Unroll second can of dough into 1 large rectangle and press into 13×9-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal.
Place over top of layered ingredients.
Pinch edges to seal. Brush beaten egg yolk over dough.
Cover with foil and Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.
Cool 15 minutes before serving.
Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm.

I hope you enjoy these Super Bowl Snacks.

Con Tanto Amore


Italian Goulash-Gulasch Italiano

37 - Italienischer Gulasch / Goulash italian s...

Today has really been one of the first cold days we have really had this winter.  It’s only going up into the 40’s today.  Considering that it is winter, that’s not too bad.  I guess I have been getting a little spoiled with the warm, spring-like weather we have had so far this winter. I don’t want you to think that I am complaining, I guess more stating a fact.  I’m not a cold weather girl, in fact I really, really don’t like winter, so I have been quite happy with the mild temps. It is just that I had all kinds of hearty, cold weather dishes in mind that I was going to share, but my mind keeps wandering to spring and yes, summer menu ideas.  So, since the weather is a little chilly today, I thought that I would share this recipe for Italian Goulash.  There are a lot of different recipes for this dish but the one constant is paprika.  I think the best way to serve Italian Goulash is over polenta, so I have also included a basic recipe for polenta.

Italian Goulash
Gulasch Italiano


1-tablespoon olive oil
3 medium onions chopped
2 1/2 pounds stewing beef cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons paprika
1 can (28 oz.) tomato puree
2 teaspoons cumin
1-tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
When the pan is hot add the oil and onions.
Cook the onions for about 3 to 5 minutes, until they are soft.
Add the meat, tomato puree, paprika, cumin, oregano, lemon zest, bay leaves, garlic and salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over low heat for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve hot with polenta. Serves 6 to 8.

Basic Polenta


1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
6 cups cold water
1-teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan add the cornmeal, water and salt.
Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly.

Continue cooking for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pan.
Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the mixture is thick and creamy, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve hot with Italian Goulash.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Italian Goulash-Gulasch Italiano.

Con Tanto Amore


Bistecca alla Pizziola-Steak with Tomato Sauce

Bistecca alla Pizziola is steak with tomato sauce.  The main ingredient in this recipe is steak, of course.  I love steak, but sometimes steak can get a little boring and this Italian recipe is a great way to change things up a bit.  I have seen some recipes for this dish that use onion and also red pepper flakes if you want to spice things up a bit.  I prefer this simple basic recipe for Bistecca alla Pizziola.

Serves 6


1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic chopped
6 thin tender steaks
1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
1-tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/4-cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
Parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
When the skillet is hot add the olive oil and garlic.  Cook the garlic for 2 minutes.
Add the steaks to the skillet and brown on both sides (you can brown the steaks in batches and remove to a platter to keep warm).
After the steaks are all browned and transferred to a platter, add the tomatoes, oregano and salt and pepper.

Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the steaks back into the skillet-cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Spoon the tomato mixture over each steak and garnish with the parsley and cheese.

Add a salad and Italian or garlic bread and you have a fabulous meal.
You could also make extra sauce and serve it over your favorite pasta as a side dish.

Con Tanto Amore


Coffee on a Stick-Caffe in forchetta

Photography by Ian Wallace

Coffee on a Stick
Caffe in forchetta

I can’t seem to stop thinking about sweets and rich desserts.  I not sure if it is me or this crazy spring like weather we are having this winter.  So, since I can’t stop thinking about these things, I thought I would share this dessert recipe for Caffe in forchetta-Coffee on a Stick. Coffee on a Stick is a recipe for Italian coffee flavored custard. I know the name is a little strange, but this custard got its name because it is kind of like eating coffee with a fork, hence the name. What I like about this custard recipe is that it is pretty simple and straightforward. You mix everything together and bake the custard right in the oven. In about an hour you can have a fabulous dessert.


1 tablespoon almond oil*
4 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ¾ cups milk
¼ cup strong brewed coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly coat a 9-inch square pan with the almond oil.
Combine the eggs and sugar in a medium-mixing bowl.
Whisk until the eggs and sugar are well blended.
Slowly whisk in the milk and the coffee.
Pour the mixture into the 9-inch coated pan.
Place that pan into a larger baking dish and add about 1 inch of water.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Cover the custard and cook for an additional 40 minutes or until the custard is set.
Remove the custard from the oven and let cool slightly.
To remove the custard from the pan-run a sharp, thin knife around the edges.
Turn the pan over onto a large plate or platter.
This custard is best served warm. Serve with a little grated chocolate on top and/or whipped cream.

*If you don’t have almond oil you can use canola oil, vegetable oil or any light oil. This is one of those times where I don’t recommend using olive oil. Olive oil is too strong and will change the taste of the custard.

I hope you enjoy this Italian dessert recipe for Caffe in forchetta-Coffee on a Stick.

Con Tanto Amore


Olive Oil and Garlic Sauce – Agliae E Olio

I would have to say, hands down, that olive oil and garlic sauce has to be one of my favorite easy and quick sauces for spaghetti that you can whip up in just minutes.  Garlic and Olive oil sauce is fast and simple to make and excellent for your health.  I always have garlic and olive oil on hand, so this sauce is perfect when I am in a hurry or don’t feel like fussing in the kitchen.  The key to this sauce is using extra virgin olive oil and to cook the garlic until it is soft, but not brown.  Never brown garlic as this makes garlic bitter.

Olive Oil and Garlic Sauce
Agliae E Olio


1-pound pasta
1/2-cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Pecorino Romano cheese

After you add the pasta to salted, boiling water, heat a medium skillet over low to medium low heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and garlic. Cook (don’t burn or brown) the garlic until the garlic is soft –about 5 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with the olive oil and garlic sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.  Serve hot.

The best type of pasta to use with this dish is any type of spaghetti (I like angel hair).  I like to use Pecorino Romano Cheese with Agliae E Olio sauce as it has a sharper flavor than Parmesan cheese, but you can use Parmesan cheese instead.  If you want to spice up this simple Italian dish, try adding some hot red pepper flakes to the garlic and olive oil about a minute before the garlic is done cooking.

Con Tanto Amore


Chicken with Sweet Bell Pepper-POLLO CON PEPERONI BELL

Chicken is one of my favorite foods.   I guess I like chicken so much because there are so many different ways to serve chicken.   It is important to remember that raw chicken can carry harmful salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. By following a few easy steps when handling raw chicken this problem can be prevented.  Always wash your hands with soap and water after you touch raw chicken.  Also, make sure that all the surfaces and utensils in your kitchen that have come in contact with raw chicken are washed thoroughly with soap and water.  If bacteria are transferred to work surfaces, utensils, or hands, they could contaminate other foods, as well as the cooked chicken. Chicken should always be cooked completely before eating. You should never cook chicken partially and then store it to be finished later, since this promotes bacterial growth as well.  Okay, so with that said, I thought I would share this easy “Pollo con Peperoini Bell” Chicken with Bell Pepper.  I like to use different colors of bell pepper in this dish, if I can find them.  It doesn’t really change the taste of the dish if you only use green bell pepper, but the different colored peppers make the dish look more appealing.

Ingredients – four servings

1 chicken – cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion-chopped
4 bell peppers-green, red or yellow-sliced
½ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs Italian parsley-chopped (optional-garnish)

Place the flour and salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
Add the chicken pieces to the flour mixture and coat chicken on all sides.
Transfer coated chicken pieces to a plate.
Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add the olive oil and onion to the hot pan.
Cook the onion until slightly browned (about 5 minutes).
Add the pieces of chicken to the pan and brown on both sides over medium heat.

English: Home made fried chicken wings in a li...

Add the pepper slices, lower the heat and add one glass of water.
Cover pan and simmer for 40 minutes stirring occasionally.
Place chicken on a serving dish and top with the cooked pepper and onion mixture.  Garnish with Italian parsley.

I hope you enjoy this Italian recipe for Chicken with Sweet Bell Pepper.

Con tanto amore