Flag Cake

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For the most part I try to stick to cakes that are more adventurous in flavor than in design but I decided that for the 4th of July I wanted to test my abilities a bit and try my hand at making a flag cake. The design was fun to make and even more fun to share with my family who thought it was cool how the cake looked.

I  stuck with a lighter and less sweet frosting this time to combat the overwhelming warmth and humidity of summer while I got my initial cake recipe from Goodie Godmother.

While this flag cake was more involved than I’m used to but it was so worth it and I LOVE how it came out.

Happy 4th! Memorial Day - Sailing Seas

Cake Ingredients:

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract or other extract of your choice
  • 3 cups skim milk

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 container of cool whip
  • 3/4 cup of powdered sugar

IMG_1076 Cake Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º and line 2 round cake pans with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients together.
  3. In a separate and smaller bowl mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Place 1/4 of the batter in a separate bowl and leave. Separate another 1/4 of the batter into a different bowl and add in red food coloring until you get you desired color. For the remaining half bowl of batter mix in blue food coloring until you get the color you want.
  6. Pour half of your red batter into each cake pan and cook for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Repeat with your white cake mix. You’ll end up with two red layers and two white. You should note that the red and white cake layers will be thinner then you’re used to.
  7. Using one cake pan, pour in all of your blue cake batter and cook for 20 – 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. Allow the layers to sit and cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Once your layers have cooled take a small bowl and use it to cut out the center of your blue layer. Set the center piece aside. The size that you cut out is up to you, keep in mind what you have left will create the blue section of your cake.
  10. Using the same small bowl cut into your 1 of your red and one of your white layers keeping the centers and setting the outer rings aside. These 2 centers will fit inside the ring of blue you already cut.
  11. Stack your layers white, red, white, red placing the blue ring on top around your white and red center pieces. Spread a little of your frosting in between each layer.
  12. Frost the rest of your cake as desired.
  13. Enjoy!
Frosting Instructions:
  1. In a medium bowl mix together cool whip and powdered sugar until well blended. Taste test frosting for flavor/sweetness and add more powdered sugar if desired.
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Corn and Poblano Lasagna

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cCorn is a very popular summer veggie in my house. We probably have it in some way, shape or form about once a week whether it’s just on the cob, Mom’s corn chowder or Dad’s favorite, creamed corn. That being said, when I saw a recipe in the May Food Network magazine for corn and poblano lasagna I was immediately tempted to try it.

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Like most recipes I try I put my own spin on this dish because it’s more fun to make it your own. This corn and poblano lasagna was even more popular than I anticipated it would be with my family and I had requests to make it again within the week.

If you’re not a fan of corn, you can also make this recipe substituting the corn with broccoli cut into small chunks. I know, I know, I just mentioned how popular corn is in my household but there is one exception in the family, one of my brothers (the vegetarian mind you) is very picky with his vegetables and will only eat baby corn. I therefore had to make some changes while making it during a visit from him and while not as popular, it was still a hit with broccoli.

If you want to try my version of corn and poblano lasagna you can check out the full recipe below.

Happy Summer!

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Ingredients:

  • 5-6 poblano peppers (depending on their size, the bigger the peppers the less you need)
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups of corn
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp of rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:

  • In a saucepan melt butter and lightly sauté your onions and garlic. Add in heavy cream, corn, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Stir occasionally. Put aside.
  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Once boiling, parboil your peppers and put them aside as well.
  • Using the same water you used for your peppers, cook your lasagna noodles.
  • While your noodles cook, cut your peppers the long way to form three strips of pepper. Put aside again.
  • Lightly grease a 9 x 12 baking dish.
  • To layer your lasagna start with a bottom layer of noodles followed by a layer of peppers. Note that the peppers will not fully cover your noodles, just cover the majority. I usually 4 or 5 pepper pieces per layer. Continue with about 1/4 of your corn mixture and a decent layer of cheese, not quite 1/4 cup. Repeat these layers until you use up all your ingredients.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350º for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with a little more cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  • Enjoy!
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UPDATE

UPDATE 4.27.16

I have now recovered/recreated all of the content that was lost so the blog is current again. I’ve already got several new posts ready and waiting in the sidelines that have some great spring/summer recipes to share with you. Thanks for bearing with me!

 

ORIGINAL POST 4.8.16

Hi Everyone, just a quick update:

So the files for my website had an issue and I didn’t notice in time to be able to use a back up from this year…this means that right now the website is very far behind in material and may be undergoing quite a few changes in the next few weeks.

Please bear with me while I get things resettled. Thanks!

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Mini Sheperd’s Pie

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I love these mini shepard’s pies! Not only are they a cute and individual way to serve this classic British dish, but this mini shepard’s pie recipe makes for a perfect leftover. Plus, the ingredients are often things you already have in your fridge. For those who may not be familiar with shepard’s pie, the dish comprises of few simple but hearty ingredients and contains your meat, vegetable and potatoes. Plus, in this particular recipe it’s also SIMPLE.

Another reason to love this recipe,it makes it easy to portion and serve to friends, family and guests since the whole pie is already packaged up nicely.

My favorite thing to do with this recipe is to actually make it on Sunday night and then freeze whatever I don’t eat. Then, whenever I need something to eat for lunch the next day at work I pull one out to defrost the night before. I’m a huge fan of cooking once and reaping the benefits later on in the work week when I still want to eat a nice lunch without doing the prep work the night before.

Whatever way you decide to eat it, I hope you enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of 8 Pillsbury Homestyle Grands (although any canned biscuit of your choice will work)
  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 1 bag of mixed vegetables with peas, carrots and corn
  • 1 Idaho potato
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1/4 cup of milk*
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • thyme

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° and line a muffin pan with baking spray.
  • Cut and boil the potatoes (I leave the skin on) until soft enough to mash.
  • While the potatoes are boiling take your Pillsbury biscuits and push from the center outward all the way around until you flatten and stretch the biscuit. Line 8 cups of your baking pan creating the “crust”.
  • Also while the potatoes boil, cook the ground beef and onion in a skillet over low to medium heat seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and thyme. When cooked add in mixed veggies and let site for another 3-4 minutes. Combine well.
  • Once the potatoes are soft enough drain and mash combining with the butter and milk. *Note: Depending on the consistency of your potatoes you may find you need a little more milk.
  • Place one spoonful of your beef/veggie mix into the bottom of each biscuit-lined muffin cup. Follow that by placing another spoonful of the mashed potato mixture on top.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the biscuit look like they’re golden brown.
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Biscotti di Prato

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This biscotti recipe is yet another recipe I was able to learn during my time in Florence. This particular recipe actually originates however from Prato, an Italian city slightly northwest of Florence. This biscotti actually originated from Antonio Mattei that is famous for selling the biscotti in blue bags.

The trick to a good biscotti is baking it multiple times in order to get just the right crunch.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 400gr. (about 1 3/4 cups)flour
  • 200gr. (about 3/4 cups) sugar
  • 200gr.(about 3/4 cups)shelled almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt

Instructions:

  • Make a mound with the flour, sugar, almonds, vanilla and baking powder; add the eggs and the egg yolk and mix with hands.
  • When well combined, make small loaves and place on a cookie sheet.

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  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, cut into the typical diagonal biscotti shape and return to the oven until toasted.
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Bacon and Cream Cheese Rolled Chicken

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Chicken is my favorite protein to work with because there are so many different ways to make and enjoy it. That being said, I’m always looking for new ideas for quick and easy chicken recipes that work well on busy nights because, I’ll be honest, I’m often-times lazy and fall back on the same standard recipes during the week. While there’s nothing with my go-to chicken recipes, after awhile they get to be boring. Lucky for me I stumbled upon The Love Nerds Bacon and Cream Cheese Chicken Roll which offered inspiration for a new chicken revolving around another food I love: cheese.

Although the original recipe from The Love Nerds looks yummy, I’m a big fan of putting my own spin on things and altering little pieces of recipes to fit my own personal tastes, as well as the tastes of my family and friends, and in this instance, the result of my changes was a hit.

While I knew that the way I “doctored” this recipe and ultimately served this chicken fit right in with my family’s tastebud’s it was an even bigger success than I anticipated it to be. I added more cheese (because yum), freshly minced garlic, more seasonings, fresh onions and changed the breading as well.

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • 6-8 ounces of softened low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 package of Sargento thinly-sliced sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon chopped and cooked
  • 1/4 cup of diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of sage
  • 1/4 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup of flour

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350º and line a 6×10 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Prep your chicken by rinsing and laying each piece out on a clean flat surface. Cover each piece with one slice of cheese, breaking them up if need be to fit the shape of the chicken breast.
  • In three separate bowls (one for each ingredient) prepare your egg, flour and bread crumbs. Mix your parmesan cheese into your bread crumbs.
  • In a small bowl mix together your cream cheese, bacon, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, sage, oregano and lemon juice until well blended.
  • Place a healthy spoonful of the cream cheese mixture over the cheese on each chicken breast. Make sure you keep an eye on the proportion of cream cheese to chicken breast because too much will make it difficult to roll and too little will cause you to miss out on the delicious filling.
  • One at a time roll each chicken breast, then coat in egg, then flour and finally breadcrumbs. Once well coated place them in your baking dish and, if need be, use toothpicks to keep the chicken rolled and in place during cooking. I personally found that most of them didn’t really need to be toothpicked.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

If you’re looking for the perfect side to have with your chicken check out my garlic cheddar biscuits.

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Fritelle di Riso

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Fritelle di Riso is an addictive Italian sweet, take it from one of the two “chefs” who were in charge of frying them…only about half of them actually made it to the plates of our classmates.

It might sound like a strange dessert but Fritelle di Riso is basically rice pudding (which, at least in my opinion, is also delicious and is a holiday favorite in my family) that has been fried.

Even if you’re not a fan of rice pudding and think the idea of rice in a dessert seems weird, trust me, this is a delicious dessert and you should definitely give it a chance.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter of  whole milk
  • 350 grams rice
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 lemon and 1 orange zest
  • 1 cup of alchermes or other sweet liquor
  • 250 grams of sugar
  • 1 pinch of vanilla
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • Flour (just enough to combine all the ingredients)
  • 15 grams of baking powder
  • A handful of yellow raisins rehydrated in a  bowl of water (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a pot combine the milk with the rice, the sweet liquor, the spices and the zest.
  • IMG_4088_2_1024Cook until tender. When it is done add in the sugar and let it cool. If using raisins add them here.
  • When ready add the eggs one by one and then enough flour that the batch will drop slowly out of the spoon.
  • Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels, this’ll help to soak up the grease when you take them out of the oil.
  • Deep fry in a large batch of corn oil and sprinkle with powdered sugar (not shown in my photo). As I mentioned, many of them were going straight from the pan and into my mouth skipping this step and were still yummy so this could be considered optional.
  • Serve warm.
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Gnocchi Alla Romana

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Gnocchi alla Romana is another one of the recipes that I learned to make during my time in Florence and makes a great side. That being said the name is a little misleading as this recipe is not pasta like nor is it made from potatoes as gnocchi traditionally is. Rather,

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 liter ( 4 cups ) of milk
  • 125 gr ( 4oz ) of butter
  • 240 gr ( 8oz ) of semolina flour
  • 100 gr ( 3oz ) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 good pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Dash of salt

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Instructions:

  • Heat the milk with a pinch of salt and a pat of butter. When it starts boiling, sprinkle in the semolina, stirring vigorously to avoid lumps forming. When it is smoothly blended, let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continuously.IMG_3920_1024
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add half of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and half of the butter, egg yolks, nutmeg and stir well. Pour the mixture onto a smooth, damp surface and spread about 1 cm ( ½ inch ) thick. Level off using a wet spatula and let sit until firm. Cut out circles about 5 cm (2’’ ) in diameter, using a pastry cutter or a small glass.
  • Butter a baking dish and arrange the gnocchi, slightly overlapping, in a single layer. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and remaining butter. Bake in the oven at 200° C (400°F) for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.
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Sweet Cherry Bread

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Although I have far from finished sharing all of my posts from Florence I wanted to take a chance to share a recipe that’s a little more fitting for Valentine’s Day because this cherry bread is the perfect pink. We also have a lot of maraschino cherries lying around the house for some reason.

This recipe is originally from Deliciously Sprinkled however I made 2 small edits. The first, and most obvious is that I left out the frosting. My original plan was to create and icing to drizzle over the bread however after tasting the bread I felt that the flavor it had was plenty sweet on its own. The second (and less notable) is that I included a few more cherries. Other than that, this recipe is almost the same as the one from Deliciously Sprinkled.

Hope you enjoy this pretty pink treat this Valentine’s Day!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of cherry juice (from the jar)
  • 1 1/2 10 oz. jars maraschino cherries, chopped

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9×5 loaf pan with floured non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a fork cut the butter into the flour mixture until well blended.
  • Add in the eggs, and cherry juice to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Fold in the chopped cherries.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about an hour and then let cool on a cooling rack.
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Pizza Alla Napoletana

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Pizza is one of the classic Italian dishes and, Pizza Alla Napoletana or Margherita pizza, is the best way to have it in my opinion. As it’s name hints, Pizza Alla Napoletana has its origins in Naples, Italy. The story goes that the queen was going to be in the area and a local pizzeria wanted to make a patriotic pizza in her honor, hence Pizza Alla Napoletana which is red, white and green. The pizza pictured above (as I made in my class) has onions as well however that’s not typically considered a traditional topping.

The key to a good Pizza Alla Napoletana is the crust which has a fluffy texture and can’t be overworked. Another trick when making Pizza Alla Napoletana is to leave the basil leaves off until the last 5 minutes to keep the flavor without over wilting them.

If you make this at home I highly suggest that the first time you try making it the classic way – lots of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with a dash of olive oil – before you go adding extra toppings. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to Italian food.

Enjoy!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 500 gr (1 pound) sifted flour
  • 1/4 tbs salt
  • 25 gr ( 2/3 Oz) fresh brewer yeast
  • 250 ml ( 1 cup) warm water
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil + 3 tbs extra for dressing
  • 1 buffalo mozzarella
  • 8 small anchovies
  • 500 gr ( 1 Pd) canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 4 – 6 basil leaves
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Put the flour in a large bowl with the salt.
  • Crush and dissolve the fresh yeast in about half glass of lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar to activate the yeast. When it begins to froth pour in 2 tbs of olive oil and  the rest of the water gradually, kneading by hand. Work for 10 – 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a cloth and set aside to rise in a warm place for 1 – 2 hours (until it doubles the size).
  • Punch the dough down and work it a little more, divide it into 4 balls. Roll each ball on a slightly floured surface. Set aside & let it rise a second time.
  • Roll and spread the dough balls in well oiled baking pans.
  • Spread the tomatoes on top, along with diced mozzarella and basil leaves. Finish with a dash of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at high temperature, until the crust is golden brown.
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