Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spanish Turkey-Black Bean Tacos

Yes, I know, your all tired of turkey. But for the life of me I just can't waste good turkey meat (or anything else for that matter). I was racking my brain yesterday trying to come up with just one more way to prepare the leftover turkey meat, and it hit me.....use my recipe for Spanish chicken, but substitute it for TURKEY! Genius...if I must say so myself.

And as soon as you get over this recipe, I'll have yet another use for the leftover Spanish turkey mixture from last night....(insert cheesy smile)!

Spanish Turkey-Black Bean Tacos

1 package Corn Tortilla

2-3 large Chicken Breasts (skinless & boneless)**I used the leftover Turkey meat & reduced the cooking time to 15 minutes.

1 can Black Beans

1 cup Cilantro

2 cups Cherry or small Tomatoes

3-4 cloves fresh garlic-Minced

1 yellow Onion-diced

2 teaspoons Spanish Smoked Paprika

1 Green Bell Pepper-diced

1 Serrano pepper-with half the seeds removed-minced

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Salt & pepper to taste

¼ cup Olive Oil

½ cup Corn or Vegetable oil

Begin by chopping veggies, & heating olive oil over stovetop. Add garlic and onions, and cook until golden brown. Add bell pepper, tomatoes and whole chicken breasts. Add salt, pepper, and paprika. Add stock, then cover & reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20 minutes, and then remove chicken and place on a cutting board. Slice or shred chicken into small pieces, then add back to pit & cook for an additional 5 minutes on low.

Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add three tortillas at a time to hot oil. Flip tortillas every minute or so, until golden brown, and edges have become crispy. Remove & place on paper towel to drain, & immediately fold each tortilla in half.

Heat beans & ¾ cup chopped cilantro, salt & pepper over stove top. Serve with tacos, chicken meat & top with remaining cilantro, sour cream or queso fresca.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wild Rice-Turkey Soup

Wild Rice-Turkey Soup

4 cups Broth from Turkey bones & turkey meat (Simmer on low for at least two hours)

2 cups chopped Celery

1 cup flat leaf Parsley

1 clove Garlic-minced

1 small Yellow Onion-diced

1 sprig Rosemary

Salt & Pepper

2 cups chopped Turkey meat

1 cup diced Carrots

1 cup Wild Rice blend-uncooked

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons Olive Oil


Over medium heat, heat olive oil & butter. Sauté garlic & onions till golden brown. Add rice & cook until fragrant. Add celery, carrots, parsley, and rosemary. Cook until tender. Add cooked veggies to stock. Add turkey meat & cook over low heat until tender. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

**Adapted from a By Sprinkle Bakes recipe 

Ginger-Pecan Crust:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup pecans (1.2 oz.)

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup cold butter

1 tablespoon cold water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in an 18 inch square of heavy duty aluminum.  

2. Place flour, sugar, salt, pecans and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the pecans are finely ground. Add cold butter and process until crumbs form. Add water and process in bursts until the dough starts to come together in clumps. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:

1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons Rum

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 lbs (20 oz, or 2 1/2 eight oz. bricks) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tbsp cornstarch

4 large eggs

1. In a medium bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon , ginger and salt. Set aside.

2. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low until creamy (approx. 2 mins). Gradually add sugars and beat until blended. Add pumpkin mixture and beat until blended. Add cornstarch and beat until just combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl as necessary.

3. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter onto the cooled crust. Place the aluminum-wrapped pan in a roasting pan or large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan. Bake 70-80 minutes, or until set and slightly wobbly. The cake will completely set as it cools.

Whipped Cream Topping

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1. In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until it begins to thicken slightly. Add in granulated sugar a little at a time.

2. Beat until stiff peaks form. Use to top cheesecake, or pipe in decorative swirls. You may also serve this on the side.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
**Adapted from a Brown Eyed Baker recipe
  • 1 cup of granulated Sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 cup Sour cream
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons Poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.
Rub the sugar with the lemon zest together in a bowl with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the lemon fragrance strong. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until well combined.
Beat the sour cream, lemon juice, eggs, vanilla extract, softened butter, and lemon sugar together in a bowl with a mixer until creamy and smooth. Slowly combine the flour mixture with the sour cream mixture. Add the poppy seeds and mix well.
Disperse the batter evenly between two loaf pans. Place into the oven and cook for approx. 20-25 minutes. Allow the pans to cool on a rack before slicing & serving. We topped ours with a simple glaze (recipe below) Enjoy.
Lemon Glaze
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups Confection sugar-Sifted
1 teaspoon rum or Vanilla
Mix ingredients together with a whisk. Drizzle over lemon-poppy seed cake once cooled.

Meyers Lemon-Buttermilk Chess Pie

Meyers Lemon-Buttermilk Chess Pie

For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 5-6 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the filling:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 medium lemon)


For the crust: Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add the butter and shortening and toss with your fingers until well coated in the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until reduced to pea-size pieces, about 3 to 4 minutes.

  1. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and the lemon juice and mix just until the dough comes together. (Add the last tablespoon of ice water if the dough is too dry, but don’t overwork the dough or it’ll become tough.) Form the dough into a flat disk. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a round approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough, fold the excess under itself, and crimp the edges. Refrigerate the pie crust until ready to bake.

For the filling: Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack at the lowest level. Place the dough-lined pie plate on a baking sheet.

  1. Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl to aerate and combine. Add the buttermilk, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the melted butter and lemon zest and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pie plate.
  2. Bake until the filling is just set in the middle and the top is golden brown, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place the pie on a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature before cutting. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Acorn Squash and Asiago-Béchamel Mac & Cheese

Acorn Squash and Asiago-Béchamel Mac & Cheese

  • ½ Acorn Squash-roasted & diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved, divided
  • ½ cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole Milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan
  • 1 cup Grated Asiago cheese
  • 1 & ½ cups grated white/yellow cheese blend
  • 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
  • 8 ounces medium shell pasta


  • Combine 5 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons butter, & 2 cups whole milk (for Béchamel). Mix will cheeses once cooked & thickened. 


  • Slice Acorn Squash into ½ inch slices. Coat with salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes. Roast for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool & cut into small bite sizes pieces.

  • Cook pasta shells according to directions on box, drain, rinse & set aside.
  • Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Mince garlic, and sauté over medium heat with butter. Add flour, making a roux. Add milk, & mix consistently, until all lumps are gone, and roux is silky and smooth. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken. Turn off heat & add Asiago, Mozzarella, & ½ cup cheese blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter large baking dish. Spoon pasta into dish. Stir sauce, remaining cheese & squash into pasta. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
  • Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes.

    Cranberry-Apple Herbed Stuffing

    Cranberry-Apple Herbed Stuffing

    1 large loaf French or other white bread
    1 yellow Onion-diced
    1 cup fresh flat leaf Parsley-Minced
    2 ½ cups Celery-Chopped
    2 large Garlic cloves-peeled (for stock)
    2 fresh Garlic cloves-minced (for stuffing)
    3-4 sprigs fresh Rosemary
    1/8 cup fresh Sage-chopped
    2-3 large sprigs Thyme
    3 tablespoons Butter for sautéing veggies
    3 tablespoons Butter for topping stuffing
    1 quart Chicken or Vegetable stock
    ½ cup golden Raisins
    1 red Apple-peeled & chopped into small pieces
    1 cup dried Cranberries
    ¼ cup Olive Oil
    1/8 cup green Peppercorns
    Salt & Pepper to taste


    **Make ahead of time:
    Cut French bread loaf (large) into large bite sized pieces. Toast at 275 degrees in oven after drizzling with olive oil. Remove once golden brown & crispy. Cool & store in large zip lock bags.

    Chop all herbs. Place peppercorns, herbs, whole peeled garlic, cranberries and raisins into chicken stock over stop top & simmer on medium low heat for about 30 minutes. Season. Set aside.

    Over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter& 1/4 cup olive oil. Sauté onions and garlic until golden brown. Add parsley, celery, and apples. Cook until tender, season.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a large, deep baking dish. In a large bowl, combine bread and veggies. Gradually add chicken stock, mixing well, until all ingredients and well combined, and bread is damp, but not soggy. Place into baking dish. Pour remaining stock over stuffing, and drizzle remaining melted butter over stuffing. Cover & bake for about 45 minutes.

    Banana Bread

    Banana Bread

    2 & ¼ cup flour

    1 & ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    1 & ¼ teaspoon baking powder

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    1 tablespoon vanilla

    ½ bag crushed walnuts or pecans

    1 cup brown sugar

    1 cup white sugar

    2 eggs

    2 sticks real butter softened

    6-7 ripe bananas

    **Combine all dry ingredients into a medium bowl-set aside. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time, beat. Mix all wet and dry ingredients together and blend in bananas.

    Grease 2 large loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes.

    Thanksgiving 2011

    This year’s Thanksgiving holidays were awesome as usual. Family, friends, vacation, activities. We literally stayed busy every minute of the entire week, including fitting in baking for the troops, pre-baking for Thanksgiving, & doing activities with the kids. Now that it is all over, I realize I haven’t blogged anything for over an entire week. Darn. Well, although these recipes will not help you now, I am documenting for next year (less work next holiday season)…so that you might be able to use them for your own holiday feast! Enjoy.

    Here’s what I made:

    Cranberry-Apple Herbed Stuffing

    Cheese Potatoes

    Squash & Asiago Béchamel Mac & Cheese

    Meyers Lemon-Chess Pie

    Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

    Pumpkin Pie

    Chocolate Chip-Banana Bread

    Pumpkin Spice Bread

    Banana Bread

    Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

    Recipes & photos to follow………………

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread

    This was one of the breads we made for "Baking for the Troops" last weekend...enjoy!

    Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread

    2 & ¼ cups flour

    1 & ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    1 & ¼ teaspoon baking powder

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    1 tablespoon vanilla

    ½ a bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

    ¾ cup brown sugar

    ¾ cup white sugar

    2 eggs

    2 sticks real butter softened

    6-7 ripe bananas

    **Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, mix well & set aside. In a large mixer, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beat. Mix all wet and dry ingredients together and blend in bananas. Add in chocolate chips last.  

    Grease 2 large loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes.

    Baking for the Troops...with Duncan Hines & Foodbuzz

    Being an Air Force wife, there are many opportunities for us to volunteer and help make a difference. Since being married to my husband and getting to know the military better, it has given me a renewed appreciation for what they do, and the sacrifices they make.

    As part of a Foodbuzz Tastemakers program with Duncan Hines, we were provided an array of coupons to purchase free Duncan Hines products. We used some of the easy to use mixes, combined with a few other ingredients, to make a variety of different flavored breads. My daughter and I spent the day Sunday baking the breads, which will be mailed to soldiers stationed overseas and domestically, in an effort to brighten the holidays. This is especially nice for some of the enlisted soldiers who may not have the funds to go home for Thanksgiving this year. Many other military wives and families participate annually in these types of efforts. This is just a small way we can say thanks for what they all do each day to keep us safe and protected. They make a difference in our lives, and this is a small way we can make one in theirs.

    We made Banana Bread, Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake, Pumpkin-Spice bread, & Banana-Chocolate Chip bread!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Basil Forever

    I know all of us that live in cold climates have all gone to the grocery store sometime during the winter and wished they had fresh Basil to cook least I know I have more times than I can count. I found a good solution to get me through at least the first couple of months. Basil infused Olive oil...Hello!

    I start with a big bunch of basil, washed & patted dry. I then julienne the basil & place it about half way up in a large glass jar. Then I fill it up about 3/4 full, and then add the remaining chopped basil, then fill the jar the rest of the way. Shake it up.....close it tightly, store in the fridge till your ready to use it & your good to GO!!

    Olive oil is a natural suspension, which allows the basil to stay fresh and not to spoil. As the basil infuses into the olive oil, the olive oil will naturally take on a greener hue, and become cloudy because because its being stored at a lower temperature. When your ready to use it, just scoop out what you need and use as your normally would. As the oil reaches room or a higher temperature, it regains its clarity. ENJOY!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Strawberry-Cheesecake Ice Cream

    Strawberry-Cheesecake Ice Cream

    2 cups whole Cream

    1 cup milk

    1 & 1/2 cups Sugar

    1 & ½ pounds fresh Strawberries-Diced

    1 cup water

    1 cup Cream cheese

    3 tablespoons pure Vanilla
    Mix cream, cream cheese, vanilla and milk together, whisk and chill overnight. On stovetop place sugar, 1 cup water and strawberries in a pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove & store overnight in a plastic container in the fridge.  

    The next day, strain the strawberries from the juice, and add the juice to the milk/cream base, stirring well. Process in ice cream maker ½ at a time, according to ice cream maker directions. In the last five minutes, add half of the fruit to the ice cream slowly so that it is incorporated into the entire batch. Repeat with the remaining half of the ice cream base and fruit. **Makes about 3 quarts of ice cream.

    **I typically make the ice cream base the day before, chill overnight, and freeze the ice cream ring in the freezer overnight, so they are ready to go the next day.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Ginger-Peach Sangria

    Ginger-Peach Sangria

    **Inspired by a Food52 Recipe

    1 -28 oz. can halved Peaches (or 3-4 fresh peaches blanched, peeled, pit & skins removed)

    2 large pieces (about 1 cup when julienned) of fresh Ginger-peeled & sliced

    1 cup sugar for Simple Syrup

    1 -12 ounce bottle Triple Sec-chilled

    8 ounces of Brandy-chilled

    2 bottles of white wine-chilled

    1/2 cup Peach Schnapps

    1 cup water (for simple syrup)

    Begin by peeling and slicing ginger. Add ginger to a medium sized pot, sugar, and one cup water to make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmering for an additional 20 minutes. Add peaches (and syrup), simple syrup, cooked ginger, Schnapps, triple Sec, and Brandy to a large plastic container or pitcher. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to serve mix with wine, in chilled glasses.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Spicy Lamb and Red Lentil Soup

    Spicy Lamb and Red Lentil Soup

    1 cup Red Lentils

    ½ lb. ground Lamb

    2-3 Celery stalks-diced

    3 cloves fresh Garlic-minced

    ½ yellow Onion-diced

    2-3 green onions-sliced

    2 teaspoons Turmeric

    1 tablespoon ground Cumin

    1 can Hot Rotel

    1 large can diced Tomatoes

    2 cups chicken or veggie stock

    ¼ teaspoon green whole peppercorns

    1 teaspoon chicken stock concentrate (or you can use a bouillon cube)

    Salt & Pepper to taste

    Olive oil


    Begin by browning onions, garlic, green onions, and olive oil. Add lamb, and brown. Add celery & cook for about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, cover & reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender, stirring frequently. Serve with bread, or over white rice.

    Pasta Alla Norma (Eggplant)

    Pasta Alla Norma (Eggplant)

    1 can 28 oz. whole peeled tomatoes (blend till smooth in blender)

    3-4 medium cloves garlic chopped finely

    ¼ cup Olive oil

    ¼ cup fresh basil chopped

    ½ of a yellow onion –diced

    ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

    1 medium sized Purple variety Eggplant (about 2 ½ cups once diced)

    1 cup Ricotta Salata (or you can also use Parmesan)

    Red chili pepper flakes (optional)

    Salt & Pepper to taste

    1 teaspoon Nature’s Seasoning

    1 pound Rigatoni pasta

    In a large pot, bring pasta water to a boil, add salt & a little olive oil. Once boiling, add pasta & cook according to directions. Once cooked, drain water & top with sauce, and ricotta or parmesan, stirring well. Serve immediately.

    Brown onions & garlic in olive oil, add basil & flat leaf parsley, and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add diced eggplant & sauté over medium heat until fragrant. Add blended tomatoes. Stir and reduce heat. Cover, stirring frequently. Add seasoning (salt & pepper). Cook down, adding ¼ cup water if needed after reducing heat. Simmer on low for about 1 hour.

     **I always have a few containers of my marinara sauce frozen so I just defrosted one & added this which reduces the cooking time by over half).

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Dark Rum Chocolate Cake Balls

    Dark Rum Chocolate Cake Balls

    (Can also be used to make cake pops)

    Cake Balls:

    1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge cake Mix

    (any ingredients called for by cake mix directions)

    ½ cup Dark Rum or Kahlua (I used Kahlua last time & it was great) which you will substitute for ½ cup of the water called for in the cake mix

    1 teaspoon pure Vanilla

    Icing (use the recipe below or you can always use 1 cup pre-made, but honestly the one below will make your cake balls much better).


    4 oz. cream cheese, softened
    4 oz. Mascarpone cheese at room temperature

    1/3 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    ¼ cup Honey

    1 tablespoon dark Rum


    1 large package chocolate Almond Bark-Melted (I also used a vanilla flavored candy coating for the white cake balls, which can be colored with Wilton’s gel edible food coloring for variety).

    Any other sprinkles or decorations you would like to add.


    Preheat oven as directed. Follow cake directions on the back of your box, but reduce water & add additional ingredients. Bake cake according to directions. Remove & cool on a large rack. Once cooled, remove cake and crumble into fine crumbs in a large mixing bowl, removing any crispy or hard edges.

    In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, mascarpone, cream cheese, confection sugar, and honey together. Once combined, add rum. Set aside 1 cup. The remaining icing can be refrigerated and used at a later date. Add icing to cake crumbs, mixing well, until the entire cup of icing has been absorbed by cake. Set into freezer to chill for at least 20 minutes.

    Remove and measure out equal scoops of cake mix to obtain uniform measurements for cake balls. Once all of your cake balls are measured, roll and form into smooth balls, and set onto parchment paper, and allow to chill in the freezer while you melt your candy coating or Almond bark. Remove cake balls from freezer, and dip into candy coating. I found that setting each cake ball into the coating, then scooping in onto a fork while the excess coating drips off, then pushing it carefully into the parchment paper with a skewer stick cut in half, was the best technique. Add any sprinkles or decoration now so that it will set. I stored the cake balls in Tupperware overnight, but they are good at room temperature, covered for up to 2 days. Enjoy!

    Hand Piped Candy Designs-Part 2

    I hand drew these designs with a style similar to the fleur de lis, and then piped melted colored almond bark (Vanilla) into a disposable icing bag, with a Wilton tip #7 onto the design covered with Parchment paper. Because I piped over the design I was able to repeat it multiple times by just adding a new piece of parchment paper.

    As soon as I finished the piping, I sprinkled it with Wiltons edible glitter, and transferred the sheet to a large rounded coffee can. Try to find something that has the same circumference as your cake, otherwise it will dry into a shape, and will start to break when you attach it to your cake.

    Mine wasn't perfect, and did break in some places, but since I had just iced my cake which was setting in the fridge, I was able to fix it, and reconnect the pieces by pressing them back into the icing.

    Chill the designs in the freezer for about 2-3 minutes, then gently remove from your parchment paper & press into your cake. These can be done in any color or style.

    14 Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache & Hand Piped Candy Designs-Part 1

    14-Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache and hand piped Candy Designs-Part 1

    You will need: 14 aluminum 8x5 disposable pans, parchment paper, & cake cardboard round, and a rack (to place cake on while icing).

    Cake Ingredients:

    4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

    2 1/2 cups sugar

    6 large eggs, at room temperature

    3 cups milk

    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Ganache Filling:

    2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up

    1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

    1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

    2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

    ¼ cup dark Rum-for brushing onto layers

    Directions for Ganache:

    To make the ganache, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable. Before icing each layer with ganache, brush lightly with dark rum, then cover with ganache, taking care to cover the edges of the cake. Once the entire cake is covered in ganache, chill & set in fridge for 30 minutes, while you make your spreadable icing.

    Chocolate Ganache Spreadable Frosting:
    1 large 24 oz. semi-sweet Hershey’s chocolate chips

    1 cup heavy cream

    1 tablespoon vanilla or dark rum

    Directions for Ganache Spreadable Icing:

    In a medium saucepan, heat cream to 110 degrees. Pour over chocolate chips in a glass bowl, mixing slowly. Do not whisk or beat. This can cause the fat to separate from the chocolate. Once completely melted and combined, add the vanilla or rum. Spread over cake with an icing knife once it cools to the desired consistency.   

    Cake Directions:

    Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°. Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Flour the pans and tap out the excess.
    To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.

    Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Using a scant cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.

    Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Wash and prepare the pans. Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled.

    Place a layer of cake on a wire rack set over a jelly-roll pan. Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Let stand until the glaze sets. (The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)

    Then, I cut 14 sheets of parchment paper, stapled them together and cut out circles the same size as the bottom of the pan. I decided to err on the side of caution with greasing the pans, because fourteen stuck cakes would make me very unhappy. So, I greased the bottom and sides with a stick of butter. Then, I laid the parchment circles down and lightly buttered and floured the top of the parchment paper. While those are waiting, I mixed up all the ingredients for the cake batter - the HUGE amount of cake batter. Then I placed a heaping 2/3 cup full of batter in each pan.

    Then, just spread it out as evenly as possible. I was able to bake three cakes at a time. Each set baked for 12 minutes at 350 degrees, (the recipe says 375, but I went with 350). So that means there were five sets at 12 minutes each. (About an hour to bake. Not too bad.) When the last batch of cakes go in the oven, it’s a good time to start making the icing. Then, after the icing cools and before it hardens, you can start spreading a little bit on the top of each layer of cooled cake. Before you start… place the cake on a cake board. Place the board on a wire rack. And place the wire rack over a jelly roll pan to catch any icing that drips. When you’re done with the last layer, pour any extra icing over the top and spread it around the sides to cover. Then ice with the second ganache recipe, using a spreadable icing knife. Decorate as desired, or see my recipe to follow for hand-piped candy designs.

    -My cake at auction!

    Inspired by  & some directional information by Bakerella.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Chicken Venetian

    Chicken Venetian

    *Adapted from a Chef Dennis recipe


    ·         4-6 boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken breasts (depending upon size) **the ones I had were enormous, so I only used 3, and cut them in half prior to serving.

    ·         2 cups Ricotta cheese

    ·         1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

    ·         1 large egg (for Ricotta mixture)

    ·         6 ounces baby spinach cooked and drained

    ·         1 small clove fresh garlic-minced

    ·         ¼ cup chopped fresh Basil in Olive oil

    ·         1 tablespoon Natures Seasoning (or another all-purpose seasoning)

    ·         2 cups bread crumbs

    ·         2 eggs (for milk)

    ·         1/2 cup milk (to mix with egg)

    ·         1 cup flour seasoned with black pepper and salt to taste

    ·         1/4 cup olive oil (for pan frying chicken breasts)


    1.       Place pieces of chicken individually in a large zip lock bag to keep it from coming apart. Pound chicken breasts with meat hammer until almost double in size.

    2.       Mix ricotta, Romano cheese, spices, basil, egg and drained spinach together to make stuffing for chicken.

    3.       Place about 1/2 cup of the stuffing mix in the center of the chicken breast and form a small oval shape while closing in around the stuffing. Continue until all the breasts are stuffed. Wrap each chicken breast with plastic wrap tightly to help them set. Place stuffed chicken in refrigerator for 30 minutes to help them set up.

    4.       Prepare a breading station of flour seasoned with salt and pepper, egg wash (milk & egg), and seasoned bread crumbs. After 30 minutes dredge stuffed chicken in flour, using this time to make sure its sealed well, then the egg wash and finally the bread crumbs, making sure the entire breast is coated.

    5.       In a hot saute pan add a little olive oil, and with the seam side down first, and saute each stuffed breast on both sides until they are golden brown. Place onto greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    I served my chicken over fresh Penne pasta with a light Basil-cream sauce I mixed up. These are very versatile and could be paired with virtually any type of pasta.