Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fun with trifles

It has been my observation that the frumpy trifle of our youth is now a hip suburban dessert. Pretty, easy to make, yummy to boot... what is not to like?
New trifle bowl in hand,a hankering for gingerbread, and random jar of lemon curd in hand I entered the glamorous world of trifles.  I found inspiration from the internets, this recipe at Epicurious in particular is the source of the gingerbread recipe.

Lemon Ginger Trifle

Gingerbread Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon or so of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1 cup packed dark brown sugar or light if you don't have dark
1 large egg
1/2 cup mild molasses
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk, sometimes I cheat and use powdered
1/2 cup hot water (just but glass measuring cup with water in microwave)

Creamy Part:
2 pints of heavy cream
vanilla and sugar to taste
1 jar of lemon curd (10 oz)
Pecans or candied walnuts/pecans (optional)
Make gingerbread, you can do this a day ahead of the trifle
  • Start by preheating the oven to 350°F..
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt, set aside.
  • In a stand mixer beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, add the egg, it will fluff up more and get paler.  Then add the molasses and buttermilk, beat until smooth.  Add the hot water, it will look curdly, mix a minute or so more until less curdly looking.
  • Pour into a buttered and floured 9 by 13 pan.  I am getting lazy, I use the baking Pam that has the flour in it already.
  • Bake until done about 40 minutes.
  • Cool (obviously) before making the trifle.

Preparing the trifle:
  • Whip the heavy cream until you get nice peaks, add sugar and vanilla to taste, put into a bowl and set aside.  I go light on the sugar because the lemon curd is sweet.

  • Mix the lemon curd until light and fluffy, about a minute.  Fold in half of the whipped cream.
  • Layer hand crumbled gingerbread on the bottom of the trifle bowl, cover with lemon mixture, cover that with some whipped cream. Sprinkle some nuts on top if you like.  Repeat until you run out of ingredients. 

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Turkey Tetrazinni

    Finally.  I have leftovers from Thanksgiving! My elaborate plan of hosting Thanksgiving and roasting a turkey so that I would be able to make turkey tetrazinni the weekend after Thanksgiving worked. Of all the things my mom would make growing up, I remember this the most.  Here is my version using what I have on hand. 

    Turkey Tetrazinni

    1 package of long pasta cooked al dente, I had some long forgotten fettuccine, my mom always used spaghetti 
    1 package of mushrooms (maybe questionable in this case), questionable portions cut off and then sliced
    onion, about half, diced
    1/4 cup plus four tablespoons of unsalted butter (if you have salted that is ok, just add less salt later)
    1 red pepper, diced
    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    1 cup milk
    1 cup half and half
    2 cups of broth (I used leftover turkey broth)
    3 cups of turkey, cut into small pieces
    1/2 plus 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/3 cups of cracker crumbs (you can use bread crumbs)
    salt and pepper to taste
    freshly ground nutmeg
    some leftover fresh sage and parsley

    1.  Cook the pasta until al dente and set aside.

    2.  Cook the trifecta combo of onion, pepper, and mushrooms in a couple of tablespoons of butter until the juices have evaporated. Remove from pan, set aside in a bowl, take care to get all the bits out of the pan.

    3.  Melt the butter in the warm pan used to saute the trifecta.  My new to me stove is gas, I love that I can control the heat so well.  If you have an electric stove you can set the pan on a trivet and let the butter melt.  Stir in the flour, cook for a couple of minutes, mix/whisk well.

    4.  Add the broth, milk, and half and half to the butter/flour mixture slowly.  I start with the broth and add and whisk.  Simmer for 5 minutes or so.  At this point you can turn the oven on to preheat to 350 degrees.

    5.  Mix together the sauce, veggies, turkey, fresh herbs, and grated Parmesan and place in a casserole dish.

    6.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add cracker crumbs and grated cheese.  Mix until crumbly, top pasta with this.

    7.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly.

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    breaking the rule

    My self-imposed rule is that I would only post recipes I made up or altered significantly... well this pecan pie is just too good to not share.  I am addicted.  I had it in my head pecan pie was hard to make, I was so wrong.  It is easy and so delicious.
    Here is the link to The Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    framepoloza craft idea number one

    The never-ending closet of frames is now empty and it's contents are spread across the living room.  Add a coupon to the craft store and you get an instant gratification craft project.

    Start with:
    Picture frame
    Foam board
    Cork roll
    Spray Glue
    Exacto knife or other razor blade-like cutter
    Metal ruler

    Step One - flip over the frame and measure the dimensions of the backing (the space where the foam board will go)

    Step Two - Cut the foam board to the needed dimensions.  I used a razor blade to do this, you might have to flip the foam board over and cut on the other side once it is cored, depending on the type/sharpness of knife you use to cut it.

    Step Three:  Cut cork from the roll to a dimension a little bigger than the foam board, if there is going to be a side with a larger overhang leave it and cut it later. I used scissors to cut the cork, be careful it is delicate and can rip when cutting.

    Step Four:  Find a friend for this part if you can - Spray glue the foam board.   Then lay the cork on top the tacky glue side of the foam board.  Start at one end and smooth as you go to work out any air bubbles. Trim off any excess cork.

    Step Five:  Fit the corked foam board into the frame, depending on the tightness of the fit you may or may not need to tack it in place. Hang and enjoy!

    Sunday, August 22, 2010


    Faced with what to do with a box of beautiful figs I was drawn to the world of tarts. I came up with this quick and easy (and yummy) tart.

    Fig Tart
    3 or 4 fresh figs, sliced
    1 sheet of puff pastry
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    Balsamic vinegar
    Egg and water wash (I used an egg and half eggshell full of water)
    • Heat over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    • Place the puff pastry on parchment paper on a flat baking surface (I used my PC bar pan).
    • Mix  the sugar, walnuts, and enough balsamic vinegar to make mixture pasty.  Spread mixture on puff pastry, layer fig slices on top. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the filling and brush with egg and water wash.  
    • Bake until golden brown.
    • Cool and enjoy! 
    Note - you can double the recipe by using a whole box of puff pastry and a whole grocery store container of figs.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Quick Picnic Fix

    Strawberry season is already coming to a close and I am loving my new strawberry huller gadget.  I have been making stuffed strawberries as yummy treats for us at home and today I am taking them to a picnic.  I think they will be a great finger food on such a hot day.

    Stuffed Strawberries

    "Pretty" strawberries

    8 oz package of cream cheese per 2 pounds of strawberries

    1/2 cup powdered sugar per each package of cream cheese

    Vanilla to taste

    Variation ingredients - coconut flakes, grated chocolate, crushed pecans

    How to make them:
    • Rinse and dry strawberries 
    • Hollow out the strawberries with a strawberry huller.  

    • Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together with a mixture until creamy.  I use a stand mixer and mixed for a few minutes to get an icing like consistency.
    • Put filling in a pastry bag or something like that - I used my Pampered Chef "Easy Accent Decorator"

    • Dip in coconut flakes (or grated chocolate or nuts) if wanted

    •  Refrigerate until you use them.  
    Ready to go!!  
    Variations -
    Dip tops in something like coconut when you are transporting so they don't smear up against each other
    You can dip the strawberries in melted chocolate after they are filled
    Add pineapple puree and coconut to the cream cheese mix for colada strawberries
    Add some pecans

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Un-scratch Sunday

    As we wait on the verge of finding out if we are actually moving and if we will have health care for all, I found myself looking at my unused fluted cake pan.  This poor pan has spent at least six years in our home, never used.  Well today is your day, because all of this angst (and my pounding hangover from the comedy club bender) have me craving comfort food. 

    Since the fluted cake pan is from Pampered Chef, I decided to check out their website for a recipe.  I found this recipe for Choco-Peanut Butter Swirl Cake that uses a box cake mix.  I usually look down on those Sandra Dee-like made from a box recipes (they are almost as bad as anything from Rachel Ray).  But my pounding head is not going to allow for anything more today. So here is my interpretation of this recipe -

    Fluted Chocolate Peanut Butter Love

    1 Boxed vanilla cake mix, I used a Dr.Oetker Vanilla cake mix
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1 cup of water
    3 eggs
    4 oz bar of bittersweet chocolate, I used Ghirardelli
    dash - about a teaspoon heavy cream

    3 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter
    about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
    1/2 cup powdered sugar

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    Mix the cake mix, peanut butter, water, and eggs using a stand mixer.  Beat on high until well incorporated.
    Grease a fluted cake pan (I used butter flavor crisco because it was hanging out in the fridge)
    Pour half of the cake batter into the pan
    Break up the chocolate in a bowl, put in the microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir with a fork until it is all melted (you may have to heat it more, I used a ceramic bowl so I didn't have to).  Stir in the heavy cream, then add to the remaining cake batter and beat until well incorporated.
    Gently pour the cake batter onto the top of the cake batter already in the pan.  Swirl with a butter knife if you want the swirly look.  Bake until done, about 45 minutes or so.

    Cool for 10-15 minutes then flip onto a plate.

    In a small bowl whisk together the peanut butter and cream (starting with a little and adding more to get the right consistency), add the powdered sugar.  If needed add more peanut butter and cream to get the right glaze-like consistency.

    When the cake is cooled (or not so hot if you are impatient) cover with the glaze.

    Enjoy!!!  Wash away your angst with chocolate and peanut butter.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    City Chicken in the Borough

    I had never heard of city chicken until a friend's baby shower last fall. I nibbled on a delicious delight on a stick that was very good, but was it chicken?  I was told it was pork but it was called "city chicken".  At home I did some digging on the internets to find that it originated during the Depression when pork was cheaper than chicken. 
    Fast forward to last Christmas in Tennessee...
    My mother-in-law was reminiscing about eating city chicken as a child so I offered to make it for dinner the day after Christmas.  I did a search of various recipes and came up with the following recipe.  I made it with beef and chicken the first time, the beef was a HUGE hit with my father-in-law.  My husband likes the pork so I have been sticking with that lately.

    City Chicken
    • 1.5 to 2 pounds of pork or beef, I used a pork tenderloin because it was on sale
    • 1 cup of cracker (or bread) crumbs
    • 1 tsp paprika 
    • 2 tsp chicken seasoning
    • 1 egg
    • dash of half and half
    • 1 red pepper in chunky slices
    • 1/2 sweet onion in bite size pieces
    • 1 bouillon cube
    • 1 cup of hot water
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    •  bamboo skewers
    • 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil - enough to coat the bottom of a saute pan
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

    Step 1
    Cut the pork (or beef) into about 1 inch cubes.  Place on skewers.

    Step 2
    Beat the egg and half and half together, place on a plate.  Combine the cracker crumbs, chicken seasoning, and paprika, place on another plate.  Roll the skewers in the egg, then the break crumbs.

    Step 3
    Brown the skewers in a saute pan with the canola oil on medium.

    Step 4
    Place on a roll pan or 13x9 pan.  Add the pepper and onion over top/around the skewers.  Dissolve the bouillon in the water, add the soy sauce.  Pour in the bottom of the pan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.


    Notes - 
    I haven't been able to find quite the right length of skewer, so I have been cutting the ones I bought at the grocery store so they are more manageable length. 
    The sauce is wonderful with some mashed potatoes.

    Local - Organic
    I didn't do so well today...
    The organic red peppers were from the grocery store (shameful)
    Cracker crumbs were made in town (and yet they were the most expensive on the shelf?!?)

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Pineapple leftovers

    We greeted the return of Lost with fresh pineapple and strawberries.  A week later we were still eating the pineapple which is forever for my low threshold of refrigerator holding times.  I was thinking of making something savory with it, but the snow left me craving a baking experience.  Pineapple upside down cake is the first thing that came to mind, so I scoured the internets for a recipe.  I found this recipe at Epicurious, I lacked all of the ingredients so I improvised the version below...

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake
    Upside down part:
    • Quarter of a fresh pineapple (or more if you have it)
    • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, ok I had some light, some dark
    Cake part:
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 tablespoon Malibu rum
    • 1/2 cup orange juice and the scant amount of pineapple juice left
    • 2 tablespoons Malibu rum for sprinkling over cake