Monday, August 18, 2014

Chicken Cannelloni

Chicken Cannelloni
Chicken Cannelloni

 Cannelloni is a lovely stuffed pasta dish very popular in Italian cuisine. Usually pasta sheets, cannelloni shells or manicotti shells are used. I improvised and used egg roll wrappers instead. Egg roll wrappers are a pasta, but a very thin and delicate one, which just adds to the appeal of this dish. Egg roll wrappers are also far easier to stuff and roll than cooked pasta shells, which can be slippery and messy and often split or fall apart when stuffing. The whole process goes far smoother when time is of the essence - which is always around here.

I love a good Béchamel sauce and usually make my own, but for a quicker and easier solution I've used jarred Alfredo sauce. Use a deep dish for this so the pasta will cook well and not be chewy or underdone. 

Almost better than dinner was dessert ... one of our favorite biscottis, Blueberry - White Morsels Biscotti - click for the recipe! 

Blueberry Biscotti
Blueberry Biscotti

Chicken Cannelloni
Makes 12 - Serves 6


12 egg roll wrappers - 5" squares
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil - crushed
1 clove garlic - minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb cooked chicken breast - finely chopped
1 cup finely shredded Fontina, Provolone or Italian blend cheese - divided
1 jar (16 oz) Alfredo sauce or 2 cups homemade Béchamel


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Combine ricotta, egg, Parmesan, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk together well.
2. Fold in chicken and 1/2 cup of Fontina (or other) cheese. Set filling aside.
3. Grease a 9x13 deep baking pan with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup of Alfredo or Béchamel sauce across the bottom of the pan.
4. Lay out an egg roll wrapper and keep the rest covered with a damp towel so they won't dry out. Place 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling in the center of the wrapper and roll wrapper tightly around it. The rolls should be about an inch and a half in diameter. Lay, seam side down, in pan on top of sauce. Stuff and roll remaining wrappers and set in the pan in the same way.
5. Top rolls with remaining sauce, covering each completely. Sprinkle the other 1/2 cup of Fontina over the cannelloni.
6. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Liquid needs to be exact with egg roll wrappers. Too much liquid will cause them to fall apart and too little will cause the edges to be dry and crisp.
Spinach can be added once it is cooked and drained very well - about a cup for this size recipe should do it.
I used 50% fat free Alfredo sauce and 2 egg whites instead of 1 egg to help cut back the fat in this recipe.
**Originally posted at

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Cheesecake

I'm not too good at posting about foods I make very often. I guess I feel like it's nothing new here so nobody else needs the recipe. For this recipe, I know that's very wrong. I've been making cheesecake and chocolate cheesecake for years and years. I've used the same recipe without fail and everyone loves it. I've even been asked to make them for special parties and functions and each time it's nothing but rave reviews.

I've had a lot of cheesecake in my life -- it's one of my favorites. There are different textures and flavors and I'm a big fan of dense cheesecake that doesn't have too much lemon added. My own recipe is still the one I'd rather eat more than any other.

Last week I went to Carnegie Deli at Sands Bethlehem and had their cheesecake. It's so similar to my own that I just fell in love. It's dense and rich and the topping (which I don't do here at home) was to-die-for. Once the kids saw the photos of the cheesecake I started getting requests for it and was told that I haven't made it for a while ... I'm guilty of that.

I dutifully obliged and made up a cheesecake last night. It's just as good as I remember and it was gone in no time.

Chocolate Cheesecake
Serves: 12
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 5 hours and 10 minutes


20 chocolate cream cookies (like Oreos) processed into fine crumbs
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter - melted

4 blocks cream cheese (2 pounds)  (I use Neufchâtel or 1/3 lower fat)
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate -4 ounces - melted


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
2. Process cookies until well crumbed. Add melted butter and stir well. Press into 9" springform pan and set aside.
3. Mix together cream cheese and sugar with a hand blender or in a stand blender until smooth. Add vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix until well combined.
4. Add eggs and blend until combined completely.
5. Pour into prepared crust and smooth top.
6. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for at least 4 hours until well chilled. Run a thin knife around edge of cake before removing ring.