One of the best things about the job I started last summer are all the new friends I have made. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some real clunkers, but that happens everywhere, every day, with any job. We won’t dwell on them.

But, take M&J. Starts off just silly giggles while working to take some of the stress away, a lot of guidance and support and suddenly … BAMMO … you’ve realized just how much you like these folks, realized that this should be more than just a work friendship.

Dinner invitations go back and forth … lots of laughs … lots of wine … lots of good food.

One last dinner before we all take off for the holidays? Oh, yes, please! M&J were heading to Viet Nam (so jealous!), the Dear One to Antarctica and me to New York to see my dearly missed parents, siblings and friends.

What to make, though? I need to show off my culinary chops a little bit, right? The rub is, the Dear One and I were flying out the next morning, not returning – well, me the beginning of the New Year and the Dear One WAY TOO LONG AFTER THAT!!

One pot, easy cleanup, great to freeze if there are leftovers – Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes, a favorite easy go-to of mine.

With a really easy dinner, I wanted to get a little nutty with dessert. It can’t be a lot – no leftovers, and no one has a huge sweet tooth. I needed inspiration. None was forthcoming.

Suddenly, while walking around Hanford’s, there in front of my was my answer! Ferrara cannoli shells! All cooked and ready for filling with whatever your heart desired! This was the answer!

I buy them and bring them home. I stood staring at them, slightly disappointed. They were perfectly fine. But … well, they just looked too plain to me. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of making a fabulous filling, why not dress up the shells a bit!

I melted some chocolate, dipped the edges on each end in the chocolate and then dipped them in chopped pistachios.

The result, was pretty elegant! Well, at least I thought so!

And before we get to the recipe, just a little pet peeve of mine – and the pet peeve of most Italians I know. Cannoli is plural. Cannolis is not a word. The singular would be Cannolo, not that anybody would know what you were talking about in most places. You wouldn’t say mooses, or mouses, or shrimps, or sheeps … you get the picture. Just remember the Godfather, “leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

Now that my shells are fabulous, I need a fabulous cream.

  • 2 C fresh ricotta
  • 2/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

NOTE: No time? Buy the best ricotta you can find and drain it a bit. I also added a tiny bit or lemon zest to just brighten it up.

I tried to be fancy and use a star tip to pipe in the cream. The chips kept getting stuck. Into a ziplock the filling went, cut off the tip, and off we went. You want to try and fill them halfway on each side so there isn’t a space in the middle with cannoli shell and no filling.

Fill them just before sitting down to dinner. Much before that and the shells will begin to get soggy.

Delizioso! Divertiti!

Dulce de Leche

Believe me when I tell you, it don’t get much easier than this!

I would have had this post done sooner, but my fingers have been sticking to the keys.

You’ll see. Try it. The horror stories you hear about exploding cans are simply not true.

This obsession started with a phone call from a friend of mine. She lives in Ishkabibble. She wanted to make a dulce de leche cake for her husband. This call was from a supermarket – the 4th in Ishkabibble that she had been to – and she was in full on panic mode. My simple answer – make dulce de leche yourself.

It’s easy, said I. At least from what I read – I had not yet DARED try this. I had this particular recipe – if you want to call it that – cut out for ages. But every dulce de leche recipe done with this process comes with warnings about exploding cans!  EXPLODING CANS!

You remember me? The person who leaves the slow cooker going and spends the rest of the day at work worried that every siren going past the office (that is 6 miles away from home) is racing toward her house to put out the fire caused by the unattended crock pot? And now I am supposed to deal with EXPLODING CANS!

Well, she did it. Said it was delightful. OMGEEEEEE-GOOD, in fact.

So what’s a little exploding can between friends.

Suck it up, Buttercup. And so I did just that.

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Really, 1 ingredient.

Take the label off the can. Yes, you can throw it out, you don’t need it.

Place can in a pot large enough so that the can will be covered when you fill the pot with water. Also, have a second pot filled with water at a light simmer. You will need this to add water to the pot with the can so that the can stays covered with boiling water.

Bring to a boil and cook for 90 minutes. You can adjust the time to achieve a lighter or darker result.

Here’s the tricky part, and the part with EXPLODING CAN FEAR – Make sure the can always remains covered with water, adding any when necessary.

Remove pot from the heat and drain. Set the can on the counter and allow it to cool completely.

Open can and enjoy.  Not the right word – indulge, dive in, gobble with greedy spoonfuls, become sticky faced, sticky fingered! You may need to make 2 cans!

Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge. Should last at least 1 week (HAHAHAHAHAHA). Use it straight from the fridge, warm it in the microwave, and in any recipe calling for dulce de leche.

Me? Pour it over icecream and I am a happy girl!