Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July -- Rice Krispie Style!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli


One of our favorite family restaurants is Olive Garden!  Not only is it affordable, but our kids leave that place feeling very full.  Our favorite soup is their Pasta e Fagioli, I can eat several bowls!  Anyhow, I wanted to try and recreate the recipe and with the help of several online recipes, I think that this one is pretty close.  It seems that it is even better the next several days after making, I know because I eat almost all of it!  I would recommend adding additional tomato juice the next day to prevent it from becoming a goulash type dish instead of soup like.  This recipe will serve 8 large servings.

1 # lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup carrots diced
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cans (14 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
1 (32oz) can tomato or V-8 juice,
1 can (15oz) undrained
red kidney beans
1 can (15oz) undrained
great northern beans
1 tablespoon white vinegar 
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon each, oregano & basil
1/2 teaspoon each, pepper & thyme

1/2 pound ditali pasta (COOKED al dente)

1. Cook ground beef and drain off fat.
2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.
3. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of tomato juice (12oz) and remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.
4. About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente.  Drain.
5. Add the pasta to the pot of soup. Add additional tomato juice/V-8 juice to your liking  and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb GOODNESS

Filling Ingredients:
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb (cut stalks down the center so pieces are not large)
2 cups lightly mashed strawberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Place rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan . Bring to a simmer while constantly stirring. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. I usually transfer to a glass bowl and place the bowl in the sink with cold water and ice cubes to cool quickly.

Combine flour, soda, baking powder salt and cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth and blended. Spread in the prepared pan. Spoon cooled filling mixture over the cake batter. Combine the topping ingredients, mix well and sprinkle evenly over the filling layer. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cake is firm and topping is lightly browned.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blueberry White Chocolate Scones

DSC07753 Adapted from  Blueberry Scones @ Cook's Illustrated

It is important to work the dough as little as possible—work quickly and knead and fold the dough only the number of times called for. The butter should be frozen solid before grating. In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture and work bowls before use. While the recipe calls for 2 whole sticks of butter, only 10 tablespoons are actually used (see step 1). If fresh berries are unavailable, an equal amount of frozen berries (do not defrost) can be substituted. An equal amount of raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries can be used in place of the blueberries. Cut larger berries into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces before incorporating.

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, (16 Tablespoons) frozen whole (see note above)
  • 1 1/2 cups  fresh blueberries or any other fresh or frozen berry that you may have on hand  (see note above)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Course sugar for sprinkling on top

1. Adjust an oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

DSC008632. Score and remove half of the wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate the unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries and white chocolate chips in freezer until needed.Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed.

3. Whisk the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen grated butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated. Fold in the chilled milk mixture with a spatula until just combined (do not over mix).

 DSC077124. Turn the dough and any floury bits onto a well floured work surface. Lightly flour your hands and the dough and knead the dough gently 6-8 times until it just holds together in a ragged ball, adding additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.


DSC077145. Roll dough
into approximate 12-inch square. Then fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to counter top. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

DSC077166. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll again into a 12-inch square. Sprinkle blueberries and white chocolate chips evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll up dough, pressing to form tight log, and pinch the seam closed. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles.
DSC07722 7. Transfer the scones to parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with course sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.DSC07737*Refrigerate or freeze leftover scones, wrapped in foil, in an airtight container. To serve, remove foil and place scones on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven. Heat until warmed through and  crisped, 8 to 10 minutes if refrigerated, 16 to 20 minutes if frozen. 

To Make Ahead: After placing the scones on the baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and follow directions in step 7. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees, follow directions in step 7, and extend cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jewish Coffee Cake

I got this recipe from my husband’s family friend before she passed away. It is a coffee cake that you can count on everyone just loving!

1/2 C. (1 Stick) Butter/Margarine
1 C. White Sugar
3 Eggs
2 C. Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 C. Sour Cream

1 T. Flour
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
2 T. Butter (Room Temp)
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 C. Chopped Nuts

Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt to the flour, then combine with the creamed mixture. Now add vanilla and sour cream. Set aside.

Mix topping ingredients together. Grease Bundt pan and pour 1/2 of the topping mixture into the bottom of the pan then pour 1/2 of the batter on top of that and then repeat. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Raspberry Amaretto Tiramisu Daring Bakers February 2010 Challenge

Collage for Tiramisu The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

From the moment I read the recipe, I thought of my mom and her love of Tiramisu. I don’t LOVE coffee, and when I do drink it I have to have 90% flavored creamer and 10% coffee. My husband and parents tease me all the time! I knew that I needed to modify this recipe to make it something that I had a strong desire to make, not something that was just a challenge to make. So, I decided that with my love of raspberry and amaretto, I was going to do a fruity liquor tiramisu instead of the standard coffee recipe. I made my tiramisu in a Trifle dish and froze it for when we have company! With the extra cream mixture I spooned it on plates and topped it with lady fingers and raspberry/amaretto sauce…don’t worry mom, the kids had “Virgin” Tiramisu! The husband, kids and neighbor gave it the thumbs up. I don’t know that I would ever go through all the time and effort to recreate this recipe again, but it was fun and I learned a lot. I never thought that I could make cheese at home…it saved me like 10 bucks too!

Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )

DSC00292 edit 
2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Optional, again I didn’t use this with my Raspberry version, but you still could)

For the zabaglione:DSC00121
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (Amaretto), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the Pastry Cream: DSC00123Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:DSC00130
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream (36 % Fat)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Method:Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl,DSC00125
I used a Stainless Steel bowl in order for the heat to conduct better!
then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir.
Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS DSC00148 (Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small ladyfingers.
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Method: Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.DSC00136
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.DSC00146
To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice—I used a Trifle dish!

Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar (OR Raspberry/Amaretto Sauce)in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. I used my kitchen aid with whisk to completely smooth the mixtures! Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso (Amaretto/Raspberry Sauce), about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve. DSC00239DSC00235 DSC00236 DSC00242 DSC00246 DSC00261DSC00258

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Italian Crock-Pot Chicken

DSC00041 This recipe is one that my kids ask for almost all the time.  I cannot believe how much they like it and they jump for joy when they see it cooking when they arrive home from school.  This is a must try recipe that is so easy!

Italian Crock-Pot Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope Good Seasoning Italian Salad Dressing Mix
1  (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can Chicken Broth

Place chicken in the bottom of crock pot.  Put the remaining ingredients in a glass bowl using only 3/4 of the can of chicken broth. Place bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high and then whisk ingredients until creamy and free of cream cheese chunks.  You might need to microwave again for a few more minutes in order to completely melt the cheese.  Pour mixture over chicken and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  During the last hour of cooking, shred the chicken into small pieces.  Serve over rice or noodles accompanied by broccoli!  ENJOY! DSC06966 DSC06964DSC00042   
Can you believe that my kids actually eat broccoli willingly?