Strawberry Mousse Angel Cake

Desserts | April 26, 2017 | By

This a delightful, delicious cake that starts with an angel food cake mix. The tender light cake is stuffed and frosted with a creamy, homemade strawberry mousse. It’s easy to do and it’s best made the day before serving. 

Ingredients:
Makes 1- 10″ cake

  • 1 angel food cake mix
  • 1 tsp of strawberry gelatin
  • 2 Tbs of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of crushed strawberries mixed with 2 Tbs of sugar

Directions:

Make the angel food cake according to directions and let cool. In small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoon of heavy cream, stir and set aside.Place the sliced strawberries and powdered sugar in a blender, cover and blend until smooth.Pour the mixture into 1-quart saucepan, add softened gelatin. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer and gelatin is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool for 30 minutes.Using an electric mixer with a whip attacment, beat the heavy cream and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form, then on low speed, add in the strawberry mixture and whip until blended, you just made strawberry mousse!To assemble: Turn the cake bottom-side up and cut a channel in the cooled cake with a serrated blade, taking care not to cut through the bottom of the cake. Pull out loose cake with your fingers.Spoon the mousse into the channel to the top, then spread the remaining mousse on the entire cake, like icing. Place the cake in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.To serve, mix 1 cup of crushed strawberries with 2 Tbs of sugar, cut a large pieces of cake and top with the crushed berries. Enjoy!Note to cooks: When making whipped cream, make sure that your bowl is super clean and it helps to put the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before whipping the cream.

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Spaghetti Bolognese

This is my Granny Guerri’s spaghetti bolognese, she hails from Bologna Italy. I grew up on this sauce and I think it is simply the best! You’ll make this forever!

Ingredients:
Serves 4 – 6

• 1 Tbs of olive oil or bacon fat
• 1/2 lb of ground beef or veal
• 1/2 lb of ground pork
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 carrot, grated
• 5 – 6 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 large can (28 oz) of whole tomatoes and their juices ( crushed up with your fingers )
• 1 tsp of kosher salt
• 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
• 4 bay leaves
• 1 heaping Tbs of fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp of dried basil
• 1 tsp of dried oregano
• pinch of red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup or so of dry red wine (a bold Italian wine)
• 1 Tbs of tomato paste
• 2 tsp of sugar
• 1/2 – 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a heavy cast iron skillet, over high heat, brown the meats in a little olive oil or bacon fat, until browned. Turn the heat to medium and add onion, carrots and garlic and saute until they just start to soften.Add tomatoes and their liquid, salt, pepper, bay leaves, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, wine, tomato paste and sugar.
Simmer very gently for about 45 minutes, add in the Parmesan cheese for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. While the sauce simmers, cook the spaghetti al dente, according to package directions. Drain the pasta and save a little of the cooking liquid to” loosen up” or thin out the sauce if needed. Remember to always add the pasta to the sauce. To serve, plate the pasta and sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top, serve with warm crusty bread. Buon Appetito!

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Pork Loin with Porcini sauce

Entrees, Pork | April 19, 2017 | By

This recipe is phenomenal! A pork loin is butterflied and stuffed with creamy fontina and fresh spinach, seared and baked to perfection, then topped with a porcini mushroom and exotic mushroom sauce that is mind blowing! I was lucky enough to find morels in our woods, so I threw those in too!

Ingredients:
Serves 8 – 10

  • 1/2 oz of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup of hot water
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin – approx. 3 lbs
  • 2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 2 tsp of black pepper
  • 4 oz of fontina cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1 big handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of flour for dredging pork
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1 Tbs of butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbs of flour
  • 1 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 cups of assorted mushroom, sliced (creminis, shiitakes, morels)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325°

Soak the porcinis in 3/4 cup of very hot water for 30 minutes, drain, chop and reserve the liquid. Butterfly the pork, cut through lengthwise, but not all the way through and open it up like a book. Cover with wax paper and pound with a meat mallet until 1/2 inch thick. It will be about 12″ x 8″Season with salt and pepper and arrange the spinach and fontina lengthwise down the bottom third of the pork.With the long side facing you, roll as tightly as you can, keep tucking in the filling with your fingers, tie tightly with twine in 5 -6 places.Dredge with flour and a little salt & pepper, heat the olive oil in dutch oven or a large, heavy skillet over high heat and sear the pork on all sides.Transfer to a baking rack or pan and bake for  40 – 45 minutes or until 150°. While the pork is baking, make the sauce.In a large saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil and butter and saute the shallots for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Add in the wine and whisk until well combined. Add in the assorted mushrooms and the porcinis and their liquid, simmer for 6 – 7 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and sauce is thickened. If the sauce seems too thick, just add a little water.Remove the twine from the pork and and cut into thick slices. To serve, place the pork slices on a serving platter and spoon on the mushroom sauce, serve any extra sauce on the side.

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Black Forest Trifle

Desserts | April 13, 2017 | By

This trifle is out of this world! It has all the components of a black forest cake, it starts with a layer of brownies, then cherries soaked in Kirsch, homemade custard and a whipped topping made with Creme Fraiche! Very impressive and it’s a perfect make ahead dessert, so great for entertaining!

Ingredients:
Serves 12 – easily

  • 1 chocolate brownie mix
  • 1/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 3 cups of whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 – (14-oz) jars of cherries in Kirsch – see Note to Cooks
  • 1 cup of Creme Fraiche
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs of powdered sugar
  • grated chocolate – optional

Directions:

Start by making the brownies according to package directions: Let cool and cut into bite sized pieces.
Next, make the custard, stir together the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a large saucepan, over medium heat, then whisk in the milk, then the egg yolks, cook for 6 minutes, until it just starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent skin from forming. Let coolDrain the cherries, reserving liquid.  To assemble the trifle, arrange the brownies in the bottom of a large trifle dish or a large glass bowl. Scatter the cherries over the brownies (use all but 1/2 cup of cherries) then drizzle on 1/2 cup of the reserved cherry liquid.Spoon on the custard, spread to the edges. The trifle can be refrigerated at this point overnight, just make the topping before serving. To make the topping, use an electric mixer with a whip attachment, beat the Creme Fraiche, heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Spoon on top of the custard, spread to the edges, swirl with a knife and sprinkle on grated chocolate if you like and garnish with the extra cherries. Ready to serve!

Note to cooks: Cherries in Kirsch are readily available in liquor stores, they come in a 14 oz jar, some grocery stores also carry them in the liquor department.

 

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Filet Mignon with Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Beef | April 11, 2017 | By


Ahhhh, filet mignon with red wine reduction sauce! It’s not just for restaurants, this classic is very easy to make at home. The combination of the reduction sauce, with shallot, garlic, thyme, beef stock and butter, with a perfectly cooked filet is heaven on earth!

Ingredients:
Makes enough sauce for 6 filets

  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp of pepper
  • 3 Tbs of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 1 Tbs of butter
  • 2 – 6 filet mignons
  • salt & pepper for filets
  • 1 Tbs of butter for filets
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil for filets

Directions:

Add the olive oil to a heavy, medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add in the shallot and saute for 2 minutes, add in the garlic, thyme sprigs, and salt & pepper, saute for 2 more minutes. Add in the balsamic vinegar and let it cook off, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the red wine and the beef stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 25 – 30 minutes or until reduced by 2/3.Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan and add in the butter, stir to melt. Taste and add salt if needed.Add the butter and olive oil to a heavy skillet, cast iron if you have one, heat almost to the smoking point, season the filets with a little salt & pepper and cook 3 minutes on each side. Using tongs, brown the edges of the filets also. To serve, spoon some of the reduction sauce on a serving plate, top with the filet, and another pat of butter if desired.Note to cooks: If you have leftover sauce, mix it in with ground beef or turkey for an amazing burger!

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Banana Cream Pie!

Desserts | April 8, 2017 | By


A show stopping pie! Sweet, creamy, banana cream pie with fresh sliced bananas, rich homemade custard, toasted coconut, and a chocolate crust, all topped with sweet whipped cream! So luscious! You can also make this with a traditional or graham cracker crust and the toasted coconut is optional but it’s so good!

Ingredients:
Crust:

  • 7 Tbs of unsalted butter
  • 1 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbs of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 7 oz of thin chocolate wafers, like “Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups of whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs of rum
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 1 Tbs of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 4 firm, ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup of toasted coconut (optional)

Whipped cream:

  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs of powdered sugar

Directions: 

In a small saucepan over low heat, add in the butter, chocolate, sugar and salt, stir and cook just until melted. Using a food processor, add in the cookies and the chocolate/butter mixture, then pulse until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″, deep dish pie plate.Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes, then bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350°. If you decide to use toasted coconut, just place it in a dry medium sized skillet, cook over medium heat for 2 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden. Next, in a heavy, medium sized saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg, gradually whisk in the whole milk, then egg yolks and rum. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Transfer the custard to large bowl, cool completely, stir occasionally or place plastic wrap directly on the top of the custard to prevent “skin” from forming.To assemble, add 1 cup of cooled custard to the bottom of the pie crust, arrange a layer of bananas and sprinkle on some of the coconut if using, repeat the layering. You will have 3 layers.

To make the whipped cream, use a standing mixer with a whip attachment, add in the cream and vanilla, mix on low speed, gradually adding in the sugar, then turn the speed to medium/high and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Spoon over the pie, spread to the edges and swirl with a knife to make it pretty. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Before serving, decorate with more sliced bananas, caramel sauce or shaved chocolate, if desired. Banana cream heaven!

Note to cooks: You could also use a store bought pie crust or a graham cracker crust and you could place all of the bananas on the bottom and all of the custard on top instead of layering. Also, if you don’t use a vanilla bean, just increase the vanilla extract to 3 tsp.

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Lemon Meringue Pie

Desserts | April 4, 2017 | By

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love lemon meringue pie! This recipe is a classic that should be in every cook’s repertoire. It’s not hard to make, but there are a few steps. I usually use a store bought crust for this pie to make it a little easier. It is phenomenal, I know you’ll love it!

Ingredients:
Make 1 – 9″ pie

  • 5 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
  • 6 Tbs of cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 Tbs of butter
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
  • 2 tsp of fresh lemon zest
  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°

Start by pre-baking your piecrust. If you have dough rather than a crust in a pie tin, roll it out on a floured surface a little larger than your 9 ” pie plate. Press it into the pie plate, trim the edges and crimp. Place a piece of foil over the dough and weight it down with dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and the beans, poke holes in the bottom with a fork and bake for 6 – 8 more minutes or until golden, cover with foil if it browns too quickly. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg yolks and refrigerate the egg whites. In a saucepan, over medium/high heat, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and salt. Slowly pour in the water and bring to a boil, then let it boil for 1 minute, stirring, it will get very thick.Then add 1 cup of this hot mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly, then stir this mixture into the saucepan on the stove, cook for 3 minutes, stirring. This procedure is called “tempering”, otherwise you’d have scrambled eggs!Now remove from the heat and stir in the butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until combined and the butter is melted.Pour into the pie crust and get ready to make meringue. Reduce your oven temperature to 350°. Using an electric mixer with a whip attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form, then slowly add in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Spoon on the pie and spread to the edges to form a seal. Swirl the meringue with a knife and then stick the knife straight down and then up to form little peaks, these will brown while baking. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the meringue peaks just start to brown. Let cool completely before slicing.Caution, this pie is addicting!

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Grilled, Orange & Rosemary Chicken Thighs

This is a very simple recipe with just a few ingredients but with mind blowing flavor! The combination of fresh orange, maple syrup and fresh rosemary is intoxicating! The rosemary is tucked under the skin while the chicken grills and the orange maple sauce is glazed on!

Ingredients:
Serves 4- 6 depending on appetites!

  • juice of 3 oranges
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  •  6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • olive oil – for rubbing on chicken
  • 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper
  • 1 scant tsp of onion powder
  • 1 scant tsp of garlic powder
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs

Directions:

Add the orange juice, zest, maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce to a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, it will reduce by about half.Place the rosemary sprigs under the skin of the chicken, rub with olive oil and sprinkle the with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Grill the chicken over medium heat for 10 minutes on each side until nicely browned and then brush on the glaze and grill 6 – 8 minutes more on each size, glazing both sides. (Cooking time will depend on the size of the thighs, to check for doneness, poke the chicken with a fork, the juices should be clear, not pink or insert a thermometer and the temperature should be °165)
Remove from the grill and serve, make sure to spoon over any extra sauce! This sauce is also delicious drizzled over oven roasted veggies, like cauliflower or carrots!

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Italian Hasselback Chicken

You’ve probably heard of hasselback potatoes, a recipe with Swedish roots, dating back to the 1700’s. The potatoes were sliced to look like a fan, dotted with butter, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, baked, then broiled. Scrumptious! This chicken is prepped the same way, stuffed with ricotta, garlic and spinach and topped with marinara and fresh parmesan! Stunning and totally luscious!

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp of fresh chopped basil
  • 1/8 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp of black pepper
  • more salt & pepper for the chicken
  • 3/4 cup of marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°

Start by placing the chicken breasts on a baking sheet, line with foil or parchment if you like. Make 6 – 7 evenly spaced, deep cuts in the chicken, almost all of the way through, but not quite.In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and saute the spinach and the garlic until the spinach wilts. Remove from the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese, basil and the salt & pepper.Now, just stuff each cut with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle a little salt & pepper on each breast and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.Remove the breasts from the oven and spoon on the marinara sauce and sprinkle with parmesan, broil for 2 – 3 minutes until browned. That’s it! Easy and amazing!

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Roasted Red Potato Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Salads, Sides | March 21, 2017 | By

This potato salad is a refreshing alternative to the mayonnaise based version. The potatoes and the red onions are roasted with garlic for maximum flavor! Then throw in crispy bacon & blue cheese, drizzle on a simple, flavorful vinaigrette and sprinkle on chopped scallions for brightness! This will be a favorite!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs of red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 very large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 Tbs of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 16 oz of bacon
  • 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp of black pepper
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 cup of blue cheese, crumbled
  • 5 green onions, white and pale green parts, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°

Start by dividing the potatoes and the onions evenly and place on 2 baking sheets, toss each with 1/2 of the olive oil, salt & pepper and garlic, place in the oven and roast for 35 -40 minutes, stirring halfway through.While the potatoes are roasting, cook the bacon, drain and crumble.
To make the dressing, add the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar into a jar with a lid and shake until well combined. Place the warm potatoes and onions in a large serving bowl, pour in 3/4 of the dressing, the blue cheese and the bacon, stir to combine. Just before serving, stir in the green onions and add more dressing if needed. Enjoy

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