Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year Everyone!

Hope everyone had a very nice Christmas and holiday! Here are some pictures I'd like to share with you of my 3 sons, little granddaughter, a Jello Poke Cake and cookie platter! Of course all the cake and cookies are gone!

I'm looking forward to posting more recipes in the coming year and wish all of you a very happy and healthy new year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kathy's Italian Cookies and a Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Has everyone finished their baking yet? I know I haven't. I still have one more batch of cookies to make and I am done. Have to put the frosting on my poke cake too!... I came across this recipe and knew my cookie tray would not be complete without it. I'm so glad I made these and I will be making them in the years to come for Christmas also. As soon as I tasted them I knew what I had been missing...authentic Italian cookies. This is not a sweet cookie. This cookie gets its sweetness from the glaze. You can make these any time and change up the flavors and colors on the glaze also. I didn't do a really red or green glaze because I don't think it would have looked too appetizing and I thought a pink one would be really pretty. These kind of look like they would be more of an Easter than a Christmas cookie. You can also make these into little balls instead of rings.

What are your plans for the holidays? I'll be spending part of Christmas at home here and part of it down in Richmond. I'm so glad we are not getting the snow that was first reported....maybe a dusting. And if we don't get that I'll be really happy. I don't ever, ever miss having snow!!!!! Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly; add eggs, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Combine flour and baking powder and gradually add to creamed mixture.

Knead dough on lightly floured board for about 5 minutes. Using tablespoons of dough, roll 6 inch lengths; press together to form rings. Let stand on ungreased cookie sheets at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

To Make Icing: Combine 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar with enough orange juice to make a thin glaze. Dip each hot cookie into the glaze and top with sprinkles immediately. Cool on racks.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Restaurant Style Beef and Broccoli

Has everyone finished with their Christmas shopping yet? I am done! All I need to get yet are some gifts bags and boxes and that's it for me. The big tackle ahead is which cookies to make this year. I think I will make 4 different kinds and a Jello Poke cake. I LOVE Jello Poke cakes!!! With the red and green layers they just spell Christmas to me. They are usually a cake that everyone loves too. And also simple, a word that I am growing fonder of by the day!!!

I also wanted to let eveyone know that my Tate's Bake Shop giveaway has ended and the winner was Jacquie. Congratulations Jacquie! I hope you enjoy the cookies and cookbook!

This is a recipe that I made about a week ago. I just had a craving for beef and broccoli and checked on one of my favorite go to sites - allrecipes! This a definitely a 5 star recipe. I used round steak like the recipe suggested but next time I will use a leaner cut that is not quite as tough. Round steak is fine but I think flank or sirloin sliced real thin would be great! Hope you give this a try......

Before I get to the recipe though can you let me know what cookies you will be baking for the holidays? I'm curious to find out which ones people are choosing. There are just sooo many choices. Thanks!

1/3 cup oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil
1/3 cup sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 pound beef round stead, cut into 1/8 inch thick strips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or more if needed
1 thin slice of fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets

Whisk together the oyster sauce, sherry, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place the steak pieces into a shallow bowl and pour the oyster sauce mixture over the meat, stir to coat well and marinate for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator.

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat and stir in ginger and garlic. Let them sizzle in hot oil for about 1 minute to flavor the oil and then remove and discard. Stir in the broccoli and toss and stir in the hot oil until bright green and almost tender, 5 to 7 mnutes. Remove the broccoli from the wok and set aside.

Pour a little more oil into the wok, if needed, and stir and toss the beef with the marinade until the sauce forms a glaze on the beef and the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Return the cooked broccoli to the wok and stir until the meat and broccoli are heated through, about 3 minutes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cranberry Pistachio Cookies and my 300th post!!!

We've gotten our first good taste of winter today. Although it's been bitterly cold here we didn't have snow until today. And I don't like it one bit. Ugh! The driving gets crazy around here and the stores get packed with people acting like they will be snowbound for weeks even if we only have 1 inch of snow on the ground. Anyone who has ever lived in Virginia knows how panicked people get around here. The only thing that I do enjoy is baking when I'm stuck inside the house. I was planning on making these as part of my Christmas cookie tray. I had a test run with these today and they are wonderful and easy, easy, easy!!! You can even add some green food coloring to make them look a bit more festive, too. The recipe comes from Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookies booklet. I'm still quite a bit shocked too that this is my 300th post! Who would have thought I would have 300 recipes to share?????

Just a reminder that my giveaway ends tomorrow night at midnight so please leave a comment on that post for a chance to win!!!

1 pouch (1lb. 5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 box (4 serving size) pistatchio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup Gold Medal all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 cup dry roasted salted pistachio nuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, pudding mix and flour. Stir in butter and eggs until soft dough forms. Add nuts and cranberries; mix well.

Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press with fingers to slightly flatten.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Store cooled cookies tightly covered at room temperature.

*I HIGHLY recommend buying shelled pistachios. I used pistachios I had to shell myself...never again. I would also recommend using more cranberries than just 1/2 cup. I would use 1 cup next time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tate's Bake Ship Giveaway!!!

I am very excited to be hosting this Tate's Bake Shop giveaway. Tate's Bake Shop is located in the town of Southampton, NY which is located on Long Island. I used to live on Long Island and have never stopped missing it. There's nothing like the beaches on Long Island nor anything as great as their bake shops. It is a good thing I don't live there anymore because I know I would be visiting Tate's all too frequently! Tate's has been featured in Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine along with articles in The New York Times and the Boston Globe. Their cookbook has a forward in it by Ina Garten.

Let me say this.....they are as good as any of these articles state. The chocolate chip cookes were gone in a flash. My youngest son, who only really likes soft, chewy cookies loved these. And Tates are the crispy kind. They almost start to melt in your mouth after the first bite. Tate's sent me a box of chocolate chip, a box of white chocolate macadamia nut and a box of oatmeal raisin cookies. All are excellent. They also sent me their cookbook which has a wonderful selection of cakes, cookies, scones and muffins. All are very straightforward recipes with no strange ingredients that you need to buy and then use only once. I'm impressed!!!

To enter this giveaway you only need to leave me a comment. If you are the winner Tates will send you the same package they sent me. Three boxes of delicious cookies and a wonderful cookbook. For an extra entry, please become a fan of Tate's Bake Shop on Facebook and leave me another comment stating you've done this.

Tate's Bake Shop is also offering a 15% discount using the code "cookie" which will be valid on orders until December 31st. This contest is opened only to US residents.

I would also like to include some of Tate's Bake Shops cookies on my Christmas cookie tray. Please help me decide which one to try first from their cookbook. Which one would you like to see me post?

1. Double Chocolate Almond Cookies
2. Double Chocolate Mint Cookies
3. Chocolate Jumbles

I will pick the one with the most votes and post it.

This giveaway will end on Friday at 11:59 pm est. I will announce the winner on Saturday.

Good luck everyone!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Raspberry Brownies

Here are brownies that are absolutely delicious!!! My husband surprised me with these since I love just about anything with raspberry. He played around with these a bit and added coconut to some and chocolate chips to another batch and also added a teaspoon of raspberry extract that really added so much to it. This is a great recipe that I highly recommend. As you can tell from the picture he also turned these into blondies! He also used a white chocolate glaze instead of semi sweet chocolate. This comes from the magazine Holiday Cookies by Land O Lakes Recipe Collection.


1 cup butter
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam


1/4 cup whipping cream
4 (1 ounce) squares semi sweet baking chocolate

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter and unsweetened chocolate in medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave 30 seconds; stir until smooth; set aside.

Combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well mixed. Add melted chocolate mixture; continue beating until well mixed. Spread batter into greased 13x9 inch baking pan.

Stir jam until smooth. Drop tablespoonfuls of jam evenly over batter. Swirl jam through batter using knife. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until set and brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool completely.

Place whipping cream in 1 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until cream begins to boil (1 to 2 minutes). Add semi-sweet chocolate; remove from heat. Stir with wire whisk until smooth. Spread over brownies.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake

Boy has it been cold here the past few days and is there any better way to beat the cold than bake? Here's a wonderful Bundt cake that I made a while back and have been meaning to post for the longest time. I love snickerdoodle cookies and when I saw this was a Bundt cake I knew it would be a success. They are so easy to make. The flavors in this cake are great and I plan to make this one again. The bottom of the outside has such a nice crispy texture from the cinnamon sugar. If you like snickdoodles, you will love this.

I also wanted everyone to know that within the next week or so I will be having a give away!!! I haven't had one in quite a while and I am looking very forward to this one. In the meantime, enjoy this cake after you do some heavy duty Christmas shopping! (This recipe comes from Night Baking).

Cinnamon Sugar

2 tsps cinnamon
1 cup sugar


2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Stir together the cinnamon and sugar and set aside. You'll use this for dusting the pan, the center swirl and for sprinkling over the batter before baking.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Beat the butter on medium speed for one minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat for three minutes. It will be very light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, add the brown sugar and beat for two more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour alternately with the sour cream. Scrape down the bowl once more and give it a final few seconds to fully combine.

Now, prep the 9 cup (or larger) Bundt pan. You can grease the pan with butter or shortening, but I used cooking spray with flour. Spray the pan thoroughly, including the center tube so the cinnamon sugar will stick and the cake won't. Gently dust the inside of the pan with the cinnamon sugar mixture, using about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Sprinkle a few tablespoons around the bottom then gently turn the pan, shaking the sugar around to coat it. Add more as needed. Shake out any extra into the bowl and reserve.

Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. I dolloped it in a few scoops and then gently evened it out with a rubber spatula. Be careful not to rub the cinnamon sugar off the sides of the pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 1/2 of the remaining cinnamon sugar evenly onto the batter. Top with the remaining batter and smooth it out. Finish by sprinkling on any remaining cinnamon sugar. If you've run out just mix up 1/4 cup sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Bake for 55 - 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of cake and invert a rimmed cookie sheet on top of it. You're going to invert the pan to take the cake out, but if you don't use a cookie sheet you'll end up with cinnamon sugar all over the floor and counter. Cool completely.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anise Pound Cake

I came across this recipe in a magazine called Easy Desserts that comes from the publishers of Fine Cooking. What caught my attention was the word easy. Long complicated recipes with tons of ingredients just do not appeal to me. Easy usually spells success too! I love the flavor of anise. I remember having Stella D'Oro anisette toast cookies (if you're Italian you'll know exactly what I am talking about) as a child at my grandparents house and just love them to this day. I'm also very partial to pound cakes and enjoy making them as much as I enjoy eating them. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it - right away! This is really, really good as long as you enjoy anise. The flavor is there. You can't miss it and I love it. The only thing that I did differently than what the recipe called for was try and grind the anise in a small chopper. Doesn't work well. You are supposed to grind them down to fine in a grinder, which I don't have. The difference probably is that you can see them in this cake, where if you use a grinder you wouldn't see them. Doesn't matter to me, I love the cake just the same.

2 tablespoons anise seeds
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 in loaf pan and dust with flour. Place the anise seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind fine. Set aside.

Combine the sour cream, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and lightly beat. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the ground anise to the batter and then mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I think I am just about baked out. I baked a number of pies and cakes and think my mixer needs a break!
I just made this dish and was going to wait to post it since I have some cakes to post but it was so good that I can't wait to to share it with you. This is a Greek dish that I have had before in restaurants but have never attempted to make this myself. I came across the recipe in the latest Taste of Home issue called "Come Home for Christmas." This is one delicious dish and most of the ingredients I already had in my pantry. So simple and so full of flavor....I will most definitely make this again and again. If you have ever thought of making a Greek dish but were not sure about it, I urge you to give this a try.

1 package (7 oz) uncooked elbow macaroni
1 lb ground beef or lamb (I used beef)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, optional (do NOT omit this)*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 egg, beaten

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, oregano, pepper and cinnamon; heat through.
Drain macaroni; place half of macaroni in a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Layer with meat mixture and remaining macaroni. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour and remaining salt until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in remaining cheese. Pour sauce over macaroni.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

This is great with warm crusty bread and salad.

*The recipe as written states that the cinnamon is optional but I don't think it should be. This really adds to the flavor of the dish and I think the taste would be quite different without it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Pie and A Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Just for the heck of it I decided to try a different pumpkin pie this year. We all love pumpkin pie around here and the one that I normally make is good old Libby's. I wanted to try something different though this time. My husband had left me the section of the local newspaper that had some Thanksgiving recipes so I decided to try this pumpkin pie. This is a good pie if you enjoy a very creamy pumpkin pie. I prefer Libby's but there is nothing wrong with this one, it's just creamier and maybe some people prefer that. I saw such a great recipe for golden Yukon potatoes layered with sweet potatoes and can't get it out of my mind! If I decide to try that I'll post the recipe if it turns out good.

In the meantime, I want to wish eveyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

A&P Pumpkin Pie

1 can (1 pound) pumpkin, or 2 cups cooked, mashed winter squash

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cups light cream or 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Unbaked 9 inch deep dish pie shell, chilled

Mix 2 Tbsp pumpkin with spices, combine the remaining pumpkin and sugar, blend well. Stir in cream and eggs, then pour into pie shell. Bake in a hot oven (450 degrees F) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate (350 degrees F) and bake 25 minutes longer, or until filling is set and crust is browned. (Mine took about 35 minutes). A knife inserted near, but not at, the center should come out dry. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baked Ziti I

Boy has the weekend flown by. Why is it that the week sometimes drags on but the weekend never does!!!! I forgot to mention that I saw Paranormal Activity 2 last was very, very good. I highly recommend it if you enjoy scary movies. I couldn't get the ending out of my head for a while afterwards. Very creepy and kind of stays with you. Do you believe in spirits or ghosts? I do, very much so. I watch a lot of those type shows...TAPS, Ghost Adventurers, Paranormal State and I believe it all. I've had some experiences similar to what TAPS and Ghost Adventurers explores but my experiences have all been positive. Never negative. I'm sure if I ever had any kind of negative experience it would scare the hell out of me!

This baked ziti is delicious. I think it is my favorite baked ziti. I definitely like it better with the sour cream and provolone cheese it uses instead of ricotta. I love ricotta cheesecake, that is my favorite cheesecake but I don't care for ricotta in baked ziti anymore since I've made this recipe. Hope you will try this if you find it interesting just so you can taste the difference. This is another recipe from Allrecipes. I use this site so often that I wonder why I even buy cookbooks anymore!

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaing sauce mixture. Top with greated parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven or until cheese are melted.

Note: I baked mine covered with foil for 1 hour since I made this the day before and it came out of the refrigerator. Remember to coat your foil with cooking spray so it doesn't stick to the ziti. Uncover last 5 minutes of cooking. I also put a thin layer of the sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan before I layered in the ziti.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Raspberry Almond Coffeecake

I am so glad that half the week is over since I am ready for the weekend.....I'm having one of those loooong weeks at work? Know the kind I mean? The ones that just drag on and on....Ugh. Sometimes I think I just need a change. I wouldn't want to stay home full time since I enjoy working but when your job becomes a drag even part time then maybe it's time for a change. We'll see. Things where I work seem to change from week to week so we'll see what next week brings. In the meantime I bring you this coffeecake! This was absolutely delicious as long as you didn't eat the almonds! As I mentioned in my last post I didn't realize the almonds were stale and take it from me - stale almonds can ruin a cake! From now on I keep them in the freezer. Cheryl had commented that they stay fresh that way. Now that I know this that is where they'll be! Anyhow, I still enjoyed what I could of the cake and just sliced the top away. Since it was filled with raspberries it still held on to its taste. So easy to make. I found this at Allrecipes. I have made so many recipes from that site that when one of theirs gets 4 stars and tons of rave reviews I know I can trust it.

1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine raspberries and brown sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine sour cream, butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla and egg and add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread raspberry mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over raspberry mixture. Top with almonds.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Combine confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Drizzle glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lasagna Primavera

This is another delicious recipe that I found at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I first tasted Lasagna Primavera several years back and became a huge fan. It had never really appealed to me before and I never thought it even looked that appetizing but tasting it convinced me otherwise. My husband and son also loved it. The only complaint was that I should omit the carrots next time. They just still had a tiny crunch to them and didn't cook quite through. I don't think I would omit them completely because carrots sweeten things up a bit and are complimentary to the sauce. What I will do is perhaps chop them super tiny or shred them. This dish does require some prep time but it is well worth it. I would definitely recommend making it. I don't post things that I wouldn't recommend or that have turned out badly. No way!!!! I don't want to waste my time or your time writing about them! But I do have disasters....Like using stale nuts. Oh yes...not the recipes fault but mine. In fact, the cake was delicious (I will post that one) but as soon as you bit into an almond, oh what a stale taste. Lesson learned - use up nuts quickly. Don't keep them too long. And they are too expensive to waste. Anyhow, on with the recipe!

1 cup chopped carrots (shred or diced very tiny)
3 zucchini, finely chopped, 1/4 inch or less pieces
2 squash, finely chopped, 1/4 inch or less pieces
2 cups chopped broccoli
20 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
3 cups ricotta cheese (I used low fat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces mozzarella, shredded (about 4 cups)
4-6 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 (24 ounce) jars pasta sauce or 6 cups of homemade sauce (I used a store bought marinara)
12 no boil lasagna noodles (I used Barilla brand) or 12 regular lasagna noodles, boiled and drained - I love the no boil ones!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all the chopped vegetables, (carrots, broccoli, zucchini and squash) with 1/2 teaspoon salt and steam briefly, for 2-3 minutes, to soften them just a bit (they will finish cooking in the oven).

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach and salt. Mix well.

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan. Spoon about 3/4 cup sauce onto the bottom of the pan and spread around. It will be a thin layer. Cover with four no-boil lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly. Spoon in 1/3 of the lightly steamed vegetables evenly. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the vegetables then sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese. Pour 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the cheese, lightly spreading it to the edges. Repeat the layers (noodles, vegetables, ricotta, mozarella/parm, sauce) two more times, ending with the last of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top. This lasagna will be piled high - above the rim of your 9x13 inch pan, but it will settle as it bakes.

Cover the lasagna with a sheet of lightly greased foil and place the 9x13 inch pan on a large baking sheet lined with foil (this is in case any bubbles up and spills over). Bake covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Banana Walnut Tart

Now this was one delicious dessert. I found this recipe in a cookbook called The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri. I had gotten a book of his many, many years ago from the library and made the most delicious apple cake ever. Of course, I can't find that recipe and don't remember which book it was in but I did remember the author's name. When I saw this on the discount rack for $5.99 at Borders I just couldn't resist. I thumbed through it and was sold when I saw this recipe. I always have bananas here and there comes a point when you want to try something other than a banana bread or cake. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this. The bananas in the tart melt down when this is baked and they are all sweet and gooey. Perfect with the crust and nuts. Pretty simple to make too. So if you are normally saving bananas for a bread, give this a try instead. My bananas were not very ripe like those used in banana bread but just a great yellow color with only a very few spots. You don't want them overly ripe for this recipe.

I am off from work for the next few days and plan on taking in a movie with my son and a friend tomorrow and just do some clothes shopping on Friday. Did you know I LOVE to shop for clothes???? Not just clothes, but shoes, pocketbooks, cheap jewelry, scarves, make up, books....I can go on and on!!!!

I am including the recipe for the Sweet Tart Dough which worked great in this recipe but I would imagine you could you use any tart dough you would like. This dough is made in a food processor like most of the recipe and I just love that. So much less clean up and you dont' have a ton of bowls to clean.

Sweet Tart Dough

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix.

Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients - you do not want any visible pieces of butter.

Add the egg, egg yolk and water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball.

Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough on it to the work surface. Form the dough into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it.

This dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The Filling

2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Bananas and Finishing

3 large bananas (I used 4)
1/2 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon dark rum (I omitted this since I didn't have any)
One 10 or 11 inch tart crust, unbaked

Set a rack on the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

For the fillling, pulse the walnut pieces and brown sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter, egg, egg yolk, cinnamon, vanilla, flour and baking powder. Pulse to make a thin batter.

Cut the bananas into 3/4 inch slices. Arranges slices evenly over the crust. Pour the filling over the bananas and spread evenly with the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula. Scatter the chopped walnuts over the filling.

Bake the tart until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and nicely golden.

Remove the tart from the oven, place on a rack, and immediately sprinkle with the rum (if using that). Cool the tart completely before slicing.

*Note: I used pecans for the topping since I ran out of walnuts. This took about 30 minutes to bake. The instructions at that point kind of threw me because I like to see a number regarding how long to bake something, but just keep an eye on it after 15 or 20 minutes......

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken & Stuffing Skillet

This is another quick and easy dish from Campbell's Kitchen courtesy of my husband! He made this dish several weeks ago and it was so good. It's perfect for a weeknight meal and would be great with a side salad. I love these types of dishes when I just want something quick to make without a whole lot of fuss. Also very kid friendly since my son loved it too.

I can't believe that I haven't posted in almost a week! I keep telling myself that I need to post more and certainly mean to but for whatever reason something always comes up when I plan to. I am also wanting to change up my blog a bit and Ingrid from 3 B's has offered to help me since I am totally clueless. I mean clueless. She has no idea what she is in for!

Enjoy this recipe and I hope to be back more often than I have been lately...!!!

1 tablespoon butter
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
1 box (6 ounces) Pepperidge Farm One Step Stuffing Chicken Mix
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Heat butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 15 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet.

Prepare the stuffing in the skillet according to the package directions except let stand for 2 minutes.

Place the chicken on the stuffing. Stir the soup and milk in a small bowl. Pour the soup mixture over the chicken. Top with the cheese. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted.

Substitute Campbell's Condensed Cream of Celery or Cream of Mushroom Soup for the Cream of Chicken Soup.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Libby's Pumpkin Roll

This is one cake that I have been meaning to make for ages but just never have. I think I was always worried that when I rolled the cake it would crack and I'd have a disaster on my hands. I'm happy to report that this was not the case. This was soooo easy and simple to make. The only little disaster I had was that at one point I had powdered sugar everywhere! This was delicious and perfect for this time of year. I'm sure many probably make this a yearly tradition. The ladies that belong to the church I attend have a tradition of making a ton of these every year as a fundraiser and selling them the weekend before Thanksgiving. They are just so pretty! Now that I know how easy these are to make, I'll definitely be trying more cake roll recipes. Think a chocolate one filled with raspberries and whipped cream would be delicious!!!!

1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel - I used more and this was when I had powdered sugar everywhere!)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup walnuts (optional)
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

For Cake:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 15x10 inch jellyroll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched (if using a dark colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

For Filling:

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Cooking Tip: Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Banana Cheesecake

I'm giving the apple recipes a break for a while (still have more to come). I came across this cheesecake in the Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook Magazine. I ALWAYS have overripe bananas here and since I love banana bread and cakes I thought I'd give this a try. I am not a big fan of cheesecake but enjoy a slice every once in a while. Especially if it's from Cheesecake Factory! The banana flavor really comes through in this cake. That is the first thing you taste. So you really have to love bananas to enjoy this cheesecake. I liked it but my husband didn't care for it at all. He thought it had a rum flavoring added to it, which it did not. Just vanilla. It baked up beautifully. I didn't have to put it in a water bath while baking it and it didn't crack at all. I have the sour cream topping on it only because the recipe called for it. Not hiding any cracks. There is another cheesecake that I make that is delicious and I will be trying that again soon but it has always cracked....I've done the water bath thing, left it in the oven to cool off, etc. Cracks....Anyhow this cakes just comes out looking beautiful, so if you want to impress, then give this one a try.


3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
6 tbs butter, melted


1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream


1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup assorted fresh fruit (if desired)

Combine the first five ingredients; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in springform pan; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine bananas and lemon juice; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch and salt until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in sour cream, vanilla and banana mixture. Pour into crust. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Let stand for 5 minutes. Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla; spread over top of cheesecake. Bake 5 minutes longer.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

I have been wanting to make this apple pie for about 2 years and have finally made it. It was fantastic!!! I had it in my "to try" folder and finally tried it! What I should have done but did not do was make a lattice top for the pie, since you pour a syrup over it. I made a regular top pie crust (I have to work on trying to make a lattice one), and while it worked fine, it did not look pretty at all. That's why I'm posting a picture of a slice of the pie. The syrup just kind of turned a dark brown and didn't blend well into the crust while if it were a lattice crust like it should have been it would have spread over each strip. Still, it was good and I would definitely make this again. It's from Allrecipes and is their highest rated apple pie. At this moment I have another one baking in the oven by Ina Garten and I will be posting that one soon too. Anyone tired of apple recipes yet? I'm baking this one for my oldest son, for his 26th birthday. I cannot believe my son is 26 already. I don't know where the years have gone.....although I'm glad that his teenage years are gone!

Hope everyone has a great weekend...we are expecting the temperatures to be in the 70's here and possibly 80 one day next week. Right now it's cold as anything and going down to 40 tonight, crazy!!!

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes in te preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes until apples are soft.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Uncle Bob's Fresh Apple Cake

Well we had a great time at the apple festival at Graves Mountain this year. We thought it would be a little on the cool side since we would be in the mountains but it was so warm that we were sweating!!! Had a great lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, apple cake and apple donuts for dessert and even found some neat things from the crafters. The mountains are just so beautiful this time of year.

Before I move on to the this recipe, let me just clear up something. I'm not an authority on any type of food nor its origins. I had a recent comment from someone regarding my Swedish Apple Pie that "they didn't want to ruin" it for me but my pie was not a Swedish apple pie, etc, etc, etc.......That recipe originated from Allrecipes and I just copied what they wrote. People, I'm a home cook and baker and I'm just trying to have a bit of fun here on my blog and maybe learn how to become a halfway decent baker.....I don't expect people to do anything more than read my blog and on a lucky day maybe someone will like one of my recipes and try it. That's it.

This recipe is once again from my husband. He baked this to bring to our church's apple festival which was also this past weekend. Delicious and full of flavor and perfect with some ice cream on top. Of course, it's from his girlfriend, Paula Deen! I'd be in trouble if she lived close by. Hope you all enjoy it....

Honey Glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons milk

Apple Cake:
3 cups diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 large apples
1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs

Glaze: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set the bowl aside.

Cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a Bundt pan or tube pan.

In a bowl, mix together the apples, walnuts, vanilla and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and beat until completely combined. Fold in the apple mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate.

Drizzle the apple cake with some of the honey glaze, serve and enjoy!

Note: This cake can be wrapped tightly and stored in refrigerator for 3 to 5 days

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Easy Swedish Apple Pie

Apple season has certainly begun and the apple recipes have officially started!!! We are going to Graves Mountain tomorrow for their annual apple festival and we'll be bringing back a huge box of apples. I can picture myself already making tons of apple pies and cakes! I'm sure within the next two weeks I'll be all "apple'd out!" Graves Mountain has such a nice festival with music, crafters, hayrides and a huge hay mountain for kids to climb up and jump down from. They also have a lodge and restaurant. Sunday's lunch/dinner is always fried chicken, mashed potatoes and of course an apple dessert! Their meals are served family style so you sit at a huge table with quite a few other people and get to know one another. My husband really enjoys meeting and talking with people at our table. Me, not so much. This atmosphere, while friendly, to me, feels forced. Maybe it's just me but that's how I feel. But the food is delicious! All home cooked.

I came across this recipe on Allrecipes. I must have been saving it for about 2 years. This was in my "to try" folder with about 100 other ones, just waiting to be looked at again! This is a very different take on the traditional apple pie. It has no bottom crust, just a crust on the top. Lots of cinnamon in the crust! I also added some apple pie spice to the apples since some of the reviews of the pie had stated it was a bit bland inside. This addition definitely worked since it didn't lack in flavor at all. Very delicious warm and perfect with vanilla ice cream on top. And of course, easy as pie to make!!

One thing - do not make this in a deep dish pie plate. I did that and had to make 2 batches of topping. It probably works better in just a 9 in pie plate.

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar - I also added a liberal sprinkling of apple pie spice
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup melted butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss apples with 1 tablespoon sugar and pour them into a pie plate. Thoroughly mix together 1 cup of sugar with flour, cinnamon, butter and egg. Spread this evenly over the top of the pie.

Bake in preheated oven until the apples have cooked and the topping is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. (Mine took about 1 hour).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creamy Pesto Chicken & Bow Ties

This dish is total comfort food. It comes from Campbell's Kitchen so that alone will tell you that it is easy and delicious. And very, very kid friendly! My son loved it and was so glad when I served it again as leftovers the following night. My husband made this dinner and used a bit more chicken than the recipe called for. I believe he used about 6 breasts instead of 4. This is the type of recipe you can play with and add your own extra ingredients to. It would probably be great with some red or yellow peppers added in or even some broccoli. I'm sure we will make this again. It's tasty, easy and goes a long way.

I've been doing some fall and winter shopping lately and love some of the new clothes out there. I love shopping for clothes although lots of times I find they look better on the hanger or mannequin than on me! I saw some skinny jeans that look like they would be fun to wear and would go great with boots. My son wears them.....all the "skaters" seem too, so I'm told. Anyhow these pants would look great with boots. I need some new boots too. I want ones this year with heels. For many years I would NOT wear any heel at all. It had to be like 1/2 inch or less because I'm tall to begin with - almost 5'8". Well this summer I finally said the hell with that - I love heels, love shoes so I am now wearing EXACTLY what I want! It has taken a long, long time to get over this height thing. I saw on Facebook recently a motto someone posted and I am literally taking its advice...."Life is short - so wear high heels!" Love it!!!!!!

2 tablespoons butter

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts ( about 1 pound) cut into cubes

1 can (10 3/4 ounce) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (regular or 98% fat free)

1/2 cup pesto sauce

1/2 cup milk

Heat butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until well browned, stirring often.

Stir the soup, pesto sauce and milk in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the pasta and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
My husband put this into a casserole dish at this point and sprinkled some Mexican Blend cheese over the top and baked it for about 15 minutes at 350F......

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

We had a great time this past weekend on Chincotoeague Island. The weather could not have been better. It was around 80 and dry. Bright and sunny. Perfect. The oyster festival was very nice as long as you don't mind crowds or waiting quite a while on lines for your food. I have to say my oysters were perfect. They had them fried, on rolls or by themselves, and also right in their shells. I only eat the fried ones. There were also huge bowls of crabs but the lines were just so long that we only had the oysters. We stood in line for those alone around a half hour. There were 3,000 people at this festival and Chincoteague is just a tiny beach town. So it was definitely a huge crowd. I don't think I would do it again because it is very expensive and just way too crowded for me. I'd rather take that money and have a great dinner in a nice restaurant and be served! Just saying.....

Here are some pics of the food and line at the festival and also of my son - "the skater!"

I'll be back soon with a recipe....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while now will know that I have a weakness for banana cake, bread, etc. I love trying different banana cake recipes and it helps since I always, always have bananas in my kitchen. My favorite fruit, but they can't be too ripe. I like them with a tinge of green. So, needless to say, once they get beyond having a few little brown specs on them, they are recipe ready!

I found this recipe at Lick the Bowl Good. Monica has a fabulous site with the most delicious looking cakes. My mouth waters every time she has a new one posted. This lady not only has great tasting cakes but they are decorated beautifully. My goal is to be able to present as pretty a cake as she does. Please check out her site if you are not familiar with it. You will not be disappointed.

I've made quite a few banana cakes and breads in the past and this has become one of my favorites. It is a bit lighter than the usual banana cakes and breads and has a wonderful flavor. I found the frosting to be a bit more of a thick glaze but that could be because I "fooled" around with it a bit. I made this into a bundt cake rather than a layer cake and did not need too much frosting. Regardless, it is delicious. I used a dark cocoa powder and I also added chocolate chips to the cake batter so it was very chocolatey indeed. I find with banana recipes you cannot go wrong adding chocolate and it would be really hard to add too much. The combo is just perfect.

We are headed to the beach again this weekend. They are having an oyster festival and I love fried oysters. Not raw, they MUST be fried!!! The weather here in Virginia is supposed to be just perfect - mid to high 70's......does it get any better than that? Good food and weather! I will try to remember to take some pics and post them when I get back. I always seem to get caught up in the moment and forget to take out my camera.....the food gets eaten rather quickly!!!

Have a great weekend everyone, and thank you Monica for a terrific cake!!!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softenend
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup evaporated milk or half in half
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the cake, heat the over to 350F. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans (I used a Bundt pan). Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to combine well.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat well for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl occassionally until you have a smooth batter.

Using a large spoon, stir in half the flour just until it disappears into the batter. Stir in the buttermilk and then the remaining flour the same way. Quickly and gently fold in the mashed banana and then divide the batter between the 2 cake pans.

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks. Then turn out onto the racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the butter, cocoa and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the cocoa dissolves into a dark shiny essence. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at low speed until you have a thick, smooth frosting.

To complete the cake, place one layer, top side down, on a cake plate and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly over the top. Cover with the second layer placed top side up. Spread the rest of the frosting evenly first over the sides and then covering the top of the cake.

For a Bundt cake bake at 350F for 55-60 minutes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pistachio Pudding Salad

Our church had its 110th anniversary this past Sunday. A little country church that is 110 years old is a beautiful thing. It really is much older than that, but that is the anniversary of this building itself. I don't know how many of you have ever had the feeling of deja vu at one time or another but I had a strong dose of it 12 years ago when I first walked into this church. I felt like I already knew this place and had an overwhelming feeling of having been there before. I am not a religious person, but I've never felt more at home anywhere than I have there. I was raised in the Catholic faith and not ever felt a sense of belonging or really any warmth in any church I attended growing up or as an adult, except for this one. Can't explain it but I always leave there feeling happy.

Ok, for the recipe now. We found out the early part of last week that we were assigned fruit dishes for the potluck celebration to follow at church this past Sunday. I was gone for most of the weekend and needed something I could just whip up in a jiffy but that people would also enjoy and that included fruit. I ask you - is there any dish easier to make than Pistachio Pudding Salad. No way!!! This is so simple that anyone, even my 11 year old son can make this and it will come out fantastic!!!! The above picture of the watermelon is the handy work of my husband. As I've mentioned before he was in the catering business many years so these things are a breeze to him. The most trouble he had was finding straight pins to attach the flowers. Is it pretty or what? He filled it with watermelon balls (of course) and kiwi, mangoes and papaya. Delicious......So remember if you need a quick fruit or dessert recipe, the pudding is a no fail sure bet!

I doubled this recipe:

1 bag mini marshmallows

1 box Jell-O pistachio pudding mix

1 small can crushed pineapple

1 small can mandarin oranges

1 tub Cool Whip

In a large bowl mix together the pineapple, mandarin oranges and the packet of pudding. Do not drain the pineapple or the mandarin oranges. Then add the Cool Whip and 1/2 bag of marshmallows. Chill for a couple of hours.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cheesy Skillet Chicken and Rice with Broccoli

This was one delicious meal! I found this on a terrific food blog - Mel's Kitchen Cafe. She has some wonderful recipes on her blog and I already have a few others in mind that I'll be trying. The original recipe calls for green beans but my son prefers broccoli so I decided to go with that instead. It's a simple recipe and kid friendly.

Looking very forward to the weekend with cooler, sunny weather moving in. We have had torrential rains here the past few days with flooding in some areas. But we did need the rain. Feels like the humidity is finally leaving and that is a good thing. Have a great weekend everyone!!!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and group black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces white button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered or sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound frozen or fresh green beans (I used fresh broccoli)
1 cup shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Carefully lay each chicken breast in the skillet and cook until the chicken is well browned on the first side, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken with a pair of tongs and let it brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons oil from the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, scraping the browned bits off the bottom and edges of the pan, until the mushrooms begin to soften and start to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook until the edges of the rice turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken to the pan and cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the rice is mostly cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken from the skillet again, brushing off any rice that sticks to the chicken back into the skillet. Cover the chicken with foil to keep warm. Stir the green beans (or broccoli) into the skillet, stir the mixture well, cover and continue to cook on low until the beans and rice are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This is a cake that just says autumn. I'd never made a pumpkin bundt cake before and with the lemon cream cheese glaze this is just too good to not make again and again. So easy too. If you make this don't leave out the glaze, it just adds the final touch and flavor. I found this recipe in Family Circle - October 2010.

I'm hoping to try a bunch of new apple and pumpkin recipes in the near future. The weather has finally been a bit fall like so I am planning my baking accordingly! It was actually only in the high 60's today! That is very welcome here after last week's heat wave!

3 cups cake flour (not self rising)
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 12 cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the pumpkin, eggs and vanilla.

Into pumpkin mixture, alternately beat in flour mixture and milk. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 57 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of the cake tests clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake to wire rack to cool completely.

Beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium bowl until well blended and a good glazing consistency. Pour the glaze over top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apple Crumb Squares

Here is a great apple cake/ bar recipe that is perfect for this time of year. I found the recipe in the September 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine. I get so many magazines that it is ridiculous already. Some of them I don't even read....I just go straight to the recipe pages! These were really good and also a little time consuming since you have to make the crust, slice the apples and then get together the topping but still really simple. I love that these had almond extract in the crust and these were also not too sweet. You might want to go a little heavier on the pumpkin pie spice or a little extra cinnamon.....I think I might have preferred that but that's just me.

I recently had a little disaster baking a favorite cake of mine. A banana cake. It wouldn't rise and wouldn't rise and took soooo long to bake. Well, I guess that is what happens when you forget to add baking soda. Oh was I ticked! I absolutely HATE when I waste time and ingredients to have something just end up in the trash. So frustrating. But I guess it happens to all of us from time to time.

My son has his first school dance this Thursday afternoon from 3 to 5pm. Can't wait to hear about it.....Oh, and we went and rented a clarinet today. He has joined band and this was the instrument he picked. I hope he likes it. I remember when my middle son picked trombone. Oh me, oh my.........I think the instrument saw the light of day only on several occassions. Let's just say all did not go well! Hope things are better this time around with my youngest and his clarient!!!!

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softenend

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

3/4 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/8 tsp salt

6 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

1/4 cup apricot preserves, melted

Crumb Topping

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar

1 1/4 tsps pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan with cooking spray.

Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in almond extract. On low speed, beat in flour and salt until just blended. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Fan apple slices over top, then brush with preserves. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Crumb topping: Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir in the butter until mixture is moisented and clumps together. Sprinkle evenly over cake. Bake for an additional 35 minutes. Remove pan to wire rack; cool completlely.

Dust with confectioners' sugar and cut into 24 squares.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blueberry Supreme Dessert

This is another one of the desserts my husband made recently during his "baking spree." This is super easy and quick. A great dessert with a minimal amount of fuss. The original recipe found in Country magazine called for a can of cherry pie filling but my husband preferred using blueberries. Any filling would probably be fine. You could also swap the rice krispie crust for a graham cracker one. This is one of those desserts you can just play around with.

I saw the movie "Devil" this past weekend and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. This is a very, very good movie with a great plot and uplifting ending. Much more meaningful than what any of the TV previews would have you believe. Funny thing is I don't like elevators and rarely go on them - ONLY if I have to. Like if the floor I am going up to is the 20th floor, then I don't have a choice. Now that I've seen this movie I think I might even walk up 20 floors! I don't go to the movies all that often but this is one of those movies that you really need to see on the big screen to get the full effect. Even if you are a scaredy cat - go see this movie. It won't disappoint.

3/4 cup crisp rice cereal

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

4 cups miniature marshmallows

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling (or blueberry)

In a small bowl, combine the cereal, walnuts, brown sugar and butter. Press into a greased 8 in. square dish. Fold marshmallows into whipped cream; spread over cereal mixture. Top with pie filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Yield: 9 servings

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Olivia's Buttermilk Pie

I have always wanted to make a buttermilk pie and I finally got around to baking one! This recipe comes from my most trusted cook....Paula Deen!!!! I have complete faith and trust in Paula. Never once has a recipe of hers bombed when I made it. And trust me, I have made my share of bombs. I don't make her recipes too often since they are just loaded with too much goodness...(butter, sugar, cream). This recipe reminded me very much of a crustless coconut pie I made recently. I had seen another recipe for buttermilk pie also that added pineapple and blueberries that sounded good too, but I wanted to try the Paula recipe first. I will have to remember the next time I make this to make sure my husband is around. He had gone away for the weekend and my son didn't care too much for this so that meant it was all mine. Not a good thing since I just kept "picking" at it, as in digging in with a fork right out of the pie plate whenever the urge struck. And the urge stuck often.

My son did not make the football team. He wasn't really disappointed since he said that didn't expect to make it. Competition starts to get tough in middle school. He had never played on a football team before and it also didn't help to find out that 100 kids had tried out and they usually only pick 4 to 6 6th graders!!! I am proud of him for trying and giving it his best shot and being a really good sport about it. There are other sports he can try out for and I told him there is always next year when he's bigger and taller. Judging by who made the team, they definitely want big kids!

Anyhow, hope you enjoy this recipe. It's great if you have leftover buttermilk and want to use it up. The recipe is super easy too!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk (I used lowfat)
1/2 cup biscuit mix (I used Bisquick)
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch pie pan.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and blend for 1 minute witha handheld electric mixer. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes (mine took 60 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes.

(I put mine in fridge once it was completely cool and enjoyed it chilled with fruit on the side).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Busch Gardens aka Why I Don't Go on Rollercoasters!!!

Had a great time at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia yesterday. The weather was absolutely perfect. Couldn't have asked for a better forecast. I met up with a friend of mine who absolutely loves roller coasters and travels across the country going on all the different ones. Of course that meant that my son who is 11 would be having a blast there!!! While he wouldn't go on two of them since I guess they both had pretty steep drops and one had quite a few twists he did go on one that had a 231 foot drop!!!! At that point, I have to ask, what in the world is the difference???? 231 foot drop to me is HUGE!!! I don't think I would survive that without my heart stopping first. Which leads me to this - while my friend Mike was waiting in line for his second time on the coaster the Griffon , my son suddenly looked and pointed in the air at the coaster and said "uh oh." "Uh oh" as in the coaster got stuck....stuck on the way up. This one has a huge drop also that hangs over first and pauses so you can get a good luck at how far you'll be going down. I was certain that Mike was up there stuck on it. But I knew he wouldn't be upset or scared - he would love it!!! No chance of that though. He had been on line and was waiting to get a front row seat so that took longer than usual, so he missed getting stuck. I felt sorry for the people up there and could only imagine how scared I would have been if it were me. Luckily, they were only trapped there for about 20 minutes and it started moving again and all went well. After that though they closed that ride. Whew...glad it wasn't me up there!

We ate at the German Fest Haus and it was very good. We had bratwurst and knockwurst (both excellent) ribs (not good at all), potato salad and a roll. I did have chocolate cake for dessert but could not find any Black Forest.....the cake was good but I wasn't impressed paying $4 for a cup of coffee. A bit high for me!

We walked the park for about 7 hours and I have to say that hopefully I walked off all the calories of the cake! It was a great day and I hope to go back again next son is already asking to go back again so he can ride the coasters he didn't ride on this year!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zucchini Chocolate Cake and Fresh Raspberry Sauce

This has to be one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever eaten. It is so tasty, chocolately and moist. My husband made this while I was away last weekend (he is on a baking kick) and he also made ice cream which we had with it and a raspberry sauce. Very creative guy! You could serve this cake with a sauce or simply with powdered sugar on top or even nothing at all. Doesn't matter. It really is so good it needs nothing with it! He found the recipe in the September issue of Country Extra.

Today is the second day of football tryouts at my son's middle school. He is hoping he makes the team. He has never played football before so I give him lots of credit for trying. Unfortunately out of the entire 6th grade they only pick about 10 to 12 players. Keeping my fingers crossed here. Stupid me, I thought all the kids make the team automatically! Guess it doesn't work that way in middle school. Going down tomorrow to Busch Gardens and meeting up with a friend from New Jersey. My son is very excited since my friend is a roller coaster fanatic and will be taking him on all the coasters! I stay away from them but I am excited to be going to the Fest Haus in Germany and having bratwurst and potato salad. Haven't been there in years but I don't think it has changed too much. Only the price!!! I can see it being at least $150 day....maybe more. Looking forward to checking out the desserts in Germany too. Maybe they will have Black Forest Cake!!! The weather here has been wonderful. The high 70's so I am hoping it lasts through tomorrow. Here is the recipe below and hope everyone has a great weekend!

1/2 cup butter, softenend
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Confectioners' sugar, if desired

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, oil and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine milk and buttermilk. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to batter alternately with milk mixture. Fold in the zucchini.

Transfer to a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake at 325 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.
Raspberry sauce:
(from Ina Garten)
1 half pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12 ounces)
1 tablespoon framboise liquor (I used 1/2 tsp raspberry extract)
Combine the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, jam and framboise or extract into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill. (I would recommend straining this also since the seeds from the fresh raspberries are not that attractive!!).