Monday, January 21, 2013

Chocolate Cake With Cherry Filling and Buttercream Frosting

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Chocolate...........cherries.............cake...............YUMMY!  Today, I decided that I needed to make chocolate cake, and then I remembered that I had some cherry preserves that I had canned:

Cherry Preserves on Rediscovering Lost Arts From Our Mothers

I used 2 half pints of cherry preserves.  If you do not want to make your own cherry preserves, you can buy 2 jars at the store.  Use one jar for each of the two bottom layers.  I also added a little of the preserves on the top of the cake.

To make the chocolate cake, assemble the ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water, boiling
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Assemble the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, boil the water.  When the water is boiling, turn off the heat and add the butter, cocoa, and chocolate chips.  Stir to make a chocolate sauce. 

In your mixer, add sugar, oil, sour cream, eggs and vanilla.  Mix completely.  Add 1/2 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the chocolate sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the remaining flour and chocolate.  Mix again.

Put into 3 cake pans and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. When the three cakes are finished cooking, remove from the oven and let cool.  When cool, turn the cake pans upside down to remove the cake from the pan.  Allow the cake to sit on a wire rack, cooling completely.

For the bottom layers of the cake, poke holes using a toothpick.  Take the cherry preserves and spread on the cake.

At this point it is time to make the butter cream frosting.  Here are the ingredients:

1 cup softened butter
3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk or cream

Put the butter in the mixer and cream.  Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar - don't forget the shield on your mixer or the powdered sugar will go all over the place!  Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and milk.  If the frosting isn't the consistency you like, add more powdered sugar.

Add the top layer of the cake.  Start frosting!

This recipe is listed on Foodie Friends Friday and Totally Tasty Tuesdays
Pamela's Heavenly Treats


Crab Cakes With Mustard Aioli

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I love seafood.  When I go on vacation to the coast, my husband gets frustrated with me because I always have to go to a restaurant that has fresh seafood.  He hates the smell and the taste!  He's weird, I know.

Thinking about dinner tonight, I remembered that I had King crab legs in the freezer.  Yes, I know that if by chance an Iron Chef is reading this, they are cringing.  I have one word for them:  Missouri.  We don't get fresh seafood!

Here are the ingredients for the crab cakes:

1 pound fresh crab meat
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
8-10 butter crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

The first thing I did was steam the crab legs, sprinkled with Old Bay Seasoning.

When the crab legs are steamed, I took the crab meat out of the shells.  Next, add the onion, celery, salt, pepper, Old Bay, crushed crackers, lemon juice, butter, mayo, egg, and 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs.

If the mixture is too wet, add some more crushed crackers.  Mold the mixture into a patty and dredge in the remaining Panko bread crumbs.  Heat up a little olive oil in a saute pan and fry the crab cakes.

While the crab cakes are cooking, assemble the ingredients for the mustard aioli.  Here are the ingredients:

2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons stone ground mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon each:  salt and pepper

Mix all of those ingredients together.  Time to turn the crab cakes!


Foodie Friends Friday

Black Bean Soup

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In my quest of learning how our grandmother's cooked, I have been trying to use less canned items and cook more with what they had.  This soup uses dried beans, that have been soaked overnight.  Of course, if you don't want to use dried beans, you can always open some cans of beans!

Here are the ingredients for this soup:

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 cups dried black beans
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon Cumin

The night prior to making the beans, soak them overnight.  The next morning, throw them in the crock pot and cook them on high heat while you are at work.  When you come home take the diced vegetables and saute them in a soup pan.  Saute the vegetables for 5-10 minutes.

While that is sauteing, take the cooked beans and put them in the food processor with the chicken broth.

Add the cumin, salt and pepper to the vegetables and add in the bean puree.  Let that simmer for 45 minutes or so before serving.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

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I love apples........I love cake.........I love brown sugar glaze.............let's put them all together for a dreamy dessert!  Here are the ingredients:

3cups flour
1 teaspoon each:  cinnamon, clove, allspice, baking powder, baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each:  salt, nutmeg

1 cup butter
1 cup apple butter
1/2 cup applesauce
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup apple juice
2 apples, cored, peeled and diced


1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Assemble all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In your mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add apple butter, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs.  Add small amounts (1/2 cup) of the flour mixture to the mixer.  Add a little apple juice.  Continue alternating between adding the flour mixture and apple juice.  When that is all mixed, stir in the diced apples (by hand).

Put the ingredients in a bundt pan that has been buttered and floured/or sprayed with PAM.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until your cake tester comes out clean.  If you do not have a cake tester, stick a toothpick in the cake.  If it comes out clean your cake is done cooking.
Let that sit and cool a few minutes before turning the cake over and putting in on a cake plate.
While that is cooling, assemble the glaze:
In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar and vanilla.  Stir in the powdered sugar until thick. 
Turn the cake over onto a cake plate.  Drizzle the brown sugar glaze over the top.

Foodie Friends Friday
Pamela's Heavenly Treats

Saturday, January 12, 2013


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This weekend I am fortunate to spend time with my granddaughter Jossalyn.

I love when she comes to visit!  Lately, every time she comes over she wants to make "playloh."  No, that wasn't a typo.  She calls it playloh................she is freaking cute!

I know this is different from my usual posts, but this is a fun way to cook with children and a great way to keep them busy afterwards!

Here is the recipe for playloh:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food coloring

Mix all of the ingredients and cook on low heat. 

As you stir and it cooks, it will tighten up into a ball.

Remove it from the pan and let it cool.  This will keep for several weeks in a Ziploc bag.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stuffed Shells With Meatballs!

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Do you love the taste of lasagna but don't have the time to put all of the layers together?  This recipe will give you the "cheesiness" of lasagna but without all of the time and effort.  It is a simple cheese mixture put into large shells, then covered with marinara sauce and meatballs.

Here are the ingredients:


1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 egg
3 tablespoons Ricotta cheese
Fresh parsley



1 box Jumbo shells
1 container of Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Fresh parsley
1 cup shredded cheese

To begin, mix the ingredients for the meatballs.  Roll into balls and sear in a large saute pan.

Add marinara sauce and let that simmer for 30 minutes or so.

In a large stock pot, boil water with salt.  Cook the shells, al dente - still with a little crunch/bite to it.  The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.  When the shells are al dente, drain and set aside.

Assemble the cheese mixture.  Mix the ricotta, cheeses, salt, pepper, parsley, and egg.  Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and place in an oven proof pan with a little sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Ladle sauce and meatballs on the top of the shells.  Cover with foil and cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and top with 1 cup shredded Italian cheese (Mozzarella, Provel, Provelone, etc).  Put back in the oven until the cheese melts.


This recipe is listed on My Turn For Us

Marinara Sauce

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Italians have to have a few tomato sauce recipes.  This is a recipe inspired by my Sicilian Nonna (grandmother).

Nonna and Nonnu

Are you craving a meatless sauce?  A basic marinara sauce is super easy to throw together!  Here are the ingredients:

2 cans tomato sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon each:  parsley, basil, oregano
Dash crushed red pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

In a sauce pan, heat a little olive oil.  Add the onions.  Saute for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.  Add the crushed tomatoes, red wine, sugar, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and the rest of the spices.  Let that simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the tomato sauce.  Let that simmer for another 15 minutes.

I like to serve this sauce with meatballs and pasta. 

If you are interested in a meat sauce, see:

Foodie Friends Friday

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sourdough Starter

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I've always wondered how they made bread before you could go to your neighborhood grocery store and buy yeast...........I did a little research and was amazed at what I found.

Did you know that there is yeast floating around in the air?  Did you know that the Egyptians made leavened bread, learning the art of creating a bread starter?

Can you imagine being the first person to leave flour and water set out, watching the bubbles form, and then saying to yourself, "Hmmm, look at these bubbles.  This smells funny.  I think I'll make some bread with it anyway."

Sourdough has a wheaty, tangy taste to it.  This is because the flour and water "sour," allowing the bacteria to enter the flour/water mixture.  You can see bubbles in a sourdough starter.

Get your geek on people!  Try something different - taste what nature has to offer you!

To start a sourdough starter, mix 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup of water.  Mix together until a dough is formed.  Place in a plastic, glass or ceramic bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Let that sit for 1 day.  Your mixture should create bubbles.

After 1 day, you should be able to smell the yeast that is forming.  Mix a 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup water.  Cover this dough with a damp towel and let it sit another day.

Refresh the dough by discarding 1/2 of the starter and mixing 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. 

Your starter should double between each feeding. You will use a small portion of the starter in a recipe.  Save the rest and store it in the refrigerator.  Feed the starter once a week by adding more flour and water.

My starter has been fermenting away for a week now.  Guess who's baking bread tonight?


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meatball Soup

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This recipe is featured on The Weekend Gourmet

Who doesn't love a juicy meatball?  This soup includes meatballs, pasta, beans, and veggies.  It is a great addition on a cold winter night.

Here are the ingredients for the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
Fresh parsley
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together and form small 1 inch meatballs.  Sear in a large soup pan with a little olive oil.

The ingredients for the soup:

2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can cannelini beans or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight
1 can kidney beans or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup orzo
1 cup parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley
2 bay leaves

When you have finished searing the meatballs, remove them and keep them warm.  Add the carrots, celery, and onion.  Saute for 5 minutes.  If you are using dried beans, add them now, and cover with water.  Let that simmer for 2 hours.

When the beans are soft, add the thyme, bay leaves, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add the tomatoes and chicken broth.  Let that simmer for 30 minutes.

If you are using canned beans, add them now, along with meatballs, orzo and parmesan cheese. 

Serve when the orzo is soft.


Infused Oils

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When company over we hang in my kitchen.  Inevitably they always spy these jars sitting on my windowsill.  I frequently hear, "What's going on over here?"

OK, I must admit that these jars look like unclaimed Science experiments.  However, these jars allow me to make several great items: 

Lotion Bars:

Lip Balm:

Hand Lotion:

I've become interested in learning all about what nature has to offer us.  Why do we need the chemicals in the items we buy?  Nature has a way to provide what we need.  Infused oils allow me to bring in the healing power of herbs into the concoctions I make.

An infused oil is simply olive oil or another type of oil, with an herb.  On my windowsill you see a mason jar full of lavender, chamomile, peppermint and comfrey.  I've had jars of calendula and other herbs as well. 

Simply fill a mason jar full of oil and add in the herb of your choice.  Place the mason jars in a windowsill that does not get direct sunlight.  Shake the jars a few times a week.  After 4-6 weeks, the oil is infused with the healing power of what you have in the jars.

I am finding that the great Lord has given us what we need to heal, for comfort, to relax.  Do some research and experiment a little. 

Get your geek on!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


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If you are looking for great family time, while preparing dinner, make some calzones!  If you've never heard of a calzone, think a pocket pizza.  Yes, that's right.  Everything you love on a pizza, wrapped up in a pocket of dough.  They are yummy and very easy to make!

Joe and Jonah making their calzones!
Start by making the pizza dough.  The ingredients for the dough are:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/8 cup olive oil
Start by putting the warm water in a bowl, with the yeast.  Let the yeast proof - this means that the yeast will activate by foaming or creating little bubbles.  Make sure your water is not too hot or it will kill the yeast. 

When the yeast proofs, add the salt, sugar, oil and 2 cups of the flour.  Mix with a dough hook on your mixer.   If you don't have one, you can mix by hand.  Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Knead the dough until it is barely sticky.  Place the dough in a bowl and let it rise for an hour or so.
While the dough rises, make the pizza sauce.  Mix together and cook on low heat:
1 can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon each:  parsley, basil, oregano, garlic salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Now it is time to think about what ingredients you are going to want in your calzone.  I browned some Italian sausage, made some bacon, got some pepperoni, cheese and chopped up some veggies.  I put those ingredients on the counter so that each person could stuff their calzone with whatever they wanted.
To assemble the calzone, take a small piece of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.

Put a little sauce on one end of the dough.  Fill that end with the toppings of your choice.

Jonah Bologna saucing up his calzone!  Isn't he cute? 

Brush the sides of the calzone with melted butter.  Fold over and press the ends together.  Roll up each end so that the stuffing doesn't come out.  Take a knife and make a few small holes in the calzone.  This will allow steam to escape so you don't have an explosion in your oven!

Brush the top of the calzone with melted butter.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until browned.


This recipe is listed on

Foodie Friends Friday
 My Turn For Us

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Potato Soup

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This recipe is featured on The Weekend Gourmet

I love a bowl of soup on a cold, winter night.  Tonight I had a craving for potato soup.  Here is the recipe:

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 stalk of celery, diced
Salt and Pepper
1/2 pound bacon
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk

In a large sauce pan, brown the bacon.  Remove the bacon and set aside.  In that same sauce pan, add the carrot, celery, and potatoes.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Make sure the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan!

Add green onions, salt and pepper.  Stir and cook another 5 minutes.

Add flour.  Stir to combine.  Slowly add the chicken broth.  Stir as you add it.  It will thicken as it cooks.  Let that cook another 5 minutes.  When the potatoes are soft, take a potato masher and mash some of the potatoes.  This will give a creamy texture to the soup.

Add the cream and 1/2 cup milk.  Stir.  Let that cook on low heat for 25 minutes.  If you desire, add the remaining 1/2 cup milk.  This will depend on how thick you want your soup.

Handy Hint:  Mom says that making potato soup is a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.  Substitute mashed potatoes for diced potatoes.  Great idea!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pecan Sandies

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This recipe is listed on Marvelous Mondays

This recipe is easy and quick.  Pecan sandies are literally shortbread cookies with pecans.  YUM!

When my father was diagnosed as a diabetic, he had to watch what he ate.  Instead of pies and cakes, he would eat pecan sandies.  Yes, I know, those aren't the best for you either, but if you knew my father, you would know that he would NEVER give up on the sweets!

Nonnu, with two his granddaughters:  Sierra and Maria
(Sierra - look at that great knit hat!  Who made that?)
Confession Time:  Mom, when you traveled for work, Dad always had pies and cakes...............Did I just tattle on my Dad?
Anyway, back to the recipe.  Here are the ingredients for easy, quick pecan sandies.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add the flour, then the pecans.
Roll the cookies into a ball, placing them on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Remove them before they start to brown.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

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I can't remember where I got this recipe from but it is a doosy!  Every time I have made it, I was a hit.  It is super easy and fast!

Here are the ingredients:

1 pd chicken breast, sliced into thin strips.
4 slices bacon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 16 oz. can of black beans
1 small can diced chilis
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
12-14 large flour tortillas
1 package shredded Mexican cheese

Cook bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan.  Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.  Stir in garlic, salt and cumin.  Stir in 1/2 cup salsa, beans, chilis, red pepper and green onions.  Crumble the bacon and return it to the pan.  Cook these ingredients about 5 minutes.

Take a tortilla and place some cheese on the end.  Put some chicken filling and roll it up.  Place it seam side down in a baking pan.

Pour the remaining salsa and cheese over the top of the burritos.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Serve with fresh salsa, guacamole and sour cream!  Delicious!  See, I do cook other things than Italian food!

Stuffed Pork Loin

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Pork + Stuffing = YUMMY!  For my New Year's Eve dinner, I decided to make a stuffed filled pork roast.  Here are the ingredients:


1/2 onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 bag butter croutons
1/2 stick butter, melted
Fresh thyme, sage and parsley
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth

Pork Roast, cut open
1/2 cup chicken broth

To begin, assemble the stuffing ingredients, EXCEPT for the chicken broth.  Mix it all together and place in a pork roast that has been cut open for stuffing (salt and pepper the pork).  Keep the extra stuffing - you will cook that in a separate pan.

Fold the roast over or roll it if it is thin enough.  Tie the roast off.  Sear the outside of the roast in a dutch oven with a little olive oil.

When the pork is seared, add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the dutch oven and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until your roast registers 160 degrees.  Cooking time will depend on the size of your roast.

In another oven proof pan, mix the 1/2 cup chicken broth with the extra stuffing mixture.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with the pork roast.

Enjoy!  This recipe is featured on This Gal Cooks!

Homemade Ice Cream

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This recipe is listed on Pamela's Heavenly Treats
Last month my mother gave me an ice cream machine and I have been dying to try it!  I love watching Iron Chef America and Chopped when the judges make a big deal about the chef going to the ice cream machine.  This little machine helps me imagine that it is me going to the ice cream machine and that Alex Guarnaschelli, Marcus Samuelsson, and Geoffrey Zakarian rave over the bacon ice cream I have concocted....................

OK, back to reality!  Let's start by making a simple vanilla ice cream.  Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Heat the cream, milk, honey, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in a sauce pan until very hot, but not boiling.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Take 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture and whisk that into the eggs.  Make sure you whisk constantly or you will cook your egg........

Stir the egg mixture into the cream mixture.  Remove from heat.  Strain with a fine mesh strainer to remove vanilla bean and any other solid particles you may have in your ice cream base.

Put the mixture in an ice bath (a bowl sitting on top of another bowl full of ice)

Refrigerate until cold.  When that is cold, assemble your ice cream machine.  I had to make sure my ice cream base was frozen.  I had put it in the freezer the night before.

When your ice cream machine is together, slowly pour the ice cream base into the machine and turn it on.  It is that easy!

The paddle turns and the mixture will thicken.  When the paddle slows down and the mixture is thick, turn off the machine and put the ice cream in a bowl, placing it in the freezer.

Allow that to freeze for an hour or so before serving.