Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge: Panna Cotta & Florentine Cookies

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.


Chocolate Panna Cotta
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cupsugar
¾ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
  3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
  4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
  5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight
Coffee Gelee
2 cups good quality brewed coffee
1/4 cup hot water + 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Place granulated sugar and 1/4 c. hot water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tablespoons cold water and let it soften 2 minutes or so.
  3. Stir the coffee, sugar, hot water, and vanilla into a small metal bowl, add gelatin mixture and stir well until gelatin has dissolved. If pouring over Panna Cotta, be sure that this mixture is no longer hot, it will melt Panna Cotta if it is, let it come to room temperature.

Florentine Cookie
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups dark or milk chocolate

Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.

Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).

Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).

Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Ok, so growing up, anytime we had "fruit salad" was for special gatherings, so very far and few between. My mom never had a passion for cooking, so meals were quick, hearty and repeated (but good too!). Because of that I can't eat spinach (but that's a different story). So, fruit salad was a combination of fruit, held together by a can of cherry pie filling. Yes, I said cherry pie filling. The gooey, packed with sugar, very unhealthy stuff. So, naturally, through life that's what I thought about fruit salad.

I've steadily grown a passion for cooking myself, and love to experiment and make unique things, as well as perfecting the "classic" family meals. It wasn't until this past Christmas (the one 2 months ago), that this "cherry pie filling" topic came up again.

My wonderful still is more of a "naturalist" than I could ever be, but hates cooking, so everything is healthy, quick and easy. And I'm talking about the definition of "quick" and "easy" and I'll add "delicious."

One afternoon over the holiday, we were putting lunch together and I said to myself "I wish we had some pie filling, I would love some fruit salad." My sister turns on her toes with one eyebrow up, then turns back around and whips up this little concoction of delight. Something so simple. Something so healthy. My mind couldn't wrap around it.

And I've made it that way ever since.

So now you now most of the story (I could go into waaaay more explaining, but decided to sum it up) here is this amazing treat. And everything is right in your fridge. Its that easy.


Depending on how much you want to make...I usually make it for one "sitting," or basically for 4 people.
2 small apples or 1 large [honey crisp is the best for fruit salad!] diced
2 or 3 small oranges [I usually have cuties on hand because of the kids] pulled apart and sliced in half
1 banana [if this is going to be eaten longer than a couple hours, add bananas right before serving]
Whatever else [fruit that is] you have: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, ect...

This is the best part: What yogurt do you have in your fridge? Its probably you one you like eating in the mornings on a daily bases! I've even used my kids' gogurt one time!
Couple scoops (this is up to you, depending on how much fruit you used) yogurt
This could be from the little cups too! Don't forget!

I make this at LEAST once a week, so I buy a big tub at the store just for the fruit salad. It can be any flavor, but I've found strawberry, black cherry or my favorite, vanilla, works the best for flavor enhancement.This is also very healthy! Get the light & Fit kind and have an evening snack you don't feel guilty over!

Sometimes it just take someone to point out the simplest thing. So now I've pointed it out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


This is a very simple, very quick recipe thats wonderful for those busy nights! Meatballs can be made ahead (before cooked) of time and popped into the oven when ready.


Preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease (really good) with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
1 lb ground pork
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 small granny-smith apple, peeled and grated
1/2 small white onion, grated
3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
and 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Shape into small to medium size meatballs (you'll have at least 16) and arrange on baking sheet. Broil until golden and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook:
1 package (12oz) egg noodles
Until al dente. Drain and return to pan and toss with:
4 tablespoons butter, cut into peices
5 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Divide noodles onto plates and top with meatballs.

Monday, February 21, 2011


(Braided loaf bread)

Combine in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes:
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup bread flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large yolks, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons veg oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix by hand or on low speed until thoroughly blended, gradually stir in:
2 1/2 cups bread flour
Knead for about 8 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1 to 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and return to the bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until it has nearly doubled in size (2 to 12 hours). The dough is ready to be shaped.

Divide dough into 3 pieces. Roll into balls, let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with:
Roll each ball into ropes and dust with flour. Braid entire length of dough, tuck ends under.

Brush over load:
1 egg
pinch of salt
Loosely cover the braid with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush loaf again with egg wash and sprinkle with:
poppy seeds
Bake until the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ravioli Rolling Pin-- HOW TO USE

I finally got to put my super-cool Ravioli Rolling pin to use!!! First, I will give you the recipe for the filling.

Ravioli Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 
1 or 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach
, thawed, cooked, and all water squeezed out
1 pound veal, ground finely
1 pound pork, ground finely
salt and pepper
dash freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon dry (optional)
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 eggs

5 cups of flour
3 teaspoons of salt
2 eggs
(Up to 4)
1-1/2 cups water, approximately
(start slow and use judgment)

Make your pasta dough, wrap in floured plastic, and let it rest.  
Brown the meats in a fry pan.  Let cool.  Run the meat through a grinder (or food processor), so it is very fine.
In a large bowl, cream the cheese with an electric mixer until it is soft.  Add the spinach, meats and seasonings.  Mix well with a wooden spoon to combine.  Add the cheese and eggs.

Roll out the dough very thin (do not go past #5 on a pasta machine--but mine broke, so I had to hand-roll it out)

When you have two sheets of dough (or one very long sheet, cut in half) lay one sheet on your workspace, spread some of the filling thinly on the pasta, leaving a half inch border.  

Lay the other sheet on top.  

Roll firmly with the rolling pin.  

Cut the ravioli apart with a fluted pastry wheel.

And there you go!

After cutting them, lay them on a floured jelly-roll pan and freeze--then bag them up in portions of your choosing!

When ready to cook, place them gently in a pot of water that it GENTLY boiling. If boiling to "hard" then they will fall apart. Boil for 2-3 minutes.

OR, you can bread them and cook them in a saute-pan. Dip in egg wash, then in Italian bread crumbs, cook in pan with a bit of oil until lightly browned. <----this is my favorite way of doing them!! yum yum! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This is a fairly easy dessert to make. You just have to be pretty speedy so the fillo dough doesn't dry out. Have everything prepped and ready to go before you start.


1 (16oz) package fillo dough
1 lb (16oz) chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13-inch pan.

Chop pecans then toss with cinnamon. Set aside.

Unroll 1 package fillo dough (or phyllo, depends on brand). Cover with dampened cloth to keep from drying out so quickly as you work. Place 2 sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered.

Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with 2 sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go.

Top layer should be 8 sheet deep (buttered between every 2)

Using a sharp knife, cut squares (or diamond shapes) all the way to the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 50 minutes until the baklava is golden and crisp.

Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. Leave uncovered (it will get soggy if it is wrapped up)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ravioli Rolling Pin

After reading several blogs and scanning through a bunch new ones on a boring evening, I cam across this bad boy. I immediately fell in love. I HAD to have it. And so I got it.

 Strange-looking, huh?

Its a ravioli rolling pin. Can you say GENIUS?!  I love making ravioli and my family LOVES eating ravioli, so I'm ready to get this bad boy dirty!

Thanks to The Italian Dish I know have an amazing new tool in my kitchen. And its gonna get dirty this week!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce

This was the perfect Valentine dinner for my sweetheart! The combination of the potatoes, filet Mignon and asparagus was meant to be! If you try one of these, please go ahead and try all three. It would be a sin not to!


Melt in a skillet over medium heat:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender. Stir in:
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
Scrap any onion bits off bottom of pan, then stir in:
1/2 cup port wine [I used a "red cooking wine" and still got wonderful results]
Bring to a boil, and cook until mixture has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat in a cast-iron skillet over high-heat:
1 tablespoon vegtable oil
Sear quickly on both sides until brown:
4 filet mignon steaks (1 1/2 inch thick)
Place whole skillet into the oven.

Roast steaks in the oven for about 15 minutes for medium rare. [I like mine a little more done, and kept it in 20 minutes, and it was medium] Remove from oven, and place on baking sheet.

Stir together:
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese [I don't really like blue cheese, but this was so amazing, I couldn't tell it was!]
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs.
Top each steak with a layer of this mixture.

Preheat oven's broiler. Place steaks under preheated broiler 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese topping is browned and bubbly [mine never got to the bubbly part, but it was brown and I didn't want it burning] Remove from oven, and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Serve on top of "Red garlic mashed potatoes" and spoon port wine sauce over top.


8 medium red potatoes, cubed
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons white sugar [do NOT leave out]
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of salt and pepper

Boil potatoes in large pot until tender. Drain. Add butter [I used my stand mixer for this], then half-and-half and remaining ingredients. Serve warm.

Monday, February 14, 2011


So this is pretty simple. Make a cheesecake, use a cookie cutter and cut out a shape, make a little berry glaze, spoon over top (make it look fancy of course) and top it with a strawberry, or any other berry you want. It can't get any more simple. Just top it off with a pretty picture!

So here is a basic recipe for cheesecake:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In medium bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
Press into the bottom of 9x13 pan.

In large bowl, beat together
3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Blend in one at a time:
4 eggs
Then stir in:
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fold in gently:
2 cups sour cream

Pour batter over crust. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave cake in for at least 30 min.

Let it cool completely, then use cookie cutter for shapes--the bigger the cookie cutter, the better it will turn out.

Berry Glaze....I just cut up some fresh strawberries and thawed out 1 cup frozen raspberries [this is what I had] and put them in sauce pan with 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup white sugar. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Then use a fine mesh strainer, and strain the juice into clean bowl. Then use this juice over the cheesecake! Its just THAT simple, people! Hope you enjoy!


The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and


Soba noodles:
2 quarts water + 1 cup cold water (2 times), separate 
12 oz dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)

Cooking the noodles:
1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.

2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.

Mentsuyu - Traditional dipping sauce:

2 cups Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores) Or a basic vegetable stock. [I used veg stock]
1/3 cup soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce [Tamari is the best]
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Soba Noodles Topping:
[I used Cucumber, tomatoes and baby corn]
All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.
Respect Japanese culture and keep topping very simple.


1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup iced water
½ cup plain (all purpose) flour,
plus extra for dredging
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
for deep frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Vegtables used: [I bolded what I used]
Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
Green beans, trimmed
Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
Assorted fresh mushrooms [shitaki]
Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
Onions sliced

Vegetables prepared for dredging and frying
  Tomatoesand Cucumbers were for the soba noodles
Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

Vegetables dredged in flour, preparing for tempura batter and deep frying.
Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F; for seafood it should be 340°F. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.

Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.

Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.

Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.
I'm working on the tempura, using what little counter space military housing gives us.
I'm a very mess cook.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I'm still learning how this whole blog thing works. I have noticed majority of blogs have "badges" or "buttons." I have several of them down the left side of this blog. The image links back to their page. Its just a way of sharing site you like. So I have created a "badge/button" for this site. However, I don't know how to make a "RSS"  for it. Can someone help me?
Here is my badge/button:
I have it in several different sizes as well.

I know right now you can right-click on it and save the image to your computer, then add a "gadget" and choose "picture" and put in the link yourself. But there is an easier way....I just don't know it yet.

So, if anyone could help me--it would be appreciated! Thanks!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Paula Deen's Baked Potato Soup

I have tried many baked potato soups, and this one is by far the best.  I'm not really a "soup"  person, but I'll eat the entire pot of this. Absolutely YUMMY. And the best part? It is sooooo easy!


8 slices hickory smoked bacon
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
5 potatoes, baked, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 cups half & half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
salt & pepper to taste (optional)

In a duth oven, cook bacon until crisp; remove and crumble, reserve drippings.

Cook onion in bacon drippings until tender; stir in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken broth; cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Put in the diced potatoes, parsley, bacon and half & half; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese and sour cream.

Garnish with cheese, bacon and sour cream.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I know I'm doing a lot of potatoes, but we practically have potatoes every night, and having different ways to cook them really help. I made these with the pork loin dish, and it was wonderful--perfect compliment! And the best part is that they are TOTALLY EASY!


They look so fancy! Defiantly impress you quests, or family with these!
Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter walls of muffin wells.

You will need:
2 lbs of petite Yukon gold potatoes
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper

Wash and peel potatoes. Slice potatoes as thin as you can with a knife or use a vegetable peeler to get paper thing slices. [I did both methods and like the blend it made]

Place sliced potatoes in a bowl and toss with melted butter.

Start layering slices in a circular pattern in each muffin well. Every couple layers, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue until wells are filled to the top.

Cover with foil and back for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown.

To remove, cover the top with foil and turn the pan upside onto foil.Transfer released mini Pommes Anna to platter and serve.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


This is a little time-consuming dish. So beware! However, its defiantly worth it. Delicious! This recipe would be great for when company is coming over.


If you can't find a bone-in pork loin, just use a regular loin. (take about 15 min off cooking time)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

In skillet, heat over med-low heat
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small apples, peeled and diced very small
1 celery stick, chopped finely 
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
dash freshly ground pepper
Saute for 6 minutes, until vegtables and apple are soft. Then add
1 clove garlic, minced
cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Add
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (or panko)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
zest of half a lemon
Transfer to bowl and let cool completely.

[I would add about 1/2 cup cranberries to really top off the stuffing!]

While stuffing is cooling, butterfly the pork loin.
Cut four 12-16 inch lengths of twine and set aside.
Lay out pork loin, fast side down, with bones facing to the right. Insert the blade of a very sharp knife along the rib bones and slice down.

Open the meat up a bit and take you knife and continue to slice through the mean, opening it up as it goes.

Season with salt and pepper and lay the stuffing right on top. Roll the pork loin back up and tie between each rib bone with a piece of twine and secure the roast. Trim the loose ends of twine.

Season the outside of the pork loin with salt and pepper.

Mix together
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
zest of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced or grated

Rub herb mixture all over the pork loin.

Line a baking pan with foil and place grate on top. Place pork roast on the grate and bake for 20 minutes, uncovered.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, mix
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil

Baste the pork loin with 1/3 of liquid and loosely cover with foil and lower oven temp to 350. Continue to cook for about 1 and 1/2 hours, basting with the liquid twice more.

[I would cook for an extra 30 minutes or more, it was "done" but still pretty pink by the bone. A little more time would be good]

Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes, covered. Cut twine. Slice between rib bones and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This was a huge experiment for me. Making "pasta" has always been intimidating, but my husband bought me a pasta rolling machine, and when (and if) you have the time, its totally worth it.

One of my favorite cookbooks is "Joy of Cooking," I know, cliche, but as a beginner cook (sort-of! ha!) its a great resource for basic recipes. Like how to make ravioli.

I made this dish for 2 adults and 2 kids, and had plenty of left overs. However, its a lot of work and many times throughout this dish I cursed to myself and wished I just got the store bought stuff. But I also think everyone needs to try this at least once, just so they can appreciate the dish! And its was fantastically delish in the end!

Meat Filling:
Heat, in a skillet over med-high
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
Then add and cook until done:
5 ounces chicken breasts, chopped to pieces
6 to 7 ounces of ground pork
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of each salt and pepper
then stir in
1/4 cup dry white wine
Remove from heat and cool.
In a food processor, add the meat mixture wth
1 cup grated parm cheese
4 ounces salami, chopped
3 ounces prosciutto
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Process until finely chopped and well blended. Stir in remaining cheese.

This is a fantastic meat filling! Its easy to double, and then freeze half for later use (thats what I did!!)

The pasta is a bit harder to do....and harder to here is a picture of the cookbook's explanations:
Then deep fry the ravioli until lightly brown.

Serve with sauce of your choice--I made vodka sauce the previous day and had leftovers, so that is what I used for mine. And that was perfect! Sprinkle a little parm cheese over top--there is no such thing as too much cheese! Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Apple Dumplings

This recipe was givin to me from my best friend, Traci. My family just got back from "Silver Dollar City" in Branson, MO and I called Traci up and raved about the apple dumping SDC served [and partially famous for] and I just had to figure out how to make it. She then told me she and her mom JUST made the dumplings as well! She sent me her recipe and I tweaked it a little bit for my own twist on it. This is not a really easy dessert to make. It takes time, and patience. Don't give up--they are TOTALLY worth the mess it makes!


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold water
8 medium tart apples,
peeled and cored
8 teaspoons butter
9 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar,


1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
, cubed

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide into eight portions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Roll each portion of dough between two lightly floured sheets of waxed paper into a 7-in. square. Place an apple on each square. Place 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar in the center of each apple.

Gently bring up corners of pastry to each center; pinch edges to seal. If desired, cut out apple leaves and stems from dough scraps; attach to dumplings with water.

Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar.

In a large saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Bring just to a boil, stirring until blended. Pour over apples.

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown, basting occasionally with sauce. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 servings

~~ When coring the apple, I didn't punch the corer all the way through the apple. This way, the buter and cinnamon mix didn't spill out the bottom.
~~ Make sure the dough is really cold before rolling out, this is the hard part (wrapping the apple) and the colder the dough, the less it will stick to the wax paper and your hands.
~~ The cinnamon sugar doesn't need to be measured exactly. I like using a bit more in each apple and on top--so play around with it according to what you like.
~~ Don't forget to baste while they are cooking--you don't want dry dough!
~~ Ice-cream is absolutely FABULOUS with this--make sure you have some on hand!

Saturday, February 5, 2011



Peel potatoes to a smooth, round shape, WITHOUT rinsing them under water.
     2lbs of "boiling" potatoes [really small, very "perfectly" round looking ones]
Add to a skillet over med-high heat
     2 tablespoons unsalted butter
     1 tablespoon oil [more if needed]
When butter stops foaming, add potatoes to skillet. Leave them for 2 minutes, then shake skillet back and forth to roll the potatoes and to sear sear them on other sides for 2 minutes. Continue doing this for 4 to 5 more minutes until potatoes are a pale golden color all around.
Sprinkle potaotes with
     1/4 teaspoon salt
Lower heat, cover skillet and cook the potaotes for about 15 minutes, shaking every 3 to 4 minutes [to prevent sticking to skillet]
They are done when a knife pierces them easily.
Very carefully pour out any grease or oil that has built us.
Off the heat, add
     2 to 3 tablspoons softened butter
     2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
     big pinch of pepper
and roll around until evenly covered.
Arrange potatoes on warm platter and serve warm!

These are wonderful with ANY type of meat! They also get a lot easier to make the more often you try them! Just make sure they are fully cooked! =)

Thursday, February 3, 2011



[day before]
Combine in a large bowl and let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes:
       ¼ cup warm water
       1 package active dry yeast
       ½ cup all-purpose flour
       1/3 cup sugar
       ¼ cup milk
       2 large eggs
       1 teaspoon vanilla
       1 teaspoon salt
Mix by hand until blended. Gradually stir in:
       2 to 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Mix for 1 minute or until dough comes together. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Add:
       6 tablespoons butter, very soft
Vigorously knead in the butter until completely incorporated and the dough is once again smooth. [it will be a sticky dough]
Place dough in large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place for about 1 ½ hours.

Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and refrigerate, covered, until doubled again, 4 to 12 hours. [overnight]

[in the morning...] Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stiffing to dissolve the sugar:
       1 cup packed brown sugar
       ½ cup butter
       ¼ cup honey
Remove from heat and stir in:
       2 ½ cups chopped pecans
Pour the hot syrup into the baking pan and spread it evenly. Let cool. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush with:
       1 tablespoon melted butter
Sprinkle with:
       1/3 to ½ cup brown sugar
       2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
Starting from a long side, roll up the dough into a cylinder. Cut crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange the slices in the prepared pan, spacing them evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in room temperature until doubled in size.

[When cut and placed in pan to rise again, the dough will not double in size. That’s ok, because it will rise in the oven. I think its mainly to let the dough rest after rolling it out? Anyway...]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the buns are golden brown and the syrup is bubbly hot, about 30 minutes. Let buns cool for 5 min, and then invert them on serving tray. Serve warm.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011



One of my really old, and classic recipes. Everyone in my family loves this, and I've giving out the recipe many time. So its defiantly a keeper! This is wonderful especially when avocados are in season. It has taken many times to really perfect this dish. I'll try to explain as much as possible, so you can perfect it too!

Mix together in a large zip-lock bag, or large bowl:
       6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
       2 tablespoons cornstarch
       1 teaspoon garlic salt
       1 teaspoon ground cumin

In a small dipping dish, whisk together:
       1 egg
       ¼ cup water

In a large heavy duty skillet, heat on medium to medium high: [stay close to medium heat so it won't burn the crust while cooking the chicken]
       2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (depending on size of skillet)
Dip in egg mixture then add to zip-lock bag or bowl, one at a time until completely coated:
       4 boneless chicken breasts
Then add to skillet. When all four breasts are in skillet, cover and cook for 6 minutes each side, lower heat if it starts to burn before done cooking.
When done, sprinkle over top of each breast:
        1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Cover and continue cooking for 1 more minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from skillet to serving tray. Slice and add on top of each chicken breast:
       1 large avocado
Then top with a scoop for each breast:
       Sour cream
Option: Top the sour cream with chopped green onion.

Keep the sides very simple, you don't want to overload all the flavor. Rice is my favorite side with this, but simple mashed potatoes would be wonderful as well. 

Have extra slices of avocado and a bowl with more sour cream. Its wonderful when you have enough of each with every bite!
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