Chiacchiere are rectangular pieces of fried dough eaten during carnival season.  Chiacchere means to chat – I really don’t know why, because they are so good that when I eat them, it’s probably the only time I am not chattering!


  • 3 1/2  tbls Butter softened
  • 4 c            Flour
  • 2 Tbls        Grappa
  • 2 1/ 2 tsp   Baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 whole     Eggs
  • 1              Egg yolk
  • 1 tsp         Vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c         Sugar
  • oil for frying
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Sift flour and baking powder together onto a flat surface and form a ‘volcano.’  In the center add all the remaining ingredients (except for the oil) and kneed until the dough becomes uniform and elastic (approx 10 min)  Put in a bowl, cover with plastic and let rest in a cool place for about 30 min.

Roll out dough to about 2 mm thick.  Fold into 3rds and roll dough again.  Do this 3 or 4 times so that the dough will be uniform and compact. Roll dough out one more time and cut in to 5 x 10 cm rectangles with a rotary pasta cutter. Cut 2 parallel lines into the the rectangle (going the long way).

Heat oil in a pan (should be about 4 cm deep of oil).  Fry each rectangle until it is golden in color and set onto paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  When cool, dust with powdered sugar.  Makes approximately 80 rectangles.

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.

Pumpkin Pie

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.

Pumpkin Pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. This recipe is very long so kids will need lots of help from parents!

(This is not an actual picture of pumpkin pie, it’s from the bingo game…yours will look totally different :o)

The Pumpkin Puree (use a 5 to 8-pound pumpkin*):

  1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scrape out all the seeds and membrane (a large metal serving spoon works well).
  2. Carefully cut it into sections with a paring knife.
  3. Cut the skin off the flesh. Steam the flesh until tender.
  4. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Do NOT boil pumpkin – it will soak up the water and make a watery pie.

The Pumpkin Pie:

  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (like a brisee)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • Sweetened whipped cream as an accompaniment
  1. Preheat oven to 425*F (220*C). Prepare pastry; set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt in bowl. Stir in pumpkin puree. Add eggs and heavy cream to the pumpkin mixture; mix well.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust (see hint). Bake pie in the middle of oven for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350*F (180*C) and bake for 45 minutes longer, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Keep refrigerated.
  4. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Hint: To help prevent the pie crust from becoming soggy in a custard-style pie, carefully break one of the recipe’s eggs into unbaked pie crust, swish it around to cover entire surface with egg white and then pour the egg out into your mixing bowl for the filling.

*Small, immature pumpkins provide the most flavor. Pumpkins smaller in size are more tender and less stringy than the larger variety. Select pumpkins anywhere between five to eight pounds.

*Note from Louise: I can’t remember where this recipe is from, I found it on the internet when I first started doing Thanksgiving in Italy.  When (if) I find the original, I will give credit where it is due.

Yummy Mummies

Making Mummy Dogs is not only fun, but yummy too!

You will need:     hot dogs     filo dough     pine nuts      toothpicks

1)  Cut the hot dogs along the length and width (so they will be half as long and then flat on one side).

2) Cut the filo dough into thin strips

3) Wrap the strips of filo dough around the hot dog.

4)  Poke the pine nuts into the hot dogs for eyes (make sure you poke them all the way in or they will pop out when they bake).  If you don’t like pine nuts, you can always just use the flat end of a skewer to make eye holes.  Then use the pointed end of a skewer or tootpick to draw a little cut for the mouth.

5) Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Place into oven at 375° for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

5) Let cool and serve with a plate of blood (ketchup).  Moan Apetito!

Spider Cupcakes

These are the perfect treat for Halloween! The cupcakes can be made in advanced and can be stored for 2 days, if kept in a cool place, . Makes 12 cupcakes.


  • 200 grams melted butter
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 200 grams flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tsp

To decorate the cupcakes:

  • 2 packages of liquorish spirals,
  • 12 tbls of chocolate frosting
  • liquorish candies with white centers
  • red gelatin candies for the mouths

Preheat heat the oven to 180°C and line the cupcake tins with papers.  In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, flour, eggs, baking powder and vanilla extract until the batter is smooth.  Add in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the 12 cupcake liners.  Bake for 25 minutes and let cool on a rack.

Unroll the licorice and cut into pieces about 3 cm long.  Make 8 small incisions on each cupcake with a knife and put a piece of licorice in each cut.  Using about a tablespoon of frosting, frost the center of the cupcake to make the spider’s body. Cut the pieces of licorice with white centers to make eyes and then use the red jelly candy to make the mouth.  Draw pupils with black decorating frosting.

Recipe from Jane Hornby, “Muffins, Cupcakes and Petit Gateaux,” Larousse, France.

Finger Food

This is an easy and fun one for kids of all ages.  Prepare an instant  polenta according to package instructions and let cool.

Take a fistful of polenta and roll between your hands to shape it like a large finger. Use a toothpick to make the lines of the knuckles and fingernails .

Put the fingers into the fridge to cool.  Slide skewers into fingers and brown in frying pan.  Serve in Blood Bath Gravy, er we mean tomato sauce (like a marinara).

You can also make toes instead of fingers! In which case we would say Buon ApeFEETo!

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.

Chocolate Cemetery Cake


1 egg white,    50 g powdered sugar,    85 g powdered cocoa,    200 g self rising flour,   375 g brown sugar, 4 large eggs, 20 cl milk, 20 cl vegetable oil


20 cl heavy whipping cream, 200 g dark chocolate, 7 plain dry cookies (like sugar cookies), 100 g  chocolate cookies, 25 g white chocolate, decorative silver sugar sprinkles

1. Pre-heat oven to 110°C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Beat the egg white on medium speed with an electric hand whisk until it stands up in peaks when the mixer is lifted.   Turn up the mixer speed and lowly add the powdered sugar by the spoonful until a stiff meringue is obtained. Put the meringue into a pastry bag with a large tip and make about 15 drop shapes on the parchment paper and put into oven for about 1 hour.

2. Grease a 20 x 30 cm cake pan. Heat oven to 180°C.  Sift cocoa powder, flour and sugar in a bowl.  In another bowl mix egg, milk and oil.  Pour and mix sifted flour mixture.  Pour batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool.

3- In a sauce pan, bring whipping cream to a boil. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and add to pan. Finely crumble sugar cookies into mixture and use to frost the cake.  Crumble the chocolate cookies on top of the frosting.  Melt white chocolate, let cool 10 minutes, then use to glue silver sugar sprinkles as eyes on the ghosts.  Extra dark chocolate and can be used to make tombstones.  Decorate cake with ghosts and tombstones.

Bone Apetito, muhahahahah!

To read this in Italian, click here.

Pizza Dough Recipe

To read this in Italian, click here.


1 pkg dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 c warm water
3 c all purpose flour (or you can use 2 c all purpose and 1 c semolina flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tbls olive oil

Put yeast, sugar and water into a large bowl.  Stir and let stand for about 5 minutes.  If it bubbles up, that’s a good sign.  That means the yeast are eating the sugar and burping up air bubbles that will make your dough nice and fluffy!

Add the flour, salt and olive oil and then use your hands to start mixing. Don’t worry about mixing everything perfectly. Put the dough onto a floured surface (like a table or a counter) and knead it for about 10 minutes. Next, shape the dough into a ball and put into a clean, lightly greased (covered with a little bit of olive oil) bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft free (no wind or breezes) place for at least an hour.

Now you can use your dough to make pizza! In Italy a pizza with just tomato and sauce is called Pizza Margherita, in honor of the first pizza served to Queen Margherita.  The pizza was made with colors of the Italian flag red (tomato), white (cheese) and green (basil).

Buon apetito! (good appetite)

Click here for a printable version of the Pizza Dough recipe.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sculptionary

Memory game isn’t the only thing you can do with those The Very Hungry Caterpillar cards, how about a game of Sculptionary? It’s like Pictionary, but three dimensional.

For 2 or more players.


  • play dough (homemade* or bought)
  • Egg timer (optional)

Place cards and dough in the middle of the table. Decide who goes first, we usually use the Eeny Meenie Miney Moe method. The first player draws a card (and turns over the egg timer) and makes a sculpture of what’s on the card. Everybody else can guess what it is. Once the sculpture is guessed, the turn goes to the next player on the left.  We don’t usually keep score so feelings don’t get hurt – it’s just fun getting to play with the dough and guess what the other person is doing. But, for bigger kids you can keep score or play a version where whoever guesses gets to sculpt next. If you are playing with a timer, when the timer runs out and the card isn’t guessed, the ‘sculptor’ turns over his/her card and reveals the answer and the player on his/her left goes next.

* You don’t have any play dough around? Well we’ve got a recipe for you:

1 cup of salt
1 cup of water
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of cooking oil

Mix the salt, flour, oil, & water together.

Per la versione italiana, clicchare qui.



  • 2 tbls popcorn
  • 1 tbls cooking oil (can be soy, sunflower, peanut oil, etc – just not olive oil)
  • melted butter
  • salt
  1. Put popcorn kernels and oil in a medium sized pot. Place cover on pot and put on stove.
  2. With the help of an adult, turn stove to a medium heat.  After a few minutes you will hear the kernels popping.
  3. DO NOT OPEN LID – it’s very hot and very dangerous.
  4. When there is a few seconds gap between each pop, turn off stove. You can remove the pot from the burner, but don’t open lid until the popping completely stops.
  5. Now you can pour the melted butter over the popcorn and sprinkle on some salt – make sure you toss it around a bit while doing this, so the butter and salt will be spread evenly.

*tbls is the abbreviation for tablespoon. The tablespoon is an exact measurement (approximately 14.8 milliliters), but for this recipe, you can just use a big spoon.

Per la versione italiana, clicca qui.