Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ice Cream Yule Log Cake Recipe from Taste of Home

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon Spice Island® Pure Vanilla Extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

3 cups pistachio ice cream, softened

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, divided


Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in water and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture and beat until smooth.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes.

Invert cake onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Gently peel off parchment paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Unroll cake; spread ice cream evenly over cake to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place seam side down on a serving platter. Cover and freeze for at least 1 hour.

Melt four squares of chocolate; spread over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Break chilled chocolate into 3-in. x 1-in. pieces. Melt remaining chocolate; spread over top, sides and ends of cake. Working quickly, place chocolate pieces on cake to resemble bark. Freeze until serving. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 10 servings.

Cranberry Christmas Canes from Hallmark Magazine

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 cup cold butter, cubed

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)

1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)

2 eggs, lightly beaten


1-1/2 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup honey

1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel


1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons 2% milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel; cut

© Taste of Home 2010 2 of 2

Cranberry Christmas Canes (continued)

Directions (continued)

in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm

water. Add milk and eggs. Stir into flour mixture until blended.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a saucepan, combine the filling ingredients. Bring to a boil over

medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 5 minutes longer;


Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in

half. Roll one portion into an 18-in. x 15-in. rectangle. Spread

filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Fold one short side to center

over filling; repeat with other side, making a 15-in. x 6-in.

rectangle. Pinch seam to seal. Cut into 15 slices. Twist each slice

and form a cane shape.

Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Repeat with remaining

dough and filling. Cover and let rise is a warm place until doubled,

about 45 minutes.

Bake at 400° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from

pans to wire racks. Meanwhile combine glaze ingredients; drizzle

over warm rolls. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

PB&J French Toast Sticks

slices soft white or whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

3 Tbsp grape or strawberry jelly

4 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

2 Tbsp butter

Confectioners’ sugar

Recipe Preparation

1. Spread 1 Tbsp peanut butter on each slice of bread. Spread a rounded tsp jelly down center of each piece. Fold bread in half, pressing edges to seal.

2. In a 13 x 9-in. baking dish, whisk eggs and milk. Place the sandwiches in the dish and let soak, 1 minute per side.

3. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a 10-in. nonstick skillet over medium heat. In two batches, cook the sandwiches until golden brown, 2 minutes per side, adding more butter to skillet as needed. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Lagane e Ceci

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

1 (15-16 oz.) can chickpeas

4 ounces broken lasagna

In a skillet, over low heat, cook the garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary in the olive oil until the garlic begins to sizzle.

Add the chickpeas and all the liquid from the can. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.

Cook the lasagna in a large pot with 1 tablespoon salt.

When the lasagna is almost done, use an immersion blender in the pan to blend some of the chickpeas. (Mr. Schwartz suggests you could also use a potato masher or the bottom of a tumbler.)

When the pasta is done, set aside about 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and then drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the beans, stir to mix. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid, if it seems too dry.

Serve with extra olive oil to drizzle over the top.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barbeque Pulled Pork

4 pounds boneless pork loin

1 onion, sliced in rings

2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon gluten free Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

The Directions.

Use a 6 quart crockpot. Trim meat, and place into your crockpot. Add sliced onion. In a glass measurin cup mix together  ketchup, water , vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, Tabasco and salt. Pour over the pork.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork.

Serve over with rolls.

Kale Chips

bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt .
Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Mozzarella Sticks

12 pieces string cheese

12 egg roll wrappers

Oil for deep-fat frying

Homemade marinara sauce


Place a piece of string cheese near the bottom corner of one egg roll wrapper (keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use). Fold bottom corner over cheese. Roll up halfway; fold sides toward center over cheese. Moisten remaining corner with water; roll up tightly to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and cheese.

In an electric skillet, heat 1/2 in. of oil to 375°.

Fry sticks, a few at a time, for 30-60 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with marinara sauce. Yield: 1 dozen.

Rachael Ray's Toasted Ravioli

2 eggs

Splash of milk or half-and-half

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs, eyeball it

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls

Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

12 large fresh spinach and cheese ravioli, about 3/4 pound

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 roasted red peppers, drained

1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes


Beat eggs and a splash of milk seasoned with salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs with cheese and parsley in a second dish. Coat the fresh pasta in egg then bread crumbs. Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a skillet then toast the ravioli until deep golden, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

In a small sauce pot heat the remaining extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium low heat. Grind the roasted peppers in the food processor and add to garlic after it sautes for a couple of minutes. Stir in tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, transfer sauce to a small bowl. Surround the sauce with toasted ravioli for dipping and serve.

Mexican Crispas

granulated sugar


vegetable oil
egg roll wrappers
Cut the egg roll wrappers into triangles and fry in oil, browning both sides
Then, place onto paper towels to drain a little of the oil, but not too long, just long enough to put more into the pan, then put the hot ones into a mixture of Cinnamon and Sugar in a bag, and shake to coat.

Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

Place parchment paper on a jelly roll pan , allowing 1/2" overhang on all sides. Smooth 1 jar of applesauce out onto the parchment, not going directly to the edges. Bake in a 170 degree oven for 8-10 hours, or until the edges and middle are set. Do watch because once the leather starts to dry it can get tough.

Saint Lucy's Bread

I made this for 12/13/10 Saint Lucy's feast Day.


1 1/2 cups milk

2 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

2 large eggs

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind

1 teaspoon salt

5 1/2 o 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze and Garnish:

2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 tablespoons orange juice

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Candles (optional)


Warm the milk in a small saucepan, then pour 1/2 cup of it into a large bowl.

Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and let it set for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the remaining milk.

Add the butter and milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk in the eggs, juice, 1/4 cup of sugar, orange rind, and salt.

Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes, adding more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and does not stick to your hands.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning it once to coat it. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a 30-inch rope and braid the ropes together.

Transfer the braid to a greased baking sheet, pinch together the ends to form a circle, and let it rise until it has again doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375°. Bake the bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown, then let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.

For the glaze, stir together the confectioner's sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl until smooth.

Drizzle the glaze mix over the bread, then garnish with cranberries.

Slow Cooker Apple Pear Butter

2 1/2 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears

2 1/2 pounds Northern Spy apples
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt


Peel, quarter, and core pears and apples. In a food processor, finely grate fruit (in batches if necessary), then transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in dark-brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on high, 4 hours. Mash with a potato masher. Laddle into jars.
Refrigerate, up to 3 weeks, or freeze, up to 3 months.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Dinner

Juan Diego's Tilma's

Fold up Juan Diego's tilmas so the ham roses are hidden

Rosy punch

For punch: mix together juice, flavored seltzer water, and top with sherbert.

Provolone crescent moons

Juan Diego's sombreros

46 stars, that is the number of stars that appeared on Juan Diego's tilma.

Our lady on Tepayac Hill.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Arbysesque Apple Turnovers

1 package puff pastry sheets

4 large cooking apples

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Peel, core and slice apples. In medium saucepan over low heat, cook apples with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon, stirring frequently, until apples are tender. Refrigerate until cool.

Thaw pastry sheets at room temperature 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll each sheet into a 12-inch square and cut into four 6-inch squares. Place 1/4 cup apple mixture in center of each square. Brush edges with water. Fold to form triangles, seal edges firmly with a fork. Place on 2 baking sheets. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Sugar drizzle: In small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup confectioners sugar and 1 tablespoon water. With spoon, drizzle on turnover, allow to set before serving

Monday, December 13, 2010

Orange Cashew Chicken with Broccoli

5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

7 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each), cut into large bite-size pieces

Salt and pepper

1 large onion, thinly sliced

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 red bell peppers, sliced

1 16-ounce bag of broccoli florets

1 rounded teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tablespoon (half a palmful) ground coriander

2 oranges, zest and juice

1/2 cup tamari (eyeball it)

3 tablespoons honey (eyeball it)

3 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1, 2 or 3 cups -- as many cups of roasted, unsalted cashews as you like

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, 2 generous handfuls

Yields: 8 servings



Preheat a large, deep skillet over high heat with 3 turns of the pan of vegetable oil, about 3 tablespoons.

Season the chicken with some salt and pepper and brown the meat; brown it in 2 batches if necessary. Once the meat has browned, remove to a plate and reserve. Return the skillet to the heat, add 2 turns of the pan of vegetable oil, the onion, garlic, red bell pepper, broccoli, crushed red pepper flakes and coriander.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until the veggies start to get tender. Add the orange zest and juice, soy sauce and honey. Stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken stock and bring up to a simmer, add the browned chicken back to the pot and cook another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Put the cornstarch in a small bowl along with a little splash of water and stir, once combined add to the pot to thicken up the sauce a bit. Add as many cashews want! Serve over ginger noodles or rice and garnish with some of the chopped cilantro.

Anise Pizzelle

4 eggs
1 C sugar
1/2 C anisette
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 C all purpose flour
Beat eggs in a  bowl. Add sugar , anisette, oil and salt and beat until thoroughly blended. Gradually beat the flour, mixing until smooth. Heat the pizelle iron . Place 1 T batted in the center of the iron and 1-2 minutes until cooked fully.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fudge Puddles

Original Recipe Yield 4 dozen


1/2 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk chocolate chips 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

Cream butter, peanut butter and white and brown sugars. Mix in egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir the flour mixture into creamed mixture. Shape the dough into 48 balls, 1 inch each. Place each ball in one compartment of a mini muffin tin.

For filling, put chocolate chips in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir in milk and vanilla, mix well.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately make wells in the center of each using a melon baller. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove to wire racks. Using a measuring cup fill each shell with the chocolate mixture.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Buuternut Squash Soup

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

1 large potato, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

3/4 C dubliner irish cheddar grated

6 tablespoons salted butter

a few dashes ground red pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Several chives, cut into 1-inch pieces

1. In large saucepan, combine squash, potato and broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Place immersion blender in the pot and blend until pureed.

3. Stir in sour cream, cheddar, butter and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Stir until heated through (do not allow to boil). Taste soup, adding sugar if squash was not particularly sweet. Serve sprinkled with chives.

Chicken, Apples, Almonds and Brie

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons butter

1 apple, peeled and diced

4 slices brie, chilled

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup chicken stock


Gather these tools: cutting board, chef's knife, paring knife, wet and dry measuring cups, small saute pan, large nonstick saute pan with a tight-fitting lid, tongs

In a small saute pan, toast the almonds over medium-high heat, shaking occasionally to prevent them from burning, for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan add the butter and apples and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Using a paring knife, make a deep and wide pocket in each chicken breast by piercing the plump, short end of the chicken breast with the knife, moving the knife gently from side to side, about 2 inches wide, within half an inch of the edges.

Sprinkle the inside and outside of the pocketed chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place one piece of brie inside each chicken breast, then fill each breast with 1/4 of the sauteed apples and 1 tablespoon of the toasted almonds.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Swirl to coat the pan and add the chicken breasts (do NOT crowd the pan). Cook for 4-5 minutes, then turn and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, place a lid on the pan, and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the stock has almost evaporated.

Serve the breasts whole or sliced on the bias. Garnish with remaining toasted almonds and any remaining pan juices.

I doubled this recipe. I made the apples as recipe states and then I layered the ingredients in a 9"X13" pan. I baked at 400 for 30 minutes.

French Onion Soup

6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced.

Olive oil

1/4 teaspoon of sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock)

1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme

Salt and pepper

8 slices of toasted French bread

1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese


1 In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization.

2 Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock,  and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3 To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Panini Pop Tarts

Makes 6 pop tarts


For the pop tarts:

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 cup jam, Nutella or any sweet or savory filling you choose

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

For the glaze:

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk


Preheat the panini grill to 400°F.

Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Depending on the thickness of your pastry, you may need to roll it out to a 1/8″ thickness. Divide each pastry sheet into 6 equal rectangles (the size is up to you, mine were about 3″x 4″). Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto six of the rectangles – be careful not to overload them or the filling may be more likely to ooze out during grilling.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash around the edges of the rectangles that have filling. Place an “empty” rectangle on top of each of the filled rectangles, press to seal the edges and crimp with a fork.

In batches, carefully place the sealed tarts onto the panini grill. Lower the lid until it’s hovering just above (about 1/4″) the tarts without actually touching them. As the tarts bake they’ll puff up and make contact with the upper grate – you want to give them a little room to expand. Grill for 6-7 minutes until the tarts are puffed and golden.

Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar andmilk in a small bowl to make the glaze. Drizzle glaze over the grilled pop tarts – serve hot and enjoy!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Stuffing with Sausage

10 cup (1/2-inch) cubed sourdough bread (about 1 pound)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

15 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage, casings removed

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cooking spray


1. Two nights prior to serving the stuffing, slice bread into 1" cubes and allow to dry in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook 11 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add sausage to pan. Increase heat; sauté 8 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan using a slotted spoon; add sausage to vegetable mixture. Stir in bread, herbs, and pepper; toss. Combine broth, 1 cup water, and egg, stirring well. Drizzle broth mixture over bread mixture; toss. Spoon mixture into a a crockpot and cook on low 4 hours.

Ceci Fritos

1 (15oz) can chickpeas/garbanzos, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Drain, rinse, and then dry chickpeas in a towel.

2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and all other ingredients and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the peas begin to pop; about 7 minutes.

3. Drain chick peas on a paper towel, taste and adjust seasonings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spinach and Cheddar Strata

This recipe is from Everyday Food Magazine. I really enjoyed this dish. It is a keeper .
Serves 4

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

10 ounces spinach

3 cups day-old bread cubes (1 inch)

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup whole milk

1 1/4 cups grated sharp white cheddar (3 ounces)

Coarse salt and ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain, pressing with a rubber spatula to release as much liquid as possible. Divide bread and spinach among four small, shallow 8-ounce baking dishes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 3/4 cup cheese. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide mixture evenly among baking dishes and top with 1/2 cup cheese. Set dishes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until set in middle and golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

Peter's Birthday Cake

Birthday Clown Cake Recipe Photo by: Taste of Home

100% would make again

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I baked this cake for every one of our two sons’ birthdays until they became teens. Kids and adults alike love it!—Marlene Dick, Oakville, ON.



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16 Servings Prep: 1-1/2 hours Bake: 25 min. + cooling


3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup baking cocoa

2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 cups mayonnaise

1-1/2 cups water

1-1/2 teaspoons Spice Island® Pure Vanilla Extract


1 cup shortening

1 cup butter, softened

8 cups confectioners' sugar

5 to 6 tablespoons 2% milk

2 teaspoons Spice Island® Pure Vanilla Extract

Yellow, orange, green, teal, magenta and black paste food coloring

10 Starburst candies

5 ice cream sugar cones

Assorted candies for decorating


Line two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, water and vanilla until smooth; stir into dry ingredients until well blended. Transfer to prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.

Divide the remaining frosting among six small bowls. Tint each with yellow, orange, green, teal, magenta and black food coloring. Cut a hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert round tip #3. Fill bag with yellow frosting. Pipe ribbons and bows around tops of Starburst candies to make gifts; set aside. With black frosting, pipe "Happy Birthday" on top center of cake.

Place cones around top edge of cake for clown hats. On sides of cake, pipe clown faces and collars. Using a variety of frosting colors, piping tips and candies, create clown hair, faces and collars. Decorate clown hats. Place gifts around bottom edge of cake. Yield: 16 servings.

Beef Stock

4-6 pounds meaty beef stock bones (with lots of marrow), including some knuckle bones if possible, cut to expose the center marrow, and include at least a couple veal bones if you can, for their gelatin

1/2 to 1 pound of stew meat (chuck or flank steak) and/or beef scraps, cut into 2-inch chunks (optional)

Olive oil

1-2 medium onions, peeled and quartered

1-2 large carrots, cut into 1-2 inch segments

Handful of celery tops, or 1 large celery rib, cut into 1 inch segments

2-3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

Handful of parsley, stems and leaves

1-2 bay leaves

10 peppercorns
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub a little olive oil over the stew meat pieces, carrots, and onions. Place stock bones, stew meat or beef scraps, carrots and onions in a large, shallow roasting pan. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, turning the bones and meat pieces half-way through the cooking, until nicely browned. If bones begin to char at all during this cooking process, lower the heat. They should brown, not burn.

2 When the bones and meat are nicely browned, remove them and the vegetables and place them in a large (12 to 16 quart) stock pot. Place the roasting pan on the stove-top on low heat (will cover 2 burners), pour 1/2 cup to a cup of hot water over the pan and use a metal spatula to scrape up all of the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the browned bits and water into the stock pot.

3 Add celery tops, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns to the stock pot. Fill the stock pot with cold water, to 1 to 2 inches over the top of the bones. Put the heat on high and bring the pot to a low simmer and then reduce the heat to low. If you have a candy or meat thermometer, the temperature of the water should be between 180° and 200°F (boiling is 212°F). The stock should be at a bare simmer, just a bubble or two coming up here and there. (You may need to put the pot on your smallest burner on the lowest temp, or if you are using an oven-safe pot, place it in the oven at 190°F.) Cover the pot loosely and let simmer low and slow for 3-6 hours. Do not stir the stock while cooking. Stirring will mix the fats in with the stock, clouding up the stock.

4 As the stock cooks, fat will be released from the bone marrow and stew meat and rise to the top. From time to time check in on the stock and use a large metal spoon to scoop away the fat and any scum that rises to the surface. (Do not put this fat down your kitchen drain by the way. It will solidify and block your pipes. Put it in a bowl or jar to save for cooking or to discard.)

5 At the end of cooking time (when you want to end the cooking is up to you, 3 hours minimum, 6 to 8 hours if you can do it) use tongs or a slotted spoon to gently remove the bones and vegetables from the pot (discard them, though if you see a chunk of marrow, taste it, it's delicious). Line another large pot (8-quart) with a fine mesh sieve, covered with a couple layers of cheesecloth if you have it. Pour the stock through the sieve to strain it of remaining solids. Let cool to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator.

One the stock has chilled, any fat remaining will have risen to the top and solidified. The fat forms a protective layer against bacteria while the stock is in the refrigerator. If you plan to freeze the stock however, remove and discard the fat, pour the stock into a jar or plastic container. (You can also remove the fat, and boil the stock down, concentrating it so that it doesn't take as much storage space.) Leave an inch head room from the top of the stock to the top of the jar, so that as the stock freezes and expands, it will not break the container.

Makes about 4 quarts.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Maria's Birthday Cake

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

1 pound spaghetti
 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
6 anchovy fillets
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
A couple of generous handfuls chopped parsley
Directions:Bring a pot of water to a
boil, salt it, add the spaghetti and cook until just shy of al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, and the anchovies over medium heat until the anchovies melt, about 11/2 minutes. Lower the heat and add the garlic; season with the crushed red pepper and black pepper. Let the garlic cook gently in the anchovy oil, stirring. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and the parsley, then the pasta. Season with more black pepper and toss the pasta for 1 full minute to absorb all the flavors.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chicken POt Pie with savory Crumb Topping

Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated, September & October 2010 issue



1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into slices

2 small celery ribs, chopped fine

1 pkg mushrooms, washed and sliced

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp tomato paste

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves

3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

6 tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream (not regular milk)


Preheat oven to 450.

For the chicken: Bring the chicken and broth to a simmer in a covered Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until chicken is done, then transfer chicken to a bowl. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and save.

For the topping: Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle the butter pieces in and incorporate with your fingers until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the parmesan, then add the cream and stir until just combined. Place on a lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake 10-13 minutes until becoming fragrant and browning. Set aside.

For the filling: Heat 1 tbsp oil in the empty Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and stir well. Cook until vegetables are tender, and while they are cooking, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Transfer cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the pot and then add mushrooms, cover and cook until mushrooms have released their juices, about 5 minutes. Remove cover and stir in the soy sauce and tomato paste. Cook, stirring until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are browned. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.

Heat butter in the pot and when the foaming subsides, add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to get those browned bits up. Simmer about a minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and parsley. Stir in chicken and vegetable mixture and pease into the sauce. Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and sprinkle crumble topping evenly over the top. Bake until filling is bubbling and topping is well browned, about 12-15 minutes.

Chili Mac

I made the chili portion and served with oyster crackers.

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 medium onions, cut into small dice (about 3 cups)

1/4 C jarred jalapenos
2 to 3 teaspoons salt, plus more for the pasta water

2 pounds extra-lean ground beef

5 tablespoons Mexican chili powder

1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano

2 tablespoons minced garlic

One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, broken with your hands, with juices

Two 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained

1/2 cup water

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 pound medium sharp cheddar cheese

Sour cream, for serving (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, jalapeños (if desired), and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Cook until the onions are soft, 2 minutes. Add the ground beef, chili powder, oregano, and garlic, and cook, breaking up any clumps of meat with a spoon, for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, beans, and water. Stir, and bring the chili to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened to chili consistency, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add 1 more teaspoon salt if needed.

2. While the chili is simmering, preheat the oven to 400°F.

3. Place a 9 × 13½-inch or other 3-quart baking dish on a baking sheet. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook until just tender, 6 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cool running water, and set aside. Grate the cheddar cheese and set it aside.

4. Once the chili has finished cooking, fold in the cooked macaroni and one- third of the cheddar. Transfer the chili- mac mixture to the baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the chili is heated through and the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish each portion with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary's Crown Coffe Cake Fease Day 11/17/2010

Hungarian Coffee Cake

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 c. brown sugar (not packed)

1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 c. butter, softened

2 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

1 c. sour cream

2 c. flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a Bundt or ring pan.

Combine cinnamon, brown sugar and nuts. Reserve.

Cream butter and granulated sugar.

Add eggs and beat well.

Add vanilla and sour cream and mix.

Add flour and baking powder and beat for a minute or so until well combined.

Spread half of batter into prepared pan.

Sprinkle half of nut mixture over batter (try to avoid getting sugar against the pan).

Spread remaining batter over nut mixture.

Sprinkle remaining nut mixture over the top.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Do not overbake.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a rack or plate.

Cool completely.

Frost with white glaze and top with colorful gumdrops.


2 T. butter, melted

2 c. powdered sugar

2 - 4 T. milk

1 t. vanilla extract

To prepare the glaze,

mix in a bowl all ingredients until a thick drizzling consistency,

adding a few more drops of milk if necessary.