Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fool's! Rainbow Cake for Perrie's Birthday

When my sister was visiting last month, she spied my March issue of Parenting Magazine on the coffee table & started leafing through it. She honed in on the Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cupcakes design  & said, "I want you to make this for me for my birthday!" But I wanted to make it even better. I wanted it flavorful. No box mix for her, well, no box mix ever comes out of my kitchen. So I decided to make a "Rainbow" Velvet Cake for Perrie- That meant cocoa cake with cream cheese frosting. YUM.  I will create another post with that recipe (promise)- But for tonight- I created a tester cake out of my win-win Yellow Cake recipe (PS- I used skim milk to make the batter more "pourable" & manageable), with vanilla, whipped cream clouds & RAINBOW SPRINKLES!!! Yum.
Colorful Goodness!!!

And? I wanted her to have an actual rainbow on her birthday via a Rainbow Bundt Cake... Cut into the cake- & SURPRISE! April Fool baby that she is, I thought this was a perfect idea.  The slices would each look like rainbows. Add the fluffy, white frosting... Cloud 9!
Rainbow of vanilla flavor ;)
Red, Yellow, Green, Blue & Purple!
AND you can see why I tested- now I know how to place the colors for the real cake :)
 The perfect cake for Perrie to celebrate:
"""THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF [her] 24th BIRTHDAY!""" 
Yep, that is the theme to her Foolish party ;) Love, love, love it. 
Cake, after un-bundt-panned

Here we are as kids- me, 8?, She, 4?

Happy birthday to the best sister ever.

Almost, the End. Almost...

It wouldn't be April Fool's without a Rubber Chicken!

*Lishie tip- if you have batter bowls like these, they are the best to use for the color mixing & pouring!
The End.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic

It's well known how much I love seasonal, fresh veg & these asparagus were gorgeous peeking at me in the produce aisle!

Green Goodness!

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic

  • 1 lb. Asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1-2 TBSp Balsamic Vinegar (to taste)

Place the asparagus in a baking dish. Sprinkle the olive oil, S & P over it & toss to coat. Roast at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle with the balsamic before serving. 

The asparagus is stays a gorgeous green & still has a bite to it. It's absolutely delish as a salad, side or snack!

Yep- that IS an asparagus plate :) Shows I really love my veggies.

Chai Ice Cream

I love, love, love chai... I have it nearly every day. It makes me happy! So when I saw that Starbucks sells it's Chai concentrate to take away, I Unlike most "make it at home" yourself things from restaurants, it actually tastes like the chai you order at Starbucks, which is amazing to me. 

I love it so, I incorporated it into an ice cream, thanks for the idea Ashley V! :) :

First, little bowlful, before it completely froze

Chai Ice Cream
Whisk together the sugar & the milk until the sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Add the heavy cream & chai concentrate until blended, another minute. Poor into the ice cream maker. 

It is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo delish! YUM

*Lishie tip/fact- "Chai" means tea... so never say "Chai tea". :)
Also, you can you can use your own favorite chai- make sure it's COLD & the same measurement!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Penne with Arugula in Tomato-Cream Sauce

Tonight I revisited a favorite of ours- adapted from Penne with Arugula in a Tomato-Cream Sauce by Mary Beth Clark. Mary Beth is a friend of my hubby's & mine, a great chef & she has her own (International) Cooking School in Italy as well as her own cookbook: "Casual Cuisines of the World - Trattoria" in which this recipe is featured. 

Creamy/tomato-y goodness!

I tweak the recipe, as always, to my family's sensibilities. Here's my take:

Penne with Arugula in Tomato-Cream Sauce

  • 1 TBSp Olive Oil
  • 3 oz. Pancetta, thinly sliced & chopped
  • 1 (14 oz. can) Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz. Baby Arugula, chopped
  • S & P
  • 1 lb. Penne

Boil the water for the penne on a separate burner. While the water's boiling...

In a small sauce pan on medium-high heat, saute the pancetta. When slightly browned & crisp, add the diced tomatoes. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cream, blending it. Simmer another minute, then add the arugula. Simmer until the arugula wilts then season with S & P. 

When the pasta water is boiling, add the penne & cook till al dente. Drain the pasta. Serve the penne topped with the sauce. 

This is sooooo delicious... 
*Lishie tips- Adjust the cream to your desired taste! 
Now read Mary Beth's tips here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

I crave fresh veggies & it shows when I go food shopping because I buy so much! Beautiful, fresh, in season produce makes me happy! This week I also happened to pick up a large packaged chunk of pancetta for a recipe I haven't made in a while so I thought, hmmmm pancetta & brussels sprouts would be delish tonight with some simple herbed, baked chicken.  I love the beauty & brightness of fresh veg. And I love the bite to it!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

  • 2-3 TBSp olive oil
  • 3 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced & chopped
  • 1 lb. brussel spouts, each halved
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • S & P

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium. add the pancetta & saute until the meat gets slightly browned & crisped, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes (2-3). Add the brussels sprouts & saute until browned, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the lemon over the sprouts & salt & pepper, to taste. Serve! 

fresh, green goodness!
*Lishie tip- If you prefer your brussels sprout with less "bite", steam them a little beforehand to soften them. You can substitute bacon for pancetta but it will be greasier!

*Lishie fact- Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage family.

Mini Banana Bread Loaves

Mmmmm smell the fresh-baked goodness?

My sweet friend Rose has been supplying me with Dale & Thomas White & Milk Chocolate Pretzels (they are utterly delicious, yum).She is so nice, I wanted to bake her something as a thank you. Asked her favorite, she replied, "Banana Bread!"

I like to change things up when I bake the same or similar items frequently so I have a HUGE assortment of baking pans in different shapes, sizes, etc. I love my kitchen ware- all of it- so much. Well, I decided to make mini loaves of Banana Bread for my friend.

I used the same recipe as here, reducing the baking time to 30 minutes. Hope Rose enjoys them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recipe Swap: Crock-Pot Asian Beef & Noodles

I am absolutely loving this recipe swap! It's really exciting to see what recipe I'll get & from which friend! This week's theme was "Asian" & I got my friend Lauren's (over at Lauren's KitchenCrock-Pot Asian Beef & Noodles recipe! I made some changes in the recipe to better serve my family's needs as I've blogged below.  Lauren's recipe has a much easier & faster prep time than mine but both are tasty! I took her advice on the saltiness completely to heart & tweaked a lot of ingredients. I like to choose what vegetables go into my stir fries & we're not big fans of frozen veg, so I changed the frozen up for fresh. Another big difference is with the Ramen noodles. Delicious as they may be, they have way too much sodium for us so I substituted with fresh, Chinese noodles (found by the wonton wrappers in your grocery store).

Oh! & I only have a 6 Quart Crock-Pot:
My hubby thought the veg looked so "pretty" in there- he said to take a pic!
Fresh, goodness! The "before" shot ;)

Crock-Pot Asian Beef & Noodles (Adapted from Lauren's Kitchen)

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 head of Broccoli
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2 red Peppers, chopped into large chunks
  • 8 oz. package of snow peas
  • 1/4 cup button Mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 lbs. Stir fry Beef/Beef Round
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • Zest & Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 12 oz. Water
  • 2 TBSp. Corn Starch
  • 9 oz. package Chinese Noodles
  • 1/4 cup Scallions, chopped

Spray Your Crock-Pot with cooking spray. Place the first five ingredients (all Veg.) in the bottom of the cooker & lay the beef on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice & zest, & water. Dissolve the corn starch into the liquid. Pour the mixture over the beef & veg.

Cover & cook for 5 hours on high or 9 hours on low.

10-15 minutes before cooking time finishes, carefully incorporate the Chinese noodles & scallions into the crock-pot & cover again. Allow to finish cooking.

Not-so-pretty (it blinked!) but it was tasty
The beef was so tender & flavorful from the crock-pot cooking! But, I have to say, it's doubtful I'll make it again soon. The negatives for our family? The veg was too mushy & it's color was "stewed" out. Now this may be my fault for subbing fresh in for frozen! But we love fresh veg with "bite" to them. If I were to make it again, I'd tweak it so that I'd slow cook the beef in 3/4 of the sauce then add the different vegetables at varying times which, in effect, defeats the purpose of a crock-pot meal! LOL Also, I'd use the scallions as garnish instead of placing them in the pot. Still, the meat & the noodles were delicious with the sauce & I was happy to try something new- me, cooking/eating-wise & the family, taste-wise.

Thank you, Lauren!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Key Lime Pie made by a Floridian

Yellow-y goodness, like the Florida sun & sunshine!
So Floridian that I am, I do not like key lime pie. It's too acidic for me. But, my hubby does so I make it for him. You can not get more authentic than Nellie & Joe's Recipes from the Keys... & I use their recipe & their key lime juice. It's simple & it makes my hubby happy!
Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Pie
9" graham cracker pie crust
14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk3 egg yolks (whites not used)½ cup Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime JuiceC

Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350º for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream, or meringue, and garnish with lime slices. 

I substitute a Nilla pie crust, because, again, hubby likes it that way.

*Lishie tip- Save the egg whites for an egg white omelette!
Key Lime Pie to go!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pear Muffins!

I felt like baking tonight since we had pizza (cheese for Lent) with my in-laws & it's the weekend! Woohoo! The bananas are still not ripe enough to bake with (I owe a special someone a banana bread very soon!) Gabriel loves pears & doesn't like sweets so I thought, hmmmmmmmm... I know the perfect thing for my baby:

Yummy, home-baked pear goodness

Pear Muffins
Yields 2 & 1/2 dozen 

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup butter, pieced, cold
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce*
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1 pear- ripe, skinned, cored & diced into small pieces (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together/combine the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Add the chopped, cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the flour is lumpy/grainy.

Fold the eggs, apple sauce, milk & pears into the dry mixture. 

Scoop (I use a medium-sized ice cream scoop) batter into each paper-lined tin (about 2/3 full) . Bake approximately 15-20 minutes, until the tops are slightly golden & a toothpick inserted into the middle of one muffin comes out clean & dry.

Remove from oven & let cool 10 minutes before taking out of the muffin tins... Then allow to cool further on a wire wrack.

Cool muffins
*Lishie tips- If you do not have a pastry blender, no fears! Just use a fork. Most recipes will tell you to use two knives instead but one fork is enough & way easier!

Make sure the butter & milk are cold & the pear is ripe... Also, you can substitute either plain yogurt or sour cream for the apple sauce. Additions (insert in the recipe at the same time as the pear) can be: 1/4 cup nuts (walnuts) or 1/4 cup raisins, even craisins or dried cranberries! And for the pear, you can switch it out with apple... Of course you'd have to call them "Apple Muffins" then! LOL

BTW- Do YOU know the Muffin Man? (Caution- music! :) )

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baked Ziti with quick meat sauce & Roasted Broccoli

I prepped a quick dish for tonight, last night. I love these dinners just as much as crock-pot ones because I know I can come home, chuck it in the oven & play with my toddler. So here's my easy meat sauce which I used in a baked ziti. I prepped it all last night, with leftover sauce, then wrapped it & refrigerated.

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce:

  •  olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • S & P
  • 1 TBSp. fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 pound ground beef (I use Angus)
  • 3 cups sauce

On medium-high, heat the olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the onion & stir... sweat the onion (until it is translucent). Add the garlic, S & P, basil... stir for another minute... add the ground beef. Cook it out until the beef is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Then drain the liquid from the beef in a colander & add the cooked meat back into the pan... Add the sauce, stirring to combine with the beef... Heat through.

Baked Ziti:

  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) ziti or ziti rigati
  • 3+ cups Meat Sauce (above)
  • 15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh Basil, chiffonade
  • S & P
  • 2 TBSp grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13x9" baking pan.

Cook pasta very al dente ("to the tooth", firm but not hard. it still has more time to cook in the oven!). Drain. In a large bowl, mix in a tiny bit of the sauce & set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together remaining sauce, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella, basil (save some herb strips as toppers), S & P. Fold the sauce mixture completely into the pasta.

Poor into the greased baking pan. Top with remaining cup of shredded mozzarella, parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly & browned. 

Serve topped with some fresh basil. 

Meaty/Cheesy goodness!

When I came home, I was also craving something green, so I made roasted broccoli. I have to thank Tales from the Mad Men Kitchen for that one again! YUM.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Well I thought I knew what the difference between stromboli & calzone was but I didn't. I thought it was obvious; it wasn't. Calzone had solely cheeses (mainly ricotta & mozzarella) & NO sauce, whereas stromboli could have anything in it, including sauce, right? Nope, that is not the thing that distinguishes the two. Apparently, the main difference is in the SHAPE. A stromboli is a considered a turnover whereas a calzone is an Italian "stocking" or "trouser". I was scared when I read this because I am notsogood with the dough, hence why I don't make my own! Whatever, they never have to look great when they are home made, juse TASTE great, right?! Anywhichway, they were PLEN-TY TAS-TY so here's my take on two kinds of Boli:

  • 1/2 eggplant *(see below) 
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • AP Flour (enough to sprinkle to roll out the dough)
  • 1 bag of Pizzeria Dough 
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese 
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 meatballs
  • 1/4 cup leftover sauce
  • S & P
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Spray a baking pan with olive oil spray. Prepare the eggplant first. Slice the half of eggplant horizontally into round pieces & place the pieces on the pan. Brush the top sides of the pieces lightly with olive oil  & then sprinkle some bread crumbs on them. Finish off by grating parmesan cheese on top of each eggplant slice. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. 

While waiting for the eggplant, prep the dough. Sprinkle out some flour on the counter or pastry board & spread out the dough with a rolling pin. Work it out into a large rectangle. Then slice this dough in half with a pizza cutter or pastry cutter.

Delineate a half of one of the halves :) In other words, take one of the rolled out squares & find it's center. 
In one, the "eggplant boli" I placed: 
1) eggplant (5 pieces) 
2) chopped pieces of meatball (3 TBSp) 
3) ricotta cheese (3 TBsp)
4) mozzarella (2 TBsp) then topped with 
5) sauce (3 TBsp)

In the other, the "meatball boli" I placed:

2) chopped pieces of meatball (2 whole meatballs) 
3) ricotta cheese (3 TBsp)
4) mozzarella (2 TBsp) then topped with 
5) sauce (3 TBsp).

Then comes the wrapping up or turning over of the stromboli. Take one, with it's mixings placed. Pull the dough over the fixings to blanket them length-wise. Roll it a little to seal. Tuck/fold the two outer, smaller edges. Repeat with the second stromboli.

Place the 2 on a sprayed or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Poke some holes in the top to release steam while cooking. Then brush some olive oil on top of each & finish by grating some parmesan cheese onto the oiled stromboli.
EGGPLANT BOLI: Pocket-full of eggplant/meatball/cheesy goodness!

MEATBALL BOLI: Ooozing with cheesy-meatball goodness!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Basic Chicken Cutlet

Chicken Cutlets

  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • S & P
  • 4 TBSp. Olive Oil

Crisp, breaded goodness
Prepare a "mis en place", a French fancy term for "set up".
In three shallow bowls, place:

  1. flour
  2. egg, whisked
  3. bread crumbs + parmesan cheese + S & P, all mixed

On a poultry-only cutting board, place one chicken cutlet. Taking your knife horizontally to the board, carefully slice the chicken cutlet in half, length-wise so that you have 2 thin, uncooked chicken cutlets. Repeat with the second cutlet so you'll end with four, thin cutlets.

Next, in a saute pan on medium-high, heat 2 TBSp olive oil.

>>>Dredge (I use tongs) one thinned cutlet on both sides in the flour, shaking off the excess, then in the egg, shaking off the excess, & finally, in the bread crumb mixture, again, shaking off the excess. Place it in the saute pan. Repeat with a second, thinned cutlet. Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side or less if the edges start turning golden, then flip onto the other side with tongs. Cook for about another 3-4 minutes. Take out the first two cutlets & place on a paper-towel covered dish.^^^

Add 2 more TBSp olive oil to the saute pan. Repeat above^^^

These are delicious alone or as the base of chicken parmigiana... in a sandwich, etc.

*Lishie tip- Use the same method for chicken tenders or nuggets.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mama Lishie's Meatballs!

I love making my meatballs & I love serving them to company even more. And it's not just meatballs, the sauce & pasta play as background for the juicy, large, round packages of yumminess. I always make them the same way- a bit of frying then simmering for hours in my homemade sauce. I suspect I learned this method from my Italian step-grandmother. Although she always made her sauce from fresh-picked-from-her-Florida-garden tomatoes. I use either a large stock-pot or my 6-Quart, stove-top safe, Crock-pot. So my sauce & meatballs go hand in hand. I suppose you could finish up the meatballs in the oven but why on earth would you want to when you could have the meatball-flavored sauce too?!?!

So my meatball recipe begins with the sauce...

  • 2 TBSp Olive Oil*
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • S & P
  • 1 bay leaf (be sure to remove at the end of cooking/simmering)
  • **87 oz. tomato sauce (3 large cans)
  • 1 TBSp sugar

Heat olive oil on medium & add the onions. Saute until they are translucent but not browned. Add in the garlic for a moment, stir. Incorporate the tomato paste into the onion garlic mixture & cook for another minute. Add in the basil & oregano, stir. Change the burner heat to low. Add in the bay leaf & tomato sauce... Stir in the sugar. Allow sauce to simmer on low while you prep the meatballs...

  • 1- 1 & 1/2 lbs. ground beef (80%)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove minced garlic (I microplane it)
  • 2 TBSp fresh Parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil or 1 TBSp fresh basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup AP Flour
  • 2-3 TBSp olive oil *see tips

Place the ground beef in a large bowl. add the next 6 ingredients onto the top of the beef, ending with the egg. Using your hands, gently fold all of the ingredients into the beef, combining them but not overly mixing them. Shape into 8 good sized round mounds.

In a saute pan, heat the oil on medium-high.

On a separate plate, place the flour for dipping. Using tongs, dip each meatball into the flour, gently tapping off the excess (flour). Place into the heated pan, 4 meatballs only in the pan at a time. Now watch the meatballs carefully- do not let them brown too much or burn... roll each around to make sure they equally brown on all sides. This technique "seals" the meatballs together, keeps them intact once they hit the sauce & allows for a delicious, juicy interior!

After the first 4 meatballs are "sealed", add them into the simmering sauce, covering them in it. Then repeat with the last 4 meatballs. Once all 8 meatballs are in the sauce simmering away, stir. Then allow your sauce to simmer for a minimum of 3 hours!!! Stirring every 15 minutes if the stock pan is on the stove. If in the crock-pot, leave be & stir at the very end. I allowed this evening's to simmer for 8 hours.

What they should look like "sealed".
Now that's a meatball!
Saucy, meatball-y goodness!
These meatballs (& sauce) are so very worth the time & effort- they are delicious. And do I really have to say it?! OK, I will... Serve with your favorite pasta :) Or as a Meatball Sub. YUM.

We chose yummy large shells tonight!

*Lishie tip- **87 oz. tomato sauce (3 large cans):
Here it depends on the thickness you prefer. As the sauce simmers, it thickens from the added tomato paste. But if you prefer thicker sauce, use either pureed tomato or whole tomato, you can puree yourself. I prefer sauce or a combination (puree, with more sauce than puree).

*This is not a recipe I'd substitute ground turkey or chicken!!! I use 100% Angus beef.
Also, I use two different olive oils. For the sauce, regular olive oil. For the meatballs, I use Carapelli Extra Light Olive Oil for Sauteing & Baking. It doesn't burn as fast!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Bread (Jelly!)

Now this IS a quick, quick bread. This is the fastest bread I've ever made & it's tasty... can be a treat or a meal. Take note- if you are out of actual bread in the house, have the few ingredients & love peanut butter, this is the perfect recipe for you! It's Paula Deen's Peanut Butter Bread. Normally, I am not too fond of PD's recipes- LOVE the lady herself- but her recipes aren't too yummy looking to me. And like the few of her's I've actually kept/use, this one needs an adjustment- the cooking time of approximately 50 minutes is far off. Mine takes about 35-40 minutes. Oh, & I used skim milk. Uh huh- skim.

I don't know about you, but I love grape jelly with my Jif (only Jif) Peanut Butter.

Peanut buttery-jelly goodness

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hamantashen Cookies

Friends of mine who really know me, are familiar with how I love to celebrate all cultures. And on Sunday, it is the Jewish Festival of Purim.  This means, it begins at sunset, Saturday night, March 19th. The holiday celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from King Haman by *his* Queen Esther (masquerading as a non-Jew) & Mordecai. On Purim, Jewish children also get to dress in costume as one of the customs.

A popular treat eaten during Purim are Hamantashen, cookies in a triangular shape of "Haman's pockets" (where he kept the silver coins given to him as payment to kill the Jews).

I've been making these for so long that when I read my recipe, I realized I had better tweak it for people unfamiliar with the cookies because my notes were so cryptic!


  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup canola  oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2 cups flour

Fillings of choice: fruit preserves- apricot & orange
Egg wash: another egg + 1 TBSp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the eggs, butter, oil, sugar, & vanilla- beat until smooth & creamy. 

In a separate, large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in the mixer & blend together until the it all becomes a slightly doughie ball. Wrap the dough in plastic & refrigerate for at least an hour. This allows the dough to set & makes it easier to roll out, cut & reshape.

*Lishie tip- When dough is ready, cut in half & re-refrigerate half. This will keep it cold while working on the first set of cookies. The colder the dough, the more pliable it rolls & cuts! 

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness. Cut out 3" diameter circles (I use a drinking glass). Place the circles onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or Silpat. The cookies do not need to be too far apart- they will not spread. In the center of each circle, place a "heaping" 1/4 teaspoon of the preserves filling.

Now comes the "fold into triangles" part... Pull up one side, then the next side, pinching together the corners smoothly so as NO line remains. Finish, doing the same with the third side, leaving a very small opening at the top.

Brush the unbaked hamentashen with the egg wash & bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies just begin to turn golden brown.

Makes 3 & 1/2 dozen.

Orange preserve filling
Apricot Preserve filling
yummy apricot & orange-y goodness

*Lishie extras- For more on Purim, visit:
& A children's book- When It's Purim (Board Book)
& A great historical fiction novel I'd recommend (on Goodreads):
The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen EstherThe Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther by Rebecca Kohn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Crock-Pot Brisket & Cabbage, Potatoes & Carrots

It's March 17th- St. Patrick's Day! Our town has it's parade on Sunday & we'll be eating corned beef with my mother-in-law. Tonight I made a brisket with the fixin's adding carrots for the little one. This is a very Irish-American meal but it is oh so yummy. 

Crock-Pot Brisket with Cabbage, Potatoes & Carrots
  • 4 Carrots, Cleaned & cut in thirds
  • 5 Potatoes, skinned & halved
  • 1 large Onion, skinned & quartered
  • 2 & 1/2-3 lb. Brisket 
  • 3 TBSp Pickling Spices
  • S & P
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock 
  • 1/2 half Cabbage, cleaned & shredded
Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the carrots as if they were a roasting rack.  Place the potatoes & onion pieces around the carrots. Place the brisket on top of the carrots. Add in the pickling spices. Pour the chicken stock over the brisket. Add in enough water to cover the meat. Place the shredded cabbage over & around the brisket. Cook on Low 8 Hours. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

*Lishie tips- make a corned beef hash from the leftovers . Or  a cottage pie: Cut up the leftover brisket, cabbage &  carrots into little pieces & mix together. Add a little worcester sauce. Place this mixture into a small casserole dish. Take any extra potatoes & mash them & place them on top of the meat mix. Sprinkle with some shredded cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler till the cheese melts & it's golden brown on top. 

Scalloped Potatoes

More potato ideas for the surplus of those tubular guys around St. Patrick's Day...
Simple Scalloped Potatoes from Food Network Magazine. YUM.

Potato-y goodness

Googly Eyes!
*Lishie Tip- A mandoline is a wonderful kitchen tool, especially for getting the perfect slices for scalloped potatoes, au gratin or for vegetable carpaccio. If you do not want to spend money or the do not have the space for one, get a less expensive tool called a "hand-held" vegetable slicer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lots of potatoes? Make a Potato Leek Gratin

It's St. Patrick's Day this week which means potatoes galore... Normally we don't eat 'em as much. So I wanted to make a separate side dish using some of the extra potatoes & leeks I have on hand. A gratin seemed the perfect thing to me. With potatoes & cheese one can never go wrong, right? I adapted my recipe from this New York Times Dining Section Recipe "Potato Leek Gratin" & made a couple of changes.

And really, only a couple of changes

  • I used 1 tsp of dried herbs de provence in place of the fresh thyme sprigs.
  • I used 3/4 cup extra sharp white cheddar, grated, instead of the gruyere but EITHER would be so delish! 

Cheese-y, potato-y goodness

*Lishie facts-

  1. Gratin is just a snazzy French word for a cooking technique where cheese is browned on top as a crust. 
  2. Leeks are related to onions, garlic and scallions.

*Lishie tip- How to wash leeks? Rinse the entire leek, then cut it down into thin ringlets. Fill a glass bowl (I prefer glass so as to see the dirt) with warm water & submerge the cut leek slices. Swirl them around with your hand to allow the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the leeks with a slotted spoon & rinse again using a colander.

Submerged ringlets.

Irish Soda Bread, errr "Railway Cake"

Since it's St. Patrick's week, it's time to begin the celebrating, baking & cooking while Patrick's out swooshing away the snakes.

OK, so this Irish-American girl has made many a soda bread recipes & I found this one to be the best I've tasted. OK it's from Crisco. And OK, it's really more of an Irish soda "cake" because it has shortening & baking powder but it's NOT dry & it's yummy. So good!!!

Crisco® Recipes: Irish Soda Bread

  • Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 5 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Crisco® Butter Shortening
  • OR 1/2 stick Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening Sticks, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins (I Omit)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons caraway seeds (I Omit)
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

    1. 1.
      HEAT oven to 350ºF. Generously spray a 10-inch round, heavy ovenproof skillet with no-stick cooking spray.

    2. 2.
      WHISK together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in an extra-large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.

    3. 3.
      WHISK buttermilk and egg in medium bowl until blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir into flour mixture just until incorporated (dough will be very sticky).

    4. 4.
      TRANSFER dough to prepared skillet. Smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut 1-inch deep "X" in top center of dough.

    5. 5.
      BAKE 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

    6. 6.
      COOL bread in skillet 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and cool completely on wire rack. Store tightly wrapped in foil at room temperature.

      Can't sea the cross "X" on top to create a 4-Leaf Clover but it's there!

      "Not dry" soda bread-y goodness

      Ready for wrapping & travel!
      *Lishie tips- Make sure you use an Oven-SAFE skillet! And be careful taking it out of the oven- it is HOT indeed. Oven Mitts!!!!

      The dough yields a large loaf. I only omit the caraway seeds because they are not good for ME. But they are yummy. Have some with jam. Or make a sandwich with it. But this recipe is delicious enough & rich enough to eat plain.  

      *Lishie facts- The cross on top is to create a "4-Leaf clover". Traditional Irish Soda Bread does not contain raisins, baking powder, eggs or shortening. This is more of a combo Railway Cake/Soda Bread.