Easy Italian Recipes: Sausages, Peppers, and Onions

Sausage, pepper and onion sub
Sausage, pepper and onion sub
Anyone who has been to Fenway Park to see a Red Sox game probably goes there to eat at least one sausage, peppers and onions submarine sandwich which the vendors sell right outside the entrances to the park, making it easily inescapable to pass up one of these tasty delights. It’s for most who go to Fenway more of a tradition than eating a Fenway frank.

Vendors outside Fenway Park
Vendors outside Fenway Park
It’s a very simple recipe that you can whip up in about ½ hour using an outdoor grill or the top of your stove.
Here’s what you will need:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 Italian sweet sausages (if you prefer hot, then use them)
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 large orange bell peppers
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers (all peppers seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 2 medium sized onions thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil to garnish

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1. If you are browning the sausages on stovetop you will need about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. If you are cooking them outside you just need your grill. Make sure sausages are cooked thoroughly in either case until they are brown all over.

2. Remove the sausages leaving a coating of juices and add the sliced peppers and onions. I prefer the colored peppers as they are sweeter and tastier than the green. They cost more, but they are worth it. Cook the peppers and onions over medium heat until they are soft (about 15 minutes)

3. After the peppers and onions are tender, return the sausages to the skillet, either whole or cut into pieces, and let the entire mixture simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

4. If you like, you may garnish with basil and serve immediately in Italian hard rolls or as a side dish.


This is a great summer dish and so easy to make. My 91-year-old Aunt Nancy still makes it and it is for us our family favorite! How about trying it this weekend?

Join me on Thursday for another look at my recent trip to Italy and the amazing treasures I was fortunate to see. Soon after we will see Donna Cushman’s greeting card painting “Peonies in Porcelain” as one of the precious artists of THASC Sales Co.

Buon Appetito!


Tested in the THASC kitchen. Photo by THASC.
THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.

Easy Italian Recipes: Spaghetti alla Carbonara


In case many of you do not know the difference between prosciutto (ham) and pancetta (cured bacon), they come from different parts of the pig: prosciutto from the leg and pancetta from the underbelly. Both prosciutto or pancetta may be added to a recipe to give the dish more flavor, but they do have a distinctive taste. Pancetta is used in carbonara. You can find real pancetta in an Italian market or deli that specializes in Italian cold cuts and other foods.


To serve 4 people, you will need the following:

  • 1 lb. dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces finely diced pancetta
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons soft butter
  • Fresh parsley (optional as a garnish)

Please note: It is very important the spaghetti is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the spaghetti cooks the raw eggs on contact. Timing is everything!

  1. In a small bowl, cream the soft butter with a wooden spoon.
  2. In another bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks with a fork until they are well blended. Blend in ½ cup grated cheese and stir well to prevent lumps.
  3. Set bowls aside.
  4. Cook the spaghetti over high heat until firm to the bite, or al dente, about 7-10 minutes. Make sure strands do not stick together.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the pancetta, and fry until crispy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Pour off @ ½ of the fat and stir the heavy cream into the skillet.
  7. Bring the cream to a simmer and keep it warm until the spaghetti is cooked.
  8. When the spaghetti is firm to the bite, drain thoroughly in a colander.
  9. Transfer the spaghetti into a heated serving bowl or casserole dish and stir in the creamed butter, coating the spaghetti strands.
  10. Stir in the hot pancetta and cream mixture and finally the beaten eggs and cheese mixture, tossing everything together thoroughly until the eggs begin to thicken but are still creamy. (Do not scramble!)
  11. The heat of the spaghetti and other ingredients should cook the raw eggs on contact.
  12. Sprinkle with ground back pepper and salt if desired.
  13. Serve the carbonara at once. Garnish with fresh parsley
  14. Pass the remaining ½ cup of grated cheese at the table.
  15. Serve on warmed plate if possible.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Buon Appetito! Enjoy!

I would love to hear from you any suggestions on dishes that I may prepare for you. With summer around the corner we should look forward to some great garden vegetable dishes and pasta seafood dishes.

See you on Thursday!

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.

Insalata Caprese

Caprese Salad and Bruschetta with Caprese

Caprese Salad

These salads have practically the same ingredients so I have decided to include the recipes together as it will be impossible to get them mixed up. They can be served as a salad or an appetizer, the only difference being to add the toasted Tuscan bread to be served as the base to the Caprese. We’ll start with the Caprese salad which is simple to put together and will whet anyone’s taste buds.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 8 oz. buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced fairly thin
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • a good bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar


  1. Alternate the cheese and tomato slices by putting down the tomato slice first.
  2. Top each slice of tomato with a slice of fresh mozzarella.
  3. You can either shred the basil leaves and sprinkle them over each piece of mozzarella or you can use the whole basil leaf and place it the same way.
  4. Continue to arrange the tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves in a circular wheel shape or line up each piece of tomato, mozzarella and basil on a platter to eat individually.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil and the Balsamic vinegar over each piece, being careful not to saturate.
  7. Your guests may choose to add more vinegar or oil if desired.
Bruschetta con caprese

Bruschetta con caprese
Add to ingredients above:

  • 4-6 slices of Tuscan round loaf bread
  • 2 garlic cloves

Following the same directions for the Caprese salad above,

  1. toast the bread slices on both sides under the broiler until golden brown and rub each side with cut side of a clove of garlic. You may need more than one cut clove of garlic.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and cut the slices of toasted bread in half.
  3. Place the Caprese salad on top of the toasted bread in the same order: tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Great as an appetizer and takes only minutes to prepare!

See you on Thursday with another beautiful greeting card.

Buon Appetito! Enjoy!

Tested in the THASC kitchen. Photo byTHASC.
THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.

Easy Italian Recipes: Fettuccine Alfredo

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I bet most of you thought this dish was an Italian creation when in fact, as the story goes, it was created in 1914 by a chef named Alfredo di Lelio who was trying to cook something that would please his pregnant wife. This creation was a sauce made from Parmesan cheese and butter and poured over the fettuccine. In Italy it is called “Fettuccine al Burro” or fettuccine with butter. Mostly everywhere else besides the United States, it has no cream. Since American butter and Parmesan cheese lacked the richness of their Italian counterparts, cream was added to the sauce to make up for it. This version became an Italian-American classic, but it never caught on in Italy.

I use an old recipe for “besciamella” or cream sauce.
This is what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. fettuccine noodles (see sketch above)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour (I use Wondra quick mixing flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a very large saucepan of lightly-salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta and bring back to a boil and cook until firm to the bite (“al dente”)
  3. In a heavy 10 to 12 inch skillet, melt the butter overmoderate heat, being careful that it doesn’t brown.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour a little at a time
  5. Pour the milk and the cream in all at once, whisking constantly until the flour is almost dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Return the pan to high heat and cook, stirring constantly with the whisk.
  7. When the sauce comes to a boil and is no longer lumpy, reduce the heat.
  8. Simmer, and continue stirring for two or three minutes longer until the sauce is thick and ready to coat the wires of the whisk.
  9. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  10. Drain the hot pasta and immediately pour it into the skillet and toss a couple of times making sure the noodles are well-coated by the cream sauce.
  11. Sprinkle 1 cup of the Parmesan over the noodles and toss the mixture again.
  12. Serve IMMEDIATELY passing the rest of the Parmesan around for topping.

Remember, in Italy if you ask for Fettuccine Alfredo, they probably won’t recognize the term the way we’ve Americanized it with cream and you’re most likely to get pasta with butter and Parmesan!

Either way, it’s delicious! Make some this weekend!

See you next week!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats or Zucchini Ripieni

Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Most of my recipes I learned from my Dad who acually taught my Mom to cook. As he says, she could only boil water and was so young when they married. However, this particular recipe I learned from a dear Florentine friend when I lived there way back during my study years in Florence.
And if you like zucchini, you’ll love these. You can make them with or without prosciutto if you are vegetarian or not. They are a great side dish to compliment any meal or as the main course alone!

Here’s what you’ll need to serve 4 to 6:

  • 4 medium-sized zucchini, washed but not peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly chopped onions
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup finely chopped prosciutto
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (I use plain 4C)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated imported
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • Preheat the oven to 375 .

Cut the zucchini in half LENGTHWISE and spoon out as much of the pulp as you can without splitting the shell and leaving hollow boatlike shells about ¼ inch thick.
Set the pulp aside and chop it coarsely.

In rapidly boiling water carefully and slowly drop the zucchini shells in for a few minutes, making sure they don’t break. Lower the heat and remove with a slit spoon after they have decidely turned green and are boiled.

Removing them carefully form the hot water, set them aside to cool.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy 8 to 10-inch skillet.
Add the onions and cook them over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and lightly colored.

Add the chopped zucchini pulp and the garlic and cook for about five more minutes, stirring frequently.

With a rubber spatula scrape the entire contents of the skillet into a large sieve (sifter) and set over a mixing bowl to drain.

Metal sieves

After the vegetables are drained , place them in a large bowl. Add the slightly beaten egg, prosciutto, bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons of grated cheese, salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.

Spoon this stuffing into the hollowed zucchini shells, mounding the top just a little.

To bake the zucchini use a large shallow baking dish which you have lightly covered with olive oil , or if you prefer you can cover the bottom with your favorite sauce (optional).

Carefully arrange the stuffed zucchini in the baking dish. Sprinkle their tops with ¼ cup of cheese, dribble a few drops of olive oil over them and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Place the dish in the middle of the oven and bake the zucchini for 30 minutes, removing the foil after 20 minutes. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella over the tops of the zucchini mounds and bake for another 10 minutes until melted.

Serve hot with or without sauce.

Enjoy!!!! See you Thursday!!

This recipe has been tested in the THASC kitchen.
THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other small promotional products.

Lasagne al Forno or Baked Lasagne

IMG_7288  Lasagne al Forno or Baked Lasagne IMG_7289

For those of you who enjoyed my stuffed shells recipe and the recipe for my meatballs in my previous blogs, this will be especially easy for you to put together. You can make it with meat our without. In both cases I like to add spinach to the ricotta before layering.

You will need a lasagne sized shallow dish, a box of lasagne noodles, 1 -16 oz. container of Dragone whole milk ricotta, I pkg. of frozen spinach (which after thawing, you will be certain to squeeze dry), 2 pkgs. of sugar (small size for coffee), 1 whole egg, 2 to 3 pkgs.of sliced whole milk mozzarella, your favorite tomato sauce and basil or parsley to garnish with grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.

If you wish to add a layer of crushed meatballs, please refer to my blog “ Meatballs and Sauce” and make about

10-15 small meatballs, which, when done, you will set aside, and crush while mixing with sauce just before layering. If you want strictly a vegetable lasagne, eliminate the meatball layer.

To start the layering, you must first boil all the noodles until they are cooked well but not falling apart. We call this “al dente” (to the tooth, literally) but NOT hard.

Place in a colander and cool them off with cold water before layering. Some will break, or the crinkled edges on the noodles may fall off, but you will have plenty of noodles to make up for the split ones in the water.


  • Cover the bottom of your lasagne pan/dish with sauce (just enough to cover the bottom, not excessively).
  • Line up 3-4 noodles the length of the pan horizontally so the bottom is completely covered.
  • Spread a good part of the ricotta filling (including egg, sugar, spinach well-mixed) on top of the lasagne noodles.
  • Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the mixture.
  • Open 1 package of sliced mozzarella and layer in squares so the ricotta mixture is covered.
  • Splash more sauce over the mozzarella squares so they are covered.
  • If you want to put meat in the lasagne it should go in the second layer now.
  • Crush the meatballs you have already prepared and put aside and mix a little sauce in the mixture. You may add some fresh chopped Italian parsley to the meat before layering.
  • After placing the second layer of noodles over the mozzarella and sauce from the first layer where we left off, spread the crushed meatball mixture over the noodles so it is evenly dispersed.
  • Cover the meatball mixture with more sliced mozzarella and splash again with sauce. If you prefer to have all ricotta and spinach, repeat the first layer.

The last layer will be the same as the first: noodles, ricotta and spinach, Parmesan, mozzarella splash sauce.

Cover with the last 3-4 noodles on top, cover them with mozzarella and a light sauce (as in photos above) and put in as many toothpicks as necessary on top to prevent the sauce and cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil you will cover the casserole with and bake at 350o until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly, at least 30-45 minutes depending on your oven.

Lift the aluminum foil to make sure the mozzarella has bubbled over each layer and carefully remove the foil and toothpicks. If the cheese is not melted, put back in oven.

Remove the lasagne from the oven and garnish with fresh basil sprigs.

Let cool for 15 minutes and cut into squares. You may sprinkle extra Parmesan on top before serving.

One of my favorites. You’ll love it with meat or vegetarian style. Buon Appetito!
(Pronounced : Bwawn Ah-pay-tee-toe!!!!!)


Please give me some feedback (No pun intended)!!!

See you on Thursday!!!

This recipe has been tested in the THASC kitchen.
THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.

Baked Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Baked Stuffed Shells with Spinach
Sunday family dinner

One of my favorite memories growing up was Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house on Commodore Street. Everyone showed up to be together and to respect the matriarch of the family Grazia DiPasquale Santoro who always sat at the head of the table. She secretly would sneak bits of food to the begging dog under the table. We all knew it, but pretended not to. Soup was always the first dish, homemade with little meatballs. It was the second dish everyone lived for: PASTA.

I thought about these wonderful stuffed shells and ate them often and eventually made them my whole life. Today I’m sharing the recipe with you after what seems a lifetime.

This is a wonderful hearty recipe for a “bone-sticking” dish” during these cold days of winter and even for those who aren’t so cold as we are in the North. It’s quick,easy and delicious. I add spinach to my dish. If you want to make it simply with ricotta and mozzarella, that’s fine too. I use a large lasagna-sized pan and preheat the oven to 350o.

You will need:

  • 1 box Barilla large shells for stuffing
  • 1 -32 ounce container of whole milk ricotta
  • 1- 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed,drained and squeezed dry
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packets sugar
  • 2 bottles of Bertoli ORGANIC olive oil, basil and garlic tomato sauce or your own tomato sauce @ 48 oz or my brother Joe’s marinara sauce in my previous blog on meatballs and sauce.
  • 1 package shredded mozzarella
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil or Italian chopped parsley to garnish

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1) Boil the shells until they are tender but not breaking apart. Bite one to taste. Make sure they are not too hard. Add some olive oil to the boiling water so they don’t stick.
2) Drain the shells and rinse with cold water to cool them off before stuffing
3) In a large mixing bowl place the ricotta and make a big hole in the middle.
4) Put 2 eggs in the hole along with 2 sugar packets
5) Add the chopped spinach making sure first it is dried
6) Stir to have a good consistency.
7) Blend in at least a cup of the shredded mozzarella and ½ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir again.
8) Coat the bottom of the lasagne pan with sauce and scoop enough ricotta and spinach mixture into each shell so they are well filled.
9) Put more shredded mozzarella on top of each shell and sprinkle more Parmesan on them before baking.
10) Bake at 350o for about ½ hour or until they look gooey. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh chopped parsley or basil. Cover them with more sauce if you like before serving. Serve HOT!!!

At the end of dinner (which also included a meat dish and vegetables) all the grandchildren would gather with Grandma in the living room to have our special time with her while the grown-ups either played cards or cleaned up the kitchen.

Grandma with all the grandchildren

What wonderful childhood memories I had and most of them started and ended at the table.



Tested in the THASC kitchen. Photo by THASC.
THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.