Lia Riley’s Italian Antipasto


Lia Riley, author of INSIDE OUT, shares with us all the ingredients you need for a delicious Italian antipasto!

1 pound bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 fresh figs, halved lengthwise
2 cups artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 pound Pecorino cheese, cubed
1 pound provolone cheese, cubed
3/4 pound air-dried sopressata, thinly sliced
3/4 pound refrigerator-dried sopressata, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups pepperoncini, drained
1 1/2 cups mixed olives, drained
1 1/2 cups peppadew peppers
3/4 pounds salami, thinly sliced
3/4 pounds prosciutto, very thinly sliced
Tunafish in oil
Good quality bread


Cottage Cheese Pie

Adrianne Lee, author of DELECTABLE, shares with us her favorite holiday recipe for Cottage Cheese Pie!

In a blender:

1 pint of cottage cheese (I use 2%)

1 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

dash of salt

Mix thoroughly, then add:

2 eggs

1 can of evaporated milk

(This mixture will fill 1 and a half pie shells. So, there might be some waste. For 4 pies, I use 3 times the listed ingredients.)

  • Pour the mixture into unbaked pie shells.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes to 20 minutes
  • Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and continue baking until done, approximately 40 minutes.

Serves: 1 9″ pie

Dear Abby’s Pecan Pie

A Christmas to Remember MMThe holidays are all about family, love…and desserts!! Check out this scrumptious recipe for pecan pie from Marilyn Pappano:


Unbaked 9-inch pie crust

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3-1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup pecan halves

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla; mix well. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle with pecan halves.
  • Bake for 45-30 minutes or until center is set (toothpick inserted in center will come out clean when pie is done). If crust or pie appears to be getting too brown, cover with foil for the remaining baking time.
  • Cool and serve with sweetened whipping cream or vanilla ice cream.

Debbie Mason’s Italian Christmas Feast

From Debbie Mason, author of IT HAPPENED AT CHRISTMAS, enjoy this collection of recipes for the perfect Italian Christmas feast!

Mason_It Happened At Christmas_MMI’m married to an Italian, so it wouldn’t be christmas if we didn’t include our favorite Italian dishes along with the traditional holiday fare.

Italian Wedding Soup (Christmas Eve)

Makes 8-10 servings.

I make the meatballs, cheese bread, and pastini a week before, put them in the freezer and take out at serving time.


1/2 pound ground veal

1/2 pound lean ground pork

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 slices of white bread without crusts, tear into small pieces, add a little milk to moisten–let sit for 5 minutes

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • In a large bowl, combine ingredients and mix with your hands until blended. Form into small balls–about 1/2 inch in diameter. Once you’ve rolled all the meatballs, bring 3 cups of chicken stock (store bought is fine) to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook the meatballs until they’re cooked through (5-7 minutes). Spread the cooked meatballs on a cookie sheet and freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag.

Cheese Bread

6 tbsp flour

6 eggs, beaten

2 cups of Parmesan cheese

1 tsp baking powder

  • In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, then add beaten eggs. Mix until we blended. Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and spread evenly.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Once cooled, cut into small squares–1/4 inch. Spread on a cookie sheet and freeze, then transfer to freezer bag.


I use quadretti, stellini, or orzo. Cook as per package, drain and rinse. Once cooled, spread on a cookie sheet and freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag.

Chicken Stock

I buy a pre-cooked barbeque chicken from the grocery store. We don’t use the meat in our soup, so cut off what you want for sandwiches and put in fridge. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the chicken, add a large onion, 2 or 3 carrots, and salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 3 hours. Strain the broth into another pot. At this point, add 1 or 2 containers of store-bought chicken stock, depending on the numbers.

Lasagne (Christmas Day)

Makes 10 servings

Pasta Dough (below) store bought is fine

Ragu Bolognese (below)

10 oz parmigiano-reggiano, grated

5 cups besciamella (below)

Ragu Bolognese

Makes about 6 cups

1/4 cup of olive oil or canola

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 ribs celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound ground veal

1 pound ground pork

1 6-oz can of tomato paste

1 28-oz can of blended tomatoes

1 cup whole milk

1 cup dry white wine

Pinch of salt and pepper

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are translucent (5 minutes). Add the veal and pork, increase the heat to high and brown the meat, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, blended tomatoes, milk, and wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. If you want to make ahead, you can refrigerate for 2 days or freeze for up to a month.


10 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups whole milk

4 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring, until light golden brown (6-7 minutes).
  • In another saucepan, heat the milk to just under a boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly until smooth, and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk. Cook, whisking until thickened, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg. Transfer to bowl and let cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pasta Dough

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

5 large eggs

  • Put the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center and add the eggs. Using a fork, beat the eggs together and then starting with the inner rim of the well, bring in the flour. Once you have incorporated half of the flour, the dough will begin to come together and you can start kneading. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes, dusting the board as necessary. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8 portions and roll each one out. I have a pasta machine and put it through on the thinnest setting. Lay the sheets on a lightly floured work surface and let dry for 10 minutes. Cut into strips and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
  • In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Set up an ice bath next to the stove, and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook the noodles, 6 to 7 at a time in the boiling water until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to ice bath to cool, then lay out on clean kitchen towels to drain.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Assemble the lasagne in a 10X20 inch pan or use 2 9X12 inch pans. Spread the ragu over the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with Parmigianino, top with a layer of pasta, a layer of besciamella, another layer of ragu, a sprinkle of Parmigianino, and pasta. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. Finish with a layer of pasta topped with besciamella and a sprinkling of Parmigianino.

Rochelle Alers’ Pumpkin Squares

Alers_Home for the Holidays_e-bookRochelle Alers shares with us her favorite holiday recipes for delicious pumpkin squares! Check it out below…and don’t miss her new e-novella, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.


1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup and set aside)

1/2 cup melted butter

3 large eggs

1/8 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup soft butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 jar Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter (purchased at Williams-Sonoma)

  • Mix remainder of yellow cake mix with 1/2 cup melted butter. Then, add one egg (mix well).
  • Press lightly into bottom of 9X13 in pan.
  • mix Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter with two eggs and 1/2 cup of milk. Pour over cake mixture.
  • Mix one cup reserved yellow cake mix with one cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup soft butter and 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • Mix and crumble over top of pumpkin layer.
  • Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Van Dyken_Elect_TP

Calling this recipe a salad may be false advertising…but there’s no doubt this dessert from Rachel Van Dyken is the best you’ve ever had!


3/4 cup butter softened

3 cups chilled strawberries

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 1/2 cups crushed pretzels

1 package cream cheese

1 cup white sugar

1 6 oz box of Strawberry Jello

1 package Cool Whip (container)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Cream Butter or margarine with the brown sugar. Mix in the pretzels and pat mixture into the bottom of one 9X13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water and stir in the strawberries. Chill until partially thickened.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and white sugar together until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread mixture over the top of the coolest crust, making sure to seal the edges. Chill then pour the gelatin mixture over the cream cheese layer. Chill until firm.

Christmas Kismet Cookies

Wilde_Double Trouble_MMLori Wilde’s latest book is DOUBLE TROUBLE…and so are these Christmas Kismet Cookies! Check out the recipe:

Christmas Kismet Cookies

Serves: 24 Cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

14 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp table salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cups semisweet white chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  • Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.
  • Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  • Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.
  • Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.
  • Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in white chocolate chips, nuts and cranberries, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  • Using a tablespoon, scoop out as much cookie dough as necessary to make the size of cookies you desire. I did one big tablespoon for each cookie, which equaled to 2 sheets of 12 cookies.
  • Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 9-11 minutes.
  • Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and allow cookies to cool.