"Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cookie Dough ~ White Chocolate Truffles

I thought these would be kinda fun to help celebrate the Feast Day of St. Lucia...the Saint of Light.

Patron saint of the blind.

Here is my version of Cookie Dough ~ White Chocolate Truffles (pictured on left).  The Cinnamon Ring Cake with Icing is for another post.



TRUFFLES -  You will need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons milk


DIRECTIONS:

Melt or soften butter and add to sugar, mix until creamy.
Add cinnamon and salt, mix.
Add flour, mix well.
Add milk, mix well.  Dough should not be too stiff, if needed, add one more tablespoon of milk.
Roll dough into small balls and set on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.
Place in freezer for about 30 minutes.


CHOCOLATE COATING - You will need:

8 oz white chocolate
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
Melt the white chocolate (microwave on 50% for 30 second intervals, stir between each turn.
Dip truffle into the melted chocolate, roll to cover.  Place on wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of truffle immediately (or place any other coverings on top at this time; ie candied eyes)
You can use a variety of coatings.  I also melted some Wilton Candy Melts in the Candy Cane Colorburst & Dark Chocolate Mint flavors.
Allow chocolate to set, enjoy!
You can store truffles in the refrigerator (if you have any leftovers).

Makes about 40 Truffles





Friday, October 24, 2014

Papal Cream Cake

or Kremowka Papieska (kreh-MOOV-kah  pah-PYESS-yah)

Delicious custard cream filled pastry that does not take a lot of time...using frozen puff pastry dough.

I have also included a 'from scratch' pastry dough recipe.  There may be a time when I will need to make my own.

What you NEED:

2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
Custard Pastry Cream (recipe below)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place one sheet of pastry dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover with a second piece of parchment paper and place a cooling rack on top of the dough, keeping the pastry flat while baking.

Bake for 15 minutes, before removing the cooling rack & parchment paper.  Continue baking for another 15 minutes or until the pastry is crispy with golden flakes.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.


Place one layer of pastry on a tray or pan, pouring custard cream on top.

Place second layer of cooked pastry on top of the custard cream.  Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar.  Eat warm or refrigerate for later.

CUSTARD CREAM RECIPE:

2 CUPS MILK
3/4 CUP SUGAR
1 TEASPOON VANILLA
1/8 TEASPOON SALT
5 TABLESPOONS CORNSTARCH
6 LARGE EGG YOLKS

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar, vanilla, salt cornstarch and egg yolks.  Stir with a wire whisk.  Bring just to boil and reduce heat, cooking cream for 1 minute more.  Stir constantly so as not to scorch the cream mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and place it in an ice-water bath as shown below.

Now you are ready to assemble your Papal Cream Cake.  Refer to above directions.

Kremowka from scratch:

8 ounces butter
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks
salt (pinch)

Cut butter into the flour.  Beat egg yolks into the water and mix into the flour.
Divide the dough in half.  Cover the bottom of well greased 8 or 9 inch baking pan with dough half. Repeat with second half.
Bake for 30 minutes in 325 degree pre-heated oven.  Remove and allow to cool completely.  Remove from pans.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

KAL Juice



Kale + Apple + Lemon are the key ingredients that make this drink, drinkable for me.  This is a refreshing drink that quenches my thirst and leaves me feeling satisfied.

What You Will Need:

6 - 8 Kale leaves
2 Granny Smith Apples, core & halved
1/2 - 1 Lemon, peeled
4 celery stalks
1 - 3 inch piece of Red Beet
5+ ice cubes (optional, but highly recommended)
Other optional ingredients:  1 inch piece of fresh Ginger; 1 cucumber

Let's Begin:

Rinse all fruits & veggies.  In juicer, place a little of each of the fruits & vegetables, alternating to get a mix.
Pour juice, in drinking glass, over ice.  That's it!



There are a lot of juicer recipes available; but this is one of my personal favorites.  Since I am a little squeamish about drinking these types of juice drinks, I don't add a large variety of vegetables, yet.  Although I loved to eat cooked & raw vegetables, I am working my way up to adding certain veggies (& even fruits) to my drinks.  I think it is the apples & lemon that make this drink palatable.  And serving over ice is the way I enjoy it best!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Banana Breakfast Cookies

Banana Breakfast Cookie.  You can eat these, guilt-free.  I found this recipe from Isabel De Los Rios' Beyond Diet, which I started following.  She has SO many great recipes.  My daughter made these moist delights...







Here's what you will need: 

2 Ripe Bananas, mashed
1/3 cup Almond Butter
2/3 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/4 cup Protein Powder (We used Vanilla flavor)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup Chopped Nuts (Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds...)
1/4 cup Carob or Chocolate Chips

What to Do:

1.  Mix the mashed bananas and almond butter.  Peanut butter will work as well.
Add applesauce, protein powder and vanilla extract.  Mix well.

2.  Add oatmeal, nuts & carobs to the mixture, combining well.

3.  On a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop the cookie dough and flatten with the spoon.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.


A Happy & Healthy Breakfast!


These store well, IF, you manage to have any leftovers.   



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Simple Patriotic Dessert

Everyone loves this dish.  And it takes almost no time to prepare.  You can prepare ahead of time or after your guests arrive.


THE INGREDIENTS:
Fresh strawberries
Fresh blueberries
Cool Whip

THE DIRECTIONS:
Of course this looks best if using a trifle dish, but any dish will suffice.

Rinse fruit and trim greens off the strawberries.  I cut my strawberries in half.
Place all strawberries in dish, cover with cool whip, place blueberries on top.

Festive.  Fresh.  Fun.  Very Fourth of July-ish!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shrimp & Veggie Pasta

This is a quick prep meal with easy clean up.  I like easy clean up as much as I like quick prep.
Knife, cutting board, maybe a strainer, pot with lid, cooking utensil, and a large skillet are all the tools you will need.  You do not really need measuring cups or spoons.  Just eyeball the ingredients and all will be well.  Really.  This dish has great flavor, and the perfect texture combination; some crunch and some soft chew.

THE INGREDIENTS:

Quinoa Pasta, spaghetti style, cooked according to package.
1 - 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 organic zucchini, sliced (or julienne...)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup baby carrots (julienne, strips...or leave whole if you like the extra bite - I do!)
Cooked Shrimp (tails off; I leave tails on and just remove as I eat.  My children know to do this as well).
1 fresh lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Sea Salt & Pepper (freshly ground is best) to taste
Sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Splash of Tabasco Sauce (optional)
Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated

THE DIRECTIONS:
To cook Quinoa spaghetti, add to boiling water and cook for 4-6 minutes.  While Quinoa is cooking:

Add olive oil to large skillet.  On medium/high heat, saute  zucchini, mushrooms, & carrots for 2  minutes (until just tender).  Toss in shrimp & pasta.  Drizzle fresh lemon juice on top, and sprinkle with fresh parsley, sea salt & pepper.  Toss in skillet.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.  The cayenne pepper and/or Tabasco sauce can be added with the lemon juice, or omit if you don't care for the spice.  I love spicy food, so I will go the extra step.

THE RESULTS:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lemon & Dill Salmon

This is such an easy and fresh dish that I bake at least once a month.  Add any steamed vegetable and side dish of Quinoa or wild rice for a delicious, healthy and very appealing-to-the-eye, dinner.

THE INGREDIENTS:

Fresh Salmon (2+ lbs)
Fresh Lemon (1 whole lemon, sliced in half - I use Meyers from my garden)
Olive Oil (about 1-4 Tablespoons; may substitute for Butter, melted)
Dill Weed (about 1-2 Tablespoons)
Sea Salt (unrefined is best, or Kosher salt will work)
Black Pepper (freshly ground)
Garlic, chopped (1-2 cloves) Optional

THE DIRECTIONS:

STEP ONE:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease baking sheet with ~ 1 Tbsp. olive oil (or 1 Tbsp. butter).

STEP TWO:  Place salmon on prepared baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on top.  Squeeze 1/2 lemon over salmon.  Sprinkle with sea salt, ground black pepper and dill weed.  Turn salmon over and repeat on the other side with remaining ingredients.

STEP THREE:  In the preheated oven, Bake 25 minutes or until salmon is easily flaked with a fork.

Again, this salmon goes well with a Wild Rice or Quinoa side dish, and fresh steamed vegetables - like
broccoli or string beans.  My kids eat it all up, every time.


Stuffed Mushrooms

A favorite tradition of ours is to prepare stuffed mushrooms for any special occasion or feast day.


There are a lot of versions out there; however, here is our simple version.

INGREDIENTS:

Large fresh mushrooms (about 24)
Green onions, sliced (about 2)
Garlic clove, minced (1) (optional)
Butter (2-4 Tablespoons)
Cream Cheese (1 8oz. box, softened)
Bacon, cooked and chopped (about 6 slices)
Sea Salt (only a pinch if you are using bacon)

DIRECTIONS:

STEP ONE:  Rinse and drain mushrooms on a paper towel.  Remove the stems and discard about half.  (I use the extra in my morning omelet.  You can sauteed them in butter and add to egg.  They last a few days in the refrigerator.)  Saute the chopped stems in the butter.  Add green onion and garlic.  Cook until tender.

STEP TWO:  In a large bowl, mix together the sauteed stems, onions & garlic with cream cheese & chopped bacon.  Now you are ready to stuff mushroom caps with the cream cheese mixture.  Nota bene:  you can substitute the cheese for shredded cheddar, smoked Gouda, or crumbled blue cheese - However, you will then need to add a little fine dry bread crumbs;  about 2/3 cup.  We keep it simple with the cream cheese.


STEP THREE:  Arrange the stuffed mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes in a 425 degree oven.  Once baked, remove from oven and drain on paper towel.  Serve warm....


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

~ Soft & Buttery Pretzels ~



Enjoy Home-Made Warm, Soft and Buttery Pretzels 
in TEN EASY STEPS.

This Recipe takes a little 'elbow grease', but well worth it!  Allow 1 hour for the dough to rise.  

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup white sugar + 1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup sea salt, used to sprinkle on top
2 tablespoons melted butter

LET'S GET STARTED:

1.  Dissolve yeast and only 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water.  Let stand until creamy and foamy (~ 12 min)
2.  In large bowl, mix flour, remaining sugar, and salt.  Making a well in the center, add the oil and yeast mixture.
3.  Mix into a dough.  (If the mixture is dry, you can add one or two tablespoons of water).  Knead the dough until smooth.  (This is the effort part.  It usually takes about 5 - 10 minutes to get that smooth texture).
4.  Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled and turn to coat with oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place, for about 1 hour.

WELCOME BACK:

5.  Preheat oven to 450 F.  
6.  Turn risen dough onto a lightly floured surface.  (You can divide the dough in half and work with the first half, while storing the second half in the covered bowl).  Or,
just separate the dough into equal pieces.  Pull off about hand-full sized pieces of dough and roll into balls.  The larger the pretzels, the softer the inside.  Smaller pretzels will have a little crispness to them.  Both equally a delicious way to enjoy.  We prepare both ways!
7.  One at a time, roll balls into ropes (~ 12 inches long).  Again, depending how big you enjoy your pretzel...I say experiment and make both large and small.
8.  Shape dough into pretzels.  

     Here's How:  
          A)  Shape dough into a "U".
          B)  Cross the two ends of the rope over each other.
          C)  Press the tips into the bottom of the "U".  Pinching to make sure they stay.

9.  In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Once dissolved, dip each pretzel into this mixture and then place on a greased baking sheet.  Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.  (BTW - Unrefined sea salt is best).  It is also OK to wait and sprinkle pretzel with salt, after completing step 10.
10.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until browned.  After removing from oven, brush with melted butter.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Star Studded Chocolate Cake

If you are looking for a deliciously moist cake, with a rich chocolate flavor, this is the cake for you.


It originated from allrecipes.com, but I recommend using a touch less sugar and definitely a dark chocolate ganache icing, rather than the chocolate butter-cream.  I also added some fresh raspberries, which compliment the chocolate, adding texture and a pop of tartness through the dense & moist cake.


Is your mouth watering yet?  Let's begin.

You will Need:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetended cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Fresh raspberries or strawberries (optional)

~ Chocolate Ganache Icing Recipe ~




Step One:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (175 degrees C).  Grease and flour one baking sheet or two 9 inch cake pans.  I use the Pam Baking spray.  Make sure it is the Baking sort, so it will not affect the taste or outcome.  Start water to boil.

Step  Two:
In a medium bowl, mix together the first six dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt).
In the same bowl, add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  With an electric mixer, mix for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl to get all the dry ingredients.  By hand, stir in the boiling water until completely mixed.  Now you are ready to pour evenly into the prepared baking pans (or pour the entire amount into baking sheet).

Step Three:
In the preheated oven, bake for 30 to 35 minutes for baking pans (or 20 - 25 minutes for baking sheet). Test by inserting a toothpick into center of the cake; it is done if the toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pans and then make sure cake is completly cooled before icing.

If you decide to use fresh berries (strawberries or rasberries, place in between the two round cakes, on top of ganach icing, then 2nd round cake on top of the ganach icing & raspberries.  Top with a final pour of ganache icing and allow to drizzle off the sides of the cake.  You can smooth the top, but don't worry about the sides.  Just let gravity work.  Set aside about 1/2 Tablespooon of ganache icing to use as a binding agent for any fondant decorations.

You can store the cake in the refrigerator, it will not dry out.  This will also allow the ganache icing to solidify before adding any fondant decorations or additional cake icing or toppings.
Tip:  When applying the fondant, use the extra ganache icing (room temperature or warm) to adhere to the cake and/or solidified ganache.  This recipe serves about 12 - 16 generous slices.  When I used the baking sheet, I served about 20+ single layer servings (vanilla or chocolate mint ice cream on the side.  So good).


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

~ Faux California Reuben Sandwich ~

In our home, we eat what tastes good.  We strive to produce healthy meals, without compromising the taste of a dish.   By keeping dishes simple and fresh, meals are bound to satisfy.

When I take the classics and create dishes or desserts, that fit our taste and goals, I usually end up with what I call:  Faux Foods.  Foods that are similar to the 'classics', but with a style of our own.  We like them, and that is what counts.

Here is one such 'Faux Food':  The Faux California Reuben (or Ruben) Sandwich
Nota Bene:  I do not use any secret sauce or Thousand Island Dressing...you can, but then it wouldn't be our Faux California RS.  Don't get me wrong, we like the sauce, too, but this tastes perfect without the sauce (or without the Swiss cheese).  I think the grilled bread keeps better and the pepper-jack cheese flavor is enhanced, without drowning the cheese in sauce.  Besides, I am not a big Swiss cheese fan.  If it has Swiss cheese, bring on the secret sauce.

The Ingredients:

Dark Rye Bread (or Marble if we can find it)
Butter
Pastrami from the deli
Hot Pepper Jack Cheese (or Mild Cheddar for one child)
Sauerkraut

Step One:

Heat sauerkraut in microwave or stove-top.
Meanwhile, butter one side of rye bread.  Place bread, butter side down on hot griddle (350 - 400).

Step Two:
Layer pastrami, cheese & warm sauerkraut on top of bread.  Place second slice of bread on top, buttered side up.

Step Three:
After a minute or two, carefully flip over sandwich and grill until second side is toasted to deliciousness.  It is best to enjoy this sandwich warm, right off the grill.

This grilled FCRS goes well with a side salad of green butter & red leaf with chopped gala apples & a nice vinaigrette drizzled on top.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

~ Tuna Balls ~


This quick & easy recipe was shared by Jennifer over at Catholic Inspired.  I added a few new ingredients to the recipe, to fit our family's taste.  I made both large size servings and smaller ones, to use on a salad or to eat alone.

You will probably find that you have most of the ingredients on hand, in your pantry & refrigerator.  If you are missing an item, you can easily substitute or even omit...as I see it, this recipe is very family friendly in many ways.

INGREDIENTS:
2 (24 oz) cans of Tuna, drained (or 6 5 oz cans) (I use tuna in water)
3/4 cup Sour Cream (or ranch dressing, mayonnaise...)
3 Eggs
1 cup Bread Crumbs (or crushed corn flakes, saltine crackers...)
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS that I added to the original recipe:
2 Green Onions, sliced
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
dash of Kosher Salt
dash of Pepper

Step One:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together, making sure the tuna pieces are crushed well. Add salt & pepper to mixture, blend.
Step Two:
Roll the mixture into balls; I found you can vary the sizes to use either in salad or just-pop-them-in-your- mouth-size. It did not effect the cooking time significantly.  Place rolled tuna balls onto well greased cookie sheet.  The original recipe also adds that you can press the mixture into a 13x9 inch greased pan if pressed for time.
Step Three:
Bake at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes.  Tuna balls should be browned and cheese should be bubbling.  The exterior is lightly crisped and the interior is soft.  Serve warm.


Serving Info:
Makes about 50 - 100 balls (depending on the size).  Goes great with ranch dip on the side; over a bed of greens & sprinkled with toasted almond slices, drizzle with a vinaigrette and top with fresh Parmesan cheese...I will bet they taste great with some marinara sauce on some pasta!  These can be refrigerated and served cold, too.

Again, this recipe really leaves room to adjust & substitute ingredients, which I love, because I can make this even if I don't have everything on hand.  But more importantly, my family loves these savory treats.

Co-Hosted by:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

~ Succulent & Savory Pulled Pork ~

I often forget to utilize my slow cooker.  I am sometimes put off when using certain meats because there is usually some searing or pre-cooking prior to placing it into the crock pot...which defeats the purpose. 
I just want to dump everything into the cooker and go.  Well, here is the best, easiest, and tastiest pulled pork recipe, using a slow cooker, that I have ever used.  My children and husband love it! 

I found the recipe through CHOW recipes.  I changed it slightly because I didn't have all the ingredients at the time.




What you will need:
2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced  (I only use one)
4 garlic Cloves, thinly sliced (I omitted, because I didn't have any on hand)
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock/broth
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (packed)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, add more if needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4 1/2 - 5 pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (aka pork butt), remove any twine of netting.

2 cups barbecue sauce (optional - I don't think you need the BBQ sauce at all)

Step One:  Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the chicken broth/stock.

Combine the sugar, chili powder, measured salt, cumin, and cinnamon on a plate (or bowl).

Pat the pork dry with paper towels.  Cover the pork, entirely, with the spice mixture.  Now place the spiced pork on top of the onions.  Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours (on high), or 8 to 10 hours (on low).  Depending on your cooker, the time may be significantly less.  It only took about 5 hours to cook my pork (on high for the first 3 hours, then on low for the remaining 2 hours.


Step Two:  Turn off the slow cooker and remove and discard the bone (if your pork has one).  The recipe says to remove the pork to a cutting board and strain the onion mixture from the slow cooker; returning the solids to the slow cooker (setting aside the strained liquids).  But I just keep the pork as is, and use a perforated spoon when serving.  Your choice.

Step Three:   Using 2 large forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat.  If you have removed the meat to a cutting board, return the shredding meat to the slow cooker.  You can add BBQ sauce at this point - but I say eat as is, the flavor is AWESOME.  You can spoon any fat from the surface of the strained cooking liquid, and then add 1/4 cup of the liquid at a time to the slow cooker until the pork is just moistened (again, I omitted this step and just left everything in the cooker).  One less thing to wash and the pork is OH SO MOIST.

Finale:  Spoon over steamed rice, wrap in tortillas, create a pulled pork sandwich with a slice of slightly melted cheese on top...or even place on a bed of greens and eat as a main salad.  This is really good pork!

Servings:  This is such a wonderful and EASY meal to throw together in the morning or afternoon and have ready for dinner.  This amount serves our family of five with several variations of meals.  So the meat goes a long way. I have also substituted the pork with beef.  Very good as well.  As I mentioned above, I omitted the garlic and the flavor was delicious, still.