Warm Pie Happy Home

Aunt Gen’s Italian Date Nut Bars

Written by Aunt Ruthie on November 28th, 2017

 

Aunt Gen's (1)

For me, Christmastime is always filled with sweet memories of my big Italian Family. Back in the day on Christmas Eve my family and I, along with my Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, would all gather at my Aunt Lucy’s home. The faces I loved gleamed around the long lace-covered table, as we enjoyed homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs…or “meat-a-balls” like my Sicilian Grandma and Grandpa would say! There would be lots of loud conversation and laughter which I’m sure looked like a whole lot of happy chaos if someone were to peek into the window!

I love old family recipes! These old-fashioned Italian date nut bars have been passed down in her family for generations. I love the story and the recipe. They look amazing!

(I’m the little girl standing to the right of my Grandpa, seated with my grandma, with the headband on. Aunt Gen is on the far left, in the black dress, standing with my Uncle Al. My Mama is on the right side, second lady to the left.)

After tummies were filled, us kids ran off into another room to play “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button”, while my mom, my aunts and Grandma would tie their aprons on to clear the table, wash the dishes and turn the electric Coffee Percolator on. Once the kitchen was tidy and the coffee was fresh and hot, a huge tray of Italian cookies was carried to the table. Biscotti, Gemelli, Anisette, Pizzelles, Nut Meringues, just to name a few of the variety these delicious, Southern Italy confections.

aunt-gen

Aunt Genevieve (Gen) Cannizzaro is pictured above. Aunt Gen was famous for her baking and cooking. She made 100’s of Wedding Cakes including mine! She also opened her home to multiple foreign exchange students over the years. Such a loving and caring Mama.

As soon as my cousins and I realized the cookies had been set out we rushed to the table to grab a handful. I would search through the mountain of sweet treats to find my favorite…Aunt Gen’s Italian Date Nut Bars. Sweet, chewy with a bit of crunch. One bite and I was in Christmas heaven!

Cannizzaro Christmas

Our Christmas Eve tradition also included a skit about the Birth of Jesus presented by my cousins and I, wearing bathrobes and teatowels as costumes. Soon after, we all gathered around the piano as my mother played, to sing old time carols, Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Jingle Bells. My Uncle Joe, who was the life of the party and a talented singer, would grace us with a solo of such as Ava Maria.

When it was time to say our goodbyes, with hugs and kisses, we stepped out into the dark, chilly night to get into our cars for the drive home. My little girl heart was filled to the brim with treasures of comfort and joy, as I sleepily reflected upon all the crazy fun with my cousins and the scenes of my loved ones around the table where we feasted upon God’s goodness. These are the memories that have lasted me a lifetime.

date bars

 Now, decades later as I bake a batch of Aunt Gen’s Italian Date Nut Bars it takes me right back to that cozy and fun-filled gathering of my beloved big Italian family on Christmas Eve.
It’s my pleasure to share with you this very old and special Italian recipe.

Aunt Gen's (1)

Aunt Gen’s Italian Date Nut Bars
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅛ teaspoon or a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup minced dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • Powdered Sugar to sprinkle after baking
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients well. (I use my stand mixer).
  3. Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 glass pan and spread evenly with rubber spatula.
  4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes
  5. Once cooled, cut into squares and sprinkle the top liberally with powdered sugar.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients well. (I use my standing mixer).

Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 glass pan and spread evenly with rubber spatula.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes

Once cooled, cut into squares and sprinkle the top liberally with powdered sugar.

datenutbaringredients

datenut bars

I love old family recipes! These old-fashioned Italian date nut bars have been passed down in her family for generations. I love the story and the recipe. They look amazing!

 Enjoy! Or Mangia! Mangia!  (Eat! Eat!) As my Grandma would say!

God bless you and Buon Natale! (Merry Christmas in Italian!)

~Ruthie

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Warm Pie Happy Home

Aunt Ruthie’s Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie

Written by Aunt Ruthie on November 8th, 2017

 

hillbilly pie

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie! If I’m having a big crowd this is one of my go-to recipes! I call it “Hillbilly” because I make it in an old fashioned cast iron pan and that’s the kind of pan folks use here in the Ozarks! It’s a one pan meal too! This is truly a delicious supper served with a crisp salad and garlic bread… it’s one of our family favorites!

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Gather your ingredients! If you want the most delicious results use FRESH parsley, parmesan cheese and basil. Trust me it makes a difference providing true, rich Italian flavor. I’m 100% Italian, both sets of my grandparents were from Italy! So I grew up with authentic Italian cooking, my tastebuds know the difference! Fresh is best!

 

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Ummm…YUM! Comfort food at it’s best!

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Brown the meat in your cast iron pan. I use lean grass fed beef and lean sausage so I don’t have any excess grease. If you have a lot of grease be sure to drain it before adding the other ingredients.

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Once browned, push the meat to one side and in the empty spot add 1 tablespoon of oil and the chopped green onions, saute for 5 minutes.

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Push the onions to the side along with the meat and add the garlic,

saute for 30 seconds.

 

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Mix everything together.

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Add the fresh parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt. Mix it all up!

 

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Add the crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)

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Stir it in…

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Add 2 cups of water and stir.

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Add broken spaghetti, push down into the liquid…

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Cover and simmer for 6 minutes or until al dente.

 

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Stir the spaghetti and mix in the fresh grated parmesan cheese.

 

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Add the cream…

 

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…and fresh basil. Mix it all up.

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Lastly, top with mozzarella cheese and put  it under the broiler for a few minutes (keep an eye on it!), until it’s roasted spotty-brown like a pizza!

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Come ‘n git yer Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie!! Yee Haw!

hillbilly pie

 

Aunt Ruthie’s Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie Recipe

I make this recipe in my large cast iron pan. You can use a different kind of pan as long as it’s oven/broiler proof. Another thing you can do is transfer the mixture (without the mozzarella cheese added yet) to a roasting pan, then add the mozzarella cheese and put in under the broiler. This is such a delicious meal served with a crisp salad and garlic bread… it’s one of our family favorites!

  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, 3 links, casings removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (use fresh!)
  • 1 (approx. 28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I add two more pinches to give it a kick!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, broken in half or thirds (I used half of a 16 ounce package–Thin spaghetti–not Angel Hair– but you can use regular)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (use fresh!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (buy a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grate it, it makes a huge difference!)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Saute beef and sausage, brown over medium-high heat. If there’s excess grease you can drain it. I usually don’t have a lot because I use lean meat.
  2. Push the browned meat to the side, add 1 tablespoon Olive oil on the empty side and add chopped green onions, saute on on medium heat 5 minutes.
  3. Push the green onions to the side next to the meat and add the garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds then stir everything together.
  4. Add the fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt.
  5. Stir in crushed tomatoes, water and salt.
  6. Add broken spaghetti. Push spaghetti into liquid, and cover for 8 minutes.
  7. After 8 minutes, stir pasta so the noodles won’t stick together. Cover the pan, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 6 more minutes until pasta is al dente (almost cooked but still a little firm).
  8. Add chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and cream, stir well.
  9. Top with mozzarella cheese, put in oven to broil until spotty brown. (stand there and keep watch or set a timer for 3 minutes at a time until it’s ready, or else you may end up with Blackened Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie!)

To serve just use a large spoon to scoop out your portions. Add a crisp salad and garlic bread and enjoy!

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