Before I went away to college, I received a couple cookbooks as graduation gifts. I didn't think I would ever really want to use them. However, I've put them to great use since frozen dinners get boring and eating out gets expensive. But, now I love to cook, and have become pretty good. Here are a few of my favorite Italian recipes from my "Better Homes and Gardens" cookbook.
1 12-inch Italian bread shell (Boboli) 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil 1 clove garlic 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, blue, or feta cheese 1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary, oregano, or basil, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, oregano, or basil, crushed Fresh rosemary, oregano, or basil springs (optional)
1. Place bread shell on a lightly greased baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl stir together oil, garlic, and pepper. Brush over bread shell. Sprinkle with tomato, cheese, and snipped fresh or dried herb.
2. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or till warm and cheese softens slightly. Cut bread into 12 wedges. If desired, garnish with fresh herb sprigs. Serve hot. Makes 12 servings.
8 ounces dried large bow-tie pasta 12 ounces uncooked spicy Italian sausage links 2 medium red sweet peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces 1/2 cup vegetable broth or beef broth 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return pasta to saucepan.
2. Meanwhile, cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces. In a large skillet cook sausage and sweet peppers over medium-high heat until sausage is brown. Drain well.
3. Stir the broth and black pepper into skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour over pasta; add parsley. Toss gently to coat. Transfer to a warm serving dish. Makes 4 servings
2 8-ounce cartons fat-free sour cream 2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened 2/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup fat-free milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup strong coffee 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur 2 3-ounce packages ladyfingers, split 2 tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Combine coffee and coffee liqueur.
2. Layer one package of the ladyfingers, cut side up, in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Brush with half of the coffee mixture. Spread with half of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, coffee mixture, and cheese mixture.
3. Sprinkle with sifted cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. If desired, sprinkle serving plates with additional unsweetened cocoa powder. Cut dessert into squares to serve. Serves 15.