Welcome to my new home! Come on in! It’s been some time since I’ve “opened” my home and welcomed in my friends and family, gathering around the table, sharing laughter, stories, great food and drink. We’ve got lots of catching up to do; I’m so behind on all that has been happening, baking and cooking in your lives and cucinas!
As for me, I’m settling in, finally. New job, new state, new home, new kitchen and a new chapter of my life! Hmmm..so Spicegirl, just what does that mean? Well, pull up a chair, grab a cannoli and I’ll fill you in.
I’ve launched Chapter 4 of my life. Chapter 1 was childhood, a very happy childhood, raised in a loving Italian family. I cherish every moment and memory. Chapter 2 rolled into my marriage and babies, Supermom, hostess with the mostess, I did it all AND kept up with the Joneses! Chapter 3 of my life had me packing up the dog and my young children and heading to Florida. No longer caring about the Joneses, living the Florida lifestyle, sitting by the pool on Thanksgiving day while my family up North was freezing, yet as a single mom you’d be lucky to catch me between work, baseball games, diving practices, carpooling, teen drama, college life and constant prepping and cooking seven course dinners from scratch while whipping up cheesecakes on the side! Whew!
Chapter 4 brings me to Atlanta with 180 boxes, 257 items and 9 cases of liquor! Just where did that all come from?! I’m not sure but I do know where it’s going…goodbye! So Chapter 4 of my life is all about less. Less stuff, less crazy running, less striving for perfection, less complicated more simplicity!
Italian cooking is truly my passion, love and favorite way to cook and eat. It comes from my heart and evokes wonderful memories. Where I once had a pantry overflowing with all sorts of ingredients and an over abundance of dishes, cooking and baking gear, I’ve downsized considerably to only the basics for cooking and baking Italian dishes. Now when I desire a meal other than Italian such as Mexican, Asian or French, I’m going out to dine!
Casual cooking and baking is especially appealing during these hot summer months. And no bake desserts are truly a treat. I have to admit, even in my make from scratch everything days, I only made cannoli shells once in a cooking class. I guess once was enough for me as I’ve always purchased my shells. I like to order mini shells from Golden Cannoli. Having a box or two in my pantry is a necessity!
I can easily prepare the filling ahead, scooped into a ziplock bag and stored in the fridge for several days. I’m ready to fill a cannoli at a moments notice! The filling will keep for about 4-5 days, getting me through a weekend dinner party and a few days after. Dipping the shell ends in chocolate and then chopped nuts, sprinkles or candies adds a special touch. The filling traditionally is made with ricotta and/or mascarpone mixing in flavorings such as Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Marsala wine or pure vanilla extract. Extras could include chocolate, pistachios, candied or dried fruit as I did in my first cannoli post.
This summer I had the idea to add fresh fruit – peaches and strawberries. Chopped up tiny, I stirred in the peaches with Grand Marnier and filled it into the white chocolate dipped shells and crushed pistachios. For the strawberries, I flavored the filling with strawberry liquor and added in mini chocolate chips. This filling went perfectly with chocolate covered shells. The fruit added a fresh sweet bite to the creamy ricotta/mascarpone blend.
Be forewarned they taste incredibly delicious to addiction but to a cannoli purist the first taste of fresh fruit in their cannoli is unexpected but quickly followed by a smile of flavorful delight!
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta – drain overnight or several hours with a cheesecloth
3/4 cup marscapone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon Grand Marnier or Amaretto or liquor of your choice
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh fruit – peaches or strawberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Option to dip ends in chocolate: melt about 1/4 cup chocolate chips and quickly dip ends into the chocolate followed by dipping in nuts or spinkles.
Optional to decorate: melted chocolate, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, pistachios or almonds finely chopped
Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, at least a few hours. Use a pastry bag or a plastic bag, corner snipped, to squish the filling into each end of the cannoli. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve, about 2 hours ahead. Makes about 16 mini cannolis or 8 large.