Sunday, November 29, 2015


Cannoli's are one of those rare special treats everyone enjoys, and even if you've just stuffed your face, there's always room for an Italian cannoli.
One of the things I've learned about making them through my research is that no recipe ever tells you to drain the ricotta. It's as if you're supposed to know. So before you embark on trying this recipe, purchase your ricotta cheese two days before, as well as a package of cheese cloth. Follow these simple steps and you'll be baking like a professional. This recipe makes 16-18 cannoli, but don't fill them all at once. Just fill the amount you'll be eating--usually one per person.
1 ½ pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
Cut a piece of cheesecloth approximately 17" long. Using a tray, unfold the cloth all the way and lay it down on the tray so you can scoop the contents of the ricotta right into the middle. Now bring the four sides up, making sure the cheese is completely covered and tie as tightly as you can. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or knitting needle, slide it under the knot or bow, and hang the sack over a deep enough bowl so sack isn't touching bottom. Do this 2 days prior to making the filling.

This photo is after the first day. It has already drained a half inch of liquid. Today, when we were ready to use the ricotta, there was at least an inch of milk on the bottom of the container.
CAUTION: If you bypass this step, your cannoli filling will be watery, run out the sides of your shells, be a major mess to eat, and not a pretty sight.

Once drained, empty the contents of the cheesecloth into a mixer bowl, add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and beat on a medium high setting for about 10 minutes.

Drained ricotta
1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, add the following and mix by hand:

½ cup candied fruit, finely chopped
¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels

While the filling is chilling,(hey, that rhymes) you can prepare the dough for the shells OR you can buy the premade shells, which are just as good. Nevertheless, I'll give you the recipe just in case you're feeling ambitious, but I highly recommend buying the shells.

Here are a few more pictures from our fun day.
 I'm demonstrating piping in the filling into the shells with a pastry bag that I've only used a coupler. A coupler is what is used to hold the decorating tip in place, but if you're just filling shells, such as I am above, you don't use a pastry tip.

Here's Julie dusting her filled cannoli with confectioners

CANNOLI SHELLS (you'll need 6 6" aluminum tubes that are 3/4' in diameter--can be purchased at specialty shops.)

Combine the following ingredients and sift into a mixer bowl:

3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt

Add 2 tbls Crisco into the mixture and using the paddle on medium high, mix until the pieces are the size of small peas.

Beat 2 eggs and pour into the mixture, paddle until well blended

Now add:
2 tbls white vinegar
2 tbls cold water

Paddle to combine. The dough will form into a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl,  then turn  dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, if necessary. Wrap in saran wrap and chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Fill a deep saucepan with oil and let it heat until it reaches 360 degrees.

Roll the dough out and cut oval pieces that measure 6x4.5". Wrap the oval loosely around the cannoli tube and seal with beaten slightly egg whites. Deep fry for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Move onto paper towels to drain. Once cooled, they're be ready to fill.

Remove the mixture from the fridge, fill a pastry bag half way with the ricotta mixture and pipe into each end of the shells. You can dip each end of the cannoli with chopped nuts, colorful sprinkles, or nothing at all. Dust the cannoli tops with confectioner's sugar and serve. Makes 16-18 cannoli


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I've tried something very different with my pumpkin pie this year. I love pumpkin pie. I don't have it other times during the year, so it was important to me not to ruin the integrity of the taste . . . and I didn't! I'm posting this today just in case you want to try it along with me. Here's the recipe.

1-15 ounce can of pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, beaten

PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees

Pour the contents of pumpkin into a mixer bowl, and add the sugar and spices. Whip to thoroughly blend. In a 4 cup measuring cup, drop the eggs in one at a time and whisk, add the evaporated milk and heavy cream and blend to thoroughly mix. Pour the liquid into the pumpkin mixture and beat to incorporate.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish and transfer to the oven.
Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Cool and return to refrigerator overnight so it nice and cold. If you don't do this step and mix it with the whipped cream while it's warm, I can promise you, you'll have soup.

Shape the pie crust into the pie plate and bake according to manufacturers directions.

3 cups cold heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Whip together until semi-firm peaks form.

In your mixer bowl, spoon all the custard into the bowl and mix until it breaks up. Add 3/4 of the already whipped cream and beat on low until blended.

 Scoop the mixture into the already baked pie shell, spreading until even.

Add remaining whipped cream over top, sprinkle with chopped nuts and you're ready to serve.

8-10 servings

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


3 lbs eye round roast
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
salt and pepper
4 large carrots, sliced
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 tbls Crisco
32 ounces beef or chicken stock

As you can see, I do not use the traditional chuck roast for my pot roast. The reason is because I like my pot roast to slice more like roast beef than stringy dried pulled beef. However, if that's your choice of cut of beef, by all means. It's not going to ruin the taste. It's more the texture thing.

Okay, trim the fat off the roast leaving a thin layer on. Using a gallon-sized plastic bag, add the flour and seasonings and shake to blend the seasonings. Place the roast inside and shake to coat the entire roast. Save the bag if you have left over flour. You'll use it to thicken the gravy.

In a five quart heavy pot, melt the Crisco just to brown your roast on all sides--ends too. Once you've seared the meat and you have a nice crusty coating that has been browned, you've sealed in the juices.

Leave the roast right in the pot and add the 32 ounces of stock and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours--that's a half hour per pound.

When the roast is done, I remove the meat to a serving platter, cover until you're ready to slice it after you've made the gravy. Pour the juice, onions, carrots right into the pan into the blender to emulsify for the gravy. Do this in batches because juice will be hot. Add two tablespoons of the left over flour, cover and whirl around to thicken. Check to see if the gravy is thick enough. If not, add another tablespoon of flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Now, you're ready for slicing.

Slice the meat, and serve on a platter.

I serve this roast with mashed potatoes, vegetables--typically string beans, cranberry sauce and lots of gravy. This is my absolute favorite fall meal.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tres Leche Cake!

My husband is celebrating his birthday tomorrow, and although he likes angel food cake for his birthday, I decided to make Tres Leche cake instead because this year's theme is his favorite, Mexican food, hence, this recipe. He tasted this cake at a local Mexican restaurant and liked it, but the dessert didn't even come close to being as moist and rich as this recipe. This is a very easy recipe that is done in steps, each taking very little time to do.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces granulated sugar

6 3/4 ounces cake flour (no, not a cake mix)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


12 ounce can evaporated milk (whole)
14 ounces can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-n-half


2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 degrees

First things first. Measure out the cake flour and rest of dry ingredients in a separate bowl, blending together. Let sit.

Using the paddle on your mixer, add the butter and sugar and whip until fluffy on medium speed. If all you own is a hand mixer, that's fine too. Now, add 1 whole egg at a time, whipping after each addition. Add the vanilla and blend. Remove bowl from mixer and add the dry ingredients a little at a time, whisking with a wire whisk after each addition until you have a smooth batter with air bubbles. Coat a 13 X 9 rectangular baking dish with spray and add the batter.

Transfer the cake pan to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The top will be a golden brown. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes or until internal temp is 200.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the 3 milks until thoroughly combined. Poke mucho holes in the top of the cake and pour the milk mixture over top. At first, it will look like you've flooded it, but trust me, the cake will absorb the moisture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

This is what it looks like after you pour on the three-milk liquid
This is what it looks like an hour later

I used this 10 X 2 round only because my 13 X 9 rectangular baking dish was still at the party we attended the other night. Either will work.

Whip the frosting and cover top of cake.Return to refrigerator. This cake is served right from the baking vessel you baked it in. Sprinkle each serving with cinnamon and get ready for the compliments--this recipe is another one of those OMGs, because every bite just melts in your mouth with moisture and deliciousness.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Today, I'm giving you a recipe for herbed baked salmon. This dish is so delicious, you'll be making it for years to come. It's quick and easy and definitely a hit with everyone!

Dishing Up Romance

2 bagels, crumbled
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound salmon cut into filets
salt and pepper to taste


Break the bagels into bite-sized pieces and place in a food processor to crumble using the pulse setting. I've used sun-dried tomato bagels, plain bagels and cheese bagels. Add the minced garlic, thyme, parmesan cheese and zest and pulse until mixed. Pour the melted butter over top and pulse again until completely blended. Set aside.

Prepare your filets by removing any skin, season with salt and pepper and place in a greased baking dish.

Pour the bread crumbs over top of the fish, distributing evenly until fish is completely covered. Bake for approximately 20 minutes and stuffing top is golden. Do not overcook because it will dry out the salmon.

Serve with a side vegetable and a huge glass of pinot noir. Yes, this is one fish you can enjoy with a red glass of wine.


Monday, November 2, 2015


One of our favorite dinners is Caprese. I make this about once a month and serve it with garlic bread. It's easy, fast and so delicious! Here's how I do it.

8 red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra Virgin olive oil
Pesto, prepared or homemade
Tomato slices
Buffalo mozzarella, sliced, one ball per person

Another drizzle of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Let's get started!

Cut the peppers in half.Clean out the white membrane and seeds

Place them cut side down on a sheet pan and place under the broiler, until they  . . .

look like this!
Remove from oven and cover with syran wrap. The heat and condensation will lift the burnt skin and make for easier peeling. The burnt part will have a smoky taste.

30 minutes later, remove the cover and peel the skin off.

After peeling, place the skinned pepper down on a cutting board, slice into strips and place in a bowl with 2 cloves of minced garlic, add salt and olive oil, stir and allow the ingredients to marry. 

Slice the buffalo mozzarella. And before you ask, no, it's not made with buffalo. LOL That's just the style they use to make it.  I buy mine at Trader Joes. It comes in water. Don't buy the mozzarella wrapped in plastic alone--it won't have the right consistency for this dish. Slice the tomatoes.
Now, start to put the dish together in layers. I use a pesto instead of just using the basil leaves and place a dab on each mozzarella slice. Layer until you use one round mozzarella starting with a tomato slice first.
Sorry this picture is sideways, but iPhone doesn't have a rotate feature.
I add the roasted peppers on each side of the log, but you can place them in between the slices if you'd prefer. Once the roasted peppers are placed, run two beads of olive oil down the center and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. Serve with garlic bread. Here's a picture of the finished product that won't last very long. It's sure to become a favorite of yours too!

Buon Appetit!