Category Archives: Macaroni Dishes

My Comfort Food – Macaroni


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Hi everyone,

As we come to end of January, I hope that 2017 has been treating you well so far. 

This year I did not have a specific New Year’s resolution, instead I set out to change up my tried and true dinner meals and make dinner a little more interesting.

I went on Pinterest and began searching for new recipes. Some were flops, and some we liked.

I am still a work in progress searching for new meals, but once in awhile you just have to stop and go back to an old favorite. To me,that would be macaroni.

You could say that is my number one comfort food. Not only macaroni and cheese but long fusilli with a meat sauce, spinach fettuccine, Pastosa ravioli with mom’s Sunday sauce, and yes, the childhood favorite of pastina with butter and cheese.

 You have guessed by now that I love my carbs. One of the easiest dishes I make that is a family favorite comfort food is “Baked Rigatoni”.


My baked rigatoni has been requested for many a potluck and it was a favorite of my son and his friends back in the day. So “baked rigatoni” it is. Quick and delicious and the crispy pieces of rigatoni baked on top covered in mozzarella cheese are the best.


(The recipe is at the end of the post)

So now that I have my entree, lets work on the tablescape. Something that makes you think, Italian.

I am starting with a red and white check tablecloth. A lot of people associate this tablecloth with a small Italian cafe. 


The napkins are solid red and the napkin rings are wood. I placed a bread stick and a small branch of rosemary tucked inside each napkin ring just for a little fun.


Before the charger plates, I started out with a red woven placemat.


I took out my favorite brown rattan chargers and a simple white dinner plate to use as a base for the pasta bowls. The rattan charger coordinates with the wooden napkin ring.


I have the perfect pasta bowls to use and they come from a pasta set that I bought from a Macy’s clearance table for $ 7.99 for the set of 4 pasta bowls, a large serving bowl, wooden serving utensils and a cheese server.  I bought both sets they had.

The bowls are white with hand painted designs of different pasta shapes and utensils in bright colors of  yellow, red, blue and green with a check border of red, white and black.

Not planned, but so happy that the border of the bowl matched the tablecloth.


The complete set… for $ 7.99


The flatware is black to take a color from the bowl and not make everything red and white. I needed some contrast against the tablecloth.


I am using clear stemless wine glasses. A new purchase and I just love them. Perfect to use with one of our favorite red wines.


If my guests don’t care for wine, I have included some Italian soda.


Now I need a centerpiece.

No, it won’t be a Chianti bottle with a candle and all the wax drippings.

 I didn’t want to order flowers for the centerpiece, so I decided to look around the house for an idea for an Italian theme tablescape. Not too far a stretch in my Italian home. I decided on a centerpiece made with macaroni.

Remember, shop your home first for ideas !!!

I have a variety of glass apothecary jars that would work perfectly; that I usually use for a candy bar when I serve a dessert table.

And I have a lot of bags of macaroni in my pantry that I bought in Homegoods with beautiful colors and shapes.

I am always picking up interesting food items in Homegoods. Next to gadgets, that is my favorite aisle.

The centerpiece is coming together.


The jars with macaroni alone didn’t look finished to me, so to complete the centerpiece,  I went back to looking around the kitchen.

I decided to use two empty 28 oz cans from San Marzano tomatoes as vases filled with parsley; which I just happen to have in the kitchen.

No Italian house is complete without parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, pepperoncino (red pepper flakes) and garlic.




Now for a few table accents…

I found salt and pepper shakers to coordinate with the bowls a few months back on one of my midnight retail therapy sessions, so I added them to the table. 


The cheese server from the set is also on the table.


Mini colanders to serve sliced Italian bread. I love “mini” anything so I just had to buy a few of these colanders. They are great for washing fruit and today for holding bread.


and a wooden serving board to display some fresh mozzarella, Locatelli cheese, tomatoes, garlic and basil; all components of this Italian meal.


I served the baked rigatoni with a salad of romaine lettuce and some antipasti ingredients; marinated artichokes, olives, mozzarella, soppresata and tomatoes topped off with a mix of “garlic olive oil” from “The Crushed Olive”, and red wine vinegar for the dressing.

The Crushed Olive is a specialty store that sells a variety of vinegar and oils.


I made individual salad plates with a combination of the antipasto salad along with a traditional caprese salad (sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella with olive oil and oregano). The remainder of both salads were served on the table for second helpings.


Very simple and very delicious.

And last but not least, I made a tomato tart to serve with this meal. This is a recipe from Laura Vitale from The Cooking Channel and I love it and make it all the time. 

(Recipe at the end of the post).

Ready for the oven…


Out of the oven and ready to eat…so good.


Now my craving for macaroni was over and I will continue to look for new recipes to share with all of you in the coming months.

I hope you enjoyed sharing my comfort food tablescape with me and it gave you some ideas to set your table.

Until my next post, make everyday a celebration!


Don’t forget the recipes below

Place Setting



Table Details

Red and white check tablecloth from Amazon

Red napkins from Amazon

Wooden napkin rings from Amazon

Pasta Sets from Macy’s clearance

Black flatware from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Stemless wine glasses from Amazon

Clear apothecary jars from Pottery Barn

Colorful pasta from Homegoods

Salt and pepper shakers from Amazon

Mini colanders from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Wooden serving board from Amazon

Red woven placemat from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

White dinnerware from Homegoods





  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ½ lb. ground beef or turkey
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasonings
  • 1 large can (28 oz) peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz ) can of “no salt added” tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Cups whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 prepared pkg)        
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rigatoni, stir well and cook according to package directions. Drain the rigatoni, place in a large bowl and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

In a large sauce-pot, heat approx 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and cook, stirring until soft (approx. 5 minutes)

Add the meat and cook stirring to break up the meat, until no pink remains (approx 10 minutes). Drain off all of the fat.

Add the parsley, oregano, Italian seasoning and tomatoes, tomato sauce and stir well.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the tomatoes break down (approx 20 minutes)

Stir in the cream, raise the heat and return to a boil. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Return the rigatoni to the pot and toss well.

Oil the bottom of a shallow 3 qt baking dish.

Spread half of the pasta mixture in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half the mozzarella.

Top with the remaining pasta, the remaining mozzarella and all of the Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the pasta is crusty and golden brown (approx 30 minutes). Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes and serve. (Serves 6).


Roasted Tomato Tart

Recipe courtesy of Laura Vitale

Total Time:  45 min…Prep:  15 min…  Inactive Prep:  5 min…  Cook:  25 min…
Level:  Easy    Yield:   6 servings


  • One 10-inch sheet frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, thawed
  • 1 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese
  • 1 – 1/2  pounds plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry so it’s 1/2 inch bigger on all sides. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and use a fork to prick all over the pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Scatter the fontina all over the pastry (leaving the border untouched) and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the oil, Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer (it’s ok if they overlap a little) over the crust–leaving the border–and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.

Bake until the tart is deep golden brown and crispy, about 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Tear the basil leaves, then sprinkle the basil over the tart before cutting it into squares.


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Ceci (chickpeas) with Sausage and Shell Macaroni

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So many of the meals I ate when I was growing up were recipes straight from Italy; passed down from generation to generation. This unfortunately has become a lost art these days.

I still pass on my recipes to my son; because I want our traditions to continue.

My grandmother taught her children the basics of cooking and her meals were considered “peasant food”.  She made great meals with simple ingredients.

Peasant food or “LaCucina Provera” was simply making a little go a long way with whatever was available. My grandmother could make a meal out of anything.

It always amazed me what she could prepare with just a few items in the pantry and refrigerator. Better than any restaurant.

Today the same recipes are considered “nouvelle cuisine” and have had an upsurge in popularity. You can now pay a high price for the same “peasant meal” you had as a child.

But it will never taste as good as your mother’s or nonna’s.

I have many favorite meals that my mother made when I was a child and I only wish I had written most of the recipes down. Something you just never think of doing as a child, because you never think that someday your mom won’t be around.

I am writing many of my recipes down for my son and making a family cookbook. I recommend you do the same for your family.

My mother never needed a cookbook, it was all by memory of what she was taught by my grandmother.

One of my favorite meals is Ceci (chickpeas) with Sausage and Shell Macaroni.

So here is the recipe I would like to share with you. A quick satisfying weeknight meal served with fresh Italian bread.

 Simple and delicious from my memory, taught by my mother.

I hope you try it and enjoy.


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  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced – or more garlic if you are like me…
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 (28 oz) cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes – crushed by hand or chopped- DOP from Italy are the best. I use Cento or Vantia.
  • Cooks Note: USE three cans if you want a lot of sauce
  • 2 large cans of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
  • 1 (16 oz) box of shell pasta – small or large shells, your choice
  •  Salt and pepper
  •  4 sausages – casings removed
  • Cooks Note: Add a splash of wine to the sausage to make it easier to break up into pieces to saute
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • basil – chiffonade
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley – finely chopped
  • grated Locatelli cheese (use whatever cheese you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine

Cooks note: If you have a Parmesan rind, add it to the sauce with the tomatoes. Adds great flavor.


Cook the macaroni separately, following package directions until slightly underdone for al dente.

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Prepare your ingredients to saute.

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Saute the garlic in olive oil with the sprig of rosemary and red pepper flakes for one minute. Add a pinch of salt.

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 Add the sausage pieces. I used a combination of hot and sweet fennel sausage.

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When the sausage is lightly browned and cooked through (5-7 minutes)

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Add the tomato paste and toast the paste for 30 seconds before mixing.

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2016-04-21 19.41.09- TOMATO PASTE MIXED

ADD 1/4 cup of red wine (alcohol with burn off) and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (that will give the sauce great flavor).

Remove the sprig of rosemary and ADD the chopped tomatoes, oregano, parsley and Parmesan rind, if using. Stir and simmer on medium low for 15-20 minutes, partially covered.

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After 20 minutes, ADD the ceci (chickpeas) and simmer for 5 minutes more.

2016-04-21 19.54.54 CECI BOWL

2016-04-21 20.03.34 CECI IN SAUCE 2

Cooks note: If you want a thicker sauce, remove some chickpeas, mash them and return them to the pot. They will melt into the sauce and thicken.

ADD the cooked macaroni to the sauce, stir and simmer for two minutes until al dente. 

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When the macaroni is al dente, turn off the heat, add the basil, cover the pot and allow it to rest for a few minutes.

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Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated cheese on top.

A drizzle of olive oil can also be added to the top of the macaroni.

Now enjoy !

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I hope you try this simple “peasant food” dish and enjoy it with your family.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!


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Linguine with Clam Sauce

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Hi everyone,

I have been receiving multiple requests for a recipe that I talked about in my

October 10, 2015 post, “One More Seaside Dinner” but never posted the recipe for.

 Well, here it is, my version of Linguine with Clam Sauce and I am giving away my “secret ingredient” for my members. Trust me, the secret ingredient makes a big difference.

 I hope you all try it and enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!


Please ask your family and friends to follow either on facebook or sign up for emails directly from the web page. 

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post…

And please continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Linguine with Clam Sauce


1 lb. linguine or spaghetti

½ cup olive oil

2 dz. little neck clams, scrubbed and cleaned

1 cup dry white wine

1 small can (2 oz.) of anchovies in olive oil * SECRET ingredient

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, diced

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbsp. butter

1 small bottle of clam juice (I use Cento 8 oz.)

½ cup Italian parsley, chopped (more for garnish)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cover the clams with cold water in a bowl and add a fistful of salt. Let them stand for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, rinse and scrub the clams well under cold running water discarding any clams that are open.

In a large pot, boil water for linguine /spaghetti. When the water begins to boil, add salt liberally. Let the water return to a boil and cook your pasta al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat and sauté shallots and ¼ tsp red pepper flakes for 2-3 minutes. When the shallots are translucent, add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Take the pan off the heat (to avoid splatters) and add 2 tbsp. of butter and the can of anchovies. Stir well to dissolve the anchovies.

Put the pan back on the heat and stir in the clam juice, salt and pepper.

Add the white wine and the clams. Cover and steam until the clams open (approx. 7-10 minutes). Discard any clams that do not open.

Remove clams from their shell and leave some in the shell for presentation. (I chop some and also leave some whole).

Drain the linguine/spaghetti and add to the pot of clams. Toss well to combine and add the fresh parsley. Check for seasoning….garnish with more parsley.

download- clams

Recipes – Cavatelli Pasta with Broccoli, Anchovy & Garlic Sauce with Toasted Bread Crumbs

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Looking for a fast easy weeknight meal? This is an Italian favorite.

I make this all the time and believe me, it doesn’t taste fishy at all with the addition of the anchovies. Actually, the anchovies give it a great background taste and not a full blown fish taste. Just a depth of flavor you can’t describe. You have to try it to appreciate the flavor.

Fresh cavatelli pasta, fresh broccoli and a lot of garlic and you have a classic Italian dish.


Cavatelli Pasta with Broccoli, Anchovy & Garlic Sauce with Toasted Bread Crumbs

Serves 4


1 bunch broccoli (usually 2 stalks tied together)

1 pound cavatelli

1/3 cup olive oil

1 (2 oz.) can of anchovies in olive oil

4- 5 garlic cloves – sliced

2 tbsp. butter

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

(1 cup reserved pasta water)

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

½ cup of grated cheese


1st step- toasted fresh breadcrumbs.

Add 1 cup of bread crumbs in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook stirring constantly until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add grated cheese and set aside.

Separate the broccoli florets from the stalks.

Peel the stalks and cut the stalks in coins. Steam the broccoli florets and coins together in a colander over boiling water or use a double boiler– (you could also cook broccoli in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and set aside).

Once they are tender, once again I separate the florets from the coins.

Cook the cavatelli in boiling salted water – Cook for 2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time. Reserve some pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a wide skillet over medium low heat

Add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 2-3 minutes

Take the pan off the heat and add 2 tbsp. of butter and the can of anchovies. Stir well to dissolve the anchovies.

Take the broccoli coins and puree them in a food processor until you get a creamy paste.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the broccoli cream, salt, pepper and one ladle of pasta water to make a sauce.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the broccoli florets and toss until all the pasta and broccoli are well coated with the sauce. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.

Add 2 tbsp. of toasted bread crumbs to the pasta and toss.

Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls and top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.

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Saint Joseph’s Day

Once again the month of March is like February, and all the holidays that I prepare a tablescape for are all a few days apart so I decided to showcase them randomly and not on the actual date to spread them apart. Let’s start with Saint Joseph’s Day.

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Saint Joseph’s day is March 19th

At the end of this post I have included all the traditional recipes for Saint Joseph’s Day including a recipe for “fig cookies” or Cuccidate from a dear friend, Paula Carbone Gati who has a fantastic facebook page I follow.

Paula’s page is called  Born Again Italian” and it highlights all the old Italian family recipes. Give it a look.

10432988_10203212085284693_4395128701798220187_n- cuccidate from Paula Gati

There is no special tablescape that I can prepare for Saint Joseph’s Day unless I make a Saint Joseph’s Day altar and that is a little bit much for a household of two. If there were Saint Joseph’s Day dinnerware, believe me, I would own them. Instead, I use my dishes from Italy.

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I am having this meal twice this month. The first time so I can show you a picture of what my holiday meal will look like for Saint Joseph’s Day and then the second time on the actual holiday, March 19th.

 Saint Joseph is the patron saint for my family, so instead of a tablescape, I decided to share with you some of my family traditions and customary foods for this special holiday.

Before we start, a little background for Saint Joseph or San Giuseppe that might help you understand the holiday a little better. Saint Joseph was the husband of Mary. It is in Sicily where Saint Joseph is regarded as their patron saint for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought and the people prayed to Saint Joseph for rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers and the rain came they would prepare a feast in his honor.

Well, the rain came and the people prepared a large banquet. Legend has it that the fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and that is always part of the Saint Joseph day dinner.

When I was younger (much younger), on Saint Joseph’s Day my Grandmother would take me to bring food to the Saint Joseph’s Day altar of her local church after Mass. Many of the older generations set up altars in their homes, but we did not. We always wore red to honor Saint Joseph, in the same way that green is worn on Saint Patrick’s Day.

The altars are quite a sight to see and they have 3 tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. The top tier holds the statue of Saint Joseph surrounded by flowers (especially lilies). The reason is that – “The lily is associated with Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary, through an ancient legend that he was chosen from among other men by the blossoming of his staff like a lily”. 

 The other tiers hold candles, figurines, special breads, pastries, lemons for luck, fava beans, pineapple for hospitality and wine. There is also a basket on the bottom tier where you can place prayer petitions.

 Here is a picture I found of of a Saint Joseph’s Day altar just to give you a better idea. Definitely wouldn’t work in my dining room.

5547597178_9560e0b681_z- st joseph altar USE


 In my family, my Grandmother (even though we are not Sicilian) believed deeply that praying to Saint Joseph would protect her family and she bought all her grandchildren, at a very young age, a statue of Saint Joseph. This is a photo of mine that I proudly display in my bedroom today. It is over 50 years old. In fact, my son’s middle name is Joseph to honor Saint Joseph.

st joseph statue

In addition to the celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day, I have always enjoyed the FOOD for Saint Joseph’s Day. Many of you know this day only by the pastry (zeppole or sfinge di San Giuseppe) but we had a fantastic meal before the pastry.

(There were no words to describe how fantastic these pastries were today)

2015-03-07 23.40.39 - St joseph pastry for blog

Purchased at Alpine Bakery- Smithtown, NY

My family would make the pilgrimage each year to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx because we wouldn’t run the risk of buying ingredients at a local grocery store and be disappointed. No, ingredients had to be Italian and imported. No questions asked.

If you ever have the chance to visit Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, NY you will be thrilled. The food is so fresh and it is like stepping back in time with the mom and pop shops. But Arthur Avenue isn’t just shops, it’s restaurants as well and the food is fabulous. A real Little Italy.

Different regions celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day differently but all involve meatless foods (because this holiday always falls during Lent), minestrone soup and pasta with breadcrumbs (The breadcrumbs represent saw dust since Saint Joseph was a carpenter), seafood, and fava beans for luck and for dessert, the star of the show, zeppole and sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Here is a picture of my minestrone soup

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In my family, we made minestrone soup followed by bucatini with anchovies and breadcrumbs. (For those of you who are not familiar, bucatini is basically a larger spaghetti with a hole inside. Another pasta that is traditional is mafaldine; this looks like thin strips of lasagna noodles). Sicilians usually make the dish with sardines (Pasta con Sarde) instead of the anchovies.

Here is a picture of my bucatini with breadcrumbs

2015-03-08 13.03.08- MY BUCATINI FOR BLOG

The Saint Joseph’s Day bread was another special part of the meal and my Dad would buy the bread and have it blessed before he brought it home. It is a round crusty loaf scored with a cross.

joebreadsm2- ST JOSEPH BREAD


And now back to the pastries. They are called zeppole or sfinge di San Guiseppe and I am sure you have all seen them. It’s a sweet dough like a big cream puff split and filled. They can be filled two ways. One with cannoli cream with tiny chocolate chips and candied fruit and also with custard cream; both topped with powdered sugar and a cherry and both delicious. Every year I always have to have one with each filling.

A fine tradition I passed along to my son.

st joseph's pastries 2


A lot of the old traditions unfortunately are not practiced as much today. Grandparents and parents have passed on and lives have become much busier, but I try to keep as many traditions going in my family as I can. I do make the bucatini with anchovies and the minestrone soup, but I buy my pastries because baking is just not my thing. (I have included the recipe at the bottom of the post, in case you want to take the baking challenge). I personally don’t make the fava beans for this holiday either, but I wanted to mention it again because it stands for “good luck” in case you wanted to include them on your menu.

All in all this holiday brings back great memories for me when I was younger and my family was still here with me, enjoying each others company and a great meal together.

Here is a picture of me (I am the toddler) with my parents, grandmother and two older sisters. All of my family have passed on now and all are missed every day. I keep the traditions alive to honor them; and thank them for all they have taught me about traditions and being proud of my heritage. 

Squeglia Family

(click on photos to enlarge)

I don’t have many photos for this holiday but at the bottom of this post, I will leave you with some traditional recipes if you want to celebrate St Joseph’s Day with your family.

It has been my pleasure to share my traditions with you for this special day. I hope this post gave a few of you some inspiration to try some new Saint Joseph’s Day holiday recipes.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!


Saint Joseph’s Day is also the birthday of my dear friend Sue Tetonic.

Happy Birthday Sue!


Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs

Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add 3/4 

cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.  Cook, stirring constantly,

until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. I add a little grated cheese

to the breadcrumbs as well. You can never have to much cheese.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs


 12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and finely chopped (small can- 2 oz.)


1 pound bucatini

1/2 cup olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, minced

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs


 Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve some pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat

Add the garlic, red pepper, and finely chopped anchovies.  Cook, stirring

until the anchovies dissolve.  Remove the skillet from the heat. 

Stir in the parsley

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the

skillet with the anchovy sauce.  Toss until the strands are well coated.  Add

some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.  Set aside 2

tablespoons of the toasted bread crumbs.  Add the remaining crumbs to the

skillet and toss the pasta again.  Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.  

Minestrone Soup


¼ cup olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

½ cup celery, with leaves, chopped

1 carrot, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 (28 oz.) can of whole tomatoes, with juice

1 large can of cannellini beans

5 cups of beef or vegetable stock

½ cup flat parsley, finely chopped

1- 2 cups finely sliced, then roughly chopped spinach

2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into little cubes

½ cup small pasta (like ditalini)

Freshly grated Parmesan or Locatelli cheese

1 tsp. dried basil (optional)

1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)


Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil until soft. Toss in the garlic and stir for another minute.

Cut up the tomatoes and add them to the pot and cook down for 15 minutes.

Stir in the beef or vegetable stock and the bay leaf and beans and bring to a boil. Add half the parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, pinch of red pepper and lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes

Add the spinach, zucchini and pasta and cook at a gentle boil until the pasta is tender. * If you are not serving the soup immediately, make the pasta separately and add to the soup when serving otherwise the pasta will absorb all the soup if left in the pot to sit.

When ready to serve, stir in the rest of the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with the crusty bread and topped with grated cheese

Fava Beans
(I do not remember who gave me this recipe).

1 lb. dried fava beans
1 bunch green onions
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook dried fava beans in boiling water until tender, adding more water as needed. Sauté seasonings in olive oil ’til tender, then add to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup bowls.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe


(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles



1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs


1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

 Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Maraschino cherries


 To make the pastry:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a

boil.  Remove from heat.  With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.

Return to low heat.  Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves

side of pan.  Remove from heat.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard

after each addition until smooth.  Continue beating until dough is satiny and

breaks in strands.  Allow the mixture to cool.

 Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip.  For each pastry,

pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet.  Bake

for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool before


 To make the filling:

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, whisk together

milk and egg yolks  Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture.  Place the

saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking

constantly.  Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in rum, orange zest,

and vanilla.  Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic

wrap directly on the surface. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then

refrigerate until cold.  Fold in the whipped cream.

 To assemble the zeppole:

Cut the pastries in half horizontally.  Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry

bag with a star tip.  Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom

half of each pastry.  Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.

Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.

Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.  Dust the pastries with

confectioners’ sugar.

Fig Cookies (Cuccidate)

Courtesy of Paula Carbone Gati from facebook page- Born Again Italian


4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of Crisco, cold and broken into small pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2 tsp vanilla


One 12 oz pkg of dried figs, I use either mission or calimyrna
1/2 cup almonds… chopped,,,not to fine,,,more on the course side
1/2 cup of dates -no pits
1/2 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup of orange marmalade
1/4 cup whiskey
1 tsp of good cinnamon


4 cups confectionary sugar
a few table spoons of milk

In stand mixer…mix all dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt set aside….to this add butter pieces little at a time, then cold Crisco, then have all wet ingredients mixed and slowly add this to the flour until a nice smooth dough forms…after the dough comes together..put on table and knead a few minutes till the dough is smooth, add more flour if necessary… make a smooth ball and cover in saran and refrigerate …while you prepare filling

I double this recipe..because I make a big batch and for the amount of work that goes into this its best to do it at once…it makes approx 5 doz cookies for this recipe…. which is a good amount..but you can freeze these cookies..I usually pack 6 at a time in a Ziploc then put in glad ware container and take out as needed..they freeze really good.

I remove the dried stems from the figs, and put all the dried fruits through the meat grinder
when all the fruit is ground up I add the rest of ingredients,,, and mix really well…I usually let this sit over night for all the flavors to really marry.

Start the assembly…taking a piece of dough at a time roll out to make approx a 3 inch by 12 inch rectangle..cut with knife to square off…then take the fig filling and make a log approx 12 inches long….place this log onto the rectangle of dough and roll and have seam side down….cut approx 1 1/2 inch pieces and place on parchment lined cookie sheets…..350 degree oven for approx 15 minutes, till bottoms are slightly golden…
Make icing and after cookies are cool….spread a little icing onto each little bundle and sprinkle with some nonpareils…