Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

A  twist on the traditional Sweet Potato Casserole!
 
Sweet Potato Casserole is another of our favorite holiday side dishes.  My family still loves it with the streusel topping and, yes, marshmallows.  But, I thought, for this Easter, I'd do something a little different, but still have all their favorite flavors in the sweet potatoes.
 
What also helps make this preparation so quick and easy, is that you can microwave the potatoes first for about 15 minutes. 
 
If you're family or guests have any preference, each potato can be "made to order"...for example, my hubby will love the pecans, but not the marshmallows, while my grandson-in-law can't eat nuts at all!  No problem, we'll just leave the pecans off his potato.
 
You've got to love a recipe that can be customized to please each guest individually, and still be delicious!
 
 
Ingredients:
4 small sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
 
For topping:
 
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped pecans, to taste
Mini marshmallows (optional)

Preheat oven to 425'F.
 
Prick each sweet potato 3 times with a fork and place on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 9 to 12 minutes, turning the potatoes over every 3 minutes, until a wooden skewer pokes easily into the potato. (Some of the potatoes may bake faster than the others. Just removed the ones that are done and keep going with the rest, checking every 3 minutes.) Let the cooked potatoes sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

To make the topping: Place all of the topping ingredients, except the pecans, into a small bowl. Using your fingers, squish the ingredients together until crumbly.  Add the pecans and mix to combine.  Set aside.

To prepare the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the center into a large bowl, making sure to leave about 1/4-inch of the flesh inside of the potato skin. Place each potato skin shell onto a baking sheet that was sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake the shells for 10 minutes, or until they are slightly dried and firm.

While the shells bake, add butter to the bowl of sweet potato flesh and mash with a potato masher.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined and fluffy.

Remove the shells from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375'F.   Spoon the filling into the shells (if you don't have enough for all, just discard the remaining shells).  Cover with the topping mixture. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the potatoes to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
 
 
"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." - John 13:13-14

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pastaciotti (Pusties)

Little Custard Tarts

Vanilla Pastaciotti
Pastaciotti are actually little custard tarts, an Italian pastry filled with rich chocolate or vanilla cream.  Now, I'm confessing to everyone that my favorite is...vanilla!  I know!  I'm a chocoholic by nature, but the vanilla ones "speak" to me!

I have to tell you all, again, my mom was my inspiration for cooking.  Everything she made was so good, and we always had fun in the kitchen together.  I can remember making homemade ravioli with her.  I was pregnant at the time, and as she was lining them up on her small countertop, one fell to the floor.  Immediately, she threw it into the trash...and I had tears in my eyes.  Losing even one of her delicious ravioli broke my heart.  Hey, remember, I was pregnant, so I'll use that as my excuse for the inappropriate emotional response.  Yes, you can laugh at me...she did!  :)

This is her recipe, of course (hehe) and once you've had them, you'll never need to go to an Italian pastry shop again.  These are the best!

If you do see them at a bakery, the ones with the little ball on top are filled with vanilla, and the plain topped ones are chocolate.  Now, I only make the vanilla ones (using my mom's vanilla cream), but I still put the ball on top.  Why?  Tradition!  Ha...and they look cute. 
 

*You will need special tins, they have fluted edges. Try online and search for pustie tins. You will need 12 large or 24 small.


Ingredients:
 
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 c. brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour (unbleached, all-purpose) plus a little water, if needed
3 eggs
 
Preheat oven to 350'F.
 
Mix crust ingredients in a large bowl, careful not to work the dough too long, a mixer master with a flat beater works great ( if the dough doesn't come together add 1 teaspoon more of water at a time. Egg size varies and sometimes you need just a little more to get the dough to hold together).  Lightly spray each tin with pam spray for easier release when using metal.  If using silicone molds, no spraying
is necessary. 

Break dough into 24 equal pieces.  Roll 12 pieces out, like you would pie crust, to about 1/4" thick, not too thin. 
 
Gently pat down into each tin and up the sides.  Save scraps. Brush inside edges with an egg wash from one beaten egg.
 
Place cooled filling in each pastry-lined pan and cover each with a round of rolled out dough.  Press together around edges to seal.


Brush tops of pusties with beaten egg yolk before baking.  (If you'd like, roll out small balls from the excess dough and place on top for your vanilla pusties, then brush with egg wash.)


Bake in preheated 350'F. oven for 25-30 minutes or until light brown on top. Ovens vary, so sometimes as long as 35 minutes.  (I check them after 20 min.)
 
Cool a few minutes.  If they look like they're stuck around the edges, take a knife to loosen, pop out of the tins onto wax paper and cool completely right side up. (So far, they have never stuck to the edges.)
 
 
Vanilla Cream Pudding:
(My Mom's recipe)

6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine flour, sugar, salt and eggs in saucepan and stir until smooth; gradually add milk and continue to stir constantly over medium heat, until  thickened.  If it looks lumpy, use a wire whisk and it will smooth out nicely.  Add vanilla and butter after pudding has thickened.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  (Hide it from the kids, mine eat it while it's still warm.  Yes, it's that good!)


Chocolate:

 1 cup white granulated sugar
3 heaping tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 squares (1 ounce each) chocolate, unsweetened
1 tsp. vanilla

Place sugar and flour in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in milk and egg yolks to incorporate and make smooth . Cook until thick, stirring frequently. Cool, then add vanilla or rum. 
Chocolate and Vanilla Pusties
 
 
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." - John 12:46
 


Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Mom's Cuzzupe "Easter Dolls"

Italian Cuzzupe, an Easter tradition.


For as far back as I can remember, my mom made Easter Dolls every year for our Easter baskets.  The traditional Italian name for them is called Cuzzupe (ca-soup-ee) and I never even knew how to spell it until today, when I just looked it up online.  Ha!
 
I've followed her tradition all my life, and have made them for my children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors.  It's a bread and cookie all rolled into the cutest little doll-like shape, with an egg being the head.  As with most Italian cookies, it's not too sweet and tastes great with a cup of coffee! 
 
I'm including more pictures than usual with this post, so you can actually see the process.  They move along quickly, once you get the hang of rolling it out into logs.


Ingredients:  (Double the recipe if you'd like to give them out for Easter.)

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 eggs
rind of orange or lemon, grated (I always grate the rind from a fresh orange)
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. baking powder
5-6 cups flour, DO NOT add all at once! (Just enough to make a soft dough, but not sticky)
8-10 hard boiled eggs, shells left on
Vanilla glaze

Beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy; add eggs, orange juice, orange rind and mix.  Gradually add flour and baking powder.  (I always add the b.p. with the first cup of flour.)

Roll into logs, two at a time.  A longer one for the body, and short logs for the arms.


Shape into dolls and/or wreaths.
Make a loop at the top big enough to fit an egg.


 
Put on baking sheet, add arms and criss-cross dough over egg.  Pinch ends of arms and legs to make fingers and toes.
 
Bake in a 325'F. oven for 15-20 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Do not bake too long or they'll be dry.


You'll fit about 4 on a baking sheet, and they'll rise and be plump little dolls.
 
Here are some of mine, just hanging out after baking.  Waiting to be frosted and decorated.
Frosted and ready to be devoured by family and friends!
Now, grab a cup of coffee, slice off a piece and enjoy!  You can "dunk" them too!


When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  -Psalm 61:2



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Colorful Deviled Eggs

So much fun to make...and to eat!

These  are adorable (and delicious) for Easter, Spring, baby or bridal showers...even a child's birthday party.  The colors come from regular food dye, that you would use for cake decorating, so you don't have to worry about consuming it with any side effects. 

We made these for the first time last Easter, they were so simple to do and everyone just loved the festive look they added to the table setting.  Definitely doing these again this year.

Did you know that there's a quick way to tell if an egg is fresh before you boil them? 


Just immerse them in a bowl of water. ...fresh eggs will lie on the bottom, while stale eggs will float to the surface.
Pretty cool, huh?

 
Directions:

12 hard-boiled eggs

(This method works so well, and you'll never have a dark ring around the yolk.)

Place eggs in saucepan; add enough cold water to come at least 1 inch above eggs.  Heat rapidly to boiling.  Remove from heat; cover.  Let stand 16-18 minutes.  Immediately cool eggs in cold water to prevent further cooking.  Tap egg to crackle shell.  Roll egg between hand to loosen shell, then peel.  Hold egg under running cold water to help ease off shell.


Coloring the egg white: 
Remove the shells from the hard boiled eggs and slice each egg in half. 

Remove the yolks from the egg halves and place in a bowl. Set the yolks aside.

Get enough glasses or mugs for the number of colors you want to use. Fill the mugs or glasses 2/3 of the way full with cold water.

Add 3 drops of desired food coloring along with 1 tsp. vinegar to each mug or cup.

Place egg whites in mugs and allow to sit in the food coloring.  More than 1 can fit in the mug at a time.

Remove whites from dye and drain on a plate lined with a couple of paper towels.

Fill with your favorite filling or the one we use, below.



Filling:

12 egg yolks
pinch of salt (egg yolks are already a bit salty)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 Tbsp. real mayonnaise

Cut peeled eggs lengthwise in half.  Slip out yolks; mash with fork.  Mix in seasonings and mayonnaise.  Color the whites, or leave plain...either way they're delicious!  Fill with egg yolk mixture, heaping it up lightly.



Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  -John 11:25-26

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fudge Ribbon Cake

A chocoholic's dream cake!

photo from Pinterest
If you like chocolate as much as I do, this cake is for you!  Rich, moist, dense, creamy...and with the Fudge Frosting, it doubles your chocolate pleasure!  

Warning:  This is NOT a light cake, it's got substance (mostly the chocolate, cream cheese kind).  Yum!

It's a 5-star, beautiful cake that people will think  took hours to prepare, when, really, it comes together quickly.

Your grandma or great-grandma may have made this cake back in the day.  It hasn't changed and delights everyone, while bringing back good memories.  My husband's niece gave me this recipe years ago, and whenever I've taken it to a pot luck dinner, or a special dessert for the family, everyone always asks for the recipe.  Now, I just carry copies with me.  Ha! 

Remember to slice your pieces on the smaller side, because it's filling.  It's also very worth it! 


Ingredients:

Cheesecake Layer:
2 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream 2 Tbsp. butter with cream cheese, 1/4 c. sugar and cornstarch.  Add 1 egg, 2 Tbsp. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Beat at high speed until smooth.  Set aside.

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 cups milk (divided use)
2 eggs
4 oz. unsweetened Baker's chocolate (melted)
1 tsp. vanilla


Combine 2 cups flour with 2 cups sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl. 

Add 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup milk;  blend, and beat 1 1/2 minutes. 

Add 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, melted chocolate and 1 tsp. vanilla.

Spread 1/2 of batter into greased and floured 13x9" pan.  Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over to cover.  Top with remaining batter, and again, carefully spread to cover cream cheese mixture. 

Bake at 350'F for 50-60 minute. 

Cool and frost with Fudge Frosting.

Fudge Frosting:
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Combine milk and butter in pan; let come to a boil.  Remove from heat. 

Blend in chocolate. 

Stir in vanilla and sugar.  Beat until of spreading consistency.  Add a few drops of milk if necessary.  Spread evenly over cooled cake.

"O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful
and fully recompenses the proud doer.  Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord."   -Psalm 31:23-24

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Oven Baked French Toast Casserole

A delicious make-ahead breakfast!


So, yesterday, my granddaughter asked if we could have a nice breakfast before she went to work at her new job.  Of course, I was more than happy to make it for her.  But, since she doesn't like eggs, I decided on one of her favorites, French Toast.   I just wanted to do something a little different than the usual.

Time to search the web...yes, there it was!  Baked French Toast!   Since I never tried it before, I decided to make it anyway and hope for the best.  Well, they all loved it!  Yay! 

This is one of those wonderful "make ahead" breakfasts.  You can put it together the night before, and into the fridge until morning, if you like, I just left it there an hour.  Your family can wake up to the aroma of cinnamon, vanilla and warm maple syrup...all in one magical breakfast casserole!

It rose in the oven like a beautiful soufflĂ©, then when you cut into it, the tops and sides are crunchy and the middle is tender...just like a soufflĂ©!  
 

Now I'm on the lookout for other variations on this dish, and it seems there are plenty.  But, for now I'll share this one because it was such a hit at our family breakfast today.


Ingredients:

1 loaf of French bread
8 eggs
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream 
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
*********************
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. maple syrup (or honey)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Tear bread into chunks or cut into cubes; evenly lay out in a 9X13 pan. 

Mix eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg together.  Pour over bread.  

Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. 

In morning, preheat oven to 350'F. 

Melt butter and cook with brown sugar and syrup or honey until just boiling.  (If you add the pecans, this will be a wonderful praline topping.)  Pour over bread mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes for a soft, moist texture; and 50-60 minutes for a firmer, less moist one.

If top starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Enjoy!


When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. - Psalm 61:2

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Connie's Anise Biscotti

Italian cookies at their best!

Connie was my mother's cousin, a small lady who was sweet and funny, and looked so much like my mother, people actually got them confused.  I don't remember much else about her, only that she made the best Biscotti ever.  In fact, once I had her crisp, but tender cookies, mildly flavored with anise, I was hooked on homemade I can't even think of eating a store-bought Biscotti!    And, I can promise you this, you won't break a tooth on these cookies.

As you know these "twice-baked" cookies go great with a cup of coffee, espresso, tea or a glass of wine.  And if anise isn't your favorite flavor, just switch to almond, lemon, orange or vanilla.  But, I love them just as they are, anise is one of my family's  favorite flavors.  I think it's special to me because it reminds me of spending time with my grandparents, and grandpa would always give us coffee with a little splash of anisette in it...the real Italian way. 


Ingredients:

5 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. anise extract OR 1 tsp. anise oil
4 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt



Preheat the oven to 350'F .  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sugar and anise flavoring until well blended.  (Here's where you can use your imagination and add chocolate chips, white chocolate, dried cherries, cranberries, chopped nuts (pistachio are delicious), or any number of goodies.)

Combine the flour and baking powder, stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough. Divide dough into two pieces. (It will be a bit sticky, but will still keep it's shape.) 

Form each piece into a roll as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.  Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack.  When The cookies are cool enough to handle, slice each one crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.  Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet.

Bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side.  Watch carefully, or they will burn. Slices should be lightly toasted.

Store in an airtight container.  (They make great gifts, too!)

Variations:

-Change extract to almond; add 1 c. chopped pistachios, 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1 c. chopped white chocolate to dough.

-Use almond extract, 1 c. slivered almonds, 1/2 c. chopped dried apricots

-Use vanilla or almond extract & cut back to 3 1/2 c. flour; add 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 cup chocolate chips
(you can also add dried cherries, or dip the finished biscotti in melted dark chocolate)



"To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." - Proverbs 8:13

Friday, March 20, 2015

Honey-baked Ham

Never pay high $$$ for honey-baked ham again!


Ham has always been one of our favorite meals around here.  I tried so many different kinds of recipes, and they've all been good.  But, this one has become our very favorite! 

The ham comes out juicy and tender every time.  I don't know why it uses beer, but to me, it seems to take away a little of that over-bearing saltiness that can come with ham. 

Once you've tried this, you'll never go pay for one of those expensive ones again.  Turns out, ham is expensive enough already.  Right?


Ingredients:


1 can beer (not ale)
Bay leaf
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 (4-5 lbs.) fully-cooked, bone in, ham (butt end)

Glaze:

1/4 cup ham drippings
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey


Preheat oven to 325'F.

Place ham on rack in pan; pour beer over it.  Place other ingredients in bottom of pan. 

Cover tightly, and bake 3 hours, basting every half hour.

Now, make the glaze.  Drain all but 1/4 cup of drippings; add 1/2 cup brown sugar & 1/2 cup honey to the saved drippings.

Raise oven to 400'F.  Score ham, put cloves and pineapple, if desired. 

Bake, uncovered, for 1/2 hour, baste every ten minutes or until skin gets browned and crusty.


If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  -1 Corinthians 13:2

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Best Eye Round Roast


Easiest roast ever!


Long ago, and what seems like another life, I took a ceramic class.  Yes, I have the Christmas tree, the candy dishes, the Nativity, and all the other fun things that were so popular back in the 70's.  Oh my...did I just say "the 70's"?  

The class took place in our instructor's basement, and one day an unbelievable aroma came wafting down from her kitchen.  I had to know what she was making!   That's when she told me how she makes her roasts, and my family has loved this ever since.  (Granddaughter whispers "Yes, we do.")

There's really no set measurements, it's all to your taste and creativity.  All I can give you is the basic directions that she gave me.  Even if you add nothing to this, I promise, it will become one of your favorite meals. (Granddaughter again, "Yes, it will!")  She's Grammy's cheerleader!   Haha!


Ingredients:

1 (3-5 lb.) eye round roast
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 (10 oz.) can French Onion Soup

*Sprinkle eye round with granulated garlic and black pepper;  brown in skillet on medium high, on all sides. (Cover it, or it will splatter all over your nice clean stove.)  

Place roast in your slow cooker, set on low.

Pour soup into the pan and heat just enough to loosen all the goodness of the meat into the soup.  Then, pour over the roast in the slow cooker.  (If you're roasting it in the oven, it's 350'F. for about 2 hours.)

Cover and cook on low approx. 5 hours (well done) or your preference, rare, medium or well done. 

When done, take out and let it rest before cutting.  Use the juice as is, or strain into a pan and make a rich brown gravy.  

That's it!  Easiest roast I know to make with the greatest flavor ever!

*If you haven't got time for the first step, just place it in your slow cooker and season, then pour the French Onion Soup over it.  


Hints: 

-I've been known to add a little tomato sauce and red wine, a little rosemary or basil...maybe a bay leaf.  It's just so much fun to "play" with this recipe. 

-Or you can switch up the soup for Golden Mushroom, that's pretty awesome too. 

-Add veggies, like potatoes & carrots, yumminess! 

-Slice super thin, place on a sandwich roll, add melted cheese and use the juice for dipping, and have French Dip sandwiches.

I hope you'll try it soon, and make it your own!



"God never measures the Mind. He always puts His tape measure in the Heart."   -Corrie ten Boom


Monday, March 16, 2015

7-Up Biscuits

Just 4 ingredients and oh, so good!


Well, I'm always looking for some quick and easy recipes to share, and I've got to tell you, it just doesn't get any easier than these 7-Up Biscuits.  They are just awesome!

They're the lightest, fluffiest biscuits I've ever made, and the whole family loves when these make an appearance on the dinner table.  

You can even lighten them up with diet soda and light sour cream, if you'd like, and they'll still taste great!  I won't tell anyone either.  Hehe!

These are just too good not to share...or to try!  Make them for your family tonight, they'll be so glad you did!


Ingredients:

4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream,
1 cup 7-Up or Sprite
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 425'F.

Mix together, Bisquick, sour cream and 7-Up in large bowl.  Dough will be very soft, but don't worry.

Knead on a lightly floured surface, until just sticks together;  fold and pat dough out onto a floured board.  Cut biscuits with a round cookie cutter.  (If you don't have one, just use an inverted glass.)

Melt butter in bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish.  Place biscuits on top of melted butter,

Bake 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.



"He [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together." - Colossians 1:17

             

Peas with Garlic & Tomatoes

A quick and delicious side dish!


Simmering for a few minutes in the pan.

I guess everyone has a favorite little restaurant, you know the place.  When you walk in, they know your name, ask about the family, guide you right to your special little table in the corner.  Such a great feeling!

Anyway, Dave and I had that place when we lived in New Jersey.  It was a little Italian restaurant called "Two Brothers"...and yes, there were two brothers, Tony and Phil.  They treat us so wonderfully, and had the best pizza, pasta, calzones, cannoli...well, you get the picture!

One of my all-time favorite side dishes they made was peas with bits of garlic, and tomato sauce.  Totally yummy!   One day, while preparing it, I ran out of tomato sauce (yikes).  But, I did have a fresh tomato, so I used that.  We all really liked the way it lightened up the flavor, yet still kept the integrity of the original.  I still use both, but since I just made it again with the fresh tomato...here's that recipe.


Ingredients:

1 (10.8 oz.) pkg. of Birdseye Steamfresh Sweet Peas
1 tomato, skin peeled off (or a small amount of tomato sauce)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of basil and oregano

Microwave peas according to package directions, but no more than 4 minutes. 

Peel skin from tomato with a sharp knife; discard skin.  Chop remaining tomato into very small pieces.

Mince garlic; set aside.

Pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet, add the tomatoes and cook until just starting to soften.  Add minced garlic and cook together with tomatoes a few minutes.   Don't let the garlic turn brown or it will be bitter.

Add the peas and let simmer for a couple of minutes to blend flavors.  Now, you're ready to serve. 

Easy-peasy!


"He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." - Colossians 1:18

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Classic Yellow Cake

Like mom used to make!



I'm always looking for a good yellow cake.   It's got to be both moist and fluffy, with that great taste of "times gone by".   Then, topped with a wonderful chocolate fudge frosting...well, that just seems a bit like perfection to me. 

Just like my dad used!
This recipe is from an old McCall's cookbook from 1910 and it stands up to the test of time.  It fulfills all my expectations and satisfies a sense of longing for the "good ol' days" when my mom would bake all our birthday cakes from scratch. 

She baked a chocolate cake on the bottom, a yellow butter cake for the second layer, with her homemade vanilla cream pudding for the filling.  Then, my dad would decorate it with one of those little metal frosting tubes...he was so artistic.  They were truly beautiful cakes! 

So, when my husband came home from the hospital this week after extensive surgery, his first request was for an old-fashioned butter cake with fudge frosting...I was happy to oblige!   He really loved this one and so did my granddaughter and her hubby.  This is a definite "keeper"!


Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1  1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour two 8 inch x 2 inch baking pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Add butter, milk, and vanilla.  With a hand mixer, beat for  2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. 

Add eggs and beat for 2 minutes more.

Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally between the pans.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  (Mine only took 22 minutes, so check it early.)  Remove from oven.

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Frost with your favorite frosting.  (Ours is written below.)



"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
1/3 cup milk  (plus an additional few drops to make a nice consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan,  melt butter;  stir in cocoa. 


Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency.  Add more milk if needed. 

Stir in vanilla. 

Makes about 2 cups frosting.

This frosting tastes like fudge!  It's rich, easy to spread and will fill the inside and frost the outside very generously.


"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."  - Acts 4:12

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chicken Divan

Easiest casserole to make and simply delicious!



Our choir made a cookbook a few years ago, and it is filled with the most scrumptious recipes I've ever seen.  This Chicken Divan is one of them.  So simple to put together, that the hardest part of this is cutting up the chicken...seriously, it's that easy.   But don't let the simple ingredients fool you, it's one of the tastiest casseroles I've ever had.

It's delicious on it's own, but over rice or egg noodles, it's a great meal for the family.  Just add a salad and rolls and you've got a winner!

In fact, I made this tonight for my husband, who just had surgery and I knew he would enjoy this.  Especially after all that hospital food.  I was right, he ate every bit on his plate...it was a good call.  Hehe!

If you would like broccoli, in place of the beans, go for it!  I use the green beans because my husband can't eat broccoli.  But, I've got to tell you, they are delicious in this dish, so I don't miss the broccoli at all.




Ingredients:

6 cups chicken, cut up (I use 2 rotisserie chickens)
2 (10 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup (with or without herbs)
2 (14.5 oz.) cans cut green beans
1/4 cup milk
6 slices of Swiss Cheese
1 (6oz.) can French's Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 375'F.

In a large bowl, combine soup and milk, mix well; add chicken and cut green beans. 

Pour into prepared casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Place cheese over the top of the chicken mixture and then spread the onions over the cheese.

Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Serve with rice or egg noodles.



"The Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." - Deuteronomy 7:9